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KERA News: The Biomechanical Breakdown Of Back Flips On Pogo Sticks

KERA news reporter Courtney Collins tapped the expertise of SMU biomechanics expert Peter Weyand for a news story about the extreme pogo stick performers that have captivated fair goers this year at the Texas State Fair. Weyand explained the biomechanics of the high-flying backflips and stunts of the pogo stick gymnasts.

The article “The Biomechanical Breakdown Of Back Flips On Pogo Sticks” aired on Oct. 17, 2016.

Weyand, director of the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory, is one of the world’s leading scholars on the scientific basis of human performance. His research on runners, specifically world-class sprinters, looks at the importance of ground forces for running speed, and has established a contemporary understanding that spans the scientific and athletic communities.

Weyand is Glenn Simmons Centennial Chair in Applied Physiology and professor of biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Watch the video and listen to the broadcast.


By Courtney Collins

There’s a lot to gawk at at the State Fair of Texas. A 55 foot tall cowboy, towering cones of cotton candy, flashing midway rides that defy gravity. This year, a handful of guys on pogo sticks do that too.

Three times a day, the Xpogo demo team does everything from back flips to 7-foot bounds over a limbo pole. It looks cool, sure. The biomechanical breakdown of what these athletes are actually doing is even cooler.
The Xpogo athletes can pull off tricks most of us would never attempt. Jumps with no hands, jumps with no feet. Black flips, front flips and sky-high leaps over obstacles.

Bryan Pognant has been involved in extreme pogo-sticking for 15 years. He says the key to getting tricks down isn’t strength, it’s…

“Balance, always balance,” he says. “We have 13 year olds jumping like 10 feet, and that’s only because they know how to balance.”

Watch Pognant perform a trick called the ‘no foot peg grab’ with scientific analysis from SMU professor of physiology and biomechanics Peter Weyand.

Watch the video and listen to the broadcast.

By Margaret Allen

Senior research writer, SMU Public Affairs

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