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The pogo stick is one of the oldest toys still in use today. Invented in 1919 by George B Hansburg, the pogo stick has withstood the tests of time, and is still a fun and amusing toy, despite having been largely unchanged since its invention.
History of the Pogo Stick
The story of the pogo stick dates back to before World War One. A German traveller went to a small town, or so the story goes, and lodged there with a poor farmer. The farmer explained that his daughter could not get to the local temple after a rain storm, because the family was too poor to afford shoes. He created a jumping stick from two pieces of wood; a short rod and a long rod. His daughter was soon proficient enough with the stick to use it to hop the puddles and mud on her way to worship.
The German, upon returning to Germany, improved upon the farmer's design by adding a spring. Thus the pogo stick was born.
The main manufacturer of pogo sticks is SBI, located in Ellenvile, New York, USA. Their 'Master' design pogo stick has been around for 63 years, and has resisted attempts at modernization while still remaining the top-seller for SBI.
Pogo Stick Feats
The pogo stick has long been popular with would-be record holders because of the sheer number of things that can be done with it. There have been competitions for the longest single jump, the most consecutive jumps, and the farthest distance travelled on a pogo stick. In addition, pogo sticks also have great potential for acrobatics, such as pogo sticking with no hands, on one foot or backwards.
It appears that in 1960, a man named Gordon Spitzmesser invented a gas-powered pogo stick. Although there is only one site to reference it, the patent numbers for 1960 are consistent with that listed on the site. The idea sounds plausible, given that a pogo-stick could be easily modified to create a compression chamber, as in an internal combustion engine. Apparently the toy was banned after several people were seriously injured while using it.
Getting Started on a Pogo Stick
If you want to try pogo sticking, the Master pogo stick from SBI is your best choice. It has lasted for decades, and is a high quality, rugged piece of equipment. Its only failing is a weak spring, although this is only a problem if you plan to do some serious jumping.
Learning to pogo stick takes very little time. After a few days, you should be able to do 30 or 40 jumps before losing your balance. After a week or two, you should be able to jump indefinitely without falling off.
The first things you should master with a pogo stick are the basics; getting on and control. Getting off isn't a problem, and it will happen all too often in your first days of pogo sticking. There are three basic ways to get on a pogo stick:
- Left-footed mount
- Right-footed mount
- Two-footed mount
The left-footed mount means you place your left foot on the foot pad of the stick, grab the handles, and then quickly bring your right foot to the other foot pad, and start hopping. The right-footed mount is just the opposite of this. The one-footed mounts are probably the easiest ways to get on a pogo stick.
The two-footed mount is slightly more difficult. For this mount, you grab the handles of the pogo stick, and then jump onto it, landing with both feet on the pads at the same time. This gives you lots of momentum to get started jumping, but it tends to set you off-balance right from the start. If you are a beginner, only use this mount if you have trouble starting the pogo stick bouncing with the one-footed mounts.
Once you are on a pogo stick, you can easily move around in any direction. To move forward, angle the stick forward slightly when you are on the ground. This will cause you to jump forwards. Then, while you are in the air, bring the tip of the pogo stick underneath your body once again with your feet, so that you land straight. Moving in other directions and turning is just an extension of this principle. A word of caution, landing at an angle can damage you and the pogo stick. Always attempt to land straight, if you can.
After you have managed the basics of using your pogo stick, you can try some tricks. The easiest trick is jumping one-handed. Simply remove one of your hands from the grip, and compensate for the change in force with your other hand. Try this with both hands. Then move on to no-hands jumping. To do this, you must grip the body of the pogo stick tightly with your knees. Your knees are the substitute for your hands, and if they slip, you will fall. Then, carefully remove both your hands from the grip.
The most difficult of the basic tricks is to jump one-footed. To do this, grip the body of the pogo stick with your knees. Then, slowly pick up one foot, and press down hard on the handle above it. This compensates for the fact that all of your weight is now on one side of the pogo stick, causing it to become out of balance.
It is also theoretically possible to jump with no feet, but it requires a lot of upper-body strength, since all your weight is transferred to your arms. To do it, grip the body of the pogo stick with both knees, and then brace your arms. This however, is not a basic trick.
Now that you've learned the basics of pogo sticking, you can begin to think up your own tricks. There is a myriad of possibilities.