You may not have grown up thinking Pogo sticks were cool, but Pogo sticks are a hit today with the same crowd that made skateboarding and snowboarding cool. In fact, there is a whole community of extreme sports enthusiasts who specialize in using the Pogo stick to pull off remarkable aerial stunts worthy of a viral video.
Pogo stick technology, three words you probably didn’t think you’d be reading today, has come a long way since the early days of a stick with a spring in it. Today’s Pogo sticks are often designed in computers, made with modern industrial machinery, and feature a “spring” that may well use air pressure in a piston instead of or in addition to a metal spring.
The Anatomy of a Pogo Stick
Pogo sticks may be simpler than a bicycle, but they are still a complex piece of technology that benefits from advancements in manufacturing. While some components once made of wood may now be steel or carbon fiber, the names of the parts of a Pogo stick remain standardized, and are useful in understanding what a Pogo stick’s description means in terms of what sets it apart.
The handles of a Pogo stick are more or less what you would imagine, but the place where the rider puts their feet is alternately called the pedals or the pegs. The latter term derives from BMX, where similar footrests called pegs are put on the fulcrums of the wheels of the BMX bike, making certain tricks possible for the rider. Since that crowd is the one that really embraced Pogo sticks for their trick capabilities, the name has stuck with some people.
The cylinder or shaft of a Pogo stick is the long piece in the middle where the mechanism for tension is housed. That could mean a spring or a piston, but either one will be integrated into the spine of the Pogo stick, with handles on top and pegs on the bottom.
The slide shaft is the bit of the Pogo stick below the pegs, which slides up into the cylinder when the Pogo stick lands on the ground. It is usually tipped with a rounded rubber end to prevent damage to the metal upon landing.
Picking The Right Pogo Stick
Of course, picking the right Pogo stick for a child is more complicated than choosing one for oneself. You may not be worried about yourself falling, but any responsible adult worries about their child taking a spill. Once you’ve squared your kid away with a helmet and other applicable safety gear, it’s time to pick out the right Pogo stick, so here are the important points to consider.
Age of Child
The age of the child using the Pogo stick is very important. For a start, some teenagers may be able to use adult Pogo sticks and will be better served by them for reasons examined below. Also important to consider is aesthetic tastes. Little kids may want something more exciting to their tastes, with bright colors and places to decorate the Pogo stick, while older children will likely want something more mature, or at least available in all black. If a child does not like their athletic gear, be it a Pogo stick or anything else, they won’t use it, and it’s a waste, so consider your child’s age.
Height and Weight
Naturally, it’s important to consider your child’s height and weight when choosing a Pogo stick. While some smaller Pogo sticks may be rated to very high weights, they may not be tall enough for older children. Similarly, on paper some Pogo sticks for older kids may seem similar, but younger children, being smaller, will not be ergonomically suited to their design. Generally speaking the height of the rider should correspond to the height of the Pogo stick; if the rider is 5’ 5” tall or less, a 46” Pogo stick or smaller is what you should be looking for, so most children will need something that size or shorter. Very small children should ride Pogo sticks around 21” tall.
Just as importantly, bear in mind that the listed weight tolerance of a Pogo stick doesn’t mean everything will be fine until you hit exactly that weight limit. As the weight of the rider approaches the maximum weight of the Pogo stick, it will affect the Pogo stick’s performance. That could be a real disappointment, especially to a child. TLDR: get a Pogo stick that will support several times the weight of the rider.
Coordination vs. Ergonomics
Some Pogo sticks are designed especially for specific tricks, with handles and traction pegs shaped for holding them or landing on them in specific ways, at specific angles. Luckily, the same sort of thinking goes into Pogo sticks for children. The GOMO Pogo stick for kids, for example, sports a large foam block on the Pogo stick’s slide shaft, which acts as both a balancing aid when standing on the Pogo stick, and as the traction plates, giving children an obvious, easy to find place for their feet. While this Pogo stick is perfect for younger children, its aesthetics, as mentioned above, aren’t ideal for teenagers, as it uses colors and adjustable decorations aimed at the tastes of the younger Pogo enthusiast.
While one is unlikely to see an extreme Pogo stick rider using one to perform complex flips and twists in the air, that is sort of the point. It is intended to make children capable of enjoying a Pogo stick without having to learn everything— to “play the fish without having to learn to cast” as they say. An older child can be trusted to be safe because they have experience, and the GOMO Pogo stick for kids is an example of a great way for toddlers and other small children to learn to love Pogo sticks without the risk of serious injury or the need to spend ages just learning to balance on a Pogo stick.
Involve Your Child!
Pogo sticks are about fun! If you really want your child to get out and use their Pogo stick as a way of keeping fit, they need to be emotionally invested through the whole process. Even if you’ve picked out which model to get your child, involve them in picking out the color and help them make it their own once you have it in hand. If your child loves the Pogo stick, they’ll use it, and isn’t that the point?
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