track and field event in which an athlete uses a
pole to propel his/her body over a crossbar set
at a certain height
Pole vaulting originated in
Europe, where men used a pole to cross canals
filled with water. In this early form, the goal
was distance rather than height. Colleges began
competing in the pole vault in the late-1800's.
Originally the vaulters competed on grass and
used bamboo poles with a sharp point at the
bottom. After getting a running start, the
vaulter would plant the point in the grass, vault
over a crossbar, and, if all went well, land on
the other side. As heights increased because of
improvements in technique and materials, landing
mats were introduced.
to Pole Vault
The fundamentals of pole-vaulting are (1)
grip, (2) run, (3) plant and take-off, (4) swing,
(5) pull-up, and (7) clearing the bar.
The Grip is very
important, as the athlete must position his hands
properly and place them at the ideal height on
the pole in order to achieve maximum power. The
non-dominant hand is usually placed 2 to 3 feet
below the dominant hand, and the pole must be
held within 2 degrees of parallel to the ground.
The Run down the
runway is made almost at top speed, but the
vaulter must control his speed carefully. Markers
along the runway allow him to gauge his stride
and take-off position so that he takes off from
the same foot and at the same place in every
The Plant and Take-Off occur
when the vaulter places (plants) the end of the
pole in the take-off box at the end of the runway
and slides his lower hand closer to his upper
hand. As the speed obtained down the runway is
transformed into upward motion, the pole bends.
As it straightens, it helps the vaulter thrust
The Swing and Pull-Up
As the vaulter holds onto the rising pole and
swings his body through the air, he pulls his
knees up toward his chest and then shoots his
feet up toward the bar. The swing and pull-up
produce a hand-stand effect with the vaulter's
chest next to the crossbar.
Clearing the Bar
While the vaulter is in the hand-stand position,
his feet start down on the other side of the
crossbar. This position of the body is essential
for maximum height. The vaulter then pushes the
pole away from him so it will not hit the
crossbar. As he releases the pole, he will also
turn his thumbs inward to help keep his elbows
from hitting the crossbar.
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