HomeSportsPole VaultPole Vault Event | Know The Techniques & Methods Involved
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Pole Vault Event | Know The Techniques & Methods Involved

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Pole vault is a track and field sport in which an athlete (termed as the pole vaulter) makes use of a long, flexible pole, often made of fiberglass or carbon fiber, as an aid to jump over a bar that is set very high. It is also known as pole jumping. Pole vaulting is considered one of the four major jumping events in athletics, the others being the high jump, long jump, and triple jump. The unusual thing about this particular track and field sport is the requirement of specialized equipment, even at the basic and rudimentary level. Without the pole, the entire essence of the sport is lost. Pole jumping competitions were known to the Mycenaean Greeks, Minoan Greeks, and Celtics, and since 1896 there has been a full medal sporting event for men and since 2000 for women.

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It is observed that people hailing from gymnastic backgrounds often find resounding success in the field of pole vaulting. Perhaps it has something to do with the incredible speed, agility, strength, and endurance required in both fields that enable an athlete to excel. However, technical knowledge of the game is also an important, if not the most important, factor. The game essentially entails jumping and crossing a bar or a crossbar which is supported by two standards without knocking it down: sounds simple enough, but ridiculously difficult to pull off.

History of Pole Vault

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During the early times, poles were often used to cross over marshes and natural obstacles in places such as the Netherlands, areas around the North Sea, and the provinces of England. People often used long wooden stalks or poles kept nearby to avoid getting themselves wet. Soon enough, long-distance pole vaulting competitions started taking place.

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Initially, the poles were made from materials such as bamboo and aluminum. However, around the 1950s, flexible materials were being used to prepare these poles: materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber. These allowed the vaulters to achieve even greater heights.

How to do pole vault

Various techniques are utilized by vaulters to cross over the bar. These techniques can be encompassed under similar phases. These phases are as follows:


Image Source- Youtube

During this phase, the pole vaulter sprints down the runway in a manner that helps them achieve maximum speed and prepare for the take-off. Usually, vaulters take 18 to 22 strides (which are often called steps). The head, shoulders, and hips should be aligned to maximize the impact at takeoff. More often than not, the faster the vaulter can run, the more efficient is his or her takeoff.  

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Plant and take off

Image Source- TDK

In this, Vaulters will usually count their steps backward from their starting point to the box only counting the steps taken on the left foot (and vice versa for left-handers) except for the second step from the box, which is taken by the right foot. The primary goal of this phase is to convert the kinetic energy accumulated during the run-up and convert it into potential energy, stored by the elastic pole, and achieve as much height as possible.

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Swing up

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The swing-up stage involves the vaulter swinging the trail leg forward and rowing the pole, bringing the top arm down to the hips and attempting to store more energy onto the pole. Once in a “U” shape, the left arm hugs the pole tight to efficiently use the recoil within the pole. The primary objective during this phase is to carry out the movements as soon as possible. . moreover, the vaulter also receives an ejection reflex in this stage.


Image Source- SimpliFaster

This phase involves the extension of the hips upward with outstretched legs as the shoulders drive down, causing the vaulter to be positioned upside down. In this phase, the pole begins to recoil, thus propelling the vaulter.

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Image Source- SimpliFaster

This step immediately follows after. As the name suggests, the vaulter during this phase turns 180 degrees towards the pole whilst extending the arms down past the head and shoulders. It may also be referred to as the “spin”, owing to the movement carried out by the athlete.

Fly Away

Image Source- HS Insider

This phase mainly consists of the vaulter pushing off the pole and releasing it so it falls away from the bar and mats.

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How pole vault works/rules involved

Competitors vault/jump over a 4.5-meter-long horizontal bar by sprinting along a runway and jamming a pole against a ‘stop board’ at the back of the box-shaped site centrally placed at the base of the uprights. The vaulters seek to clear the greatest height: all the while trying to do so without knocking the bar to the ground. 

All competitors have three attempts per height. They can choose to ‘pass’, i.e. advance to a greater height despite not having cleared the current one. However, three consecutive failures at the same height, or a combination of heights, causes a competitor to be eliminated.

If competitors are tied to the same height, the winner is decided as the one with the fewest failures at that height. If still tied, the winner will have had the fewest failures across the entire competition. Thereafter, a jump-off will decide the winner. 

Current World Rankings in Pole Vault (2022)

Men’s Ranking Pole Vault

Rank Player Name Country
1 Armand DUPLANTIS Sweden
2 Christopher Nilsen USA
3 Ernest John Obiena Phillipines
4 Thiago Braz Brazil
5 Renaud Lavillenie France
6 Sondre GUTTORMSEN Norway
7 Bo Kanda LITA BAEHRE Germany
8 Ben BROEDERS Belgium
9 Pål Haugen LILLEFOSSE Norway
10 Oleg ZERNIKEL Germany

Women’s Ranking in Pole Vault

Rank Player Name Country
2 Nina KENNEDY Australia
3 Tina ŠUTEJ Slovakia
5 Aikaterini STEFANIDI Greece
6 Wilma MURTO Finland
7 Anzhelika SIDOROVA Russia
8 Roberta BRUNI Italy
9 Angelica MOSER Switzerland
10 Olivia MCTAGGART New Zealand


  • Is Pole vaulting the hardest sport?

Pole Vault is one of the hardest sports. Pole Vaulters are required to have a significant amount of upper body strength to launch themselves into the air. Some of the schools tell their vaulters that they have to be able to walk on their hands to even attempt Pole Vault.

  • Is the Pole vault risky?

It’s an extremely dangerous sport. There is a lot of risk in performing the sports as so much can go wrong. At 20 feet, a pole vault accident equates to someone falling off the roof of their house. The YouTube search for “pole vault accidents” produces 21,600 results.

  • Can girls do pole vault?

Girls have been doing Pole Vault for a long time. It has been included as a full medal event at the Olympic Games since 2000 for women. It is classified as one of the four major events in athletics.

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