Beginners Guide on How to Pole Vault

Beginners Guide on How to Pole Vault





The ancient sport of pole vaulting actually didn’t start out as a sport at all. Pole vaulters originally used long, flexible branches or pieces of wood to overcome marshes along the North Sea in the Netherlands. Impressed by the effectiveness of this technique, vaulters would eventually overcome walls and other barriers. Vaulting would eventually become a Summer Olympic sport in 1896 for men and in 2000 for women.


How to Pole Vault


There are many different factors that go into an effective vault. Perhaps the most important is running speed. Simple physics shows that the faster a vaulter can run (given their technique is clean), the higher obstacles they can clear.


The type of pole used in a vault must be taken into consideration as well. Some vaulters prefer poles that are lighter weight and more flexible -- like carbon fibre, while others may prefer more stiff poles made out of fibreglass. A vaulter’s height must also be considered when choosing a pole.


Rules of Pole Vaulting


  • Pole vaulting is a free for all sport that is highly competitive, as each vaulter attempts to outdo the other. The purpose of the sport is to literally set the bar as high as a vaulter can physically overcome.
  • Because vaulting is about clearing the greatest height, vaulters will typically attempt to push their own limits instead of settling for a height they’ve cleared in the past.
  • In a competition, each vaulter has three attempts to clear the height they’ve selected. Once a height is cleared, they can then move onto the next height.
  • If a vaulter fails to clear a height after three attempts, then their best height during the competition will be their final score.
  • The most common foul in pole vaulting is if the vaulter dislodges the height crossbar when attempting to clear it. This will be considered a “no jump”, even if the vaulter has cleared it.
  • Another foul occurs when the vaulter fails to clear a height in the allotted amount of time. This time differs between tournaments.
  • In the event of a sudden death between two competitors, there will be a “jump off.” The first vaulter to clear the height wins. If both vaulters fail, than the crossbar will be slightly lowered. This will continue until a clear winner emerges.


Because pole vaulting is such a physically technical sport, many vaulters come from gymnast backgrounds. The world record holder for men’s pole vaulting is Sergey Bubka, a Ukrainian vaulter clearing an astonishing height of 20 feet in 1994. The world record for women’s pole vaulting is Yelena Isinbayeva, a Russian athlete clearing 16 feet 7 inches in 2009.





Written by: Devin Pickell

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