Is there more to Pole Vaulting that meets the eye?
Pole Vaulting was not a part of the ancient Olympic games, but evidence as a sport can be found as far back as 500 B.C. (Purves 1). Pole vaulting is one of the most amazing events to watch in track and field. From the eyes of the audience, it looks simple. Just run and jump with a pole. However, what many people don’t know is that it takes years to learn the fundamentals of the pole vault. It’s a sport that requires speed, strength, and agility. The aim of the pole vault is to clear a high bar placed between two supporting posts (standards) by lifting and propelling yourself upwards on the end of a strong, flexible pole. Successful pole vaulting requires a mastery of the six separate techniques that must all flow into one continuous movement. The techniques are the approach, plant and take off, swing-up, extension and turn, and fly away. First step is the approach, where the pole vaulter sprints down the runway to achieve maximum speed and correct position to initiate take off at the end of the approach. The strides vary between each vaulter. At the beginning of the approach, the pole is usually carried upright to some degree, and gradually lowered as the vaulter gets closer to the landing pit. This way the vaulter can minimize the weight of the pole and get their plant up faster. The faster the vaulter can run and the more efficient his/her take-off is, the greater the potential energy that can be achieved and used during the vault. It is common for vaulters to gradually increase running speed throughout the approach, reaching maximum speed at take-off. Vaulters increase stride frequency while keeping the knees up like a sprinter. Unlike short sprint events such as the 100 m dash in which a forward lean is used to accelerate, vaulters maintain a more upright torso position throughout the approach. Second step is the plant and take off. The plant and take off is...
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