- See also: World Record progression in pole vault for men and for women
Today, athletes compete in the pole vault as one of the four jumping events in track and field. Because the high jump and pole vault are both vertical jumps, the competitions are conducted similarly. Each athlete can choose what height they would like to enter the competition. Once they enter, they have three attempts to clear the height. If a height is cleared, the vaulter advances to the next height, where they will have three more attempts. Once the vaulter has three consecutive misses, they are out of the competition and the highest height they cleared is their result. A "no height", often denoted "NH", refers to the failure of a vaulter to clear any bar during the competition.
Once the vaulter enters the competition, they can choose to pass heights. If a vaulter achieves a miss on their first attempt at a height, they can pass to the next height, but they will only have two attempts at that height, as they will be out once they achieve three consecutive misses. Similarly, after earning two misses at a height, they could pass to the next height where they would have only one attempt.
The competitor who clears the highest height is the winner. If two or more vaulters have finished with the same height, the tie is broken by the number of misses at the final height. If the tied vaulters have the same number of misses at the last height cleared, the tie is broken by the total number of misses in the competition.
If there is still a tie for first place, a jump-off occurs to break the tie. Marks achieved in this type of jump-off are considered valid and count for any purpose that a mark achieved in a normal competition would.
If a tie in the other places still exists, a jump-off is not normally conducted, unless the competition is a qualifying meet, and the tie exists in the final qualifying spot. In this case, an administrative jump-off is conducted to break the tie, but the marks are not considered valid for any other purpose than breaking the tie.
A jump-off is a sudden death competition in which the tied vaulters attempt the same height, starting with the last attempted height. If both vaulters miss, the bar goes down by a small increment, and if both clear, the bar goes up by a small increment. A jump-off ends when one vaulter clears and the other misses. Each vaulter gets one attempt at each height until one makes and one misses.
The equipment and rules for pole vaulting are similar to the high jump. Unlike high jump, however, the athlete in the vault has the ability to select the horizontal position of the bar before each jump and can place it a distance beyond the back of the box, the metal pit that the pole is placed into immediately before takeoff. The range of distance the vaulter may place the standards varies depending on the level of competition.
If the pole used by the athlete dislodges the bar from the uprights, a foul attempt is ruled, even if the athlete themselves has cleared the height. An athlete does not benefit from quickly leaving the landing pad before the bar has fallen. The exception to this rule if the vaulter is vaulting outdoors and has made a clear effort to throw the pole back, but the wind has blown the pole into the bar; this counts as a clearance. This call is made at the discretion of the pole vault official. If the pole breaks during the execution of a vault, it is considered an equipment failure and is ruled a non-jump, neither a make nor a miss. Other types of equipment failure include the standards slipping down or the wind dislodging the bar when no contact was made by the vaulter.
Each athlete has a set amount of time in which to make an attempt. The amount of time varies by level of competition and the number of vaulters remaining. If the vaulter fails to begin an attempt within this time, the vaulter is charged with a time foul and the attempt is a miss.
Poles are manufactured with ratings corresponding to the vaulter's maximum weight. Some organizations forbid vaulters to use poles rated below their weight as a safety precaution. The recommended weight corresponds to a flex rating that is determined by the manufacturer by placing a standardized amount of stress (most commonly a 50 lb weight) on the pole and measuring how much the center of the pole is displaced. Therefore, two poles rated at the same weight are not necessarily the same stiffness.
Because pole stiffness and length are important factors to a vaulter's performance, it is not uncommon for an elite vaulter to carry as many as 10 poles to a competition. The effective properties of a pole can be changed by gripping the pole higher or lower in relation to the top of the pole. The left and right handgrips are typically a bit more than shoulder width apart. Poles are manufactured for people of all skill levels and body sizes, with sizes as short as 3.05m (10 feet) to as long as 5.30 m (17 feet 4.5 inches), with a wide range of weight ratings. Each manufacturer determines the weight rating for the pole and the location of the maximum handhold band.
Read more about this topic: Pole Vault
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