Pole Vault - Terminology

Terminology

The following are terms commonly used in pole vault:

  • Bar: The cross bar that is suspended above the ground by the standards.
  • Box: A trapezoidal indentation in the ground with a metal or fiberglass covering at the end of the runway in which vaulters "plant" their pole. The back wall of the box is nearly vertical and is approximately 8 inches in depth. The bottom of the box gradually slopes upward approximately 3-feet until it is level with the runway. The covering in the box ensures the pole will slide to the back of the box without catching on anything. The covering's lip overlaps onto the runway and ensures a smooth transition from all-weather surface so a pole being planted does not catch on the box.
  • Drive knee: During the plant phase, the knee is driven forward at the time of "takeoff" to help propel the vaulter upward.
  • Grip: The location of the vaulter's top hand on the pole. As the vaulter improves, his grip may move up the pole incrementally. The other hand is typically placed shoulder-width down from the top hand. Hands are not allowed to grip the very top of the pole (their hand perpendicular to the pole) for safety reasons.
  • Jump foot: The foot that the vaulter uses to leave the ground as he begins his vault. It is also referred to as the take-off foot.
  • Pit: The mats used for landing in pole vault.
  • Plant position: The position a vaulter is in the moment the pole reaches the back of the box and the vaulter begins his vault. His arms are fully extended and his drive knee begins to come up as he jumps.
  • Pole: The fiberglass equipment used to propel the vaulter up and over the bar. One side is more stiff than the other to facilitate the bending of the pole after the plant. A vaulter may rest the pole on his arm to determine which side is the stiff side.
  • Standards: The equipment that holds the bar at a particular height above the ground. Standards may be adjusted to raise and lower the bar and also to adjust the horizontal position of the bar.
  • Steps: Since the box is in a fixed position, vaulters must adjust their approach to ensure they are in the correct position when attempting to vault.
  • Swing leg or trail leg: The swing leg is also the jump foot. After a vaulter has left the ground, the leg that was last touching the ground stays extended and swings forward to help propel the vaulter upwards.
  • Volzing: A method of holding or pushing the bar back onto the pegs while jumping over a height. This takes considerable skill, although it is now against the rules and counted as a miss. The technique is named after U.S. Olympian Dave Volz, who made an art form of the practice and surprised many by making the U.S. Olympic team in 1992.

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