Issue with the pole vault

psycho_dad

Active member
I was going to write to Dale Gabor/ OHSAA about pole vault poles and ask why we can't move to a multiple weight rating on poles.

We vault and have pretty good vaulters at times. However, we do not have the pole stash or the money to purchase every pole we might need. We have purchased poles from schools that no longer contest the vault etc...

I'm sure there are many other schools that might be in the same boat. Just not enough poles or proper length and weight poles for their kids. I think it could possibly be more unsafe to have a kid vaulting on a pole that is too big for them than on a pole that is rated lighter at the top, but is the proper length and weight rating for the kid. Am I wrong?

I don't condone fudging a kids weight or trying to do something sketchy, but doesn't it make sense to have multiple weight ratings on a pole so that more kids can do the event and a kid might be able to use a perfectly good and safe pole for them that the school already has?

An objection would be that it puts more on the officials, but the officials don't check anything right now. It would still fall on the coaches.

Is there an objection that makes sense that I'm not thinking of?

The other thing could be that it won't happen in Ohio until it's a national thing, but that's a bit weak in my opinion.

Am I missing something that makes my argument to implement a multiple weight rating on poles a bad idea.

This is more of a thing for all schools that struggle and not just for my school. We are doing much better than in years past and when we really need a pole, we find a way to get it. It's not always easy.
 

JAVMAN83

Active member
As someone who has actually seen the pole manufacturing 1st-hand at Gill (back in 1987), I had a chance to understand why ratings are made like they are. The design of a pole of a given weight rating is based on what an average HS kid of average technique and average speed could reasonably bend and sail over a bar safely. Therefore, the powers that be used this rating as the MINIMUM standard by which an athlete might be able to used a given pole. There is no maximum weight rating for a pole for an athlete as it is completely dependent on the factors mentioned above (and a few more). I'm sure that statistically-speaking, there are reams of data to show that ensuring that a kid doesn't exceed the specified weight rating of a pole ensures a very high probability of safety. HS kids typically have average techniques and abilities, so it is natural to make sure the kid's weight doesn't exceed the pole rating. However, trying to put a "range" on a pole wouldn't help matters at all. When I vaulted in HS & college, I was very average. In HS, I was vaulting on poles typically 10 lbs above my personal weight. In college, I was able to vault on ones 20 lbs above my weight, but my technique didn't improve all that much. I just got stronger and a little quicker, so I needed more pole despite my technique not advancing much.

Not sure if this helps any, but thought I'd give my thoughts on the subject.
 

psycho_dad

Active member
I'll explain a little better. A 14' 150lb rated pole is rated at the top hand hold 14'. At a hand hold of 13' the pole would be rated at 170. Every 3 inches is about 5 lbs. So, if I had a kid that weighed 160 lbs, I cannot put him on that pole because he exceeds the 150lb rating. However, if the pole had a pole rating sticker at 13' for 170 lbs as well as the 150 sticker at the 14' mark, I could put my 160 lb kid on that pole if the kid holds at or below a weight rating mark that exceeds their weight.

So, Poles would have multiple ratings from the manufacturer or a manufacturer could have a paper for their poles that says this pole is rated at X weight at the top hand hold and for every inch below that rating, the rating goes up by Y lbs.

We have one vaulter that vaults on a pole roughly 20 lbs over his weight. It is just as dangerous for him to vault on a pole rated at his weight as it is for his teammate to vault on a pole rated 20 lbs under his weight. IMO

I'm not saying having a pole with one sticker that says this pole is good for kids 130 lbs to 150 lbs. I'm saying have pole ratings at multiple places on the pole. 11' 150, 12' 130, 13' 110
 

PVCoach37

New member
Currently I don’t think anyone is manufacturing “variable weight poles” (they used to) so my guess is that you are talking about holding lower on a pole as the pole is stiffer and therefore “heavier.” While that is true - this also changes how the pole rotates to the pit (faster) and if and how it bends. The biggest problem would be officiating - an athlete checks in a 120 but weighs 130 and promises not to hold above a mark on the pole. Hard to see how officials could track it, and legal liability might apply if they don’t.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

psycho_dad

Active member
Good point, but as it is now, a kid can check in at 120 lbs but actually weigh 130 lbs and the officials aren't checking that. It's on the coaches.

Not all coaches I've dealt with are as ethical as others. The honest ones will be honest and have kids that will follow them and also be honest. The ones that fudge will still fudge.

I myself had a girl that vaulted on the same pole for 4 years. I weighed her at the first practice year one and I'll be honest, I never thought to weigh her again because her pole never looked too small for her. Mostly because she held a foot down. I asked her how much she weighed and it was always under the pole rating, but I'm not sure that is possible looking back.

I have a boy that is nearly 6' tall that weighs 128 lbs. I had a girl 5'-4" that weighed 135. You would never guess that she weighed more than him. How is an official going to know when I have to double check them every now and then and still don't believe it?

I'm not really proposing this for the elite state qualifiers. This is more for the average kid that deserves to participate and learn. I have a pole we had to get for one kid for one year. $300 that we had to pay to follow the rule. There are poles I'm not sure you can even get. Say an 11' for a 155 lb kid. I have poles longer and lighter that would work for a kid that size. I don't have $300 for a pole that might be used for 2 months and never again. It just would give teams some flexibility.

We had 3 regional qualifiers this year, so we are doing ok. I'm not griping saying it's unfair for my team. I'm trying to look at it as something good and worthwhile for the majority.
 

madman

New member
I've heard rumor of a plan to have the ability to "lease" poles here in NEO. Does anyone have more details on this?

I've also loved the pole vault, but due to the costs I am becoming far less enamored with the event. A new pit system costs ~$20000 (~$2000/yr?). Our school doesn't buy equipment which means our boosters and the team must come up with the funds for this in addition to buying poles, uniforms, warm-ups, and all the other equipment needed for the other events.
 

psycho_dad

Active member
Renting or leasing a pole is still not cheap. When we went to rent poles this past year, it was nearly 50% of just buying one for just one season. We just bought 3 instead.

High jump pit and standards are about 1/2 of a PV set up and that's still not cheap, but you don't see any schools that do not have the HJ.

I'm sure there are leasing companies that would finance a pole vault pit. I'll take some time this summer to look into that to see if that is something that is doable.

There are always solutions.
 

mathking

Active member
I tend to agree with psychodad here. I do understand the liability issue and it may well be a simple problem that an insurer wants a kid to always use a pole that is rated at least for their weight if they hold at the end. Because that checks the safety box. But since officials are not checking athletes' weights it falls on coaches anyway. It is certainly true that a pole rated for a specific weight will be able to handle more weight when it is not gripped at the end. I love pole vault but it is very expensive. Even for a team like ours that typically has only a half dozen or vaulters it can be expensive to get poles.
 

Running Man 101

New member
All it takes is for a death or a few serious injuries and you will find out why the poles are listed the way they are. Choking down does change the bending moment (stiffness) but doesn't change the equivalent failure stress strain profile, just where you are moving along it. The problem is if a kid puts his hand 1/2" to high "according to the chart"... This is a 100% liability issue. You would never get the manufacturer to state anything but what the pole says. In reality the failure weight is probably 50% higher than what it is listed.

My personal opinion is that people place way to much emphasis on the pole dynamics. When you can vault higher than a given pole is long, then you can start worrying about these things.

This conversation is like speeding on the highway. Everyone does it, but that doesn’t make it okay. This is one of the rules that should be 100% clear to everyone. It is a safety issue.
 

madman

New member
I'm not sure what your point is with this chart.

At the top of the chart it clearly states:

"Warning: a vaulter should never use a pole rated below his or her weight."

Even at the high school level we have all the flexbility in the world as long as the pole is not rated below his or her weight.
 

psycho_dad

Active member
I've talked to a couple of the pole manufactures, They put the warning there because they have to. They could just as easy put a warning that says a vaulter should never hold a pole above the stated weight rating if the poles had multiple weight ratings marked on the pole. There was talk of multiple weight ratings on poles a few years ago at the OATCCC clinic. Didn't go anywhere, I guess.

It seems like it will never happen because "legal" wins over common sense. It's just easier to only have one weight rating and force people to buy 5 poles to do what one pole is capable of.



I think it is nearly just as dangerous to have a kid on a pole that is too big for them as it is one that is too small. The proper appropriate pole should always be used.
 

Altor

Active member
I was going to write to Dale Gabor/ OHSAA about pole vault poles and ask why we can't move to a multiple weight rating on poles.
Most of the time I would tell you that writing to Dale about something like this is rather useless because this is not an OHSAA rule. It is an NFHS rule. And while there are a handful of OHSAA modifications to the rulebook, those are for what are considered "administrative" rules (things like not having a jury of appeals). They aren't "playing" rules, and certainly never for a rule that is there for safety reasons.

That said, Dale is currently on the NFHS rules committee, so he has some more say in these rules than normal. If you really want a rule changed at the national level, the next couple years are your time to push for it. I suspect Dale and the advisory committee would be more likely to take it to the NFHS if it was requested by either the coaches associtation or the officials association.
 

Running Man 101

New member
I've talked to a couple of the pole manufactures, They put the warning there because they have to. They could just as easy put a warning that says a vaulter should never hold a pole above the stated weight rating if the poles had multiple weight ratings marked on the pole. There was talk of multiple weight ratings on poles a few years ago at the OATCCC clinic. Didn't go anywhere, I guess.

It seems like it will never happen because "legal" wins over common sense. It's just easier to only have one weight rating and force people to buy 5 poles to do what one pole is capable of.



I think it is nearly just as dangerous to have a kid on a pole that is too big for them as it is one that is too small. The proper appropriate pole should always be used.
You are not listening. I explained to you why there are not multiple weights on there.

I do this sort of thing for a living. Engineering limits, legal limits and kitchen sink logic are not the same thing. I would never allow on a pole what you are suggesting.

You can talk to as many pole manufacturers as you want, but there is probably only one, maybe two people there that understand the engineering physics of the materials. The majority of people are given a chart where known material properties and performance are provided.
 

mathking

Active member
I talked to a former athlete (and student) of mine who is a mechanical engineer and used to design track and field equipment. His response:

"If we really wanted to use poles with the most safety, we would generate a data sheet for each one, measure the athlete's reach at full extension and their weight, and mark what the safe range on the pole for that athlete to use it with tape. The pole maximum weight rating is based on gripping near the end, with above average reach and above average speed. Under normal conditions, with all other things being equal, a 13-0/150 is slightly more likely to break gripped for 12 feet than is a 13-6/140 gripped for 12 feet. On the other hand, a pole that is too long is going to be much harder for athletes to control. But in my experience it would be really hard to get coaches and officials who could understand the data sheet well enough to accurately use it. So the current system is probably going to stick."

Edit: Follow up--> he pointed out that poles deteriorate over time and with use, so that if we really, really wanted to be safe we should be tracking how many vaults are on each pole.
 

JAVMAN83

Active member
I talked to a former athlete (and student) of mine who is a mechanical engineer and used to design track and field equipment. His response:

"If we really wanted to use poles with the most safety, we would generate a data sheet for each one, measure the athlete's reach at full extension and their weight, and mark what the safe range on the pole for that athlete to use it with tape. The pole maximum weight rating is based on gripping near the end, with above average reach and above average speed. Under normal conditions, with all other things being equal, a 13-0/150 is slightly more likely to break gripped for 12 feet than is a 13-6/140 gripped for 12 feet. On the other hand, a pole that is too long is going to be much harder for athletes to control. But in my experience it would be really hard to get coaches and officials who could understand the data sheet well enough to accurately use it. So the current system is probably going to stick."

Edit: Follow up--> he pointed out that poles deteriorate over time and with use, so that if we really, really wanted to be safe we should be tracking how many vaults are on each pole.
As an ME myself, I concur with his assessment. Poles are also "softer" when the temperature goes up outside, despite protestations to the contrary. Thermal coefficients of expansion are usually proportional to the absolute temperature (Kelvin). Tons of other factors come into play when it comes to "safety". The powers HAVE to default to manufacturers on these issues and make reasonable calls on safety.
 

psycho_dad

Active member
I had Friday and Monday off from my real job. I took some time to write to some manufactures, salespeople and high level coaches. I sort of used the fact that I'm looking to get a bunch of poles as a lead in. I asked many questions to ones I sent emails to. I had phone numbers for a few people through some contacts I have and got some more phone numbers. Not one person I emailed answered the multi weight rating question in an email. However, and surprisingly to me, I got some phone calls back. In those calls, they would talk about that.

A few conclusions...

Mixed opinions on if the new plant box collars are safer or not. Some people think it reduces the area kids have to hit the box to too small an area. Especially for beginners. Some think that it sometimes inhibits the pole from rolling over to the left or right properly and some went as far as saying that it forces the pole tip to the center of the box which doesn't let lefties plant to the far left of the box or righties to the far right to give them even more room for the poles to roll to the left or right. (something I never considered) For more advanced vaulters I guess.

Almost a 50/50 split on if it's safer...Most thought they saw more people miss the box completely because of hitting the plant box collar then when it wasn't required. The new one that intrudes into the box.

As far as multiple weight ratings... overwhelming consensus that it could be done and has been done. (I have a pole that proves it has been done) However, won't because of one consultant and one pole manufacturer.

Interesting that some things are proprietary to the pole manufactures as far as pole ratings go. I could see that if they had something like a UL or ETL listing, but it's sort of left up to the manufacturer from what I gathered.

The one thing that I neglected to ask anyone is how they do it in other countries. It just didn't cross my mind.

It seems like a pole would be absolutely safe for a 150 lb kid to get on if it was rated below that weight and it was held below a certain hold. Sell more poles if it can't be though and avoid any liability.

Also consensus that coaching is 100% better and that unethical coaches are the bigger problem.
 
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