rainbowgirl28 wrote:I think as long as we still have so much progress to make with improving coaching education and facilities, that making helmets mandatory is ill-advised. ...
I do agree that, if you had to chose just one, and that choice could be fully implemented, then better coaching, better education of both coaches and vaulters on safety issues, and better facilities would be far more effective. The problem is that, IMO, at both the HS and the college level, there are limits to what can be achieved here due to practical constraints. Based on my experience at the HS level, very few vaulters (~10%) have a decent school coach that is fully informed of the issues. (The best vaulters get coaching outside the school.) The event is so technically and uniquely demanding (of both athletes and coaches) that the typical distance or sprint coach head coach is just not interested in investing the time and money to get a coach that would meet the qualifications that are applicable for just one event. And so at a lot of schools the vaulters have minimal supervision at best.
Although not quite as bad, even at the college level, my survey of what colleges have in the way of PV coaches suggests that nearly a majority of those that compete the event either have no coach at all or the PV coach is an expert in some other area (throws, horizontal jumps, sprints) with no real experience, and they are just nominally assigned to the event it just to fill the gap. They are merely token “PV coaches”, and the proof of such is that they don’t attract the better HS vaulters and their athletes don’t really progress much beyond their HS marks.
But the choices are not mutually exclusive, because helmets protect against some risks that are not eliminated by education. So *IF* helmets are a net safety improvement, there is no need to just do one or the other.
Anyway, Becca, I curious how you feel about this: What if they designed a helmet that was missing the protective area on the back of the head, so that it couldn’t produce any addition head rotation with a normal safe landing, but would protect the sides, top, and front of the skull? In terms of protecting against impact against objects other than the pit, not quite as good, but 80% as good as a full helmet. Since we have eliminated the danger of this hyperflexion issue (and bypassed the argument about whether it actually is a real risk or not), wouldn’t that be a reasonable compromise?