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Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:40 am
by rainbowgirl28
~jj~ wrote:On the Best Flex chart the rate is six inches in grip reduction equals ten pounds increased user weight. This appears to be true for most of the length ranges except for the smallest of poles (which is actually more like 3" equal 10 pounds).
Knowing this, we could easily make a ASTM specification which describes this relationship.
Then we make a standard ASTM ruler / weight limit indicator that works for all brands. It will show how much additional weight may be added based upon how much the top hand hold is lowered.
The official can place the top of the ruler next to the max grip line and establish a max grip line for the individual user based on how much he/she weighs. Put a magic marker line on the pole and tell "homie" not to grip above that line.

Have the athletes and coaches sign the check in board saying they are using a pole and hand hold with in their ability.

This is what I'm telling the rules makers.

Jan Johnson

I honestly think it makes things much more complicated than necessary. If we require safe landings, it doesn't matter what pole is used to get there.

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:42 pm
by dj

i agree Becca..

we have to go back to "less" is more....

fewer rules....

the pole companies have to "justify" the safety of their poles based on the "physics" and the design and a "disclaimer" ………this pole used correctly will not cause harm or death..

If the pole was ever "blamed" for a death or injury that was the first "mistake" made by the legal system and someone was misinformed or actually lied to win the lawsuit.

Are there "unsafe" poles out there?? Maybe.. but that should have to be proven in a court of law.

Everything we do in life has risk.. the individual must take responsibility and we cannot let the legal system rule our lives the way it is doing today.


Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:49 pm
by VaultPurple
I agree with Jan on officials need to know how poles work and that the weight rating varies by grip. And poles need to be made with weight ratings all the way down the pole. Like 190, 185, 180 every three inches or so down the pole. I know it will be covered by tape but it is good for people to know and they can mark it if they choose.

But pole companies have to go to a universal flex system!

If it is a rule it has to be consistent. Meet officials do not just trust teams or manufactures because a discus says 2kg. I don't want officials flexing poles like they weight a dsicus or anything, but if they are all done the same way it will add a little more consistency.

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:02 pm
by rainbowgirl28
VaultPurple wrote:But pole companies have to go to a universal flex system!

The problem is twofold. One, the technology used to flex poles does not perfectly predict how that pole will actually feel when you jump on it. A crossbar can produce a flex number. The cardboard pole your pole shipped in can produce a flex number. That doesn't mean you can/should vault on them, or that they would feel the same if they produced the same number.

There is no perfect technology for judging the relative stiffness of poles. The manufacturers base their weight ratings off of more than just flex numbers, they are also based off years of feedback and experience and testing. Two poles with the same flex number (flexed on the same span) may not "feel" the same, and the manufacturers need to have the discretion to rate their poles as _they_ deem appropriate.

Second, going to a universal flex system would make most poles illegal until they could be tested. Think for a minute about how BIG and dysfunctional this country is. Do you really want to DQ tens of thousands of perfectly safe poles to fix a problem that doesn't exist? That would seriously kill the pole vault at most schools.

We are NOT seeing catastrophic injuries due to variations between manufacturers. There is some variation, but it tends not to be dramatic, except maybe in the smallest girls poles, and even then it is not a safety issue. If you bounce around brands you may have trouble finding the perfect next pole to launch you over your PR. But if you trust the length and weight rating of the pole, you are unlikely to experience a pole so big or so soft that it causes an injury.

In other words, it is a convenience issue, not a safety issue.

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:08 pm
by ~jj~
For sure its hard to know what your getting when you switch brands .... This of course makes it more dangerous. We have over 500 poles here all flexed on our machine and tested every day. This makes it very easy to see the variations. A universal flex system would be nice.
I don't think the manufactures would ever agree to it. I think they like things just the way they are...

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:06 pm
by Bloom
Regardless of pole brands I still think coaches not understanding what constitutes a safe vault is the main problem. When anyone undertakes a dangerous sport it is always more beneficial to have good coaching than tight rules.

Javelin was banned in Colorado (and a few other states) due to catastrophic injuries that all have to do with people not paying attention. No amount of rules could prevent someone getting skewered because they aren't looking at the thrower.

Same with pv. Any number of rules can be enforced and vaulting is still dangerous. Good coaching minimizes this risk every time.

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:28 am
by ~jj~
U.S. Olympic Trials Pole Vault Safety Informational Meeting
Friday June 22, 2012
9am to 12 noon
Location: 3862 North Shasta Loop
Eugene, Oregon 97405

RSVP by June 20, 2012

via email: or txt: 1805 423-2363

Hosted by Bob and Patsy Moser

Sponsored by:
Pole Vault Safety Certification Board
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club
VS Athletics

ASTM specifications
Force Impact Testing
National Pole Vault Foundation
Required Landing Zone proposal
Plant Box Padding
HS Weight Rule
Serious and Catastrophic Injury Report

Open to all coaches, vaulters, officials, and interested parties.

RSVP by June 20, 2012
via email: or txt: 1805 423-2363

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:23 am
by WentzvillePV
Sorry to resurrect this, but I think the RLZ is an excellent idea. I had never thought of this and hope to spread this around this year and gain some more support for it.

The RLZ could easily be paired with a required coaches education to make our sport safer. In Missouri all coaches have to do a rules review and pass a quiz (takes about 30 mins). It would be easy to add a separate review for pole vault coaches focusing on the RLZ, safety, proper bend, etc.

Right now I am trying to find a pole for a good high school male who gained 30 lbs from lifting weights since last spring. I have 3 poles he can safely jump on with a lower grip, but not one rated 185+. Now we have to order a pole or two and I am nervous that he won't be able to penetrate if we get him too long of a pole. We can not afford to buy him a 13', 13' 6", 14', and 14' 6". It also hurts to know that he will likely need 1 or 2 more next year. We have many vaulters that would benefit from another pole, but our best vaulter getting a pole he can legally jump on takes priority.

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:31 am
by mjsuggspv
I really appreciate this post. It has been really hard to explain to my head coach about the weight ratings on our pole and I think this will enlighten him. As mentioned it is really difficult for a lot of high school to obtain a variety of poles because their expensive. It only makes it worse at my school because although we have pole weight ratings from 100-180 in 10lbs. increments the heights are farfetched and it messes with everyone because our 130lb. pole is 10ft and too soft and too short for any of us to use but our only other alternative is to use a 12' 140 pole which was too stiff for me for a long time.

So we have high school athletes have two main options: risk the big pole and break your neck or lose wight. I lost weight from first researching and talking with experts about my healthy weight range and focused my eating on healthier foods by cutting out carbonated drinks, snack foods ect. and also incorporated more weight training but a lot of people don't do that. Many people start unhealthy eating habits making them sick and discouraged. It only makes it worse on female athletes to be weighed publicly which is embarrising for some of the girls in my area. It's also really hard to train begining vaulters on poles rated at their body weight because the poles are just too stiff for them to learn the technique involved with vaulting and they can't go much higher because they have formed bad habits from being forced to compromise technique to get on "the big pole".

Thank you for posting this post. It's nice to know there is some discussion out there for the sake and safety of high school vaulters! :)

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:48 am
by KirkB
I'm not in favor of any pole weight rules. As everyone has stated, they don't address the real issue. And the rule is based on ONLY the pole WEIGHT compared to the vaulter's weight.

Every vaulter usually needs a pole LIGHTER than their weight early in their career, a pole NEAR their weight as they advance towards their best years, and a pole ABOVE their weight in their peak years. Ideally, they will also vary their pole size by their length of run, time of season, weather, and fitness level. Every day and every month of every year, a vaulter needs a different sized pole.

So with all these variables, how can the NFHS legislate the EXACT minimum weight of pole that a vaulter can use for the ENTIRE time during their HS career that the vaulter happens to weigh a certain amount? The weight of the vaulter is only a SINGLE parameter in the pole selection process. It makes no sense! :confused:

Typically, as soon as a vaulter gets accustomed to a pole of a certain weight, it soon becomes too light. HS vaulters and their coaches need a SERIES of poles that they share at a HS, as they improve their technique.

The answer is to have a series of poles where they (and their team-mates) can grip them at various heights throughout the meet, throughout the week, throughout the season, and throughout their HS career. I'm sure these types of poles exist today, but I also suspect that they could be designed to work BETTER at various grip heights - if only the manufacturers were motivated to REDUCE a school's pole inventory.

The manufacturer that innovates the best on this concept stands a good chance of improving their sales significantly, due to school pole budget limits! It will never be "one size fits all", but a school could certainly reduce its pole inventory significantly with this type of pole - but for the STUPID pole weight rule!

Jan, I wouldn't bother fiddling with the pole weight rule by proposing the marking of various grip heights on it - you're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's a futile cause. Better to push for ELIMINATION of the pole weight rule. However, it will be politically difficult to just get it abolished. Instead, it must be REPLACED by a better set of rules that will be more effective (and can be PROVEN to be more effective), such as the proposed PLZ rule, the standards placement rule (now 45-80 for both college and high school - which is good), and mandatory box collars that meet ASTM specs. And of course stricter or more mandatory coaching certifications.

I'll discuss my thoughts about these alternatives later - I agree with the majority of the sentiment on this thread and in your SkyJumpers newsletters (I've read all the comments and emails), but I have a few ideas that haven't been mentioned yet. Stay tuned.

Kirk Bryde

Re: The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:31 pm
by jbj4444
I realize this is two years after you posted but maybe someone will see this and not be overconfident about braking a pole. You stated "But breaking a pole almost never results in a catastrophic injury. The athlete's momentum carries them forward into the pit." I have seen many vaulters seriously injured from breaking poles including myself. I shaped a pole and broke my neck as my head landed in the plant box. I was 6'1" and weighed 175 lbs. using a 15' 205 lb pole. Breaking a pole is never a good thing.