RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Discussion about ways to make the sport safer and discussion of past injuries so we can learn how to avoid them in the future.
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RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:03 am

on The weight rating rule is making the PV less safe thread "http://www.polevaultpower.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=23878&start=12 KirkB wrote: ... the pole weight rule ... 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 RLZ 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 Jan's SkyJumpers newsletters (I've read all the comments and emails), but I have a few ideas that haven't been mentioned yet.

As promised, this is my follow-up post ...

Here's my novel ideas:
1. Fan-shaped safety sectors :idea:
2. Pool noodles! :idea:
3. Riding the pole to safety :idea:

Here's a diagram of my proposed RLZ (Required Landing Zone) and PLZ (Preferred Landing Zone) shapes. The outer sector is my proposed RLZ.

PV_Safety_Sector_.jpg
PV_Safety_Sector_.jpg (86.76 KiB) Viewed 16940 times

It would fit approximately in the same rectangle as Jan’s RLZ. Why is it fan shaped? Because that's the shape of the shot put, discus, hammer, and javelin sectors, so it will be immediately recognizable as a SECTOR. When you see it painted on the pit, it should be obvious what it is. But more importantly, shaping the RLZ like a fan decreases the RLZ area to safer dimensions near the standards!

Although the BASE of the standards are padded, it's still dangerous if you land on them because the padding isn't as thick, and the upright is unpadded metal. It's also dangerous if you land on the pegs holding the crossbar up. I've seen a vid of a vaulter that ripped his shoulder open by landing on the pegs.

Vaults where the vaulter lands close to the standards (whether the bar is cleared or not) are very dangerous! The RLZ should be far enough away from the edges of the pit AND STANDARDS to provide a safety margin for bad landings. To provide this safety margin near the standards and still allow the RLZ to be wider when you land deeper into the pit, a fan shape is optimal. A rectangular shaped RLZ is not optimal near the standards.

One last reason for the RLZ being fan-shaped is because the sector should follow the likely trajectories of most vaults. Thus, it should (roughly) "fan out" from the box area. The back side of the pit could follow the arc of the RLZ. This isn't essential, but it might save some unnecessary bulk and weight of the pit which might result in slightly lower manufacturing and shipping costs.

The diagram shown is based on a radius center-point approximately 4.00m back from the box faceplate. This provides a sector of about 30⁰.

I've also drawn a PLZ inside the RLZ. The PLZ is also fan-shaped so that the overall appearance of the pit and its lines is symmetrical. The purpose of the two dots in the center of the PLZ is simply to provide a more precise indication to the vaulter and his coach of where he landed. This may assist in analyzing the vaulter's technique, and in fine-tuning the standards placement. It's just one arbitrary design detail that could have been drawn a number of different ways.

The front buns of the pit could be shorter than most of the pits commercially available, and replaced by ASTM certified box collar pads. Again, this would save manufacturing and shipping costs.

As long as the vaulter is riding his pole safely down by hanging onto it, the ASTM certified box collar material should be ample to dampen his feet-first landing. I suggest that some of the cost savings from shortening the front buns can go towards the purchase of an ASTM approved box collar (which would now be much larger and more costly if it's now covering the areas that the long front buns used to cover).

Next: Pool noodles! :idea:

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:09 am

Pool noodles! :idea:

There was talk a few years ago on PVP about marking the crossbar into 3 sections – a legal middle section, and a section to each side of the middle section – to indicate vaults that are too close to the pegs, and to indicate vaults where the trajectory of the vaulter would land him too near a side of the pit.

It was discussed that this was a good idea in theory, but it would be difficult for officials to determine a foul jump from a good jump, since the crossbar markers would be BELOW the vaulter, rather than BESIDE the vaulter.

Here’s an improvement on that idea – using a pool noodle as a vertical “chute” marker! :idea:

Cut the pool noodle in half, and then cut a notch two-thirds the way up each half, so that the 2 halves of the noodle can hang upright on the crossbar. Also drill a cavity in the bottom of each half, so that it can be placed on the raised crossbar with the bar putter-upper.

The noodles form a “chute” above the crossbar – similar to the chutes used in whitewater kayaking competitions. The vaulter must pass through the chute (over the crossbar and between the noodles) for the attempt to be legal.

This idea could be complementary to Jan’s RLZ idea, or it could be in place of it. If the vaulter’s trajectory is anywhere inbetween the two noodles, he’s going to land safely in the pit!

I like this idea, because it’s actually cheaper and easier to implement than the RLZ idea – you don’t even have to measure, mark, and paint any lines on the pit! And I think it would be easier for officials to judge – compared to judging whether a vaulter landed in the RLZ or not. They would just have to observe whether a noodle was touched or not. If it’s touched, it will wiggle or fall down. If it doesn’t move, then it’s a good clearance! :yes:

It also gives the vaulter something to focus on when before he starts down the runway. Unlike the RLZ lines, he can see the chute that he must pass through, and visualize a successful clearance.

Next: Riding the pole to safety :idea:

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:22 am

Riding the pole to safety :idea:

This idea is complementary to the proposed rules regarding the RLZ …

I agree with a 3-strikes-and-you’re-out rule in conjunction with the RLZ, to encourage behavior modification of reckless vaulters. This is 3 "unsafe vault attempts" during the entire meet - not necessarily consecutive (like misses). And I don't think this rule should be any different on a third attempt at a bar - just like the throwing events, if you're out of the sector, it's a foul.

However, it is inevitable that a vaulter will have a bad plant or a bad takeoff and will have to bail once in a while. I don’t think the vaulter should be penalized for bailing PROPERLY. A bail counts as a miss, and that should be enough of a penalty for a bail.

There are at least 6 types of bails. After you decide to abort your vault, or after you accidentally abort your vault (in order of least to most danger) you:

1. Let go at just the right moment as you’re moving quickly towards the pit, and land safely in the RLZ. This is actually easier said than done, and could be dangerous if you let go too early or too late.

2. Stall out, and hang onto the pole (this is the most common type of bail-out). The pole then slowly rolls down in a direction outside of your control. If it rolls towards the pit, you land in the PLZ. If it rolls to the left or right, you land safely on your feet on one of the front buns. If it rolls directly back towards the runway, you land safely on your feet on the runway.

3. Stall out and then the pole bounces (it bends a second time). It bounces because you didn’t slowly absorb your body weight on the pole when you hung on (probably because it was fairly late in your vault when you decided to abort, so you went higher than your top grip). So the pole will bend again, possibly throwing you out of the pit past the front buns. In this case, instead of putting your full weight onto the pole when it bends the second time, you should try to lower yourself down the pole a bit by releasing your top hand, putting your body weight only on your bottom hand, and then let the pole rotate slowly down until you land on your feet.

4. Hang onto the pole, but the tip of the pole moves out of the box, so you cannot use it to hold you safely in the air. In this case, you must try to land safely on whatever is directly below you. If you’re going to land in the box, your best bet in this situation is to try to land your feet on the flat box collar surface around the box. When you (hopefully) land safely after this, think about WHY the tip of the pole moved out of the box, and decide how you’re going to keep the pole tip in the box the next time. Usually, the tip slipped out of the box because you lifted the pole up after you aborted. You need to keep downwards pressure on the pole when you abort, so that the tip cannot move out of the box.

5. Fall awkwardly toward the box without having your feet under you. In this case, all you can do is try to protect your head and neck with your arms. (I have never experienced this type of catastrophic fall, so I cannot describe it very well.)

6. Fall towards the box because your grip on the pole slipped, or you simply let go of the pole way too early. In this case, all you can do is try to use your arms and legs to protect your head and neck and land as safely as you can. (Again, I have never experienced this type of fall.)

If anyone has any other bail scenarios to describe, please do so.

The first 3 of these scenarios are bails that I think are “safe” and should not be penalized.

The key to bailing is to decide to bail as quickly as you can – right after takeoff and before you swing too much and the pole bends too much. The sooner you bail, the safer you will be. However, it is never too late to bail, so if you feel yourself stalling out or going way too far to one side, then bail as soon as you realize this.

The way to bail safely is really quite simple – as soon as you notice that your vault is “off” you MUST stop your swing and keep hanging onto the pole; you MUST ride the pole slowly down; and you MUST land safely on your feet.

If you do those 3 things (hang onto your pole, and land UNDER CONTROL, on your feet) then you’re practicing safe vaulting, and you shouldn’t be penalized. It’s already cost you a miss, so why should you be penalized any further? Yes, maybe you should have lowered your grip or used a lighter pole, but you're already penalized for that with the miss.

I think this rule will remind vaulters that they should ALWAYS hang onto the pole and attempt to land safely on their feet when they bail. It will teach the proper safe vaulting behavior. :yes:

Expecting them to land in the RLZ on these types of bailouts (the first 3) is expecting too much, and might encourage unsafe behavior.

Kirk Bryde
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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:20 pm

You might want to review Jan Johnson's RLZ ideas that he has submitted to rules committees and decide if you want to reinvent the wheel or not...

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:30 pm

To my knowledge (and I've read all that Jan has published on http://www.SkyJumpers.com, plus all that's published on PVP), these 3 ideas haven't been discussed yet - there's no repetition of old ideas here. These suggestions are all complementary to Jan's basic RLZ proposal, and are based on what I consider to be "flaws" or "voids" in the most recent proposal.

I see NFHS PV rules as ever-evolving - not just a single proposal in a single year and then you're done.

I'm sure we'll still be debating all the various rules for many years to come. :D

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby PV2020 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:38 pm

Why landing zones WOULD NOT WORK!

High School already changed the cross bar to a minimum 18in or something close to that. So if the person can clear the crossbar and land on mat, there is no reason the jump should not count. Also:

If a high school vaulter clears a cross bar and does not land in the required landing zone you know what they are going to do? They are going to use the exact same pole and give it another shot hoping they land in the landing zone the next time. There is no way that 90% of high school athletes or even their coaches are going to put them on a smaller pole after they clear a cross bar with the standards at a legal mark.

No one tries to miss the landing area. If someone comes down on a crossbar or even makes the crossbar and rolls off to the side, there is a good chance it is because their plant was crooked. And an official not counting the mark is not going to make them straighten their plant, because they are not trying to have a crooked plant in the first place. If it was as easy as that, they would have fixed it before the meet!

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:12 pm

KirkB wrote:The vaulter must pass through the chute (over the crossbar and between the noodles) for the attempt to be legal.

I forgot to mention that the part of the noodles hanging UNDER the crossbar (and at crossbar level) could also be used for determining whether a vault is safe or not.

If the bar is not cleared, but the vaulter does not pass UNDER the bar BETWEEN the 2 noodles, then that could also be ruled as an unsafe vault.

If the bar is knocked off AND the noodle is hit with any part of his body, then that would also be ruled as an unsafe vault.

Ditto in the unlikely event of the vaulter going so far to the left or right that he misses the noodle entirely.

Again, it should be easier for an official to decide whether the noodle was touched or not (by its stillness or motion) than whether the vaulter's head and shoulders landed in the RLZ or not.

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:27 pm

PV2020 wrote: High School already changed the cross bar to a minimum 18in or something close to that. So if the person can clear the crossbar and land on mat, there is no reason the jump should not count.

Yes, it's 18" (0.45m). The RLZ rule as proposed by Jan is that "head and shoulders" must land in the RLZ, which is 3'6" back of zero line. Are you suggesting that it would be possible for a vaulter to clear the bar (with standards at 45) and land with their head and shoulders closer to the box than the RLZ line? :confused:

PV2020 wrote: If a high school vaulter clears a cross bar and does not land in the required landing zone ... They are going to use the exact same pole and give it another shot hoping they land in the landing zone the next time. There is no way that 90% of high school athletes or even their coaches are going to put them on a smaller pole after they clear a cross bar with the standards at a legal mark.

The RLZ rule as proposed does not force the vaulter onto a smaller pole. It only forces them to land in the RLZ, or else the attempt will count as a safety infraction.

The vaulter (and his coach) have a few choices on how they decide to improve their vault on the next attempt. A few of these choices are:
1. Improve a technical fault on the same pole (such as correcting a crooked or late plant).
2. Move up to the next highest (or next lowest) stiffness of pole.
3. Raise or lower the grip on the same pole.
4. Run slower or faster, or decrease or increase the number of steps in the run - using the same pole.

Any combination of these adjustments (or anything else they can think of) might also assist the vaulter in landing in the RLZ for a safer attempt.

PV2020 wrote: If someone comes down on a crossbar or even makes the crossbar and rolls off to the side, there is a good chance it is because their plant was crooked. And an official not counting the mark is not going to make them straighten their plant, because they are not trying to have a crooked plant in the first place.

Yes, crooked or late plants are a common cause of the pole catapulting the vaulter off to the side of the pit.

It is not up to the official to "make them straighten their plant", just as it's not up to the official to make the vaulter clear the bar. How the vaulter (and his coach) decide to land within the RLZ AND clear the bar is up to them.

If they cannot figure out how to land in the RLZ after 3 tries (cumulative - not consecutive) then they will be eliminated from the competition. That is the rule as proposed by Jan.

I think the RLZ rule is a good one, and I have offered some additional ideas that might help improve it.

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby VaultPurple » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:29 pm

If someone clears the cross bar at 18 that is enough safety precaution in my opinion. Have you ever seen someone clear a crossbar at 45 and still landed dangerously in the box? No. You may have someone who did not land in the coaches box, but odds are you have never seen someone clear a crossbar and get hurt (unless they go off the side of the mat or back).

If someone lands so that their head and shoulders are not in the proposed 'RLZ', they are probably not clearing the crossbar, so it does not count as a make, so if they can not fix it in three tries they still do not get to go on to the next jump.

And like PV2020 said, if someone does clear the crossbar, but manages to miss the 'RLZ', it will not make the event safer that the 'RLZ' was there because they were not trying to miss it in the first place. They might give it another shot, but odds are their technique will not change much from jump to jump.

Other reason this is stupid. Now everyone would have to buy another thousand dollar 2 inch cover that has the landing area design on it. Just another way to get rid of pole vaulting at the high school level.

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:26 pm

VaultPurple wrote: If someone lands so that their head and shoulders are not in the proposed 'RLZ', they are probably not clearing the crossbar, so it does not count as a make, so if they can not fix it in three tries they still do not get to go on to the next jump.

VP, I'm not sure you understand the RLZ rule. You mentioned the "coaches box" and seemed to infer that it was the same as the RLZ. It's not. The coaches box exists today, and is the Preferred Landing Zone (PLZ). The RLZ is wider and deeper than the PLZ.

I agree with you that if you clear a bar with standards set at 45, your head and shoulders will land in the RLZ and it will be ruled a safe vault. However, PV2020 seems to think otherwise.

VaultPurple wrote: ... so if they can not fix it in three tries they still do not get to go on to the next jump.

But what if only every second attempt is unsafe, and every second attempt clears the bar? The RLZ rule forces these reckless vaulters out of the meet - which is good, isn't it? They need to be motivated to change their behavior so that their vaults are safe, don't they? :confused:

VaultPurple wrote:... if someone does clear the crossbar, but manages to miss the 'RLZ', it will not make the event safer that the 'RLZ' was there because they were not trying to miss it in the first place. They might give it another shot, but odds are their technique will not change much from jump to jump.

If they don't change their technique to land in the RLZ, then they will be eliminated from the meet EARLIER due to the RLZ rule rather than due to the 3 misses rule. That should be sufficient motivation for them to learn how to change their technique (as I explained above).

Remember that the rule is designed for the VERY RARE SCENARIO of landing on the edges of the pit, or landing dangerously close to the box or standards, or landing outside of the pit. If you DO NOT fix your technique (or change your pole or grip) so that you have less chance of making the same mistake again, then you're being far too reckless, and I don't think the hosts of the meet will want any responsibility for your recklessness, so they will now have the authority to remove you from the event (after your third safety infraction).

Also, if you value your life or your health, you had BETTER fix the problem for your own sake - that's just common sense and you don't need an official to tell you that. But if you're reckless or idiotic or suicidal enough to CONTINUE vaulting in an unsafe manner (3 times in one meet), then the RLZ rule gives the officials the power to remove you from the event.

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby VaultPurple » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:32 pm

VP, I'm not sure you understand the RLZ rule. You mentioned the "coaches box" and seemed to infer that it was the same as the RLZ. It's not. The coaches box exists today, and is the Preferred Landing Zone (PLZ). The RLZ is wider and deeper than the PLZ.

I agree with you that if you clear a bar with standards set at 45, your head and shoulders will land in the RLZ and it will be ruled a safe vault. However, PV2020 seems to think otherwise.


Exactly, as you stated, if someone clears the bar with standard at 45, their head and shoulders will be in the RLZ.

Remember that the rule is designed for the VERY RARE SCENARIO of landing on the edges of the pit, or landing dangerously close to the box or standards, or landing outside of the pit. If you DO NOT fix your technique (or change your pole or grip) so that you have less chance of making the same mistake again, then you're being far too reckless, and I don't think the hosts of the meet will want any responsibility for your recklessness, so they will now have the authority to remove you from the event (after your third safety infraction).

As stated hear you mention VERY RARE SCENARIO. The two above quotes prove my point exactly. It is very rare that someone clears a crossbar and still makes the height. Pole vault is dangerous, and we need to make it safer through having better coaches and the right poles for athletes, not by having more rules and regulations that cost schools thousands of dollars that they could spend on getting the right poles or sending their coaches/athletes to clinics to learn to do things the right way.

I understand what the rule is proposing. You are giving athletes the regular three misses at a height but only three 'unsafe' jumps per meet. So if an athlete comes in at 15' at a high school meet after sitting out two hours because they are at an invitational that has 30 11'6 guys at it and it takes them 2 hours to come in. They come in and their first two jumps are bad and force them off to the side, then they clear it on the third with a good jump. The athlete could go on and clear 15'6, 16'0, 16'6, and go up to a new big pole at 17' and have a bad plant causing them to land off to the side of the mat. Now an athlete that is having a great day and about to PR and jumping something special is flagged for their third violation and not allowed to continue on in the meet.

But most importantly, you have agreed, as well stated, how rare this occasion really is! You also have to be jumping close to 15+ to even be able to finish a jump and land off the side of the mat while still clearing a cross bar.

My biggest thing is that the cross bar is the judge. If you knock it off you did something wrong. If an athlete has two 'unsafe' jumps but fixes it by the third and clears it then awesome! If they then have a bad jump on their first attempt at the next height I do not think that will motivate them to fix their plant, no one is trying to have a bad plant, it is just going to make them really mad.

If you can not tell, the bold and underlined part is the most important thing in my post. Education is key. Continuing to create rules that need more regulation and money spent will just keep killing the event.

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Re: RLZ (Required Landing Zone) Ideas for HS Rule Changes

Unread postby KirkB » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:58 am

VaultPurple wrote: Pole vault is dangerous, and we need to make it safer through having better coaches and the right poles for athletes, not by having more rules and regulations ...

I don't disagree with this. Better coaches and the right poles. Far more important than extra padding and more rules! :yes:

VaultPurple wrote: ... more rules and regulations that cost schools thousands of dollars that they could spend on getting the right poles or sending their coaches/athletes to clinics to learn to do things the right way.

Slight disagreement here, but not much. The cost of drawing lines on a pit, or the cost of a SafetyMax+ is minor compared to the cost of a series of poles, or the cost of an entire pit. And what's the cost of a human life? :confused:

Actually, once the RLZ rule is set, the manufacturers can paint the lines on the top mat for hardly any additional cost at all! This doesn't help all the pits that need to be retrofitted, but for NEW pits, the cost would be near-zero (especially in relation to the total cost of the pit).

VaultPurple wrote:My biggest thing is that the cross bar is the judge. If you knock it off you did something wrong. If an athlete has two 'unsafe' jumps but fixes it by the third and clears it then awesome! If they then have a bad jump on their first attempt at the next height I do not think that will motivate them to fix their plant, no one is trying to have a bad plant, it is just going to make them really mad.

I hear you. In my posts, I think I was clear in distinguishing an occasional bad takeoff from a totally reckless vaulter. We want the totally reckless vaulter to sit on the sidelines and "think about it". Just like a red card in soccer. Or a one-game suspension in pro sports. We don't want to penalize safe vaulters too harshly - but we do want them to have a "wakeup call" when and if they need to make technical adjustments.

Do you think 3 or 4 safety warnings (rather than the proposed 2) would be more fair?

What do you think about my pool noodles idea? There's hardly any cost for that, and even if it wasn't a RULE - even if it was used just for GUIDANCE - just as the PLZ is used today - it may help to bring the danger of a bad vault to the attention of the vaulter and his coach - in front of track fans. Sort of a public thrashing. :) What do you think, VP?

On another thread (http://www.polevaultpower.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=23458&start=12) I posted some more information about "Missing the Mats" and what you should do about it. In that thread, I also disclosed why I'm so passionate about PV Safety. Besides the time I missed the pit (described in that thread), I also missed the pit 4 other times that resulted in 2 serious season-ending injuries, and one injury that put me on the injured list for about a month.

I think the RLZ rule - along with my proposed "riding the pole to safety" rule - would have saved me from all 5 of my serious injuries! :yes:

Kirk Bryde
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