Pole Vault: All About the Amazing Sport

The sports sector is made up of a number of games that you don’t see every day. There are some rare events that you get to watch during big competitions and in certain times of the year. 

Pole vaulting is one of these sports because you will hardly find people playing it on an ordinary day. Pole vaulting is a track and field sport in which the participant uses a carbon fiber or fiberglass pole to jump over a bar.


Tracing its history from ancient Greeks, Celts, and Cretans, the sport has grown to become a full medal Olympic Games event since 1896. Read on to learn more about pole vaulting.

Pole Vault: All About the Amazing Sport

History of Pole Vaulting

In the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, people were using poles as a means of passing over obstacles in marshy places. When these marshes were drained, it led to a network of canals or open drains intersecting each other.

For people to cross these drains without getting soaked, each house had to keep jumping poles to use for jumping over the canals. Since then Pole vault competitions continue to be held in the lowlands near the North Sea annually.

Note that these competitions are not based on height, but rather speed. Originally, vaulting poles were made of stiff materials, like aluminum or bamboo. Flexible vaulting poles made of carbon fiber or fiberglass were introduced in the 1950s.

Requirements for Vaulting

Given that a number of pole vaulters – including World record breakers – are known to have had gymnastic backgrounds, it means the game requires similar attributes to gymnastics. 

To be a good pole vaulter, you need to have a great running speed, and you should have great strength.


On approach, the vaulter runs down the runway so as to achieve maximum speed to initiate takeoff. Experienced vaulters use approaches with 18 to 22 strides which are often called “steps” in which every other foot is taken as one step. 

The vaulter runs to the vault forcefully and powerfully, but in an upright and relaxed position with knees lifted and torso leaning forward slightly. The vaulter’s head, shoulders, and lips are aligned which enables him to increase speed as the body gets erected.

Plant and Take-Off

Plant and take-off is introduced by three steps from the final step. Participants are to count from their starting point backwards counting only steps made by the left foot, save for the second step from the box taken by the right foot. 

For instance, a vaulter on a “ten count” would count from ten backwards only counting steps made by the left foot till the last three. Both feet will be counted as three, two, and one. This phase is to translate kinetic energy gathered from approach into potential energy.

Swing Up

Pole Vault: All About the Amazing Sport

The swing and row contains the vaulter swaying the trail leg forward and rowing the pole, which brings the top arm to the hips while trying to keep the trail leg straight in a bid to store potential energy into the pole. 

The rowing motion bends the pole for a longer period until the vaulter gets into an optimum position. Once in a “U” shape, he uses the left arm to hug the pole tightly so that he can use the pole’s recoil. This is a battle against the unbending of the pole and hence should be done quickly.


Pole vaulting is a game that was first started in the province of Friesland in Netherlands. It involves the vaulter using a long flexible pole made of either carbon fiber or fiberglass. If this sport interests, consider learning gymnastics.


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