Pole vaulting/diving- how do these people get started?

Something I wondered about regarding sports such as pole vaulting, diving, and a few others is how people get started on sports like these without getting horribly injured along the way.

Pole vaulting seems riddled with peril- I can imagine many things going wrong along the way (not enough foward momentum, slipping off the pole at a bad moment, missing the landing pad :eek: the whole thing seems so stylized that it looks very hard to ‘get into’ as in learning how to do it without getting hurt all the time from screwing up.

Similarly when I see divers that jump off some high platform and do a bunch of flips before diving in the water, I think to myself, “How many belly flops happen before you get to the point where you can pull that off?” The one time I was brave enough to attempt a front flip off the high dive, I landed flat on my back, which was excruciatingly painful. I can’t imagine the level of trial-and-error required to pull it off correctly!

The winter olympics have a sport where a skier jumps off this ramp and does a bunch of flips and twists. Similarly, how do they not screw up and break their necks?!

From what I recall of Greg Louganis’s autobiography, he did a lot of training on trampoline to learn how to position his body. He also trained as a gymnast but had to give it up because he was confusing himself and landing on his head in the gym.

I dove on the 1 meter board for quite a while before attempting the 3 meter board. Once you get the basic skills down and some sense of yourself in the air, the skills are very transferable. There’s also a 5 and 7.5 meter platform to work on before you move up to the 10 meter.

Not that I didn’t have some killer crash and burns when trying out new dives. :smack:

Incidently, I was approached by the track coach asking if I wanted to try out for pole vault. He was looking for people who had a sense of themselves in the air. I never took him up on it so I don’t know how the training works.

[hijack]Quick polevault question: If the pole hits the bar after the athlete clears the bar (while the athlete is falling down onto the mat), is it considered a foul jump or is it considered as a cleared jump ?[/hijack]

What about javelin? I don’t think it is a NCAA track and field event (but could be wrong) Are there any college-level javelin competions (or even high school?)


Of course, if you remove any element from pole-vaulting, the whole thing collapses.

Thus disproving the evilutionary theory.

“What about javelin? I don’t think it is a NCAA track and field event (but could be wrong) Are there any college-level javelin competions (or even high school?)”

Is Javelin not a common high-school track and field event? It seemed fairly common in when I ran track, along with shot put, discus, pole vaulting and so on.

I just checked, there are javelin rules/records at the NCAA site.
I’m 99% sure it wasn’t a an event at my high school - but then again I was reasonably sure it wasn’t event at UW-Platteville, and it turns out it is.

I withdraw my hijack.


I threw javelin and discus when I was in high school. I wasn’t very good at it.

Telemark has it essentially correct with regards to diving. I started when I was seven years old so there wasn’t much I could do anyway. But it is definitely a piecewise process. Also there are dryland diving boards with ropes/pulleys that allow you to practice new skills without fear of injury. Not that I didn’t have hundreds if not thousands of crashes, though thankfully none too harsh off of 10m. Friends of mine have coughed up blood from landing wrong from up there.

Interestingly, when I was at USC, the polevaulters would come to practice at our pool because we had an underwater viewing window that their coach could go down to to watch them practice their form. So we used dryland training for safety and they used a pool for safety

Aside…Telemark where did you dive?

WAY back when I was on the track team in High School, I took a few serious tumbles at the pole vault altar. No amount of explanation can describe the YANK when the pole hits the pit and you start upward.

It’s lifting yourself and using a lever. It yanks your shoulders and arms and hips into an unnatural state. The impact is huge. I stuck to the long-distance running after those few attempts, and I’m a tall skinny athletic guy. It is REALLY hard to hang onto that pole and go over that bar.

On the positive side, there appears to be about a 50% less vomiting factor when deciding between the pole vault and cross-country running.

There’s still a lot of puke out there. Less for the pole, more for the LD running.

Just highschool, outside of Boston. But we worked on the high boards and platforms any chance we got. I remember going off the Brown high platforms in the middle of an invitational meet, with the PA announcer saying “please stay off the diving plaforms” on our way down…

I believe javelin has been pretty much dropped from high school competition in the US due to safety concerns.

The rules can be found in this LARGE PDF document from the IAAF, on page 134.

The upshot is that it counts as a failure if the pole knocks off the bar.

Yeah…we did have one guy who got speared by a javelin. He didn’t get seriously hurt but he was the but of many a joke for the rest of the season.

During the women’s ploe vault event the BBC commentator mentioned that most, if not all of the top women were previously gymnasts.

That’s why I always insisted on being a thrower. The catchers were always getting hurt.

Long ago, in my high-school days, I was a (bad) pole vaulter. Largely for the vomit rationale mentioned by stockton. I also did high-jump.

We novice pole vaulters start slow – the pole is a heavy, not-very-bendy thing, and you use it like Robin Hood going over a river with a staff. Without bending the pole at all you can clear 9 or 10 feet. After a while you start to use a more bendy pole, and to begin lifting your body above your hands, as you can see when the pros do it. It is a long while before you are getting that deep bend that is so frightening to watch. And that is when it starts to get dangerous, for the reasons stated in the OP – getting sprung back because you didn’t time the jump right, missing the mat, breaking a pole (a real danger, especially with the well used poles that most high-schools track teams are using). But it’s all worth it to lay on the mat in the sun after a work out, and watch the girls cross country team practice. :wink: