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The Pole Vault Pole. By Matt Shuler ECIV 303: Fall 2010. Pole Vaulting. Pole Vaulting: An event in track and field in which an athlete known as a “vaulter” uses a pole to propel them over a cross bar.

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the pole vault pole

The Pole Vault Pole


Matt Shuler

ECIV 303: Fall 2010

pole vaulting
Pole Vaulting
  • Pole Vaulting: An event in track and field in which an athlete known as a “vaulter” uses a pole to propel them over a cross bar.
  • The athlete must run while holding the pole, plant the pole in a rigid box in the ground and jump off the ground at the same time, and then perform a gymnastic maneuver to propel them over the bar.
  • World Record:

Men: 6.15m (20’2”) Women: 5.06m (16’8”)


box dimensions
Box Dimensions



pole range of motion
Pole Range of Motion
  • Bending Pole
    • Material on Tension Side must Stretch-180 Degree Bend: Must Stretch 2.18%
    • Material on Compression Side must Compress-180 Degree Bend: Must Compress 2.2%
    • Pole Must Start to Oval-1.5% Decrease in axis length in tension/compression plane.

Ekevadand Lundberg J Biomech, 30, 259 (1997)

materials of choice
Materials of Choice


Carbon Fiber

An extremely strong, thin fiber, consisting of long, chainlike molecules of pure carbon that are made by charring synthetic fibers such as rayon in the absence of oxygen.

Carbon Fiber- Tensile Strength: 5,650 MPad Density: 1.75 g/cm^3

4x Rigidity of Fiberglass

2/3 Compressive Strength of Fiberglass but depends on how alignment of material

Cost more than fiberglass

  • Material made from extremely fine fibers of glass.
  • Types of Fiberglass used:
    • E-Glass-Tensile Strength: 3,450 MPad Density: 2.57 g/cm^3
    • S-Glass-Tensile Strength: 4,710 MPad Density: 2.48 g/cm^3
    • Both Types: Tensile Strength=Compressive Strength

tensile stress vs percent strain
Tensile Stress vs. Percent Strain

Jeff Watry: Pole Vault And The Pole

the pole making process
The Pole Making Process
  • Vaulting Poles Range in Length from 10’-17’
  • The “Stiffness” of a pole given its length depends on the diameter of the pole
  • Poles are measured to correspond to a vaulter’s body weight-to account for a factor of load-(the vaulters body weight moving as the vaulter leaves the ground)
the pole making process12
The Pole Making Process

Step: 1

Choose Mandrel Size

Hollow steel tube-sized for the length and inner diameter of the pole

1st Layer of Material

Mandrel is rapped cress-cross style in both directions with chosen material : resin impregnated fiberglass or carbon fiber

Resin-hydrocarbon secretion: used for adhesive properties

1st Layer: Gives pole flexibility, durability, and fortifies pole circumference

the pole making process13
The Pole Making Process

Step 2

Cut Fiberglass/Carbon Fiber Patterns are heat rolled onto the mandrel-resin helps it bond.

Sail Piece is added last

Controls how the pole bends

Bruce Caldwell-EssX Poles

the pole making process14
The Pole Making Process

Step 3

Mandrel and Fiberglass are put into a oven

Stage 1: Steam is used to heat the oven to 175° F

This liquefies the resin so that it resaturates the fiberglass

Stage 2: Oven gradually rises to 300 ° F

This solidifies the resin-”curing” it

Curing-toughening or hardening

Bruce Caldwell-EssX Poles

the pole making process15
The Pole Making Process

Step 4

Pole is then subject to a stress test

Stress Test- Tests pole for deformities and defects: pole will fail if any defects are present

Stress Test- Puts a permanent natural bend in the pole: poles are only meant to bend one way

Gives the pole a soft side and stiff side

the pole making process16
The Pole Making Process

Step 5

Pole is given a “Flex Number”

Flex Number Test: Pole is supported 6” on both ends of the pole. A 50lb weight is then added to the mid point of the pole. The distance in cm that the pole deforms is the flex number.

Flex Number are used to help vaulter transition form one pole to the next.

Flex Numbers are used to only measure relative stuffiness, not the total load that the pole can support

pole failure
Pole Failure

Causes of Failure


When vaulter applies more force than the pole can withstand

When pole is overloaded: the pole will develop “bruises” or permanent deformations in the fibers-eventually leading to failure


Crack-caused by a strike to the pole-failure usually happens on the tension side of the pole

works cited
Works Cited
  • Jeff Watry: Pole Vault and The Pole
  • INFORMATION FOR TRACK & FIELD/ATHLETICS COACHES Athletics Outstanding Performer---The Vaulting Pole
  • Bruce Caldwell- Essx Poles
  • How its Made