Pros and Cons of Helmet Use in Pole Vaulting

SJVSC pole vaulting
Jan Johnson

6505 Santa Cruz
ATASCADERO CA 93422
Phone 1800 652-5201
Fax 1805 466-8273
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December 13, 2000

PRO AND CON ON THE USE OF HELMETS IN POLE VAULTING

The use of helmets in pole vaulting seems to be gaining expanding acceptance in the last couple of years. Part of this is due to its pro-motion by myself and other proponents. However, I must admit that I feel compelled to write this summary as an advisement to both those who are proponents, and those who are reticent regarding helmet usage. To be sure, both have strong points on both sides of the issue. At SJVSC we have been expermenting with helmets since 1995. It has been our feeling that helmets may offer some extra added protection under certain circumstances. During this period of time we have performed thousands of vaults using several varieties of helmets.

PRO

Helmets may significantly reduce the chance of head injury in the three major types of catastropic accidents; #1 over penetrating and fliping out the back of the landing pit on to head, #2 hand slipping of the pole at or just after T.O. and landing on back in or near box area, #3 Going too much to the side and missing the pit near the standard base.

Approximatly 90% of catasropic accidents since 1983 have been head injuries. Several brands of multi sport helmets currently exist which may be appropiate for pole vaulting. The cost of these models range from $30 to $50. Since no such thing as a pole vaulting helmet currently exists helmets should be considered an optional piece of equipment.

Research in the area of helmet applications in the pole vault is currently still being done. School’s and associations should consider encouraging the use of helmets by vaulters but not making it mandatory.

CON

Some helmets may not provide proper protection to the back and sides of the head.

Some studies indicate that helmets may give the user a false sence of securtiy and well being.

A helmet is not a substitute for proper technique ,and a safe enviornment.

For a helmet to do its job it must be worn properly.

Helmets are another expense.

Helmets will require up-keep.

Some Track Dealers Who Sell Sports helmets:

Gill Sports 1800 637-3090
On Track 1800 697-2999
SpingCo Athletic 1800 383-0305
Personal Record Sports 1707 645-8555

SUPERVISION

For those who participate wisely, pole vaulting is fun and very rewarding. A pole vaulting supervisor need not be an expert in vaulting mechanics. But rather an expert in relationships: a facilitator of plans, an organizer of people. Vaulters do not need motivation; They will be the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. The lessons of pole vaulting are similar to life, the relationships between, meaningful preparation, conceptualization, adjustments, work and rest, fun and luck, the law of averages, educated guesses, conquering fears, over-coming problems and making adjustments. The pole vault supervisor needs to understand those relationships to provide a fun and risk-free environment.

SUMMARY

Currently no specific helmet for pole vaulting exists. However, helmets may be a good idea as they add a possible measure of safety. Several brands of hockey and or skating helmets offer excellent protection to the sides and back of the head area. These helmets are light-weight, offer foam inner-liners, and a hard plastic outer-shell, with a adjustable chin strap. The helmet should be considered a personal piece of equipment which the vaulter should supply for him or her self. It is important to note that even with large landing pads, and additional padding of hard surfaces the planting box area still remains a hazardous area for potential injury. Perhaps most important of all the helmet should never be a subsitute for safe equipment or sound technique.