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The perfect approach To the Pole Vault By: Sam Boswell

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The Pole Vault: Track & Fields most dangerous event can be made safer and more efficient with statistics.

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The pole vault is made up of two separate phases; the run, and the takeoff. For this project I have chosen to focus mainly on the beginning of the approach through to the last step (or take off). This is because it is the most vital part of the vault. Ideally the pole-vaulter begins his stride evenly and will accelerate his run to a sprint while trying to maintain his posture, balance and proper pole carry. But where on the runway should I start? The average number of steps down the runway is 16 (or 8 lefts). That puts most vaulters within a range of 95 ft to 115 ft. The idea is to be absolutely sure of your approach length up to the nearest inch or two. A run length can vary day to day depending on how your legs feel or which direction the wind is blowing. Even though these ever changing variables are present we still find that statistical calculations and models can have a huge advantage over a simple guess. But where on the runway should I start? The average number of steps down the runway is 16 (or 8 lefts). That puts most vaulters within a range of 95 ft to 115 ft. The idea is to be absolutely sure of your approach length up to the nearest inch or two. A run length can vary day to day depending on how your legs feel or which direction the wind is blowing. Even though these ever changing variables are present we still find that statistical calculations and models can have a huge advantage over a simple guess.

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The crossbar is raised to 16’0”. The only thing going through my head at this moment is “I hope my step is on…”

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As you can see from the dot graph my jumps are very sporadic and fluctuate so much that its hard to make any sense of this graph. The graph shows where I started from and where I ended up at during vault practice this season. The trend-line shows the relationship between the takeoff and the approach. It is a linear relationship so when my 16 step increases to lets say 114 feet the chances are that I’ll takeoff outside 13 feet. My perfect takeoff is 12’6”… So according to the equation my approach should start at 111’02”. As you can see from the dot graph my jumps are very sporadic and fluctuate so much that its hard to make any sense of this graph. The graph shows where I started from and where I ended up at during vault practice this season. The trend-line shows the relationship between the takeoff and the approach. It is a linear relationship so when my 16 step increases to lets say 114 feet the chances are that I’ll takeoff outside 13 feet. My perfect takeoff is 12’6”… So according to the equation my approach should start at 111’02”.

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The graph on the right is showing the relationship between the approach distances and their linked value at the take off. I’ve set the two on top of each other to show how they affect each other. The red line indicates the take off values, and the yellow line show the approach distance. The mean, or average, of the take off marks is 12’4”, and the mean value of the approach marks is 110’6”. Respectively their standard deviations are 0.473ft and 1.065ft. This means that my last step leaving the ground generally has a higher accuracy than where I start my run from. One reason for this is that I can eyeball my takeoff 20 or 30 feet before the box comes up and either shorten or lengthen my last two or three steps. The best jumps though are the ones where everything feels right and there’s no last split second adjusting going on before the takeoff. The mean, or average, of the take off marks is 12’4”, and the mean value of the approach marks is 110’6”. Respectively their standard deviations are 0.473ft and 1.065ft. This means that my last step leaving the ground generally has a higher accuracy than where I start my run from. One reason for this is that I can eyeball my takeoff 20 or 30 feet before the box comes up and either shorten or lengthen my last two or three steps. The best jumps though are the ones where everything feels right and there’s no last split second adjusting going on before the takeoff. Approach Distance Take-off

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The conclusions that I’ve drawn from this experiment have given me a better understanding of my stride and running habits. I know when I step onto the runway where my run starts, whether it be 8,7,6, or 5 lefts I can narrow it down to within 3in. It made my practices much easier and my last few competitions very successful. The data I’ve collected proved useful in finding my average stride length, and the approximate length in between a run that I might want to try. The results of my analysis are the measured distances listed here. As you can see my stride length decreases as I accelerate towards the takeoff. The conclusions that I’ve drawn from this experiment have given me a better understanding of my stride and running habits. I know when I step onto the runway where my run starts, whether it be 8,7,6, or 5 lefts I can narrow it down to within 3in. It made my practices much easier and my last few competitions very successful. The data I’ve collected proved useful in finding my average stride length, and the approximate length in between a run that I might want to try. The results of my analysis are the measured distances listed here. As you can see my stride length decreases as I accelerate towards the takeoff. 8 7654321 0 8111’ 796’6” 682’6” 569’ 456’3” 344’3” 233’ 1022’6”12’9” 14’6”14’0”13’6”12’9”12’0”11’3”10’6”9’9”12’9” Step (lefts)Length (ft)

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