Rule 7-5-29 Revised For Vaulter Safety

The rule change, 7-5-29, set forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations is a reversal of a ruling set forth in the 2008 rules revisions.  The 2008 rule revision matched the USATF, NCAA, and IAAF rule that a vaulter could leave the ground, and as long as the vaulter did not land beyond the plane of the box, could continue their attempt as long as they were within the time restrictions being enforced. Many pole vault safety activists voiced their stern objection to this rule, knowing that thisrule would greatly increase the risk for injury.  The rationale of safety activists is simple, if a high school pole vaulter leaves the ground and can’t make it beyond the plane of the box, by hurriedly scampering back down the runway and trying the attempt again, the next attempt is almost always going to result like the first.  At this point, the rule has now doubled the chances of the vaulter being injured.

The new rule states: “It is a foul if the vaulter leaves the ground in an attempt and fails to clear the crossbar.
•Exception:  The competitor aborts the approach and in stopping, plants the pole and momentum causes his/her feet to leave the ground
•The vaulter may stop the approach and have the opportunity to restart the approach within the allotted time for the trial”

The new rule with the exception clearly laid out, exemplifies what the NFHS has intended all along.  The original rule, before the 2008 revision, stated the same thing the 2009 rule stated, without the exception.  The exception gives the vaulter a chance to stop and not be penalized because their momentum caused both feet to come off the ground.  This rule clearly states the vaulter must be aborting the approach.  This is a decision that must be made by the official in charge of the pole vault.

I support and applaud the NFHS in their continuing efforts to make pole vaulting as safe as possible.  They realized that a mistake was made in the rule and changed it for the following year.  Vaulters and their coaches and parents should be aware of all pole vaulting rules and any changes that occur from year to year.  If you do not have a copy, please get a copy of the NFHS rules book.


Author: Bobby Haeck

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