NFHS Rule 7-5-19 Changes Standards Limits
New limits on standard settings will be in effect for the 2013 track season. The National Federation of State High School Associations has moved the front end limit of the standards from 15.5″ back to 18″ in an effort to increase the safety of the pole vault. The rule states:
“Changes the range for the position of the standards to 18 inches (45.7cm) measured beyond the vertical plane of the top of the stopboard, zero (0) point, up to a maximum distance of 31.5 inches (80cm) in the direction of the landing surface.”
The rule encourages vaulters to land deeper in the pit and therefore further away from the box, the metal object in the ground where the pole is placed to initiate the vault. The inclusion of this new rule coupled with the weight limit on poles will require the vaulters and coaches to develop better technique and hopefully improve on the athletes takeoffs. Vaulters who traditionally set their standard at 15.5″ do not have the proper technique. If a pole vaulter is not bending the pole, known as straight poling, then the athletes are going to have to lower their grip height to be able to clear bars at the new minimum 18″. We encourage the vaulters we train to have their standards between 24″ and 31.5″ at meets and we practice with the standard between 27″ and 31.5″ during our training sessions to reinforce the importance of a good takeoff. Of course these parameters change in conditions, especially head winds. This new rule will be especially interesting in meets where a headwind is involved, much like last years Florida boys 4A meet which had a severe head wind. Athletes and coaches are going to need to have a “plan B” for such outings. Remember that this rule is for the safety of the athletes and the preservation of the pole vault.