Designing a Test Battery for Pole Vault

>> February 06, 2017

The main goal of pole vaulting is to jump over a crossbar with the help of a pole. The direction of a complete pole vault movement changes from horizontal to vertical. Here, pole vaulters produce forces, velocities, and energies during run-up and take-off, and also exerts force and strain energy on the pole to influence/control the trajectory (flight/curve).

There are four main phases in the pole vault, a) run-up, b) take off, c) pole bending, and d) pole straightening, which occurs in a continuous chain. The phases consider the ‘energy exchange’ between the vaulter and the pole.

The torques (i.e. forces) applied to the pole during take-off/plant have a direct influence on the final performance because it increases the bend and thus the strain energy stored in the pole.

Hence, higher forces applied allows a higher pole grip while being able to get the pole vertical prior to clearance.

Pole Vault Testing
Assessment is an integral part of any training programme. It is crucial to consider the specific element of sports when designing training programme because the demands vary greatly from one discipline/event to another. Such consideration can help one to determine appropriate tests as well. The suggested tests for pole vault is as outlined (see below). These can be done once prior to, and after each training block, or 3-4 times a year.

In addition, weekly or monthly monitoring programme can also be done using some of the tests, for examples, the countermovement jump and power push up are excellent tools for monitoring the athlete’s current fitness/power level.

Shoulder rotation test
Sit and reach modified
Back hyperextension
Power clean
Half squat
Hexagon deadlift
Incline press   
Hand grip test
10kg or 20kg (male) max pull up
Long jump (10-12 steps)
Squat jump     
Countermovement jump
Drop jump (30cm)
Bench throw
Power push up (force plate)
5-second pull up for repetition
4-kg med ball backward throw
30 m sprint (standing and three points)

The lists above are not meant to be done altogether, but these are the possible choices in a test battery for pole vault. You can decide which ones and how many tests that are required. For an idea, most probably you will need 3-4 strength tests and 4-5 power tests.

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