APPROACH RUN VELOCITIES OF FEMALE POLE VAULTERS

  • P. McGinnis

Abstract

INTRODUCTION Running speed is an important determinant of success in many sports. The approach run velocity of a pole vaulter is responsible for most of the vaulter's kinetic energy at the instant of take off. If the vault is well executed, this kinetic energy is transformed to potential energy and the vault is successful. For male pole vaulters, a strong relationship has been established between crossbar height cleared and approach run velocity (McGinnis, 1995). The purpose of this study was to determine if the same relationship exists for women pole vaulters. METHODS Approach run velocities were measured for 25 different women pole vaulters competing at three different competitions in 1995 and 1996. A videocamera operated at 60 Hz recorded the approach runs and vaults by each athlete at each competition. A 200 Hz videocamera was also used at one competition. The camera(s) were panned and recorded primarily sagittal views of the approach runs and vaults. Marks were placed on either side of the runway at 4 and 9 m from the back of the vaulting box. The time it took each vaulter to pass between the 9 and 4 m marks was determined by counting video fields. Average velocity for this 5 m interval was then computed from the time. RESULTS The highest successful vault by each vaulter was selected for analysis. These vaults had a mean height of 3.38 m (s.d.= 0.30 m). The lowest height was 3.01 m and the highest was 4.20 m. The vaults had a mean approach run velocity of 7.33 m/s (s.d.= 0.49 mfs). The slowest velocity was 6.25 m/s and the fastest was 8.45 mls. The correlation coefficient between crossbar height and approach run velocity was 0.85 (p< 0.01). CONCLUSIONS The velocity of the approach run is significantly related to the crossbar height that a woman pole vaulter can clear. Analysis of similar data collected for 65 elite male men yielded a correlation coefficient of 0.73 (p< 0.01) between crossbar height and approach run velocity. The stronger relationship for the women indicates that the pole vaulting potential of a woman is more dependent upon approach run speed than that of a man. Since this is a new event for women, their techniques on the pole are not as well developed. The heights they clear are primarily determined by their approach run velocities. Men on the other hand, have more well developed techniques on the pole. The heights they clear are determined by their techniques as well as their approach run velocities. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The author acknowledges the cooperation and financial support of U.S.A. Track and Field. REFERENCES McGinnis, P. (1 995). Predicting performance potential in the pole vault from approach run velocity. In Third IOC World Congress on Sport Sciences Congress Proceedings (pp. 182- 183). Atlanta: ACOG.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities