The Physics of Pole Vaulting

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The Physics of Pole Vaulting

The very idea of flying through the air at 15-19 feet just to clear a little bar scares some people to death. Maybe even more if the only thing that you have to hold onto is a little piece of plastic. The purpose of this paper is to help put some of these fears to rest from the point of view of physics.

The way that pole vaulting started was during WWII. The men in the army used bamboo poles to jump over canals and ditches. After the war some people found the sport so fun that Table I. Material Requirements for a Vaulting Pole I (Requirement I Possible

Material Light (Low Density) J~ Bamboo Buckling Resistance Stiffness) luminum V rong (Resistance to astic Strain) (Steel inimal Twisting (High rsional-Strain ro(esistance)agnesium lCost arbon Fiber romposite2



the other page has materials that some poles have been made out of and some of the reason why they were made.

The pole was not the only piece of equipment that improved over the years. If you were jumping over a ditch or canal the only thing that you had to land on is the ground. When the sport was brought back to the states people put sawdust for the jumper to land on. With how high professional pole-vaulters are jumping, landing on top of sawdust would probably end up breaking some of their bones. So engineers have designed pole vault pits for jumpers to land on that absorbs the energy of the jumper more effectively, making the landing a lot smoother an...

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...make them think twice about jumping. This is where all the accidents happen in the pole-vaulting, the athlete second-guessing himself about his step and tries to fix the so called “problem” while running. So most fears have nothing at all to do with physics of pole-vault, but the human mind is what makes them afraid to jump.

Work Cited



3.Kirkpatrick, D. Larry, Wheeler, F. Gerald, Physics A World View. Fourth Edition, Philadelphia. Thomson Learning, 2001 (pg 132, 139).



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