Pole Vault Terminology

Below are some commonly used terms in the pole vault event.

Bar - This is the bar that is suspend above the ground by the standards. This is what the vaulter is jumping over.

Box - A trapezoidal indentation in the ground with a metal or fiberglass covering at the end of the runway in which vaulters plant their pole. The back wall of the box is nearly vertical and is approximately 8 inches in depth. The bottom of the box gradually slopes upward approximately 3-feet until it is level with the runway. The covering in the box ensures the pole will slide to the back of the box without catching on anything. The covering's lip overlaps onto the runway and ensures a smooth transition from all-weather surface so a pole being planted does not catch on the box.

Drive Knee - The drive knee is used during the plant phase. To help propel the vaulter upwards the knee is driven forward at the time of take off.

Grip - The location on the pole where the vaulter's top hand is placed. Usually as a vaulter improves their grip they may move up the pole. Commonly the other head is placed shoulder-width down from the top hand. For safety reasons the vaulter's hands are not allowed to grip the very top of the pole.

Jump Foot - (Also known as take-off foot) This is the foot that the vaulter uses to leave the ground when their beginning their vault.

Pit - This refers to the mat that the vaulter lands on after his vault.

Plant Position - This position is when the vaulter is about to begin the vault. This is the moment when the pole reaches the back of the box. The vaulter's arms are going to be fully extended and the knee he drives with begins to come up as he begins the jump.

Pole - This is the equipment used by the vaulter to propel them over the bar. The pole is usually made out of fiberglass and is stiffer at one side than the other to help proper bending of the pole after the plant. Vaulters can rest the pole on their arm to help determine which side is the stiffest.

Standards - This is the equipment that holds the bar; which is set at a particular height above the ground. The standards can be raised and lowered the bar and can also adjust the horizontal position of the bar.

Steps - The box is set in a fixed position, so the vaulter must adjust their approach. This helps ensure they're in the proper position when attempting to vault.

Trail Leg or Swing Leg - (Also known as jump foot) when a vaulter leaves the ground the leg that was touching the ground last will stay extended and swing forward. This helps propel the vaulter upwards to clear the height.

Volzing - This is a technique that is named after Dave Volz, a U.S. Olympian. Volz surprised many people in 1992 by making the U.S. Olympic team with this technique. This method involves pushing or holding the bar back onto the pegs while jumping over the height. However, it's now against the rules and this technique would be counted as a miss.