Grip Products for Pole Vault
BY OWEN HEARD
POLE VAULT GEAR - WHY IS GRIP IMPORTANT?
This one seems obvious because if you don’t grip the pole firmly, you will let go and get sent flying! (I know from personal experience).
However, you don’t simply hold on tight. You also need to use some form of additional grip…
WHAT GRIP PRODUCTS CAN I USE FOR POLE VAULT?
They serve different purposes, and every vaulter has a personal preference. Here’s a breakdown of each of the options:
ATHLETIC GRIP TAPE
This is an important one. Each pole comes fresh out of the factory in plastic wrap, and as you can imagine - it’s not very grippy at this point.
It’s pretty much standard practice to tape your pole before use. Some people put tape over the entire pole length, while others are more reserved and only tape up where they will be holding.
Either way, grip tape is an essential piece of kit to have as a pole vaulter. Often during training or competitions, you need to re-grip a pole. Sometimes you need it to fill in gaps where there is no tape at all. Having a spare roll in your bag can be a lifesaver.
On the rare occasion, some people hold straight onto the raw plastic of the pole (no grip tape) using either sticky spray or chalk. However, this is regarded as a very rogue tactic, and only a few people would advise vaulting with a tape-less pole.
This is the most commonly used hand grip product for vaulting. It adds extra traction between your hand and the grip tape, also drying up your hands a little bit which helps if there’s any moisture.
There are two forms- solid chalk (simply rub it onto your hands), and liquid chalk (apply a coating to your hands and give it a few seconds in the air to dry up).
Solid chalk can come in the form of a block or a powder. These are often stored in a tub or a bag, and they can also come in a sock-like ball which you can pat against your hands to get the powder out. Liquid chalk comes in a squirty bottle.
They both give the same result, and chalking is standard for most vaulters who want that extra bit of grip.
A LITTLE TIP!
It also doubles up as a useful product in other areas of your training, such as weightlifting, bar conditioning, and gymnastics-based training- all of which are complimentary to pole vault.
There are lots of sticky sprays and resins, referred to by pole vaulters simply as “sticky”. These are tacky substances that almost glue your hands to the pole, but not so much so that you cannot let go again - that wouldn’t be ideal!
Often people use cans of carpet spray (transparent sticky) or black tacky spray (black sticky).
As well as sprays, there are also sticky products in the form of pourable liquid and solid rocks. These are known as resin, and they are sap-like substances. The resin rocks can be activated by crushing them in your hands. The resin then binds to whatever comes in contact with it.
VENICE TURPS - GRIP FOR ATHLETES
Venice turpentine is also a sap-like sticky substance, which comes in a small metal tube and is a compact option compared to a big can of carpet spray. The actual purpose of this product is for grip (and not for laying carpets like some of the other re-purposed options), and it’s a good option for trying out sticky for the first time.
All sticky options are to the preference of the vaulter. Personally, I like a clear sticky spray that isn’t too strong, as I like to have some hand movement when running down the runway. Others like black sticky, which is exceptionally grippy and once your hands are on, you better commit!
HOW TO APPLY STICKY GRIP
There are different ways of applying sticky:
- Spraying your hands and then holding the pole
- Spraying the pole
- Spraying both for good measure
You can also apply these methods to the other grips I discussed previously (chalk, resin, etc).
TOP TIP FOR POLE VAULTERS
If you are vaulting and you’ve run out of chalk, sticky, or your chosen grip product - use the following method!
Apply some grip tape onto the pole, but overlap each layer just a little bit as you wrap it on. Once you’ve finished taping it in a top-to-bottom direction, grab the tape and pull it downwards to make it roll over itself slightly.
This unrolls some of the tape, exposing the sticky side and forming small ridges for extra grip. It works a treat, and I often use this method at training instead of using any grip products.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING GRIP PRODUCTS IN POLE VAULT?
They provide extra security and make you less likely to slip, which is especially important as you progress because the forces become much larger.
They’re inexpensive - tape needs to be purchased fairly regularly. However, a can of spray or resin can last for years.
They’re multipurpose - you can use chalk for multiple elements of your training, and grip tape can be a saviour if you have no run-up markers or need to fix them down on a windy day.
Drawbacks - they get your hands dirty, and sometimes you need to wash them off after training, especially sticky. However, this is the fun of pole vault!
HOW DO YOU TRAIN FOR POLE VAULT?
If you think a bit of extra grip is something you’re missing in your training, don’t hesitate to give one of these products a try! It certainly helped me improve a lot last season.
ABOUT OWEN HEARD
Currently 3rd in the UK rankings, Owen has been pole vaulting for many years, and you may recall seeing him compete in the Men's Pole Vault Final in this year's Commonwealth Games for Team England.
He is also a hurdler and a Team Pacer athlete, making him incredibly knowledgeable and skilled at what he does, especially as he's only 20 years old!
Click here to view his Team England profile.
PACER VAULT POLES @ NEUFF ATHLETIC
At the moment, we stock Pacer One and FXV poles, both of which are superior choices for vaulting and are loved by athletes worldwide, including Owen!
To see what's available, click here!