Pole Vault Kit Bag: The Essentials
BY OWEN HEARD
WHAT DO POLE VAULTERS USE?
You may need to make some purchases or ensure you have certain things lying around so that when it comes to comp day, you're prepared to pack all your essentials (and perhaps some bonuses).
A pole vaulter's comp bag has a unique selection of items inside!
This could be one of the most important things for a pole vaulter to have. If your pole is missing any tape on the day or gets wet and needs replacing, having a spare roll will save your soul!
You can also use it to help with other things, such as taping runway markers down or making a DIY windsock. Neuff offers a range of cloth grip tape, which is perfect for the job.
Remember your supply of grip product (whichever you use).
You don't want to be that guy having to borrow other people's chalk and disturbing your competition regime. Having your own supply is just one less problem to worry about. Venice turps is a good option for sticky grip products or a standard chalk block if you're a chalk guy. If you're running low, make sure to restock before the comps come around.
Some comps can stretch across a couple of hours - or more if you factor in warm-ups. Food is a must to keep you fuelled throughout.
My go-to's are cereal bars or nuts and then a pack of sweets to give me that sugar boost for when I start jumping. My advice is to find what works for you and stick to it. Even if you're not a fan of snacking mid-comp, having something in your bag just in case you need it will never harm you.
TOWEL & UMBRELLA
You can expect it to rain at some competition in your life (especially if you're in the UK!).
A towel in your bag is necessary to dry off your hands before a jump and dry the pole after. It also helps on hot days when you may need to dry off sweat.
If you are already expecting rain from the weather forecast, I'd advise bringing an umbrella, too, as you will need to cover the grip-taped end of your pole in between jumps and right up until the moment before you go.
Similarly, for the UK weather conditions, this can keep you dry in the rain or to shelter the grip tape on your pole before you jump.
If a spike goes missing from your shoe, it's helpful to have a spare supply in your bag to screw in if needed. Also, if you notice on comp day that your spikes are blunt, you can pop some new ones in there and then.
This can also be useful for sheltering poles in the rain or covering your training bag.
If your number starts to flap off mid-comp because you've lost a pin (which happens a lot in pole vault), you'll need to get it back on.
This one is obvious but overlooked. You definitely don't want to compete with a dry mouth and dehydrated muscles, but it's also essential to have enough water supply for drinking after you've finished.
Some meets may not even have a tape measure available for warm-up, or one won't have been organised. If this happens, you can set out your own tape measure on the runway and start your warm-up as planned. You don't want to wait for the officials to go and find one and lose out on some practice jumps.
If your club or coaches need a new tape measure, there are a few available on Neuff's website which you can take a look at.
...AND ANYTHING ELSE YOU MAY NEED!
Foam rollers, lunch, portable charger... whatever is necessary for you! Making sure you have all the above sorted weeks in advance means you don't have to stress about trying to buy things last minute.
On the day before the competition, it is helpful to pack your bag and check you have everything you need the night before. This saves you time on the actual day of the comp, and you can kick back and relax in the confidence that you are well prepared. This tip also goes for laying out your training kit and knowing when you will eat breakfast and leave your house or the hotel.
You must ensure you have access to the correct poles for your comps.
If you don't have an extensive range available at your training facility, getting in touch with other pole vaulters might be helpful, as someone going to the same meet as you could be jumping on a similar pole series. You may even have poles that could be useful to lend to others on the day. The point here is to be friendly and build a network with people. Pole vaulters are always willing to help one another, and there's a good chance that someone you train or compete with might be willing to let you borrow one of their poles on the day, especially if it's going to help you jump a PB. I've borrowed other people's poles countless times and let others use mine too!
In an ideal world, you'll have access to the poles you need to compete with. Often having a couple of warm-up poles for shorter approaches is the way to go, and then a set of bigger poles for you to move up to when it's show time.
On another note, always pack a couple of poles bigger than you expect to jump on, as there's nothing worse than blowing through your biggest pole in the bag and then having nothing to move up to for a PB jump!
It is also a good idea (if you can) to pack a few softer poles to compete on if you are predicting the weather to be awful. If you turn up and there's a significant headwind, and all you have are big poles to jump on, it might ruin your competition – so be prepared and select your pole series appropriately.
VAULTING POLE FOCUSES
- Have an idea of what poles you need before the season starts
- Pack extra poles in case of a brilliant comp
- Pack softer poles in case of bad weather
- Have warm-up poles
Thank you for reading this blog, and I hope I have been able to help in one way or another with any kit enquiries you may have had!
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 21 years old!