Is it Appropriate for Coaches to Weigh Pole Vaulters? Dr. Quatromoni Q&A
In this Q&A series, Dr. Paula Quatromoni (DSc, RD) answers some of the biggest questions coaches and athletic staff have to better prevent and assist athletes who may be struggling with eating disorders.
Q: Is it appropriate for coaches to weigh pole vaulters for equipment safety reasons?
PQ: Yes, the weighing protocol specific to pole vault athletes is unique and altogether different from a weighing protocol applied to other athletes in track and field, cross-country, or other competitive sports. In pole vault, there are issues of safety, injury prevention, and liability involved in selecting the piece of equipment that the athlete needs to safely perform their event. In this context, the athlete’s body weight is central to the selection of the right pole, and specific protocols are in place to ensure safety.
We consulted with some coaches and equipment managers to more fully inform our response to this question. What we learned is that every pole has a weight rating that should be greater than or equal to the athlete’s body weight. If the athlete’s body weight is more than the rating on the pole, this is one of several factors that could contribute to the risk of the pole breaking during the jump attempt. Athletes who vault with a pole that is rated below their actual weight risk serious injury.