JUN 28, 2017 06:47 AM PDT

Pole Vaulting: Physics in Flight


Pole vaulting is one of the more graceful and yet demanding sports at the Olympics. The pole is lightweight and flexible and yet athletes with incredible strength and muscle mass use it to sail, seemingly effortlessly, over a bar that is set higher and higher. It takes more than strength and muscles however. The pole vault is an event that involves a good deal of physics and anyone who tries it must understand the mechanics of getting each move just right, not only to avoid injury but to go higher than the competition.

While height is the goal, a vaulter must start out moving forward horizontally and then transfer his or her kinetic energy from the body to the flexible pole. Because it's so lightweight and so strong, the pole acts as a spring and once planted, the vaulters energy is transferred to the pole, projecting the athlete upwards. By keeping the body straight and going over the bar lengthwise, feet first and the body following, with arms outstretched, there is enough energy to clear it. Keeping the body outstretched also makes it move through the air more efficiently, with less drag. The speed at which the runner goes is also key. Faster runners will transfer more energy to the pole, resulting in more upward thrust, and, hopefully, clearing a higher bar than competitors.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
NOV 16, 2018
Videos
NOV 16, 2018
An orangutan's anti-palm oil plea
A recently released TV advertisement highlights one company’s attempt to bring into the light the palm oil crisis. Iceland, a UK grocery store, publi...
DEC 03, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 03, 2018
Why Do Some Men Have Trouble Growing Beards?
There are two types of men in this world: those that can grow robust beards, and those that can’t. But why is it that some men get stuck with patchy,...
DEC 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 06, 2018
Rare Uranium Compounds Capable of High-temperature Superconductivity at Near Normal Pressure
Uranium is often associated with nuclear fuel materials, but very soon they could be used to power a new wave of industrial revolution. Scientists from Rus...
DEC 09, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 09, 2018
Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is defined by the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic disorder tha...
DEC 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2018
After a Slight Delay, SpaceX's Christmas Delivery Arrives at the ISS
Three days after the official launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday with a sp...
DEC 12, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 12, 2018
Tooth-rejuvenating Hydrogels as Alternative to Root Canal Therapy
When the tooth's pulp has a baterial infection, the sensitive nerve endings can become painfully inflamed. Root canal therapy, also known as the endodo...
Loading Comments...