This Pole Vault Rule is causing Eating Disorders


The number is the weight of the pole vaulter written on her hand with a sharpie... This should never happen and needs to stop.

Let's finally get this rule changed


What can you do?

  1. Sign this petition Click to sign
  2. Share your story in the comments below or on the instagram post click Here
  3. Speak up about this rule to your officials and States governing body
  4. We need people from every state to let us know how your state handels this rule. Click here to help 


I've been posting about this for a few years now. This year, people started sharing their stories with me.

 This one really hurt to read... 

Why the rule is there

In its simplest terms, it's there for liability. The rule was created as an attempt to keep the pole vault safer.

The concept is that by having pole vaulters on poles that are rated above their weight that the pole is less likely to break, therefore that vaulters will be safe.

In theory it's a good rule!



The issue with the rule

If you've been in the sport long enough, you know that there are many variables in the pole vault. While I applaud the rules committee for trying to keep the pole vault safer there are 2 major issues I see.


1. A pole to big is just as bad as one that's too small.

When an athlete weighs more than the weight of their pole, they are then put on a pole to big for their ability level. As pole vaulters and coaches, we know when you're on a pole too big, you tend to land around the box, or back on the runway. That doesn't sound safer to me. 

But that can be fixed by having a coach tell the vaulter to grip down and straight pole. That's a whole different issue. The big issues is


2. High School Vaulters being publically weighed is creating mental health problems.

The National High School Federation has it set up where each state can determine how the rules are enforced.

  • Some states have a weight verification form signed by the coaches
  • Some states write the athletes weights on the hands, or bib number
  • Some states publically yell the athletes weight out lough
  • Some states have a weigh in line where the yell out their weights

The ones in red make me sick... It's so gross.



What can we do?

It's up to us to create change.

A lot of people smarter than me like Lawers, parents, athletes, and even a people in public policy have reached out wanting to help. Here's what they suggested. 


What we're proposing is that, every state adopts the coaches weight verification form. 

This would stop 

  • Athlete weigh-ins at meets
  • Weights written on the athletes body, uniform or bib.
  • It would stop officials from yelling out an athletes weight

Does it change the weight rule? Not yet, but one step at a time.


What can you do?

  1. Sign this petition Click to sign
  2. Share your story in the comments below or on the instagram post click Here
  3. Speak up about this rule to your officials and States governing body
  4. We need people from every state to let us know how your state handels this rule. Click here to help 


"Original Instagram Post With Stories in the comments
"I had podcast with olympic gold medalist swimmer Samantha Livingstoone  who said she used to have a coach that publicly weighed them before practice and because of that, developed an eating disorder.

Katie Moon olympic gold medalist in the pole vault has been very open about her journey through body image issues in this sport and works for to overcome them.

The stats are wild,
- Up to 45% of female and 19% of male athletes develop an ED and athletes are more likely than non athletes to have them.

Along with EDs other mental health issues arise like depression and anxiety.

One of the biggest causes of these disorders is entry to the sport.
- Like cutting weight
- Believing being lighter will make you perform better
- or not being able to pole vault due to the weight rule.

The idea of the rule is to keep vaulters on poles that are safe, but is it doing that? We all know that weight is just one of many variables that bend poles.

What about grip? If you have a 13 130 pole but the vaulter grips down at 11 and weighs 140. Say 3 inches of grip is roughly 5 lbs of pole... gripping at 11 adds 40 lbs of pole making it roughly an 11 170, completely safe for that vaulter with their grip. But illegal due to the rule...

Or is being on a pole too big safer? The rule is forcing kids to be on a poles to big for their skill level... making them come up short or land in the box/runway.

What I'm trying to say is writing the weight on these athletes increases the risk of unnecessary trauma that can lead to physical and psychological disorders, maybe even suicide. This is all in hope to keep the vaulter safer... but safer from what?

I suggest, At the very least, stop writing the weights on vaulters hands and jerseys, and move to a coaches weight verification form. It's not perfect but it's a start.

As one dad told me as he was talking to the coach who wrote the weight on his athletes hand "You must have never had a daughter..."

This needs to stop.

#polevault #teamhoot #polevaulter #weightshaming #trackandfield #polevault
#athletics #eatingdisorder #sportpsyc



  • Christy

    I have been coaching for 17 years and have seen many times where vaulters have overly worried about their weight due to the weight rule. I have seen kids take off extra clothes under their uniforms, go to the bathroom, and run laps between the two times stepping on the scale at weigh in. And not eat breakfast or not eat well days leading up to meets. It sends the wrong message to kids in many ways and gives them unhealthy habits. Most of them also don’t hold at the top of the poles anyways. The rule makes vaulters vault on poles that are too big for their ability just because they are even half a pound over the pole weight label. It should be up to us as coaches to decide what pole is safe for them to vault on. The biggest part of being a pole vault coach is worrying about safety. If the pole is unsafe, either too stiff and they can’t get in the pit or too soft and over bending, we should see that and change the poles accordingly so they are vaulting safely. Even a pole over the vaulters weight can be unsafely bending. We talk about this problem a lot within our district and collectively we have increased our pole selections so that we have more shorter heavier poles for the constantly growing vaulters to be able to move up if needed. But we don’t always have the pole and instead put them on taller poles holding down to achieve the same goal, but when it comes to the State meet at the end of the season, a 180lbs boy holding one foot down on a 175 isn’t “legal”. One solution a coach had years ago was if we must weigh then instead mark maximum hand grip on poles to correspond to the vaulters weight. As public high schools, we don’t have endless amount of money to have every possible pole we could ever need. Personally I feel we should get rid of the strict weight rule and use it more as a guideline to selecting safe poles or grip height of an athlete while also coaching safely. I have seen less vaulters getting hurt from over bending and breaking poles and more vaulters getting hurt due to the unsafe pits (small, old, falling apart), landing on their feet, or using poles too big that they come back on the runway. If we want to talk about safety, the bigger problem in most high schools is the landing systems.

  • John Rhodes

    We write weight on card at state and poles that are above weight are marked with a sticker that has vaulters name and coaches initials on it in Texas. I watched a girl at regionals come out of weight room and go run bleachers before going back. She came out smiling this time. I noticed the next day she was holding 10” from the top at least. Pole was plenty safe. Sad she had to go through that.

  • Adam P

    Every year, weigh-ins are a source of stress for both myself AND my athletes as w approach the post season – and they needs to stop! Like clockwork, I get asked about whether or not weigh-ins will take place at a certain meet, and my answer is always the same: “let me worry about the poles you’ll jump on at the meet.” Even still, I know they go to sleep worrying about what will happen at the meet. You can see the change in their demeanor after they’ve made weight, so it’s frustrating that we’re putting so much undue stress on them… and for what?! I have a vaulter who, in their mind, feels like they “must” be on a specific pole that matches/exceeds their bw, but they’re simply not at the skill level yet to safely move that pole and it has hindered their progress significantly (e.g. gripping way too high to force pole bend).

    This is another element that also gatekeeps pole vault. What if I have a gap in my pole line that doesn’t accommodate an athlete who outweighs the proper pole for them by 3 lbs? What if my school only has 6 or so poles altogether for everyone to use? These athletes now could be publicly shamed and told they can’t compete because they outweigh their poles. Even if a weigh in is done privately, ppl can see whether or not an athlete competed and can draw conclusions about what happened, especially amongst Pole Vaulters.

    This isn’t boxing or wrestling where bodyweight matters in the spirit of competition and fairness. It’s athlete vs crossbar, and even halfway decent coaching will have taken the necessary precautions to ensure their athlete’s own safety by putting them on THE RIGHT POLE for their skill level. Otherwise, they have no business being a coach. At the meet levels where these weigh ins are taking place, I doubt we really have many ppl who are jumping on poles under their weight anyway, as we all understand that bigger poles generally mean higher heights. We also understand that gripping down a foot on a pole of a certain weight instantly makes that pole much “heavier,” thus eliminating the bw-to-pole rating risks.

    Let the state and the games committee put the onus back on the coaches and programs to confirm they’re keeping their kids safe and STOP THESE WEIGH INS! Any PV coach worth their weight in salt will NOT let their athlete vault on a pole that isn’t right for them, regardless of the weight rating.

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