Pole vaulting is a dynamic sport that combines strength, technique and physics to catapult an athlete into the air and over an elevated bar. Competitors are judged on how high they project themselves and will receive three attempts to clear the selected bar height.

The First Law of Motion

Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion helps explains the physics behind pole vaulting. According to PhysicsClassroom.com, this law is most commonly stated as, “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” In laymen’s terms, this means that anything that starts moving will keep moving until forces such as gravity, wind or friction interfere.

 

Conversion of Energy

As objects in motion remains in motion, one type of energy will convert into another type of energy once acted upon by an outside force. Pole vaulters use the energy they create from sprinting into the energy required to overcome gravity and reach their desired height. Thus, the faster you sprint, the higher you should be able to vault.

Kinetic And Potential Energy

Overall, the kinetic energy associated with sprinting influences the potential energy associated with pole vault, which influences the moving kinetic energy associated with the vault and the potential energy of gravity. PopSci.com suggests that this equation can be expressed as, KE approach = PE elastic = KE vault = PE gravitational. Thus, overall, your sprint approach should be equal to the final gravitational potential energy at the top of your vault.

Pole

The elasticity in your pole also influences how high you can vault. PopSci explains that your pole’s elasticity contains the potential energy that will transfer the kinetic energy from your sprint into the upward kinetic launch that sends you over the pole. However, if your pole is inflexible, it will not be able to transfer the motion, and it will split in two pieces instead.

By: Jill Blessing
From: http://www.livestrong.com/article/360125-pole-vaulting-the-first-law-of-motion/#ixzz244ZDhSEK

Pole Vaulting
Pole Vaulting

 

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