Update on Helmet Standards

By Staff

Athletic Management, 15.2, February/March 2003, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1502/wuhelmet.htm

While the search for the proper design of a pole-vaulting helmet continues, vaulters and their coaches have been provided some guidance on the best kind of helmets to use in the meantime. The American Society for Testing and Materials has recommended that pole vaulters use either a skateboarding helmet that meets ASTM standard 1492 or a NOCSAE-approved lacrosse helmet, minus the face mask and visor.

Lacrosse and skateboarding helmets were selected because they meet rigorous multi-impact standards, says Peter McGinnis, coach and Professor of Exercise Science and Sports Studies at the State University of New York College at Cortland. McGinnis is also co-chair of the ASTM subcommittee developing standards for pole vault helmets.

The recommendation is a temporary measure to fill the gap until standards specially designed for pole vault helmets are approved. The subcommittee drafted these standards at their November meeting, but did not give them final approval.

The standards for a new pole-vaulting helmet are designed to produce a helmet that will prevent head injuries when a vaulter’s hand slips off the pole early in the vault, the pole breaks early in the vault, or a vaulter stumbles or bounces out of the pit after landing. They are not intended to protect pole vaulters who fall onto a hard surface from a high height, McGinnis says.

“It looks like the helmet we will eventually approve will be similar to a bicycle helmet, with some constraints on the shape,” McGinnis says.

For a more comprehensive look at recent changes in pole vault safety standards, go to www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1406/bbpolevault.htm.