Coaching Management, 13.8, September 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/cm/cm1308/bbhelmet.htm
Pennsylvania State University sophomore Kim Pfeifer stood out from the crowd at track meets this season—she was the one wearing a helmet during the pole vault. A newcomer to the sport, Pfeifer decided to wear the KDMax, the first helmet developed exclusively for pole vault, as a safety precaution.
The helmet was developed by the engineering firm Eventys, with the help of Penn State and Edward Dare, a pole vault safety advocate whose son Kevin suffered a fatal head injury while pole vaulting in 2002. Available for the first time during the 2004-05 season, over 100 helmets were shipped in the first month of availability. And Eventys expects that number to steadily increase as the 2005-06 season approaches.
“We informed our athletes at the start of the year that they had the option of wearing the helmet,” says Penn State Head Women’s Coach Beth Sullivan. “We told them the pros and cons based on the information we have so far. I encouraged our athletes to look at it and if it worked for them, to go ahead and try it.”
For Pfeifer, donning the helmet put her mind at ease, and was an easy adjustment as she hadn’t performed many vaults without it. But for others, the benefit of added protection might be offset by the unfamiliarity and discomfort of wearing a helmet. “Some kids who are more experienced and have never worn one just won’t adapt to it, and for them it could become more of a hindrance,” says Sullivan.
While the helmets remain optional at the collegiate level, six state high school associations currently require athletes to wear some type of headgear for the pole vault. Designed specifically for pole vaulters, the KDMax weighs just over one pound, is composed of carbon fiber, and features an interior lining that is dent and compression resistant.
Penn State is also working in collaboration with the Big Ten Conference, the NCAA Competitive Safeguards Committee, and the NFHS to make a pole vault safety video currently used in the Big Ten available to a wider audience. Those groups gathered for a viewing of the video in December, and approved its use. Next year the safety video will be available in DVD format to the entire pole vault community.
For more information on the KDMax helmet, visit: www.polevaulthelmet.com.
To read more Momentum Media stories on pole vault safety, visit Athleticsearch.com and type “pole vault” in the search window.