New NFHS Rules For Vaulters, Throwers

By Staff

Coaching Management, 14.1, January 2006,

Risk management was on the minds of NFHS Track and Field Committee members this past summer when they instituted two rules changes aimed at making high school track meets safer. The first change requires coaches to verify that all their athletes’ pole vault equipment meets standards beginning this season. The second makes the 34.92-degree throwing sector, which was optional last year, the standard sector size for shot put and discus beginning in 2006-07.

To comply with the new pole vault safety measure, each state high school athletic association will have to develop a procedure to ensure that all pole vaulting equipment meets required safety standards. “Here in New York, we have a card that vaulters fill out with their name, school, weight, and the poles they’re using in competition,” says Oscar Jensen, Boys’ Track and Field Coach at Baldwinsville (N.Y.) High School and a member of the NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee. “The coach and athlete sign it and assume responsibility for using the correct poles. The cards are turned over to the official running the event, who checks the pole against the card.”

Other states will be able to develop their own procedure for verifying equipment before it’s used. Among the procedures that have been used before, Jensen mentions weighing vaulters before the meet and obtaining verification signatures from administrators, such as principals and athletic directors.

Making the optional 34.92 degree throwing sector for shot put and discus into the standard measurement was largely a safety decision for the committee. Previously, several different sector sizes were allowed, ranging from 40 to 65.5 degrees. “This minimizes the risk to athletes and to spectators alike by encouraging good throwing techniques and exerting better control,” Mike Colbrese, Executive Director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and Chair of the NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee, said in a press release announcing the new rules.

The 34.92 degree sector is already being used by most track and field governing bodies. “This change is consistent with throwing the shot at levels beyond high school, it’s more convenient to lay out on a field, and it requires the athlete to be more consistent and not have errant throws going every which way,” Jensen says. The convenience comes from the fact that 34.92 degree sector can be drawn by taking a line from the center of the throwing circle out to the landing area and keeping it snug against the toe board.

In addition, the rules committee emphasized the importance of properly marking the curved lines on the track used for staggered starts in the distance races.

More information on NFHS track and field rules can be obtained at the “Sport & Rules Information” section of the NFHS Web site: