We all fear standing in line to check a bag at the airport and the worst thing is having to pay an extra baggage fee. Well, now imagine traveling with a set of fiberglass rods that extend up to 17 feet long, in a protective case that can weigh up to 100 pounds. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars depending on airline pricing, and some airlines do not allow travelers to bring spells at all. It’s a logistical nightmare swingers – even Olympic athletes – know all too well.

As a pole planer itself, one of the most common questions I get asked is, “Do you have your own pole?” This is a complicated question because the answer is both yes and no. As a college planer, I technically do not own my own Poles – they are supplied by my university – but I have Poles who travel with me to any competition. My school has about 30 different poles that athletes can choose from, a number that may seem excessive, but which is actually the norm. On average, each vaulter will personally bring five or more poles to a meeting – the same poles they use during training. This gives them options, depending on how they feel that day, the weather conditions and the speed of the runway. (Some runways have more returns than others.)

Typically, at a given meeting, a pole planer will use two to five of these poles. Each bar has a different height and weight, and the larger the bar, the higher an athlete jumps. Shorter bars are used for lower or open heights. But the size of the bar also depends on an athlete’s weight, height, ability and personal strength. Each pole planer is different.

Pole vaulting is an intense sport that requires tremendous skill and technique, but the art of traveling with your poles adds another layer of commitment. The bottom line is yes, pole vaulters use and travel with their own poles to meet – but compared to jumping 16 feet in the air, it is a small feat.