“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”

You've no doubt heard this saying many times; even more so at this time of year as exam season approaches. The mantra voiced across schools and colleges is no different to that at athletics tracks and clubs. The outdoor season in the U.K provides a fresh set of challenges to those experienced during the indoor season - due to the one aspect which is out of our control, namely the unpredictable weather we face.

'Controlling the controllables' is a strategy used by many successful performers. Whilst we cannot control the weather, we can control our preparation, and what we take to a competition. By ensuring you have packed a comprehensive kit back the day before the meet, you can often gain a competitive advantage over less prepared rivals, and prepare yourself for your best possible performance on the day.

So, what should a Pole Vaulter's kit bag should contain?

Spikes: Check you have both spikes, and they have the relevant length spike in them. Officials will often check spike length at championships - don't be caught out.

Spare individual spikes & spike key: In case you realise you're missing a spike or two!

Waterproof clothing: Always be prepared for rain in the U.K.

Spare clothes & socks: Arriving in layers, and taking these off as you warm up and compete is important. Having spare clothes in the event of landing on a wet pit is also critical - you don't want to spend the whole competition cold and wet!

Gloves: Even in the summer you’re bound to have a day where it isn’t warm. Bring gloves so your hands can stay warm in order to be able to grip the pole.

Self-Therapy tools: From foam rollers to hockey balls, whatever tools you use, always make sure you have what you need to put your body in its best position to compete.

Small Tent/Pop-Up Tent: If you're competing somewhere with no shelter then having your own to provide some kind of shelter is very helpful. Something small that is easy to put up and down is ideal.

Umbrella: Great to use with one of your teammates to keep you dry when preparing for a vault.

Chalk or sticky spray: Whatever your preference always ensure you have an adequate supply. All pole vaulters know how important it is to be able to trust your grip.

Grip tape: Equally as important as the above as you may have to re-tape a pole that gets wet.

Tape measure: This is a must. Never rely on anyone else providing one for you.

Bungee: Many stadiums amazingly do not have bungee bars: We would recommend always taking one with you for the warm up.

Run-up markers: Very helpful for you and your coach. If it’s raining you’ll need something more substantial than a shoe, or a piece of chalk or tape. If using tape we would suggest using a pin to make sure it stays in the track.

Permanent marker: Run up markers can get kicked around or moved accidentally, so it always helps to make a permanent mark that can’t be moved.

Towels: Whether you’re drying yourself or your equipment, these are always helpful to have.

Bin bags: These are very useful to put wet clothes in. You can also put them over the grip end of your poles to provide an extra layer of waterproof protection.

Simple First Aid kit: I’m sure many athletes have spiked themselves and having a simple first aid kit including plasters can be very helpful.

Food & Drink: Feeling thirsty or hungry can have seriously negative effects on performance. Always take your own food and drink, and remember to bring something to consume immediately after the competition.

We hope this list is useful and would like to wish everyone all the best with their competitions this outdoor season.