What Are the Different Types of Track and Field Equipment?

Dan Cavallari

Different track and field events will require different types of equipment, from shoes and clothing to hurdles, discus units, and other items used in competition. The most common track and field equipment includes items that are worn, such as track and field spikes, running jerseys and shorts, track suits, and so on. Other equipment is more activity-specific: the pole used in the pole vault, for example, or mats used to cushion the pole vaulter's landing. One of the largest pieces of equipment is the specially designed running track that is usually made from bits of rubber.

A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.
A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.

Track and field equipment will also include items designed for training. Running parachutes, for example, attach to a harness worn by the runner. The parachute will catch the air as the runner sprints or otherwise runs, thereby creating more resistance for strength and endurance training. Small plastic cones are useful for almost all track and field events; these important pieces of track and field equipment can be used by runners to gauge distance, work on agility, and so on. They are useful tools for cross-training purposes in most athletics, not just track and field events.

Barriers and cushions are needed for the high jump.
Barriers and cushions are needed for the high jump.

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Obstacles are necessary for many events, such as pole vaulting and hurdling. The hurdles themselves can be made from wood, plastic, or metal, and they must be durable enough to withstand impacts should a runner fail to clear the barrier. The top rung of the hurdle is sometimes designed to break away on impact should a runner fail to clear the top of it, while others are designed to simply fall over when impacted.

Track shoes often include spikes, which are available in various lengths that are selected based on whether an athlete will be running or jumping.
Track shoes often include spikes, which are available in various lengths that are selected based on whether an athlete will be running or jumping.

Pole vaulters require a few different specifically designed pieces of equipment. The pole itself is of course specifically designed for this activity, and the weight and flexibility of the pole can vary according to the vaulter's needs. The pole vault crossbar is mounted to a vault stand that is adjustable so the bar can be raised as the vaulter tries for new heights. The pole vault box is the unit on the ground in which the end of the pole is pivoted so the vaulter can thrust himself or herself upward. The box can come in a variety of styles and functions, as well as materials.

Hurdles are used in some running events in track and field.
Hurdles are used in some running events in track and field.

Other jumping events such as the high jump and long jump require track and field equipment specially designed for that activity as well. Sand pits are used during the long jump, and a rake is needed to smooth out the sand after a jumper has landed in it. Barriers are needed for high jumpers, as well as cushions on which they can land after the jump.

Track and field games may include pole vaulting.
Track and field games may include pole vaulting.

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