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Good Grief... It's the Dreaded Five-Alive Time Again...

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  • Good Grief... It's the Dreaded Five-Alive Time Again...

    Once again this weekend I'm tasked to help officiate a five-alive format HJ competition. It's a high school qualifier to pick 9 jumpers to move on to the divisional finals a week hence. And I keep thinking there must be a better way...

    There will be close to 40 athletes in both the male and female sections, many of whom will be unfamiliar with the five-alive process.
    Some of the entrants will face an opening ht. that is equal to or greater than their personal best.
    So in each competition there will likely be well more than 100 "X-marks" on the result sheet. Ugh...
    And a lot of kids will be coming and going to other jumps or race trials so they will need to be omitted from the five jumper rotation and reinserted upon return.

    I'm just whining here so far because maintaining the proper jumping order is so tricky for officials, jumpers and observing coaches and fans.
    I have coached athletes who had to intervene with certified officials at divisional finals after being completely over-looked at certain heights during five-alives to insist on their right to jump before the bar was raised.

    My real point is that, I do not see the advantage of the five-alive protocol over simply running flights of 5 jumpers through each height, then moving on to the next five.

    PS: for those not familiar with the five-alive process, here below is the simple explanation from USTAF "Best Practices". If you think this sounds easy, you are a better man than I by far.

    1) Begin by calling the athletes in the assigned order.
    2) When the first miss occurs, write “1” in the upper right corner of the box of that height; number the next four jumpers as “2”, “3”, “4”, & “5”. These are the athletes who are “alive”.
    3) Continue to call those five jumpers in their “5- alive” order until they clear the height, are eliminated from the competition, or pass their remaining attempts at the height.
    4) When an athlete moves out of the rotation, give that number to the next jumper to enter the competition. Erase/mark-out the first number to avoid confusion. The new jumper takes the place of the previous jumper in the rotation.
    5) Communicate! Inform each athlete as they enter the rotation & continually let the athletes know who is in the rotation.
    6) Continue this process until there are fewer than nine jumpers remaining at the height. I number the last three jumpers on the list as “.1”, “.2”, & “.3”. When the jumper before “.1” enters the competition, so do these last three. They become “#.1”, “#.2”, & “#.3”, with “#” representing whatever the jumper before “.1” took in the 5-alive order.
    7) At this point, go through the 5-alive order one more time. After “#.3” takes his first jump, go to the top of the list & begin going straight down the competitors remaining at the height.

  • #2
    I feel your pain. I was the scoring official at the NCAA Regionals - Pole Vault - at UNF a couple of years ago.
    5-alive is a scoring nightmare. I went out and bought a magnetic board and number labels, so I could keep track of who was jumping, on deck and in the hole. I did it OK, but then we switched positions for the women's comp and the next guy totally lost track and it took several minutes to unsnarl it. I offered to take over but the guy soldiered up and finished the comp just fine. The next time I have to officiate it, I'm getting dibs for being the guy on the runway with the flags!!

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    • #3
      Flights of five run through the heights are not fair; later groups know what they have to jump.

      One guy I worked with on Big Ten meets has a board with a margin that allows little pins to be stuck in, numbered 1-5 and in a color progression. That is the best situation. I am off in a few minutes to do a quad high school meet; I almost never do high school meets and sometimes the little differences can catch me up. This meet might be difficult because I may not have any assistants with any experience at all, and I might have only two to help.

      It has been so long since I have done five-alive that I would have to study it a bit, but I felt confident after a bit of doing it. One important rule for me was to not let someone interrupt me when I was doing the entry/switch adjustment.

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      • #4
        I can run five alive in my head without too much difficulty, but kids coming and going from other events would really throw me. In that situation I would rather throw the rules out the window and jump in whatever order made sense to avoid delaying the event.

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        • #5
          Good grief is right. Check out this Youtube video for 5 Alive.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3AOb984Rnk

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          • #6
            I always thought I understood the concept, but the number of meets I've announced where somebody strange ends up on the runway has convinced me either than I don't, or that most officials find a way to cock it up somewhere along the line. Understandably.

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            • #7
              Twenty-thirty years ago I worked quite a lot HJ. I don't remember having any difficulty running 5-alive but now that I have read the rules I am completely intimidated.

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              • #8
                Im not familiar but interested. Would you guys be willing to explain some of the benefits of the 5 alive process and why it was created/used. Just curious.

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                • #9
                  ATK:
                  With a large field of jumpers in a standard order of jumps a competitor might have a very long wait after a missed attempt before their second try.
                  If run properly in 5-alive there will never be more than 4 jumpers between attempts at a given height. That time factor is the big plus of the system.
                  The trick is to maintain the proper order of jumpers . For example, if 3 of the 5 "alive" jumpers miss their first jumps and the other two clear their attempts then 2 new jumpers need to be factored in to the same sequence where the successful jumpers had been. Add in passes and jumpers gone to other events and checking back in.... it can be done but it is pretty challenging.

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                  • #10
                    Say you have 20 athletes jumping at a height in the pole vault. Average time between jumps is over a minute. Say athlete 1 misses; they get their second attempt almost 20 minutes later. Alternatively, with five-alive, you are almost always four jumpers away from going as long as your are in the 5-pool, and the two outside the pool know that they have to be generally aware but the rest know it will be a while before they rotate in. Sometimes the 5-alive sends everyone but one or two out at once and the last vaulter may have 3 straight tries - however, it does not happen often.

                    Five alive is easier in a "big" meet where you have a full compliment of officials, if you are running the vault with only two people assisting doing the standards and setting the bar (especially with bars over 5 meters) it gets pretty difficult.

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                    • #11
                      Five alive works best if no one else talks to you or asks you any questions. As soon as you have to think about something else, you are in trouble!

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                      • #12
                        Thanks 26 and pvp. Along with the usatf specifics jc originally posted, the process makes more sense now.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ATK View Post
                          Im not familiar but interested. Would you guys be willing to explain some of the benefits of the 5 alive process and why it was created/used. Just curious.
                          it was created, as I recall, because NCAA and/or USATF stopped having proper qualifying rounds in the field events and were thus stuck with monstrous vertical-jumps fields, and it was adjudged (can't say I disagree) that it left people with too long between attempts, since unlike other field events flights weren't an option.

                          Proper solution, of course, is to back to frickin' Q-rounds like god intended.

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                          • #14
                            I have officiated many a HJ competition, but have always backed away from meets with large fields as I do not know 5 Alive, and also do not want to learn !

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                            • #15
                              Ok this scares me. I'd rather have 20 athletes in an indoor 5k with no one to help me count laps. I can do that one, although like pvp said, if anyone even looks at me I'd be screwed

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