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Pole Sports competition judging is an ever evolving process and navigating the maze of rules can sometimes be difficult and quickly become overwhelming. As a newly founded competitive sport, we are striving to unify our regulations, however, currently, there are still numerous judging parameters to navigate across many different competitions. Each competition has its own specific rules, regulations, standards and expectations based upon who is organizing or governing that particular competition. 


As a competitor, it is imperative that you know, and actually understand, all of the numerous regulatory aspects of your specific competition in order to produce a successful program (or routine) for that competition. Whether you are brand new to Pole competition, a seasoned competitor, or somewhere in between, Power Pole Sports can help you to identify, understand and utilize all of the regulatory aspects of your specific competition to produce a winning routine.


Power Pole Sports Founder and Owner, Kriston Leah is an International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) Certified National Pole Sports Judge. The U.K. based IPSF is the governing body of Pole Sports and regulator of the World Pole Sports Championships held each year in London, and each of its National qualifiers held throughout the World. Kriston is currently one of only 5 such Judges in the entire United States. She has also judged for the number one U.S. based competitive platform, the Pole Sport Organization (PSO). With the aid of Kriston Leagh's extensive knowledge, education, and experience, Power Pole Sports is able to offer invaluable competitor tools and advice to assist Pole Sports enthusiasts and athletes of all ages and levels to become involved with, and excel at, Pole Sports Competition.




Entering a competition is no longer quite as simple as merely putting together a strong and entertaining routine. Pole has grown so rapidly in recent years, with so many competitions and choices opening up to competitors, that many polers do not even know where to begin. Others know where to start, but then have difficulty navigating through a sometimes very confusing process. To make things easier, we have listed some important steps to take prior to entering a competition, along with important tools to help guide you each step of the way. 


1. Finding an Accessible Competition Suiting Your Style: 


First, you should identify an appropriate competition for your style, taste, and preference. For instance, some competitions have expectations which are more artistic and entertaining. Others expect a more technical and athletic program. You must be aware of the types of competitions available to you so that you may choose the best fit for you. And of course, there is the matter of finding a competition that is near you or accessible to you. You may visit our Competition Calendar page to view accredited competitions of all types in your area, and all over, to find a competition suitable as well as accessible for you. The Competition Calendar will also provide important links and information for the applications process, complete with requirements, deadlines, contacts, and other specifics.


2. Age Level, Skill Level, and Theme Divisions within your chosen Competition:


Many polers are not aware that competitions are often broken into several categories under several different parameters, and then further broken down into subcategories. You will need to identify your appropriate skill division, age division, and thematic division within the competition you have chosen.


Start with the thematic division which best suits the theme or feel of your program. For instance, Entertainment, Dramatic, Comedy, and Championship (less themed, more athletic), depending upon the competition, might be amongst the possibilities. Once you have chosen the appropriate thematic division for your style or program/routine, there are quite a few other division determinations to be made.   


Perhaps most important to know, is that competitions are also usually broken into skill level, and then further broken into age group amongst the skill levels. Many competitions have levels starting at beginner, so it is a common misconception that you need to be an elite athlete to compete. If this thought has ever stopped you from competing, I urge you to reconsider. Pole Sports has a competition for all levels at all ages from beginner to elite. If you wish to compete, your skill level and age are not at all factors as you would compete against only those at the same age and skill level. 


Also little known is that each skill level will usually have its own mandatory move restrictions, which ensures each competitor in each division is not performing above their level. As an example, any competition organized by the Pole Sport Organization (PSO), imposes the following regulations: a level one may not invert at all while on the pole; a level two may only invert from the floor (no aerial inverts); and a level three may aerial invert, however, must maintain three points of contact with the pole at all times; a level four and the professional divisions are not subject to movement restrictions, however any move deemed dangerous to the competitor would innately be restricted. These types of regulations are in place to ensure that you are competing only against those on your same level.  


Once you have established your appropriate age and skill level, it is imperative that you know and understand the separate set of rules imposed within that level so that you may meet all of the requirements in your program/routine and avoid any unnecessary point deductions. For instance, to continue with the PSO competition example above, in a level two skill division, since competitors may only invert from the floor, if you were to perform an aerial invert (which is defined in the PSO rules as your head/torso coming lower than your hips), then there is a mandatory point deduction which the judges must take. If you would like to include aerial inverts in your program, it is advisable just to move to level three, where aerial inverts are not restricted. 


Stated above are examples of just one competition's requirements and restrictions. There are many. Each competition has its own. Feel free to visit our Competition Calendar where we post links to each individual competition site and whenever possible, links to the specific rules themselves, so that you may familiarize yourself with the regulations. If you prefer to speak to someone one-on-one about your own personalized strategies and goals, we also offer Competitor Training Packages, Competitor Consultations, and Competitor Workshops where an experienced Power Pole Sports Coach will help you find the right competition for you and then guide you through all the regulatory aspects of your specific competition and the training required to effectively compete.


3. Scoring Structure:


You must also consider the structure of the scoring system within your competition. Meaning, how will the judges be scoring you? This is not yet regulated across all competitions. For instance, in one competition, your tricks or technical scores may be a larger percentage of your score.  In another competition, your stage presence may be a larger percentage of your score. Furthermore, not only does scoring structure vary from competition to competition, it may also vary within the same competition, depending upon your division. Using the PSO scoring system again as an example, in their Artistic Dramatic Division, the momentum you carry on the pole during tricks and spins counts as 5% of your score, and your stage presence as 25% of your score. There are seven remaining elements which each count as 10% of your score. However, within the same competition, in the Championship Division, you are scored by ten elements equally at 10% each. 


In stark contrast to the PSO scoring system, in an International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) endorsed competition, you will be scored on a completely different system through a Code of Points. Firstly, an IPSF endorsed competition will require that your routine includes certain compulsory moves. As an example, as an Elite or Professional athlete, in the Seniors, Juniors, or Masters division, your routine must mandatorily include a total of 11 compulsory moves comprising of four flexibility moves, four strength moves, one spin on spinning pole, one spin on static pole, and one aerial deadlift. (These requirements are different for the Novice and Doubles categories as well as the Amateur categories.) Compulsory moves within your routine are assigned a specific point value, with possible bonus points, which when combined with the your Technical and Artistic/Choreography presentation scores, will determine your final score.  All of this you must know so that you can actually build a possible winning routine before you even start training.


If you are interested in competing at the IPSF level, Power Pole Sports Coach and Owner, Kriston Leagh, is a Certified IPSF National Judge, one of only 5 in the entire United States. Kriston Leagh has also judged numerous competitive levels the Pole Sport Organization (PSO). Power Pole Sports can prepare you for competition on the local as well as the World stage. Visit our Competition Center to learn more about our Competition Training Packages and Consultations and our Competition Workshops or contact us at coach@powerpolesports.com for further information. 


4. Competition Track:


Lastly, if you are interested in regularly competing, or raising your competition aspirations to the next level, you should be considering the track on which your particular competition is situated. For instance, a regional (or local) competition you enter may be a qualifier for a larger championship, meaning should you place, you will automatically be carried through to the next larger competition. Other competitions are stand alone competitions, meaning they are not specifically associated with any other competition and will not automatically qualify you to go on to another competition. Easy to follow competition track information can be found on our Competition Calendar where blue arrows are used to indicate the competition track. The track  information can help you determine where a competition could take you, possible future competitions to enter, and also comes in particularly handy if you want to reverse engineer your track because you have set a goal of reaching a particular championship that requires you have pre-qualified, meaning you have already placed in a specific regional or national competition. For instance, if you are aiming for the IPSF World Pole Sports Championships in London, which may one day lead to the Olympics, you can not simply enter. You must know which competition in your nation is the qualifier for the IPSF World Pole Sports Championships, and you must then enter and place top 3 in the Elite division in that national competition in order to make it to the IPSF World Pole Sports Championships. (Side note: To qualify for IPSF World Pole Sports Championships, competitors alternatively can have placed in the top 2 in an IPSF "recognized" competition in the Elite division, or placed first in the previous year's WPSC. Also, one "wild card" will be awarded per division for the WPSC. Youth and Masters divisions, for the time being, also have a few other avenues for entry as named in the IPSF Rules and Regulations.)  


These are just a few of the major regulatory factors to consider when preparing to compete. However, there are many more. And as you can see, it can easily become confusing or overwhelming. Do not let this discourage you. You can utilize the online tools found at our Competition Center to educate yourself on the process and to help you navigate through the entire competition process. If you would prefer personalized guidance, an experienced Power Pole Sports Coach can direct you through this process and help you make the best choices for your style, skill level, age level, and goals, thereby placing you on a clear path to success. We offer several Competition Training and Consultation options for all levels. It is our goal is to promote healthy, diverse, and spirited competition among all levels by making the competition process easier for everyone to understand and less intimidating to enter. If you want to compete, Power Pole Sports can help prepare you and guide you through this challenging and rewarding process. 




If you are already competing, you may be very well aware of the ins and outs of the various and numerous rules and regulations. However, what you may not know is that as a sport, we are at this very moment, becoming unified by our governing body, The International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF). This organization is spear heading the effort for Pole to become an official sport, and is also at the forefront of the push for Pole to become an Olympic Sport.  As part of this effort, the IPSF  has introduced an entirely new scoring system, complete with a Code of Points, to place the judging of our sport in line with other reputable, recognized, mainstream, (and Olympic) sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, and diving. 


The IPSF currently endorses more than 30 national and open competitions around the world where this Code of Points is already in effect, with more competitions being added regularly. In addition, starting in 2015, this Code of Points will be in full effect at the IPSF World Pole Sports Championships currently held in the London each year. As a note to the serious competitor, if and/or when Pole Sports does make it to the Olympics, the pool of eligible competitors will most likely come from IPSF endorsed competitions, and this new points system will be the scoring system in effect at the Olympics.   


The new points system means that before you even start training your program (or routine), you must actually specifically build it, incorporating a specific set of IPSF sanctioned compulsory (mandatory) moves whose point value falls between a 0.1 and 1.0 depending on category. For instance, Elite Senior athletes (comprising of ages 18-39 years) must choose a total of 11 compulsory moves with a point value of 0.5 to 1.0 each. These compulsory moves must be comprised of exactly four flexibility moves, four strength moves, one spin on spinning pole, one spin on static pole, and one aerial deadlift.  


Also, each compulsory move has its own execution parameters (referred to in the Code of Points as "minimum requirements"), which you must meet in order for the move to be awarded its point value, as well as certain bonus parameters where additional points may be awarded. It is imperative that you understand the details of compulsory judging as in addition to being able to score points based on completing compulsory moves to minimum requirements, and gaining bonus points based on bonus certain criteria, you could also be deducted points based on performing your compulsory moves out of sequence or a non-attempt of your compulsory move. More specifically, if you attempt a compulsory move and meet the minimum requirements, you will receive that compulsory move's point value. If you attempt the move, but fail at meeting its minimum requirements, you will receive 0 points. However, and this is important, should you not even attempt the move, skipping it altogether, you would be deducted an entire 3 points mandatorily. Therefore, it is much better to try and fail the move than to skip it altogether. These types of details are important to know as not knowing could cost you important points, which in turn, could cost you placement in the final results.


In addition to compulsory scores and bonuses, an IPSF athlete is also judged under a number of Technical Bonus, Technical Deduction, and Artistic and Choreography Presentation parameters, which each also have their own criteria (and own Judge for that matter), and all of these scores are ultimately combined to become your total score. 


As you can see, there are many new and crucial scoring elements to contend with and if you want to compete successfully at this level, it is imperative that you understand all of the aspects of this new scoring system and its Code of Points. If you don't know how to navigate these new regulations, even a flawlessly executed, strong and even stellar program, may unwittingly fall short based on the points system.   


The bottom line is that the sport of Pole is evolving, quickly. If you want to continue to be competitive on the world stage, you must evolve as well. Power Pole Sports can help you stay at the forefront of your sport. Utilize our online tools at the Competition Center for news, information, competition dates, competitor training and overall support. Or visit our Competitor Training page to find personalized coaching and training solutions that fit your needs. We are here to guide, support, and push you to your finest competition preparedness. If you want to compete, we can help you. If you want to win, we can help you with that too. Pole is Evolving. Are You?™ 

Pole Sports Training for Strength and Agility. South Florida, USA. (Miami, Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale) pole sports, pole dance, classes, private lessons, online lessons, workshops, competition training, instructor training
Kriston Leagh, Coach and Owner of Power Pole™ Sports is a Certified National Judge for the IPSF, one of only eleven in the entire United States. (Pole sports judge, competition, competitor, training, coaching, judging.)