The rise and development of pole sports worldwide
Pole, introduced as a sport in 2006 after it became a popular form of fitness in 2000, has experienced rapid growth around the world, following the creation of the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) in 2009.
In 11 years, the IPSF has gone from standardising elements of pole sports, such as scoring, judging and competitions, to hosting eight world championships and establishing 35 national federations. In July 2018, more than 200 athletes from 40 countries competed in the World Pole Sports Championships in Tarragona, Spain.
As a result of the efforts of the IPSF, including gaining GAISF Observer Status in 2017, the sport is now practised in more than 60 countries with over 5,000 male and female athletes competing every year.
Commenting on the development of pole sports and the federation’s support from GAISF, IPSF President Katie Coates said:
“Gaining Observer Status in 2017 was a fantastic opportunity for the IPSF, and over the last two years we have worked hard towards gaining full recognition. That recognition is still some way off for us as a federation so for the IPSF to receive an extension to our Observer Status means we can continue rapidly developing and growing across the world.
“The GAISF Observer Status has been fundamental in our growth and development, giving us credibility and standing within the wider sports community. It has given our community a far better understanding of how a sport should function at every level. We have made contacts in the sporting world who have shared their knowledge and expertise, which has been instrumental in our growth, and we have been able to pass on these skills to help others.”
For the IPSF, 2020 was set to be the biggest year to date but, like all other federations, it has had to adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IPSF’s response to the crisis has been to develop and roll out new online training programmes for athletes, judges and coaches, enabling them to continue their development online.
That is not all. The IPSF has used the opportunity of the additional time available to develop two new aerial disciplines: artistic hoop and flying pole. Artistic hoop will launch in September 2020, while flying pole will follow in 2021.
Commenting on what the future holds for pole sports, Coates stated:
“Our main focus is on our sport’s development and national recognition, which will help with funding to develop our athletes at the grassroots.”
The IPSF recently agreed a deal for a major new documentary focused on pole sports which is set to be released in 2021.