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Looking for some online coaching!

Posted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:35 pm
by Mesavaulter
Hi everyone, my name is Spencer and I came here looking for some help

I vault in California at a new and struggling (sports-wise) school. This is my second year of pole vault. Last year, the coach left in the beginning of the year and I was never able to learn from him. Instead, I learned from my less than enjoyable superiors (varsity). None were kind or caring and always slacked off so my form and basics are somewhat "behind". This year, we have a coach, but she can only come out twice a week and rarely has good advice nor does she understand pole vault. I believe our school record is 12'8". My current record that I achieved during the winter season was 12'. I hope to break the school record within a month but lack the proper coaching to do so.

So there was some background, and now onto what I need help/advice on. I weigh 150 lbs and got 12' on a 160 lbs, 13' pole. Last week I moved up to the 165 lbs, 13' pole but have been having difficulty getting onto it. My bottom arm caves in, I fail to swing up meaningfully, and have trouble turning. Any advice or techniques would be greatly appreciated, I will see if I can get a video of one of my vaults up on here within a week.

Re: Looking for some online coaching!

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:13 am
by vquestpvc

Sorry no one has address your concerns sooner, but I'll try to help. I am a high school coach with 30+ years experience and still learning myself. What I have learned is that, being located in the Northeast, in a 3 month season one must be very efficient to get somewhat proficient at pole vaulting. Therefore, let me offer you these simple suggestions and drills to becoming a decent HS vaulter; 13+.

Over the years I have attended multiple pole vault camps with my athletes and I can honestly tell you that all do basically the same simple drills. First of all, start vaulting on the ground. We call them "runovers". With a pole held vertically and directly in front of you, jump up and touch the pole. This spot will be your starting grip. From only 4 total steps, run, plant the pole on the ground and swing through. Sorry if this seems too simplistic for you, but believe me it is one of the best drills you can do for so many reasons. First, and most importantly, you have to learn to jump. If you place the tip on the ground before you jump, you will not be very successful swinging through to your trail foot. So, you must jump just prior to the tip hitting the ground. And remember, the PV is a jumping event with the same technique used in HJ or LJ. Lead knee drives up, the trail leg driving down through the ground and then extending off the toe. Some like to "bump" the pole with the trail leg, but I reason that there is no bumping the pole in vaulting. Secondly, you need to learn to hang top arm straight all the way through; critical throughout the initial movements of vaulting. Thirdly, you'll want to push the pole straight forward and in a straight line landing on your trail foot with some speed forward. This action dictates the "penetration" you should be getting into the pit. Anything not straight will effect the complete jump. As you get better, raise your grip until you begin to stall, but are still able to move forward in a straight line.

Next drill we call the 4 step drill because you are going to use only a 4 (total) step approach; the same as the runovers. Make sure to move your grip up to compensate for the box depth. Performing everything you did in the runovers; nothing changes. With this drill, however, when you swing into the pit you will attempt to land on your lead foot and trail knee. The purpose is to get penetration into the pit (straight line forward) and getting separation between the legs for next movement.

The third drill is called the 6 step drill; some refer to it as the inversion drill. Two additional steps for more speed, but controlled. Building on the previous drills, you will now initiate a trail leg whip to invert. As noted in the runover drill, you want to extend high off the trail toe. This is a cue I use to delay swinging the leg too soon, but sooner than later. Think of it as kicking a soccer ball. One steps to the ball extending the kicking leg and immediately kicks the ball. What is happening is actually a stretch reflect action. The trail leg muscles are stretched out and much like a rubber band, the muscles will return more actively. Want to see the stretch reflects in action. In a sitting position place a hand palm down on a thigh. Now lift the index finger up to tap the thigh. Not much force. Now, lift the index finger with other hand and release. See how quickly and with much more force the finger hits the thigh? So, you need to stretch the take off leg. This is why being "under" makes it more difficult to invert. So, learn to jump up and out and not run through the take off. Simply moving back to try to be "out" is not always the answer. Go back to the runover drill. You have to jump up.

With complete honesty Spencer, the previously noted drills are employed by ALL camps I've attended. In the past 6 years we have had 5, 13-6 HS vaulters with only 3 months to prepare.
We do a lot of approach and pole drop drills away from the pit which is critical, but into the pit basically the 3 drills described.

Lastly, but very important, a high school vaulter should not be concerned with keeping the bottom arm straight at take off. There are those "beasts" at an elite level which can do this, but for a HS vaulter it will only serve to delay your success and might very well make vaulting more dangerous for you. If you recall from the "runover" drill, one needs to keep the top arm straight at take off and into invertion because the pole actually bends due to the weight of hanging from the top arm. It's a leverage thing combined with the dynamics of the pole. And, by pressing the bottom hand at take off one can actually "block" the swing to inversion; at your level, not what you want. You also noted that you're trying to move to a stiff pole. I suggest you get more proficient at the 160 pole. If it is too soft, move your top hand down a little. Biggest mistake i think many HS guys make if try to get on bigger poles too soon. Would you be happy straight poling 13'? And although you don't have a coach, become a student of the event. But remember to be discerning. It would be better to get good info than too much. Keep it simple. Best of luck this season.

Re: Looking for some online coaching!

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:31 pm
by altius
If you want to become a student of the event - get a copy of Beginner to Bubka and the dvd from Becca.

Re: Looking for some online coaching!

Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:03 am
by vquestpvc
Hey Spencer, I agree with Altius regarding the Beginner to Bubka book and DVD. In one of the video shots, there is an excellent example of what I mean by hanging on the pole to bend it. At take off, a young girl (maybe 15?) basically has her nose against the pole with the bottom arm colapsed. However, as she continues to drive forward and up, the separation between the bottom arm and pole opens up. Honestly, BTB is a main source of my teaching the pole vault despite the author being a little grumpy.

Re: Looking for some online coaching!

Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:36 pm
by altius
"despite the author being a little grumpy.[/quote]" Hey I object to that -I m all sweetness and light until I meet non coaching experts who want to tell us everything about the vault. Do you want me to send references??????? :D ;) :P