A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

A forum to discuss pole vault technique as it relates to beginning vaulters. If you have been jumping less than a year, this is the forum for you.

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KirkB
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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby KirkB » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:25 pm

My first post in this thread was about the rockback that many vaulters (including RL) did on the pole (a 'tuck-shooter' style rockback).

Then I watched the vid of the 12-year-old Australian lass, and saw her do her rockback drill on the highbar, so my attention shifted to the highbar rockback/swing drill.

Then Grandevaulter and Altius both commented on the disadvantages of the rockback drill ON THE POLE, as depicted by Grandevaulter's vid (above) - to which I (mistakenly) disagreed.

To be very clear, I agree that the rockback drill on the pole is a bad one, but I highly recommend the rockback/whip drill on the highbar.

Perhaps I should not have called the one on the highbar a rockback drill - I think it's more of a whip drill. :o

Sorry for the confusion.

Kirk
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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby grandevaulter » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:12 pm

Kirk,

Your point about using the high bar to perform thousands of repetition is well taken.
This youngster has gone close to 13' but I've watched him go out at 11' the last two meets that he vaulted. He knocks the bar off on the way up and I've told him to move his standards back to 28". He doesn't have a coach other than the club guy that has contributed to what we see here.

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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby KirkB » Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:35 am

I'll reply to both your posts together ...
grandevaulter wrote: This is a good 17 year old that competes in our league. He is coming to our clinic. He has been to a camp nearby that produces vaulters that dead end at 12'6". He pulls the sweep leg in immediately. I attribute this to the old "Rock Back" drill. It translates right into the actual vault. Can this be undone?

If he's coming to the clinic that Altius is coaching at, he's in good hands.

I do see that he "pulls the sweep leg in immediately", but I don't see how you attribute this to a rockback/whip drill on the highbar. From what I see (based on many other similar vaulters that I've seen with his skill level), he hasn't been doing any highbar rockback drills at all!

Rather, someone has told him that the way to vault is to use a soft pole and just tuck into a ball as soon as you take off. And by the way, throw your head back while you're at it (as if that helps at all). And don't worry about being 'under' on takeoff - that will help to bend the pole! :no:

Frankly, I don't think there's anything to undo here. I think just start from scratch, with the basics, exactly as Altius has prescribed in his post above, and exactly as his 12 year old lass is doing.

Further to this, the 17 year old lad has not been doing heavy highbar drills, else he would have much better gut strength, and he'd be swinging on the pole with a longer trail leg. If you were to tell him to swing his trail leg straight, and then whip it past the chord, I doubt that he would be able to do it.

Conversely, if you ask him to get on the highbar and do the same thing (swing his trail leg straight), he STILL wouldn't be able to do it. Why? It takes repetition. Practice, practice, practice. Do this practice on the highbar first, THEN apply it to the similar actions on the pole.

I don't know for sure if that's what you and Altius are also saying, so please do me a favor when you post, and when you refer to the 'rockback drill', please clarify whether you mean on the pole or on the highbar.

grandevaulter wrote: This youngster has gone close to 13' but I've watched him go out at 11' the last two meets that he vaulted. He knocks the bar off on the way up and I've told him to move his standards back to 28". He doesn't have a coach other than the club guy that has contributed to what we see here.

These are additional issues, not to be confused with the original 'rockback drill' issue. He gets jerked off the ground and then goes directly into a tuck. I'll bet that when you saw him go close to 13', his takeoff was much improved (maybe accidentally, as he apparently doesn't know how to improve his technique methodically to stay close to 13' on all his jumps). As Altius says, there's no sense in trying to improve his so-called 'rockback' if he's not planting and jumping off the ground with good posture (so he doesn't get jerked).

Honestly, I think he's too anxious to vault with a soft pole. If I were his coach, I'd get him to learn to swing better on a much stiffer pole before worrying about bending the pole. And if that means he must lower his grip substantially, then so be it.

I feel for this vaulter. So much misdirection and/or lack of direction. I know he's trying his best, but he isn't yet equipped with the tools to fix his technical problems. I'm confident that Altius will help him quite a bit in the clinic.

I would love to hear a post-clinic report on this guy! Good luck to him.

Kirk
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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby grandevaulter » Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:36 am

Kirk, I was referring to the rock back drill on the pole.

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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:16 pm

Beautiful, Alan, exactly what I think a beginner should look like. And I absolutely agree that rockback drills on the pole are pretty useless. I don't mean that as a pejorative; I really never use them. I find that if the approach and takeoff are emphasized, the swing develops along with them. If, however, I emphasize the swing early in the learning process (which I did for years) everything else suffers.

The best drill I have found for teaching the swing is the exact opposite of a rockback drill. I call it the "automatic or nothing" vault. The idea is to take a fairly soft pole and get all the way through the vault with no effort at all after takeoff. If the approach and takeoff are well executed, the rest of the vault will mostly happen by itself. It won't be as powerful as a full effort attempt, but it will be a serviceable jump. An elite vaulter should be able to clear within 8" of their PR from a full approach on an automatic or nothing attempt. If, however, the takeoff is not adequate, the "or nothing" part of the drill kicks in and the athlete is forced to bail under the bar. It's a self correcting drill and just as much is learned from the "or nothing" attempts as from the "automatic" ones. But more importantly, the athlete learns what the swing should feel like and how essential the approach and takeoff actually are. A powerful swing is very much about putting more force into a movement that is already happening because of the dynamics of the approach and takeoff. It is very much not about focusing on inversion (a word I never use to an athlete in my care) as an end in and of itself.

One of the problems that can arise is that so many athletes and coaches do emphasize getting upside down that the athlete may absorb this imperative just from being involved in the sport. This can lead to impatience and discouragement. I don't know what do do about this. It's hard to explain to athletes that they sometimes have to take the long road to get where they want to go. It is even harder to explain that to their parents.

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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby grandevaulter » Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:22 am

I tell the kids that Kirk Bryde (Canadian Olympian) said they have to do thousands of these. They show up, work hard and have fun doing these. http://youtu.be/Wpe9HYr5j5c

This isn't an all or nothing drill. Altius talked about "key positions". Sometimes he would branch off on a lecture and not name all of them in order. I have extrapolated the "breaking at the hips" as a key position and show them a page in the book where he has beginners work at this. The kids are surprised when they do everything right and they continue to swing beyond the 90 degree sitting position. http://youtu.be/N9aoE2NDd3s

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Re: A minimalist approach to developing pole vaulters

Unread postby markm » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:53 am

Great Video!
My stepdaughter has decided to pole vault, awesome!
I was a vaulter back in 80s, and the only coach in these parts.
She is 5'5" 113 lbs, I would like to get her a suitable training pole, however they did not have training poles in my day, so I have no idea what to buy.
What would be a good size and length of pole?
Your Recommendation?
Thanks


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