Peaking at the big meets

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kmonty51
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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby kmonty51 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:02 pm

Or....don't try to control speed exactly, but shorten the run? That's something that, I think, would need to be "rehearsed" in practice.
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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby grandevaulter » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:38 pm

Most top experts advocate a controlled approach run. Through our pole carry drills in practice we find a consistent approach that translates to a consistent performance approach. But it seems that we can never do enough of those. I am reminded of this.

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby altius » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:07 pm

NOT SURE IF THIS WILL CLARIFY OR MUDDY THIS ASPECT OF COACHING - IN MY OPINION THE BENCH COACHING PROCESS IS INTUITIVE AND SO REQUIRES THE EXPERIENCE THAT CAN ONLY BE GAINED FROM WATCHING THOUSANDS OF VAULTS - AND 'KNOWING' THE ATHLETE INVOLVED.

ChapterTwentyThree: The competition process
“If you have one eye on winning you only have one eye to watch your opponent’s sword.” A guiding principle for Samurai warriors.

Training is only a means to an end! The true test of the athlete occurs in competition, where weaknesses in any aspect of their preparation, in their character or even their courage may be exposed. Indeed it is this factor which makes the pole vault a unique challenge and which draws a special kind of person to the event as an athlete or a coach.

With most events in track and field the role of the coach ends when the athlete goes to the call room or onto the track before the competition; after this they may shout encouragement but there is little more they can really do to help their athlete perform. This is definitely not the case with the pole vault where our experience suggests that young athletes can benefit enormously from assistance during competition. Most youngsters simply do not have the experience nor the body awareness to know what changes to make to improve their performance, especially when their normal thought processes begin to freeze up under the pressure of competition. However as athletes mature they do have to take more and more responsibility for their own performance in competition; this may be a process which takes many years, but we believe that the sooner it begins the better for both the coach and the athlete.

The implication of this is that one of the tasks of the coach is to teach athletes how to compete. However the process begins with the coach learning how to cope with the pressure of the competition process themselves. This is not easy and the author has seen arguably the greatest pole vault coach in history begin to crack under the pressure.

The Coach
On the day of competition the coach must be ‘ready’; calm, confident and apparently in control – no matter how nervous they may be! They must never allow their emotions to impact on the athlete; that said, only a true disciple of Zen could always stay in control under the pressures of high level competition.
If the coach hopes to remain cool, calm and collected they must try to avoid stress in the lead up to the competition. The best way to do this is to use routines. Routines encapsulate fundamental principles and behaviours into an easy to understand set of routines which reduce the uncertainty which comes from continual ad hoc decision making. Routines help to ensure that:
The stress levels of everyone involved are reduced.
No time is wasted trying to locate items or bodies!
Equipment is not left behind or lost.
Everyone knows what is going on – and when.
We recommend using checklists where the coach
ticks off each task as it is completed.
If the local officials will let them, the coach should: Check the jumping environment
• Pad safety: check the distance between pad and the box to ensure that a flexing pole will not hit it and disrupt the timing of a jump.
• Stands calibrated – so that when they are shown to be on zero, they are actually in line with the back of the box.
• Box OK? Where you are doubtful check the depth of the box, the angle of the back wall and ensure that the front lip is not standing proud.
• Assess the run up surface – Fast / Slow.
• Pole rack - are your athlete’s poles there!! – are
they positioned to be easily accessible.
• The competition opening height and the increments throughout the competition.
They should also begin to assess the weather conditions - now and predicted.
• Wind – now and prevailing – variable or steady – head, tail, cross?
This is very important because it may well affect tactics throughout the competition and especially the choice of opening height.

The Athlete
The ideal situation is one where the athlete arrives at the competition physically and technically ready to give of their best. They should be in the zone, under complete control of their emotions, focused, relaxed yet aggressive, confident to the point where they actually enjoy the tension and look forward to the challenge of competition. While every athlete responds differently to the pressure of competition, it is possible for coaches to begin to prepare them by introducing their athletes to the specific knowledge and routines as outlined below. Athletes should:
• Know the rules of their event.
• Make sure that their poles get to the stadium and
are available for checking, if this is necessary.
• Check the taping of their poles and, if they use a sticky spray, check that their can is not empty.
• Get to the track with plenty of time to spare before the competition begins.
• Begin their general warm up at a specific time.
• Follow the check in procedures for the
competition.
• Go to the vault area at the permitted time.
• Make sure their poles have been brought out to the competition run up.
• Know the number of competitors in the event? Will this affect their technical warm up?
• Define their spot in the competition area.
• Defend their area with their equipment bag.
• Determine where their coach is sitting – if they are there.
• Measure their run up as soon as possible – always place some kind of mark which cannot be moved, accidentally or otherwise, in addition to the markers which may be supplied.
• Begin their vault warm up at a specific time; the sequence could be:
o Plant exercises with a pole on the track. o Short run up vaults into the box.
o Full run ups on the track.
o Check full run up on runway.
o Full run up and take off.
o Full run up to jump over a bar.
• Know exactly how many short approach jumps
they intend to take.
• Make sure that they are not pushed out of the warm up sequence.
• Ensure they have enough time for up to three full up run ups/jumps – preferably at a bar with the stands at eighty centimetres.
• Select a pole they know they can take off with.
• Decide on their starting height.
• Know where they are in the jumping sequence.
• Be aware of athletes who will pass the heights that they themselves intend to jump; check this throughout the competition. If this is not done the athlete may find themselves being called to jump before they are ready.
• Check the windsock throughout the warm up and the early stages of the competition. This will help athletes understand the pattern. Clearly if there is a consistent head wind throughout the competition there is no point in waiting for a tail wind! On the other hand if the wind is variable, they should try to identify any pattern which they can take advantage of.
• Adjust their run up accordingly.
• Keep ready and alert throughout the competition,
while staying as relaxed as possible in the circumstances.
• Begin to prepare when the vaulter three before them in the jumping sequence gets on the runway. Get the pole ready and check the tape on it.
• Make sure they are completely ready to go when the jumper immediately before them in the sequence steps on the runway.
• The athlete should continue to warm up with specific exercises, pole drills and run up work during the competition. But they must stay alert to what is going on so they never have to jump before they are fully prepared.
• They should use mental rehearsal to prepare for the first jump.
• Make sure they are ready to jump immediately they step on the runway. With time now very limited by the rules it cannot be wasted. Equally important it may be that at that moment the wind is as favourable as it is going to be that day – you cannot afford to miss the chance.
• Then focus on the jump.
• Block out distractions. It is vital that athletes learn to ignore the many distractions which can occur during a competition. Some of these distractions are incidental but some may be deliberate attempts by other competitors to destroy their focus.
It is clear that mastering all of these elements will take years but we have provided this list to give coaches an idea of the detailed knowledge needed in just one aspect of their role, if they are to be fully effective.
Preparing for a jump
Part of the routine the athlete uses to prepare for every jump should include visualising a successful performance. Mental rehearsal supplements, but does not replace, other aspects of training. Again there is no mysticism involved. The athlete must learn how to use this technique and must purposefully practice it. The more realistically they can picture and feel their performance the more they will benefit from the process.

The first jump!!!!
Getting it right, or at least the athlete getting off the ground with the first jump in a competition is vitally important. This is because an attempt where the athlete actually gets off the ground, even if they do not complete the jump, can be immensely valuable to the coach. The latter can analyse the attempt, decide what the problem was and can often suggest relatively simple adjustments, i.e. lengthen/shorten the run up, use a stiffer/softer pole for example.
On the other hand if the vaulter is not really up for that first jump and runs through without taking off, the coach misses out on critical information. Although this data may become available after the second attempt, there is now only one jump left – perhaps on a pole the athlete has never used before! Any experienced coach knows that this can lead to serious problems. Novice coaches will rapidly learn that this is one of the most stressful aspects of coaching!

The run through
This is one of the most common and frustrating problems in vaulting. The cause can be as simple as major wind change a few steps out or it can be the result of deep seated problems in technique. While the latter will only be resolved through intensive work to improve the run up, pole carry and plant, many other problems can be dealt with through a simple process of refocusing. It may be that the athlete is simply not very good at steering over the last six steps. This emphasises the importance of making the development of a consistent run up a major element of training at every level of performance.

The process of Bench coaching
The term bench coaching is usually associated with a game like basketball but it is very appropriate for the role a pole vault coach must play during competition. It is perhaps the only discipline in track and field in which the coach can make a significant contribution to the performance of the athlete. This is because of the large number of variables involved and the complex interaction between those variables.

While Bubka has suggested coaches should continually work to help athletes become independent and make their own decisions during competition, the fact is that young athletes need considerable support early in their competitive careers.
It is easy for novices to freeze in competition and to forget all that they have been taught. Choosing the wrong pole, beginning the run up from the wrong mark or even starting with the wrong foot are all common mistakes that even talented young athletes can make.

This is not an easy process, the only way that a coach will become a competent bench coach is through experience. The complexity of the interactions of the vast range of variables involved means that it takes an intuitive process to see what is happening pull the information together, interpret it and then provide an athlete with the information they need to immediately improve their performance.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:48 pm

Good stuff, Altius! :yes:

I agree with your Bench Coach points as well, even though they're different than the advice that I gave Monty. As I think we agreed, we need to temper our coaching based on the individual circumstances of the athlete, with the long-term objective of encouraging the athlete to become more and more independent on meet days.

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Run. Plant. Jump. Stretch. Whip. Extend. Fly. Clear. There is no tuck! THERE IS NO DELAY!

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:50 pm

kmonty51 wrote:Or....don't try to control speed exactly, but shorten the run? That's something that, I think, would need to be "rehearsed" in practice.

Yes, and yes!

Kirk
Run. Plant. Jump. Stretch. Whip. Extend. Fly. Clear. There is no tuck! THERE IS NO DELAY!

grandevaulter
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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby grandevaulter » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:12 pm

KirkB wrote:
kmonty51 wrote:Or....don't try to control speed exactly, but shorten the run? That's something that, I think, would need to be "rehearsed" in practice.

Yes, and yes!

Kirk
Philosophy, mind reading and sports psychology aside, lets get a little deeper whether to get the athlete to settle down with a controlled run or shortening up their approach. Which is the correct course of action in a big meet and why?

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby altius » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:52 pm

"Philosophy, mind reading and sports psychology aside???????, lets get a little deeper whether to get the athlete to settle down with a controlled run or shortening up their approach. Which is the correct course of action in a big meet and why?"

I made my position pretty clear in BTB and it has worked at every level from beginner up for many years. Stabilise the run up - we decide what it will be when we start our preliminary training about a month after the previous nationals and we stay with it throughout the season AND WE NEVER CHANGE - FOR REASONS THAT SHOULD BE PRETTY OBVIOUS. We go with either 12 or 16 and do not mess with the number of steps once we have decided with a specific athlete. We practIce that run up every week of the year! Incidentally this is all in BTB but I suspect the chapters on the run up often get by passed as folk look for the magic secrets of the inversion - if you like I will post the specific chapter and the 'experts' can dissect it. Will do it anyway for those folk who can't afford to expand their professional library!

I will also try to post video of a 12 year old girl using a 12 step run up in the beginners section - she used it to jump 3.00m/9'9" in our National U14 champs - when she was obviously under a bit of pressure.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby kmonty51 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:28 pm

Alan...thank you for that very thorough post! I attribute a large part of this girl's steep learning curve to her beginning to internalize and use things she learned from you at your camp in Minnesota last year. She and I were both there. I will be seeing you again this year at Concordia! She improved her PR 2 1/2 feet this season, and still has a lot of room for improvement. She is a quiet sort, and I think as she and I get "on the same page" these things will be less likely to happen. On a larger scale, I am working hard to become a better bench coach, as you put it. I strongly feel that this unfortunate experience will, in time, help me be a better coach under similar circumstances to future pole vaulters. I once heard a quote that went something like, "How do you stop making mistakes? Get more experience...How do you get more experience? Make mistakes." Regarding the items you listed under Coach, I think I took care of all the things on that list well UNTIL she was blowing through on the 12/125, a pole that she had trouble getting into the pit with two weeks earlier. I didn't get excited, but I hesitated...I went back and forth deciding to stay with the 125 rather than move to the 130...and could not have seemed very confident. While this young lady is very quiet, she is also very bright and notices things like that. Perhaps I needed to be more decisive...who knows. Hind sight is 20/20, and my hindsight tells me I should have moved her up. EXPERIENCE!

Kirk and Grandevaulter...I think shorter runs are probably the better way to go with younger, less experienced vaulters in adrenaline charged environments like big meets. I don't think they have the emotional control to gauge speed under those circumstances. With very experienced vaulters, this might not be the case. They probably can calm themselves while still staying focused. Again, as someone mentioned earlier, the individual vaulter's personality probably has a lot to do with this.

What a great thread we've got going here, eh? See you in July, Alan!
Last edited by kmonty51 on Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby kmonty51 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:30 pm

I would love to see that video, Alan. I actually purchased the DVD last summer (already had the book), then promptly lost it!
"How old would ya be if ya didn't know how old ya was?" - Satchel Paige

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altius
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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby altius » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:32 pm

http://youtu.be/sc3GZS-D6P4

Comments in beginners section.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

grandevaulter
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Location: South West, MI

Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby grandevaulter » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:49 pm

altius wrote:I made my position pretty clear in BTB and it has worked at every level from beginner up for many years. Stabilise the run up - we decide what it will be when we start our preliminary training about a month after the previous nationals and we stay with it throughout the season AND WE NEVER CHANGE - FOR REASONS THAT SHOULD BE PRETTY OBVIOUS. We go with either 12 or 16 and do not mess with the number of steps once we have decided with a specific athlete. We practIce that run up every week of the year!

Thank you very much for this detail.

I certainly have focused more on approach run and plant than the magic of inversion. Only 3 of my 7 vaulters are able to achieve 80-90% inversion. I have read your book cover to cover. The cover is falling apart. I'll make it a point to read it again. This walnut sized brain only retains information for short periods of time.

I suspect that the broken poles at the Michigan D-4 State meet had to do with a combination of inconsistent approaches and adrenaline.

For the record I placed 4 girls in the top 7 in our conference meet. 3 in the top 8 at our regional meet and a sixth and an 11th in the D-4 State meet. One middle school athlete top 4 state wide in the vault. These results are a direct result of using BTB2 to train young athletes.

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Re: Peaking at the big meets

Unread postby kmonty51 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:51 pm

Got the video. Thank you!
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