Steve Hooker

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:35 am

http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/athletic ... 22kw0.html

Hooker turns to sports psychologist in bid to beat the yips
July 23, 2012 - 10:00PM
Chris Barrett

Steve Hooker is placing his faith in a sports psychologist to help him evade a return of the yips in the final rundown to the Olympic pole vault competition.

The defending champion's clearance of 5.72 metres in Poland at the weekend has given the Australian track and field captain a desperately needed shot of belief ahead of the Games, having battled a self-confessed crisis of confidence that looked set to leave his Olympic campaign literally grounded.

However, he will consult the Australian team pyschologist Kevin Hayter at their training base in Tonbridge, and then when they relocate to the Olympic village in east London, in a bid to successfully fight mental demons in one of the Games' most dangerous events.

Hooker has worked before with psychologists and even tried hypnosis in periods of self-doubt but never with as much on the line.

Hayter's contribution over the next fortnight stands to be vital to the 30-year-old's hopes of being a serious challenger at the Olympic Stadium, let alone standing on the podium.

"He's worked with a lot of guys in the team but specifically he's been doing a lot of stuff with me," said Hooker, who is finalising technical preparations in Kent with coach Alex Parnov.

"He's just someone to bounce ideas off and just talk to. That's the most important thing, just to get things out in the open. A lot of it comes down to communication between me and Alex and the way we communicate with each other and just getting those messages clear and the ideas of what we want to achieve clear.

"It's just good to have somebody that isn't emotionally invested in it to be there and help."

Hooker rated his leap in Poland his best in two years and given what he is capable of his rivals will now be firmly on notice.

He believes he will need to clear 5.65 metres to reach the final in London and then steel himself to go significantly higher than what he achieved in eastern Europe if he wants to defend his title.

"5.72 is not a big bar but I feel like I'm jumping well and I feel like there is more there," Hooker said. "I've just got to be in the competition, clearing bars early and that all just helps me to build confidence and helps me to make the right decisions in the competition.

"I don't know if I'm going to be the guy that's going to win the competition on a countback, by having no misses at the start of the competition, but if I am going to have a good result it's just going to be doing it the old-fashioned way by jumping higher than other guys in the competition. It might be on second or third attempts but that's been the nature of my season."

Hooker argues his poor string of results in the IAAF season were somewhat misleading. He says his short-approach jumps are the best they have been for two years but local conditions at different meets did not help his cause.

"Everything in the second half of the season was horrible. We got rained out in Cologne, crazy cross-winds in Madrid, no one jumped good there and then we got our warm-up washed out in London," he said.

"I felt like I really hadn't had an opportunity where I wasn't just battling by the time the competition started whereas in Poland I got a really good warm-up in, and I was able to start the competition on the right pole with confidence at a good height and where I could be competitive.

"Physically I felt better and better and I've been covering ground better on the runway and I've been feeling more confidence in the run and more stability in the run even if the results weren't coming."

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:37 am

http://www.tntmagazine.com/news/olympic ... -his-title


Aussie pole vaulter Steve Hooker will need a miracle to defend his title
22nd Jul 2012 2:39pm | By Tom Sturrock

At the Beijing Olympics four years ago, Steve Hooker was one of Australia’s great surprise packets, coming from the clouds to win gold in the pole vault and break his country’s dry run in men’s track events.

And, even for a period after the Olympics, Hooker looked invincible, winning at the 2009 World Championships and Commonwealth before being struck down by a dreaded case of the yips.

His horror stretch started with a knee injury and reached its nadir when fear set in and he simply couldn’t jump.

Hooker, 30, hopes the toughest two years of his sporting life have a rewarding conclusion in London. But even he accepts that reward might not be an Olympic medal, let alone another gold.

The mental demons are clearing and the confidence is returning, but the defending champion seems resigned to just enjoying the experience of another Olympics.

“The last two years has been the toughest two years of my life in terms of my sport,” Hooker says. “That’s why I’m looking forward to London, that’s the outcome of all the effort and challenges I’ve had.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying the whole experience of going there because it’s going to be a big reward for what has really been a hard slog.”

That slog started with a knee injury in 2010 which kept him out of competition for six months and hit a low when he ran through his three attempts at 5.50 metres at the 2011 World Championships.

Australia’s athletics team captain hadn’t cleared a height in major competition for over a year and when he finally did, it was a lowly 5.00m off a short run up in Adelaide in January this year.

So, the man whose 2009 leap of 6.06m is the second highest in history pulled out of the Australian domestic season.

After taking success for granted for so long, Hooker’s confidence was so shot he retreated to a specially prepared indoor training facility in an old rail shed in Perth to start again.

Hooker insists he trained harder in the two months at that facility than at any other time in his career. He was buoyant when the work paid off; he cleared the Olympic qualifying height of 5.72m at a special event there in May.

“I haven’t stepped on the runway and felt like I owned it like I did tonight for two years,” he said at the time.

With renewed confidence and a secure berth to London he immediately headed for Europe, where the progress has stalled dramatically.

Although Hooker says he’s training well, he hasn’t cleared anything higher than 5.42m in international competition this season, while his rivals are jumping beyond 5.90m.

A month out from the Olympics, he says the thought of winning a medal is not a reality.

Indeed, Hooker’s showing at the London Diamond League meeting two weekends ago tells a tale. For years ago, he cleared 5.97m and, of course, went on to win a gold medal in Beijing.

This year, he failed to clear a height, running through on two of his three attempts.

“It’s been hard, it’s been really hard,” he says. “Every day I turn up to training is a challenge.”

But, as tough as he admits it’s been both physically and mentally, he’s come a long way from feeling “lost on the runway” and is close to the mindset he had when he won Olympic, world and Commonwealth titles between 2008 and 2010.

“I feel like when I’m standing at the end of the runway I’ve got a lot more idea of what’s ahead of me,” he says. “I almost feel like I’m back thinking about similar things.

“And that’s the beginning. Getting that process right in my mind and getting the key messages I want in my head established and consistent.

It’s probably more what happens after that, I’m building consistency but there can be slight variations from one jump to another.

“Things are almost there, but at a slightly lower level. I’ve got to work on the consistency to get that level higher and higher.

"It’s all about ticking off one session at a time. If I think too much about the Games themselves, that could be a bit overwhelming in terms of the amount that’s got to get done between now and then.”

Hooker’s first coach Mark Stewart says he’s seen many pole vaulters’ careers destroyed by a loss of confidence.

At least Hooker has fought to ensure he hasn’t gone down that path and to qualify for the Olympics is an achievement itself after the depths to which he’d plumbed.

But now he needs to find 50 extra centimetres if he’s to be any chance of contending for a medal. He’s not fazed watching Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie clear 5.97m and German Bjorn Otto jump 5.92m at the European championships a few weeks ago. In fact, he’s gracious.

“One of the great pole vault comps of all-time today in Helsinki. Congrats to Renaud and Bjorn! Amazing to watch!!!,” he tweeted while watching his rivals gearing up for London.

"Hooker’s focusing solely on himself as he builds toward using bigger poles, working on being more relaxed in his run up and easing his grip.

“The competition is the litmus test. Training’s going fine, what I want is a couple of better results in competition,” he says. “The answer is going to come as I move along the next month and as I go through these competitions.”

The ultimate answer will come on August 8 when Hooker lines up for the qualifying round at the Olympic Stadium, no longer invincible, but, in the tradition of all great Australians faced with adversity, not giving up either.

“I’m not giving up on it,” he says. “I’m going to go out and fight the whole time. I am going to continue to put in the effort. It’s just a matter of keep ticking it over, staying optimistic and anything can happen.”

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:39 am

http://www.supersport.com/athletics/int ... _in_public


Hooker happy to air problems in public
23 July 2012, 16:28

Australia's defending Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker said on Monday he felt no shame in discussing the problems that have sometimes even prevented him from taking off.

"I am not afraid to talk about it," Hooker, who suffered a crisis of confidence following a knee injury, said at the Australian athletics training camp in Tonbridge, south-east of London.

"It doesn't make a difference. It's a hindrance in that it takes up time and energy. I'm not shy talking about it. Everyone has performance issues. I'm just probably more open about it than other people."

Things got so bad for Hooker that in February he said: "The confidence I require to stand at the end of the runway and then charge down, land my pole and soar almost six metres into the air has left me for the time being.

"Sometimes I run in and I don't take off. It's as simple as that."

Some have compared Hooker's predicament to a golfer struggling to putt because of the 'yips', only there is potentially rather more at stake physically for the Australian if he mistimes his jump than is the case with a missed birdie chance.

"It's a confidence thing, a rhythm thing and a timing thing," Hooker added Monday.

"There are also physical factors at play. It's a complicated sport and the only way I can put it (is) it's all got to feel right when you're running down the runway otherwise you are not going to want to take the jump, and it's the same for everyone."

"It doesn't feel like you're in the right spot. Something is going wrong in the approach or something else and you don't have the confidence to take it up and risk your safety."

But the good news for Hooker, now set for this third Olympics, is that last weekend he cleared a height of 5.72 metres in Poland, way in excess of his previous best this year of 5.42m.

"It shows where I'm at and where I feel like I have been for the last month or so," he said. "I think the 5.72m jump in particular has been the best I've done in a couple of years.

"I felt some old feelings that I haven't felt for a while.

"I'm just now looking to work on a few technical things over the next couple of weeks which hopefully I can iron out and go into the qualifying round at the Games with some confidence that I'll be in the final."

Hooker, in common with several leading athletes, said his focus was not so much on defending his title as jumping well.

"I'm not thinking about defending my title as much as I'm thinking about going out there and doing good jumps. I'm really driven by the process now more than the outcomes."

Meanwhile Hooker, asked what advice he'd give to Australian Olympic debutants joked: "Stay away from the media. They suck the life out of you in the last couple of weeks."

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:40 am

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/londo ... 6433345585


Timely jump gives Steve Hooker a much-needed confidence boost ahead of London Olympics
Jon Ralph in Tonbridge
Herald Sun
July 23, 20129:44PM

POLE vaulter Steve Hooker has replaced a severe case of the yips with the belief that anything is possible if he can make the Olympic final in London.

Hooker yesterday labelled his recent 5.72m jump in Poland as his best in several years, and is buoyed that his competition form finally married with his progress in practice.

He knows it will probably take a jump of 5.65m to make the final in London, and with at least four jumpers consistently approaching 6m, he needs to step up again.

But if Hooker never lost faith, it is at least vindication that he is on track for London.

Now he says he is capable of elevating his performances, and if not defending his Beijing gold at least going down swinging.

''It was good just to clear the bar and do it in a pressure situation in a competition like that. 5.72m is not a big (height), but I feel like I am jumping well and there is more to come,'' he said.

''It's reasonably open. There are four guys who have jumped over 5.90m and after that there is a bit of a gap to the guys who have jumped in the 5.70s, so it's pretty open.

"Once you get into the final it could be anyone's. The focus is the qualifying and then we will see what happens. You get into a final and anything can happen.''

Rather than spending the next fortnight searching for that elusive confidence, he can now concentrate on the technical aspects of a jump at 5.80m or above.

It means different poles and different challenges, but he says he has enough time.

He ran through on his final attempt of 5.82m in Poland, unhappy with a pole drop that will now become his focus in training.

''Stepping that up to jumping 5.90m is another level so I have to get a few things right with my approach and it's a possibility," he said.

''I had a few technical issues in my run. The pole drop was a bit early and it was a bit out of control on the second half of the run.

"This is what I am working on in my next couple of training sessions and the good thing about that is you can do it every day. I can be just doing that consistently and have that good feel by the time I get to the training rounds.''

Hooker will start qualifying at a height of about 5.50m given good weather.

He knows the current stars of the sport will likely wait later until greater heights, which gives them an advantage on Hooker on a countback system.

That means he cannot finish on the same height as them, but it is a risk he will have to take.

''I don't know if I wil be the guy who wins the competition on countback, by having no misses at the start of the competition, but if I am going to have a good result it's going to be doing it the old-fashioned way by jumping higher than the guys in the competition and it might be on the second or third attempt,'' he said.

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby fishman4god » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:09 pm

Wow! lots of insight into what is happening with Steve. He seems like he is taking a good approach by addressing the issues and he jumped pretty well recently so hopefully he will be able to get a roll going.

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby dj » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:41 pm

"Sometimes I run in and I don't take off. It's as simple as that."

Some have compared Hooker's predicament to a golfer struggling to putt because of the 'yips', only there is potentially rather more at stake physically for the Australian if he mistimes his jump than is the case with a missed birdie chance.

"It's a confidence thing, a rhythm thing and a timing thing," Hooker added Monday.

"There are also physical factors at play. It's a complicated sport and the only way I can put it (is) it's all got to feel right when you're running down the runway otherwise you are not going to want to take the jump, and it's the same for everyone."

"It doesn't feel like you're in the right spot. Something is going wrong in the approach or something else and you don't have the confidence to take it up and risk your safety."


monitoring from the 6 step mark is a very good.. "check point"...........

dj

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby fishman4god » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:45 am

Yes it is dj...............however when runing through becomes a habit it is mentally tough to overcome. Not saying I don't agree, because for the most part I do but Hooker is in a tough place right now .....lets just hope he can get past it.

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby dj » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:55 am

hey

i sincerely hope he corrects the issue... he deserves as a world class athlete to be at the games, with full confidence and speed.

Of course the vault starts with the first step "but where you are and how fast you are running 6 steps from the plant/takeoff" Is the only "check" that has worked for 40 plus years….

The athlete needs to have every possibility for "failure" removed by the coaches around him. That's what coaching is about..

I would guarantee you that if the "MID" (six steps from the plant)from his last successful jumps.. was marked on the runway.. and he backed his approach up two running steps, he would be jumping like the old Hooker. If the "MID" was monitored and kept within reason he would not have the "yips" or ANY mental problems..

We as coaches create the "mental" problems in vaulter by "missing" what should be corrected.

dj


PS Jason W.. (love you man) your run is the only way for you to improve as a vaulter..you know how to pole vault. we talked about that the first time we meet in Jonesboro.. I correct Bruce Simpson in 1979... Tim Mack corrected from 1995 to 2004....

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby fishman4god » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:52 pm

I'm convinced concerning mid-mark and run consistency................................pretty sure some others(coaches) are not. Whats to be done? They must decide/chose to accept the evidence and act on it or not. My grandma used to say "some peolple just like vanilla(ice cream)". And so it is with vault coaches.

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby altius » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:19 am

fishman4god wrote:I'm convinced concerning mid-mark and run consistency................................pretty sure some others(coaches) are not. Whats to be done? They must decide/chose to accept the evidence and act on it or not. My grandma used to say "some peolple just like vanilla(ice cream)". And so it is with vault coaches.


I am in the UK focussing on other matters but I feel obliged to enter this discussion. The first point I would make is that - without denigrating in any way the value of dj's mid mark chart - there are many very successful coaches out there, including Petrov, who do not use the chart per se. Like many other coaches,he has his own methods of determining how to build an effective run up. Ditto Alec Parnov. I make this point because in all of this discussion there appears be the implication that clearly he - and presumably Steve Hooker - doesn't know what he is doing. This is a bit harsh on a coach who next to Petrov and Krysinski has had results superior to any other vault coach in recent times.

While it may well be that Steve's problems arise from the run up -as most experienced coaches have recognised since for ever - the fact is that he has had problems with the yips at various times during the past ten years -so even when there is no technical reason for this he still runs through. Anyone who has coached for any length of time - whether they use the mid mark chart or not - will have faced this. For those who claim they have not I would simply suggest that either they have been very lucky or that they have not coached enough vaulters!

We must all accept that every vaulter - no matter what they have achieved - is a work in progress - and a work that is always not going in the direction you both know they can and should. Just have a bit more respect for the challenges we all face - and especially for those who have achieved more than most, if not ALL, who post on this site have already achieved. :heart:
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby dj » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:00 am

From Alan

whether they use the mid mark chart or not - will have faced this. For those who claim they have not I would simply suggest that either they have been very lucky or that they have not coached enough vaulters!


Hey Alan,

The point I have been trying to make, from the first post… is by using the six step "MID" (not the chart) as a coaches "reference" you can keep the run constant. And keeping the run constant is how you avoid athletes getting the "yips" or bringing them back from the "yips".. and I have had the "luck" of avoiding athletes having the "yips"….

The major issue here is the ones that are too far "out" at the six step mark are the ones having the "issues". . I have reported and shown this numerous times from Isa at the world champs to others more recently.

I have ask you and others to "check" this mark and give us the results.. you are in London.. take a note pad to the vault.. and write each "mid" on each vault.. that is what I did at the Asia Championship two years ago. There was a 99.9% success rate based on the "correct" six step for each vaulter, men and women.

This is not about any other coach or coaches… they don't need to be "mentioned" in any of these discussions… this is about correcting the run so that the vaulter runs better, vaults better and has the confidence needed to be safe and vault their best…

you "check the numbers" in London to "prove your point" as I have continued to do for 40 years.. please…


all that needs to be done is "compare" the "MID" to the result.

dj

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Re: Steve Hooker

Unread postby fishman4god » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:15 pm

No disrepect intended to any coach or coaching style, but I do beleive that run cosistency can help athletes avoid the yips. Probably will never solve the yips completely...........the vault is complex and yeah it is dangerous and more so at the elite level, big poles lots of speed and dynamic jumping.... just saying not direspecting. :D


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