powerplant42 wrote: ... Your top arm should be doing nothing except pushing the pole UP vigorously.
All good advice from PP, except I'm worried that this particular quote might be misinterpreted.
I think the consensus is ... if you're striving to use the Petrov Model ... that you should "push the pole up vigorously" with BOTH arms as you're jumping into your free takeoff, but once the pole hits the box, you should PUSH and SQUEEZE with the top arm/hand, and then AFTER you've "finished your takeoff" and you've stretched into the C position, you IMMEDIATELY (no pause) start your downswing.
The downswing needs to be as fast as possible, and it's fastest when the muscles of the entire body ... from top hand to trail leg toe ... are used to accelerate the downswing into the WHIP position ... as you pass the chord of the pole. From there, your upswing will (IDEALLY - but it's not that easy for beginners/intermediates) just continue your momentum until you swing upside down.
So my point is that your top arm plays a different role at different times ...
1. Before takeoff, you push it up vigorously.
2. When the pole hits, you think PUSH and SQUEEZE (the push is to remind yourself keep your arm straight, and the squeeze is to remind yourself not to let go!)
3. When you start your downswing, your top hand pushes forwards as your chest moves back ... and as your trail leg swings ... all in unison.
4. All the way thru your downswing, whip, and upswing ... until your body is fully extended (IDEALLY) ... you keep your top arm straight (don't hunch your shoulders).
Bushy, re your concern about the face-plant into the pole ... don't worry about that! That's not really the problem! As long as you have good posture (meaning good forward lean on takeoff and into your C, with your chest driven forwards and your trail leg back), it doesn't really matter if your face is close to the pole.
There's even many vids of Bubka in a similar position ... maybe not as extreme, but probably similar enough that it looks "too close". This only happens for a split second, and then immediately after that, THE POLE WILL BEND away from your face ... because of the momentum of your run/jump ... that you've converted into energy in the pole THRU THE TOP HAND ... not thru the bottom hand.
This is probably the #1 misunderstanding that young vaulters have about vaulting ... that they must force the pole to bend with the bottom arm. I had this same misunderstanding when I was in HS. Once you realize that the pole bends due to energy transfer thru the TOP hand, then you can re-focus on the vault parts that are deficient, instead of trying to "fix the face-plant" by a bottom arm push.
I was pleased to hear yesterday that VaultPurple discovered during his pole push experiments that even when he missed grabbing the pole altogether with his bottom hand, he STILL bent the pole!