Failure to launch

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KirkB
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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby KirkB » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:14 am

varska wrote: ... After spending the off season doing short runs and drills she's suddenly having a lot of difficulty taking off during meets. ... We've shortened the approach to 5 lefts, holding lower on a softer pole, but she's still not feeling it. My instinct is to:

1. perform the same warmup ritual every meet
2. incorporate at least 3 or 4 full run vaults over a bar each practice
3. come up with a personal mantra prior to each vault to clear the mind

The way I read the problem statement, she vaults OK in practice, but not in meets ... so I think you need to change her behaviour so that meets seem more like practices. Somehow, she needs to take the confidence that she exhibits in practice ... where I assume she's doing OK ... to the pressures of a meet situation.

How about this ... how about having a "practice meet" during a practice session. Make it a competition, and try to simulate the same pressure situations. Hard to do without a crowd and outside competition ... I know ... but you get the idea. Maybe have all the team-mates and onlookers at the practice do "the clap" ... or whatever it takes to make it seem like a meet?

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby dougb » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:20 am

Relax

She is obviously a good vaulter. Give her some time.
Remember Steve Hooker had the same problem as well as almost ever elite vaulter who ever was.

I am sure she wants to get off the ground even more than you want. Ask her what she thinks would work.
Time is the answer and sorry if time doesn't fit the schedule.

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby varska » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:35 am

This has all been very helpful. Kirk, you're correct that the problem is only in meets - but I think that's more a result of only doing full runs in meets rather than competition jitters. We haven't been doing full runs in practice (as Altius noted). I'm pretty confident that incorporating weekly full runs and making adjustments as needed via the mid-mark chart will take care of things. (of course it doesn't matter if I'm confident, does it?) And trying to remember that this is the very reason we love the sport - because of the physical and mental challenges. Heck, if it was easy, they'd call it running ;)

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby fly right » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:36 pm

At one point or another in a vaulters career this issue develops. Two things have to occur during a run up in order to have a successful take off. First the step has to be on or close to on and second it has to feel on to the athlete. The step can be very on with the athlete hitting all of the marks which can frustrate the coach but if it does not "feel on" to the athlete then it is not likely they will commit to the jump and go up. The correction of this problem can be anything from temporary to tedious. The mental game is very important here and if the athlete can train themselves to focus on one task relevant cue each time down the runway to the exclusion of all other thoughts this can often help with the "yips."
All of the aforementioned techniques are helpful, especially bringing your athlete back to a short run and engaging in the earn it, own it, dominate it theory before you move back a left and repeat the process each left to re-establish confidence. At the same time have your athlete really work on mental imagery with the one task relevant cue focus technique. Having something like "big take off", "go up", or " show off time" being their only thought down the runway can be very productive. Anything like that as long as they can clear their mind of all other thoughts during the run and trust their subconscious and training to dictate the quality of the jump. Processing too much information that includes a negative thought usually produces a negative result.

Good Luck, hope this helps

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby AllaboutPV1 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:45 pm

well if doing the same routine still has her not taking off, maybe you should try explaining it a different way. maybe change the warm up a bit to get her mind off of the take off and just taking off. try using some confidence tricks to help her. maybe use a tap to get her off the ground. i know its a sore subject on pole vault power but i have seen great success with it. once her confidence is up don't tap her. if she feels the positions with one tap then maybe her confidence will sky rocket. Im not saying use this technique, it is just another way of looking at the same problem. i have witnessed this first hand with my team mate. he would never take off, we tried everything. then one day he just said hell with it, i'm just gonna grow a sack and take off. then the next jump he did so, and his confidence has grown and he rarely runs through now. don't think about the negative only the positive, great run, great step, hands are up, there is no reason anything bad will happen if she is on the right pole. it might be something small its hard to tell. this is my two cents on the subject you might disagree and thats ok. take the good and forget the rest. find out what works for her. ask her why she feels like she cant take off. ask her if she counts he steps? and good luck to you guys on getting this problem solved.

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby dj » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:36 pm

hye

have you eliminated the possibility of the problem being the run??..

use the 6 step MID chart and use the grip to mid numbers...

i would like to know when you solve the problem..

dj

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby Polevaulter2012 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:04 am

Is it possible to get a video of her so we can see what she is doing? It may be something small that you are missing just because you always see it.

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby altius » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:08 pm

"It may be something small that you are missing just because you always see it.": Now where did you get that idea???
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby varska » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:04 pm

Progress is being made. Unfortunately she rolled her ankle a little while ago, so the physical aspect of training has been limited. The last meet was a success, though. Bear in mind, I think she has redefined 'success'. It was well short of a PR for her, but she took off every time, inverted and landed deep in the pit. She was holding lower on a softer pole and going from 5 lefts, but she looked strong and confident. Definitely a good thing to build upon.

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby Polevaulter2012 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:39 pm

altius wrote:"It may be something small that you are missing just because you always see it.": Now where did you get that idea???

You sir, I told you that I like to take in the good advice from coaches.

Varska: I am glad to hear she is doing better. I would still progress her fairly slowly, unless she feels like she is ready to move back in run and up in poles. Good luck this season.

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Re: Failure to launch - update

Unread postby varska » Tue May 25, 2010 10:38 am

Well it seems like along time ago that we were struggling with this and i just wanted to check in and let everyone know how things went this season. Thanks to the excellent advice on this board as well as some private correspondence with a very helpful elite vaulter, she was able to start vaulting confidently again and wound up winning state last weekend.

The things that really seemed to help were the realization that at some point in nearly every vaulter's career they're going to struggle with this. It doesn't mean you're a 'head case' or that you're mentally weak, it's just another aspect of the vault that can be worked on and remedied.

Technically, she worked on doing at least a few full runs every practice, even if just planting into a towel, and using the mid mark chart to verify the steps. Also, we didn't force it. End on a good note and if she's not 'feeling it', on a given day - that's okay - giving oneself permission to have an off day. A few other realizations, working through this makes you a stronger vaulter when you come out on the other side...there is a possibility, or probability that it might re-occur in the future but it's not the end of the world, it can be fixed just like anything else. Lastly, having a mentor in whom you have confidence (no, not me) gently walk you through the road to recovery is key. Thanks again, all. Here's a vid of her sectional jump - music added for extra drama

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbpqHpkXM_g

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Re: Failure to launch

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:42 pm

I have found that most often this problem is caused by an increase in runway speed. It is a vicious paradox. An athlete who has just increased her athletic ability is suddenly unable to plant. I think that this is because all of the minute compensations that our brain and body unconsciously make as we come into the takeoff are suddenly short circuited. The box is coming up too fast, and our brains cannot keep up. The visual cues of the box, pit, and pole are the data that the brain has to go by. If these are lost, for any reason, the athlete becomes literally lost on the runway. They physically cannot plant, because they don't know where they are at.

Then an even more horrible thing happens. This physical issue becomes a mental issue, and a kind of learned helplessness can develop. Once this cycle sets in, even if you fix the physical problem, the mental problems remain. The athlete is now wrestling with shame and fear of failure. You have to do something to deal with this issue first.

In my experience, the best thing to do is let the athlete know right off the bat that this is not their fault. Their inability to plant is not a character flaw. I do not know of a single vaulter who achieved anything in this sport without going through the "I-cant-plants." In fact, they may be having this problem because they are getting better, not worse. Then you can work through the drills that can fix the problem. You have to slow things down and make things fun. Have stiff pole competitions or something of that nature until the problem becomes less intense. Then gradually back up until you get back to a full approach. It seems like a simplistic solution, but it has worked for me on numerous occasions.

Another helpful thing is to use a kind of token that symbolizes good jumping. This worked for me one season when I had no time to practice and was trying to make the Olympic Trials. I had to go from just doing striders and pull-ups to full blown vaulting. I got a wrist band that I put on when I absolutely had to plant with very little feel of where I was on the runway. Once that wristband went on, I was going to plant - no matter what. This really helped and might be worth a try.

Also, check out the other reasons that she might be having this problem. If anything is happening to her vision during the approach, she will lose the feel of where she is at. Joe Dial suddenly could not plant after making 19' consistently in previous meets. We found out that he was turning he head sideways and his nose was blocking one eye, thus ruining his stereoscopic vision. Something that minor rendered a 19' vaulter utterly helpless on the runway. Check out her eyes.

Geez! I seem to be incapable of writing a simple answer to a specific question. Oh well. I just can't help it. I hope some of this is of use to someone.


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