Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby vaultdad » Sun May 11, 2014 3:56 pm

willrieffer wrote:[

And possibly you might wonder why you don't have more adherents...
I'm trying to teach them a Petrovian free take off, but without strapping rockets to their buttocks I doubt any of them have the natural speed to reach anywhere near those heights. With good form its more like 12' - 15' for the boys and 8' - 11' for the girls. I expect I'm worth about 2' to 3' to them in their career over not having any coach at all. That many more of them will visit the State track meet, and the perhaps a couple of them will vault for minor colleges.

But, hey, good luck. Hope your model isn't dying....


Apologies' to the moderators and posters in advance as I never do this. Alas, there are exceptions to every rule.

Willrieffer, you should always know your audience when making comments like this. And, Maybe race walking is really your event, as you've show here an uncanny ability to want something a novice can't understand or handle yet while limiting the athletes in your 2A school to "minor colleges" probably based on your limited coaching abilities. FYI, Brian Hancock was a 2A vaulter who won all four years of MO H.S. State meets often with the best height of all 4 classes, and he is now an Elite after finishing his NCAA career at MIZZOU with majors in Calculus & Education.

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby altius » Sun May 11, 2014 9:14 pm

Funny that will old son. But you should know that I can give you the names of coaches in several countries who have taken up my interpretation of the Petrov/BUBKA model with 'ordinary' athletes - and there are many more in the USA. The latter are probably fed up with the bulls*** that folk like you put up here and don't bother to visit PVP anymore - but if you like I can sic a few of them on you -especially if I tell them that the evidence suggests that you are a talker not a real coach! Let us have your record - it seems from the previous post that it may not be what you claim it is and that you could not coach your way out of a paper bag! But then some people have always substituted bull s*** for actual performance.

More importantly I can point to an extraordinary set of performances (As many coaches in the US and around the world) believe them to be) from both boys and girls in the track and field wastelands of Adelaide - a town with one track - which is 450 miles away from the next track in the east and over 2000 miles away from that in the west! Intelligent coaches reading this will understand the impact of that statement.

As to the question 'of my model dying'' - I assume you mean the Petrov/Bubka model - it is most assuredly not. In Adelaide we have one 16 year old boy at 5.05 and another 16 yo at 4.85. The former will be in Eugene in July so any US coaches who are interested and can get there will see what our version of the Petrov model looks like - with a lad who probably could do with a couple of rockets attached to his rear. However you will also see a swag of athletes from all over the world using this model to jump high.

Then in the past couple of years we have had two US coaches travel to Adelaide to study our methods - that is a long long way to come to learn something that has no value! The first was Rick Baggett from Oregon- who I suspect has more credibility as a coach than you are ever likely to have, and Phil Ericson a young college coach from Minneapolis - who subsequently invited me to his place last year to do a very successful clinic - 39 athletes and 19 coaches attended. But even more interesting - in two weeks time Jason Pelletier - a former athlete of our old mate AVCcoach from Arkansas, Penn State Grad in Biomechanics I believe, and presently a coach at Bucknell is coming out here for two months to study what we do. Doesn't sound as though you should start reading the last rites on our methods just yet!!!!

Just waiting to get some film of a 12 year old girl so that I can post it to show that even athletes as young as that can begin to master elements of the model - and benefit from using it. She will jump at least 11' within a year of taking up the vault Her main sport - which she plays year round is basketball.

May I might point out that Brian - extraordinary performances for 5' 3" - came to a couple of my clinics with Todd Cooper in Excelsior Springs when he was in High School. May even have come when he was in College as well. Anyone who has seen him vault will have noticed his great take off.

But I suspect none of this will make any difference to your ranting - you are on an ego trip. In your dreams you are ripping a couple of the best authorities on the vault on the planet apart. Probably this is a substitute for your coaching performance, which I understand is pretty sub average in the schools you have coached at.
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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Sun May 11, 2014 10:39 pm

vaultdad wrote:
willrieffer wrote:[

And possibly you might wonder why you don't have more adherents...
I'm trying to teach them a Petrovian free take off, but without strapping rockets to their buttocks I doubt any of them have the natural speed to reach anywhere near those heights. With good form its more like 12' - 15' for the boys and 8' - 11' for the girls. I expect I'm worth about 2' to 3' to them in their career over not having any coach at all. That many more of them will visit the State track meet, and the perhaps a couple of them will vault for minor colleges.

But, hey, good luck. Hope your model isn't dying....


Apologies' to the moderators and posters in advance as I never do this. Alas, there are exceptions to every rule.

Willrieffer, you should always know your audience when making comments like this. And, Maybe race walking is really your event, as you've show here an uncanny ability to want something a novice can't understand or handle yet while limiting the athletes in your 2A school to "minor colleges" probably based on your limited coaching abilities. FYI, Brian Hancock was a 2A vaulter who won all four years of MO H.S. State meets often with the best height of all 4 classes, and he is now an Elite after finishing his NCAA career at MIZZOU with majors in Calculus & Education.


If you check milesplit you will find I coached the top 8th grade boys in eastern MO the past two years. They vaulted at DeSoto and Grandview. They vaulted 9' 6", 10' 6", and 11'. Grandview last year had one athlete visit state, in the girls 800m. This year both boys (on a team which has but 13 members!) just made it through districts as I have a junior and freshman clear 11' 6" and they both have district heights over the opponent district in sectionals. They have both improved their PRs by 3' already in the very short amount of time I have been working with them. And they both are still coming off very very flat. I have some hope that they can still improve this year in the time we have left this season. We are at the point where they have to find the courage AND tech to rock back. We'll see. I will say I expect to have 3 13'+ boys next season. My freshman in particular has high potential and if he isn't a 15' +HS vaulter by the end I will feel I failed as he has some height and speed. Is it world class speed? I doubt it, but you never know. I once brought Jeff Hartwig back to STL from Attig's Ray South PV camp and he was a gangly 14 year old kid that could not walk and chew gum at the same time with a PR of 9' 6". Couple of years later I met him at an AAU meet and he ripped off a 22.6 200m...on dirt. He is my model for hard work in the event paying off. It should be easy for you to monitor the progress of my methods and vaulters. And its by this progress alone I will measure my success.

Altius accused me of trying to re-invent the event. That just goes to show you how these people think. What I was trying to do was re-invent HOW the event was viewed through the lens of physics. OR, I'm not killing the PB model (in fact I use the method and to some extent champion that in this thread!) the success of Lavillanie, and the long history of the French, is what is putting it at some risk as they and he diverge from the PB model almost radically and with great success. I only attempt to explain why. Further I think that tech for this event is at its limits, the limits of keeping the COM back and down and still being able to finish the vault for which the PB model was a leap forward. The question is, do we think it is the end? Why or why not? Are there not other means to achieve its results? I think the evidence says, "yes".

The model is probably not dying or going to die, but I only returned like for like in a narrow and hostile view of "critique" returned in this dialog and thread. Take it for what its worth. I stooped, and in a larger view I'm sorry I did such, but personally, not a lick. At least PVStudent and I had a conversation that I felt made great progressm probably because he never tried to belittle me. Other's have done little but try to assassinate me in some fashion. I'll let history and what is written here stand as testament to those who might have read this far....

I hope Brian Hancock takes up teaching and coaching in MO. Sounds like a great guy. And a guy that can continue the very long tradition of great youth vaulting in the midwest around MO, KS, IL, and AR. I'll just end with a guess that he he also has impressive footspeed to go with superior technique...
Last edited by willrieffer on Mon May 12, 2014 12:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Sun May 11, 2014 11:02 pm

altius wrote:Funny that will old son. But you should know that I can give you the names of coaches in several countries who have taken up my interpretation of the Petrov/BUBKA model with 'ordinary' athletes - and there are many more in the USA. The latter are probably fed up with the bulls*** that folk like you put up here and don't bother to visit PVP anymore - but if you like I can sic a few of them on you -especially if I tell them that the evidence suggests that you are a talker not a real coach! Let us have your record - it seems from the previous post that it may not be what you claim it is and that you could not coach your way out of a paper bag! But then some people have always substituted bull s*** for actual performance.

More importantly I can point to an extraordinary set of performances (As many coaches in the US and around the world) believe them to be) from both boys and girls in the track and field wastelands of Adelaide - a town with one track - which is 450 miles away from the next track in the east and over 2000 miles away from that in the west! Intelligent coaches reading this will understand the impact of that statement.

As to the question 'of my model dying'' - I assume you mean the Petrov/Bubka model - it is most assuredly not. In Adelaide we have one 16 year old boy at 5.05 and another 16 yo at 4.85. The former will be in Eugene in July so any US coaches who are interested and can get there will see what our version of the Petrov model looks like - with a lad who probably could do with a couple of rockets attached to his rear. However you will also see a swag of athletes from all over the world using this model to jump high.

Then in the past couple of years we have had two US coaches travel to Adelaide to study our methods - that is a long long way to come to learn something that has no value! The first was Rick Baggett from Oregon- who I suspect has more credibility as a coach than you are ever likely to have, and Phil Ericson a young college coach from Minneapolis - who subsequently invited me to his place last year to do a very successful clinic - 39 athletes and 19 coaches attended. But even more interesting - in two weeks time Jason Pelletier - a former athlete of our old mate AVCcoach from Arkansas, Penn State Grad in Biomechanics I believe, and presently a coach at Bucknell is coming out here for two months to study what we do. Doesn't sound as though you should start reading the last rites on our methods just yet!!!!

Just waiting to get some film of a 12 year old girl so that I can post it to show that even athletes as young as that can begin to master elements of the model - and benefit from using it. She will jump at least 11' within a year of taking up the vault Her main sport - which she plays year round is basketball.

May I might point out that Brian - extraordinary performances for 5' 3" - came to a couple of my clinics with Todd Cooper in Excelsior Springs when he was in High School. May even have come when he was in College as well. Anyone who has seen him vault will have noticed his great take off.

But I suspect none of this will make any difference to your ranting - you are on an ego trip. In your dreams you are ripping a couple of the best authorities on the vault on the planet apart. Probably this is a substitute for your coaching performance, which I understand is pretty sub average in the schools you have coached at.


As a 16 year old in 83 I cleared 15' 6" by a foot or better at Rick Attig's Raytown South Camp. WIth poor footspeed. But, heck, never having heard of the PB model, I didn't know what I was doing I guess. Is that good for you or me? LOL.

Look, here's something you might find funny. I was at a big meet in STL, the Vianney relays, with 120 schools. I had to wait two days to vault. I cleared 12' and passed to 13' 6" which I cleared on a 60' run. Meet record was 14' 9" so I asked for 14' 9 1/2" and hauled out the big pole and went back to my long run. As I got about halfway down the runway Dave Bussabarger, who was standing next to my dad unaware that this was the case said, "He's not going to make it." Well, long story short he was wrong. And so maybe we do have something in common!

In my career, I had 8 days of good coaching. 8 days. One of the great ironies in my life was that I was all set to go to Kansas because short vaulter Jeff Buckingham had held the AR. I had scholarships in academics and so was planning on just walking on. Now nominally his coach was Roger Bowen. At point we came into contact and he informed me he was moving to Ohio State and offered me a bit of a scholarship. I took him up on it. At Ohio State he was the head CC coach, and we never got any hands on coaching from him or anyone. No critique. No video review. Nothing. I suffered two injuries and quit. But the interesting thing was that his replacement at Kansas was one Rick Attig, that at one time called me the most powerful vaulter he'd ever seen. That was probably before Huffman, LOL. Anyway, might be an anecdote to show coaching is overvalued, as my guess is Buckingham didn't get much help either, and achieved his results mostly solo. I could be wrong, Roger may have been hitched on that bandwagon.

Must be nice to get talent funneled to you...

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby vaultdad » Sun May 11, 2014 11:08 pm

willrieffer wrote:I once brought Jeff Hartwig back to STL from Attig's Ray South PV camp and he was a gangly 14 year old kid that could not walk and chew gum at the same time with a PR of 9' 6". . . blah, blah, blah . . .
[/quote][/quote]

Same old tired story . . .
I've known Jeff for a long time too. He's a former American record holder and two time Olympian. It's the end of this thread for me as it's not worth the time or trouble to have a tirade debate with you. That would be like you bringing a stick to defend against a napalm strike. Time to hang up your letterman's jacket, it's a new century. ;)
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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Mon May 12, 2014 12:16 am

vaultdad wrote:
willrieffer wrote:I once brought Jeff Hartwig back to STL from Attig's Ray South PV camp and he was a gangly 14 year old kid that could not walk and chew gum at the same time with a PR of 9' 6". . . blah, blah, blah . . .
[/quote]

Same old tired story . . .
I've known Jeff for a long time too. He's a former American record holder and two time Olympian. It's the end of this thread for me as it's not worth the time or trouble to have a tirade debate with you. That would be like you bringing a stick to defend against a napalm strike. Time to hang up your letterman's jacket, it's a new century. ;)[/quote]

Okay...???

SO you're saying you're too lazy for a dialog and debate? Have you done anything but belittle me? Have we once discussed any issue relating to the PV and not to the personal. Have we?

Let me answer that. NO, we haven't....

You aren't...scared....are you? Probably not, just probably jumped in here at the end for a few quick self gratifying comments. Seeing as how you are in E MO I'm guessing we'll meet in person some day. Do introduce yourself. I'll not be hiding....I was an all state wrestler too!

Let's just be clear. On this site, Altius is basically a bully, and you're the guy piling on. And I'm guessing that you guys and some others are gonna want me to think I'm the bad guy for standing up for myself. Keep thinking that...and don't look in the mirror.

Always hated bullies and always felt real good when I could step in or be the target of their....mischief.

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby altius » Mon May 12, 2014 6:41 am

"Let's just be clear. On this site, Altius is basically a bully"

Lets just be clear will old son - I am acknowledged as one of the major contributors on PVP and you are clearly a novice coach trying to make a name for yourself. Go for your life but understand that you will antagonise more and more folk who value the contribution that PVStudent and I have made here over several years.

Why don't you go back to wrestling - so you can take on an old man? But folk like you never go away - they simply reappear with a different tag - but with the same old hang ups.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Mon May 12, 2014 10:48 am

altius wrote:"Let's just be clear. On this site, Altius is basically a bully"

Lets just be clear will old son - I am acknowledged as one of the major contributors on PVP and you are clearly a novice coach trying to make a name for yourself. Go for your life but understand that you will antagonise more and more folk who value the contribution that PVStudent and I have made here over several years.

Why don't you go back to wrestling - so you can take on an old man? But folk like you never go away - they simply reappear with a different tag - but with the same old hang ups.


You continually want to equate disparate things. For instance, I've never said you aren't a good PV coach. In fact I believe you are one. But that has nothing to do with you being a bully on this site. The two facts are independent. It's much the same over this whole thread. As soon as you saw, "critique" in the OP, you equated it to the negative and then went into attack mode on the personal level and are now mired there. So IMHO you are a great PV coach yet still an ignorant bully on this site. Doubt you are such IRL, but whatever.

In a similar manner you want to equate my relationship with PVStudent to yours. Don't. Please don't. He has never been anything other than civil and charitable to me. I learned things from him in our dialog. I respect him and his efforts, please do not try and sully that....

Likewise this was never about the system or the coaching but about the physics explanation surrounding it...and on that level you have contributed nothing, at least in this discussion. As you have doubts about my insights into coaching the event, I have doubts about your grasp of physics. Please feel free to correct that assumption. As it is your reaction to me has been purely protectionist and as you've never really engaged me beyond the personal attack, that of a bully.

I don't have a book I'm hawking or such and nothing to protect besides basic human dignity. In fact I don't get paid at all to coach. I do it as a volunteer. I do it for the kids and for the sport. Which should say a lot about the differences between you and I....

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby altius » Tue May 13, 2014 1:15 am

Will - you will pleased to know that my wife has decided enough is enough. She has always believed that I spent far too much time on PVP when I could be doing more important things like fixing things around the house, cleaning the car or tidying up the garden so when she saw me typing away again she demanded to know what I was doing. I replied that I trying to save the pole vault community from the lunatics - her response was since that by definition you cannot change the opinions of a lunatic you should give up trying. Then she said - changing the subject - as women tend to do - "You've got an Echo cardiogram on Thursday to see if your heart is still functioning and a Cystoscopy next Wednesday to see how the cancer is going. You have more to worry about than the lunatics." As always she is right - so I will let you go ahead unchallenged with your lunacy - because challenging PVstudent's biomechanics is sheer lunacy. But just remember there are a lot of experienced and clever coaches out there who know you are a shyster. Come back after you have produced some serious results - having the best 8th grade boys in a state - even the great state of Missouri - doesn't quite establish your credibility as a coach. Goodbye and good luck Will old son - for now!

Buy a copy of BTB2 and you might learn something - such as how little you really know! LOL
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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Tue May 13, 2014 11:19 am

altius wrote:Will - you will pleased to know that my wife has decided enough is enough. She has always believed that I spent far too much time on PVP when I could be doing more important things like fixing things around the house, cleaning the car or tidying up the garden so when she saw me typing away again she demanded to know what I was doing. I replied that I trying to save the pole vault community from the lunatics - her response was since that by definition you cannot change the opinions of a lunatic you should give up trying. Then she said - changing the subject - as women tend to do - "You've got an Echo cardiogram on Thursday to see if your heart is still functioning and a Cystoscopy next Wednesday to see how the cancer is going. You have more to worry about than the lunatics." As always she is right - so I will let you go ahead unchallenged with your lunacy - because challenging PVstudent's biomechanics is sheer lunacy. But just remember there are a lot of experienced and clever coaches out there who know you are a shyster. Come back after you have produced some serious results - having the best 8th grade boys in a state - even the great state of Missouri - doesn't quite establish your credibility as a coach. Goodbye and good luck Will old son - for now!

Buy a copy of BTB2 and you might learn something - such as how little you really know! LOL


And so he thinks I'm a lunatic and the world needs to be saved from me. Burned at the stake maybe...like a witch or heretic. Is this the home of an Inquisition I was unaware of?

Someone asked by PM...

Let me try and make my ideas simple. They are about the swing and its relation to gravity. Through the history of flexible pole vaulting there has been a long movement to keep the vaulters center of mass, more or less the hips, back and down in the early post take off period. Why? This presents a better relation to gravity where it compresses the pole more and longer and detracts less from swing momentum. The PB "free" take off was a leap forward in doing this (in contrast to older more American ideas of max pole bend and free hip swing ideas), although some of their ideas as per physics vary from just plain wrong to being true but vastly overemphasized or downright meaningless. Now while they claim a superiority of the technique, there are other methods of adjusting the CoM placement as well as swing speed manipulation notably forward arm braking and the double leg swing and then tuck that Lavillenie uses, all of which are anathema in their model.

Like I say, the thing that kills vaults for beginners is leaving the CoM window for the vault. Their hips for some reason get either too far forward, most often from being under with their swing already starting out with their hips in front of their hands and/or from poor extension of the take off leg which speeds their swing forward, or they pull with their arms pulling the hips up which also sends the hips speeding forward. This leads to an further assessment of the take off. Within a margin, posture trumps take off position. That is, a vaulter can take off forward of the ideal take off spot IF they can maintain upright posture and not get their hips thrown forward. This is why Bubka makes his comments about the pre-take off being "crucial" and yet also saying they got it rarely. Ideally, it mattered, but in actuality, in meet vaulting, it didn't as you can find them make big vaults with pole bend take offs (because the PB model also drives posture with placement - edited). The most radical example of this actually happening is Dosevi's Euro U23 meet winning clearance of 5.75m which can be found in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGTdEhUW0nE

You see, you can find vaulters all over doing quite well doing stuff that is way outside of the PB model. I've just used physics to answer why.

None of these idea are particularly radical, but the use of physics does cut through to the truth. Lavillenie proves in doing that there is more than one way to skin the cat in the vault. He works very hard to keep his hips down and back in the compression phase. He locks the left versus pole braking, then double leg swings to slow his swing even more, then has to radically tuck to get out, get back "forward", and get on top of the pole. It's necessary for him to do so to take a world record from a man, Bubka, both taller and faster than himself.

The reason that swing braking gets a bad name is that its hard to do and then be able to get back on top of the pole. This is why the American "free swing" movement got started. The PB model is actually easy to understand, coach, and perform and its quite effective. In that it returns performance efficiency, but by physics, Lavillenie's swing is more effective and efficient.


And, I believe, old son, PVStudent made concessions to the possible biomechanical advantages Lavillenie uses in his vault which he derives outside of the PB model. It's in this thread, but I must dare a guess and say you were too busy ruminating on how I was a "lunatic" to pay attention to such when it came up.

As for the rest, Good Luck to you sir on your health, but beyond that I find that it improbable that we should have any reason to exchange any dialog in the future.
Will

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby willrieffer » Tue May 13, 2014 12:57 pm

I want to address why it is that altius thinks I'm a dangerous lunatic. He's afraid I'm hanging my kids out over the box with poor methodology. Or I've been an advocate of a methodology to others that would do such. I'm not. Elsewhere here I detailed how I once fell 15' into the box and had to be taken to the hospital. Having experienced that first hand, I don't want that happening to anyone.

At a point I made reference that taking off "under" might give rise to more total take off energy. Might. I don't teach that method and don't advocate teaching it. And yet we can see in Dosevi's vault and my explanation of it how we might have to give some attention to the possibility. How does Dosevi pull off a radical "under" vault? He maintains posture by locking his left arm against his CoM and hips being thrust forward under pole braking. Gravity takes care of the rest. And so it is that the CoM and its placement in time govern much about pole vaulting safety in this regard. Generally it is the case that bad posture and the hips being thrown forward ia often what causes young vaulters to be "yanked" up and hung out over the box. This is why I say that over a margin, posture trumps placement. That is to say that if you have a vaulter who arrives "under", and at some point they all do, and they use a form that inherently causes them to lean back and then have their hips further accelerated under pole braking its worse and more dangerous than having them arrive "under" with good posture and deforming the pole, something we actually see coming out of likes of Bubka and his PB model contemporaries. Or, posture and forward arm activity can mitigate what makes vaulters get hung out over the box. It's here were confronted with a problem. Beginning vaulters often exhibit a very large amount of run and take off variance. Certainly while we want to reduce that over the course, is there any way to mitigate the problem of "under" take offs in the meantime. And so it is that we might consider pole deformation to achieve posture, not as particularly an efficiency of form consideration, but as a possible counter to take off variance and the inherent dangers of take off variance. It also will lengthen the performance variance window.

Lazero Borges would be a good example of the trade off I'm talking about in visual form.

As opposed to less active forward arm vaulters, such should be less likely to be hung out dangerously from poor take off position and who are taught no other recourse to pole braking.

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Re: Physics Based Critique of the Petrov Method

Unread postby altius » Thu May 22, 2014 12:02 am

Just to clarify a point made some days ago.

CoachEric is correct when he states that BTB is an “interpretation” of Petrov's views on teaching and coaching the pole vault. However it is worth noting that Vitali himself appreciated the fact that I was presenting the essence of his ideas to a broader audience; in fact some readers may well remember him specifically thanking me from the stage in Reno for doing so.

Buts lets be clear – I didn’t pull my version out of the air! I had read the transcript of Vitalis presentation at the European Coaches Congress in Birmingham , England in 1985 – where incidentally the other major speaker was Maurice Houvion (whom I had spent two weeks with at his training centre in Vincennes, in January 1979) I was especially interested in the Birmingham presentation because it was sponsored by Steve Chappell of UCS Spirit – and I had introduced Steve to the vault as an 11 year old boy at a school in England (and in the process, as teachers and coaches tend to do, changed the direction of his life).

I included Vitali’s presentation as Appendix A in BTB but I have since said that nothing in it appeared revolutionary and I suspect few gained much from it at that time. The fact that it was a translation from Russian may be part of the reason for this because the importance of novel concepts may have been missed in that process.

In fact much of the following information is in Chapter One of BTB but since many may not have read that work I am detailing it here.

In 1986 Vitali and Sergei came to Australia for the World Cup in Canberra and as national event coach for the vault at that time I was given special access to them. With an amazing piece of luck I discovered that one of my young athletes, Serge Ambrose (aka Sergei Ambrosovich) spoke fluent Russian and he wanted to come with me - so I had my own personal interpreter -fortunate indeed because at the time neither coach nor athlete spoke English and I certainly could not speak Russian. Another slice of luck was that another friend who was inCanberra - Efim Shuravetsky - a Russian emigre - told me exactly what was need to ensure Vitalis full attention!

In those three days in Canberra my concept of the vault was revolutionized. This is significant because in January 1979 I had travelled to Europe to study the methods of Houvion in France, Krupsky in Leverkusen and Krzysinski in Warsaw –so to have my ideas thrown into turmoil by Petrov was an epiphany.

The critical concepts were the free take off and no ‘rock back’ , just free take off and swing to ‘cover the pole’. Because he drew me diagrams that suggested the free take off meant that vaulter was in the air before the pole tip hit the back of the box I coined the term Pre jump and wrote an article “The Russian revolution in the pole vault ‘ that was published in our national coaching magazine “Modern Athlete and coach’ in 1989 and subsequently reprinted in the German “Leichtathletik” – and possibly ‘Track technique” but I am not sure about that. I subsequently clarified all this in C26 of BTB.

While I certainly have not spent as much time in Formia with Vitali as David Butler, I managed to meet him on many occasions and could safely say that we are friends. I have been three times for periods in Formia- his training base 9once with a group of my athletes) , a one week clinic in Canberra where I organized a camp for all Oz vault coaches, then there was three weeks when he came to Adelaide working with my athletes- and then other meetings when we sat through the 92 Olympics together, the 98 World Juniors and the 99 World Championships.

Naturally I have had less time with Sergei but I was able to have a 2 hour session with him in the Nordic Sport area at the Munich ISPO, where we needed an interpreter because my Russian was worse than his English and then of course the time in Jamaica where in addition to asking questions that confirmed what he had told me in Munich. In Jamaica one of my athletes was able to spend time quizzing him. The major issues that came out of the questions I asked, are in Chapter 26 of BTB.

It is also worth noting that Roman Botcharnikov lived with me for a year in 91 -93 and I coached alongside Alex Parnov in Adelaide from Nov 96 until Oct 98. Between them they have coached one Olympic Champion, two World Champions and one indoor world Champion.. Obviously this experience influenced my ideas because neither followed Vitali’s methods exactly.

However my contribution is that I was able to begin to apply Vitalis ideas with my own athletes and to prove to myself at least, that even if they mastered only elements of the model they would improve as vaulters. Once I had done that I felt it might be worth while creating a work that took Vitalis ideas to a wider audience . Hence BTB1. As I have often said the stimulus for that work were the deaths of three US vaulters in March 99 and my subsequent trip to Reno where it became clear why they might have been at risk, because there appeared to be at that time no clear model of the vault, and taking off under –indeed well under -was the rule - as was having the stands as close as was permitted. Those deaths had worried the pole vault community and especially Steve Chappell because he could see the event vanishing from high schools – where it is continually under threat.

The key thing is that in the book and dvd I used film and images of seven of my own athletes taken during the period 2000 – 2003 ; film that I was lucky to have because PVstudent had been filming my athletes in competitions without me noticing. These were not specially selected images – as some US coaches have claimed - but simply taken when youngsters were competing in national championships or trials. And apart from Wendy Young none of these young athletes would have been seen as especially talented – this again gave me confidence that ordinary youngsters could benefit from attempts to master this model.

Re BTB – in both books I gave the biomechanics my best shot - as a coach - not as a biomechanist. However I still think the concept of seeing the flexible pole as an infinite series of stiff poles is a useful contribution to understanding this event. In the end I missed one important element of the biomechanics of pole vaulting in the relevant chapter. It is touched on Chapter 26 by Bubka, but I did not emphasize it as I should have done in the chapter dealing with biomechanics. Would love to see who - if anybody cares - is first to tell me what it was!!!

Incidentally I now believe that PVstudent should put his analysis together in a booklet. Perhaps PVP readers can encourage him to do so.

What I would really like – and I keep asking in vain – if for everyone who believes that they can clarify our understanding of the vault, to put up film of THEIR athletes showing us the model of the vault that they are actually teaching.
Unless and until folk do that I will continue to rant, because talk is easy, performance is hard. I continually make the point that anyone can describe the Petrov/Bubka model, and some will even deign to tell us how to improve on it, but few seem to translate their knowledge into anything approaching that model with their own athletes.

I must also say that it is tiresome to have folk continually chiding me for publicizing my books. When you have spent three years or more writing them and taken out an overdraft to publish them, it becomes irritating to be criticized by folk who have either not started the coaching journey at all or have only just setting out on it. I have paid my dues to this sport, as many coaches around the world would confirm, so if the cap fits put it on and get off my back about BTB.

For anyone interested, the tests yesterday showed that I am clear of cancer for the present, more tests in 6 months. This means that I hope to be on the West coast of the US from late June into July working with coaches of the caliber of Rick Baggett, Kevin Magula and hopefully Bubba Sparks. There is an open invitation for anyone to attend – you never know - you might learn something!
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden


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