Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

This is a forum to discuss advanced pole vaulting techniques. If you are in high school you should probably not be posting or replying to topics here, but do read and learn.
CoachEric
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Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

Unread postby CoachEric » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:34 am

This forum needs a fresh topic. I'm curious to know coaches' opinions on the following points, and I would like to share some of mine:

1. How should the vaulter accelerate out of the back? What is the cue?
2. What are the running cues as the vaulter approaches the box?
3. How should vaulters develop and train sprint mechanics? What are the important factors?
4. Is vaulter sprint training and development different than that of a sprinter?

I will post my thoughts on the subject shortly.
Last edited by CoachEric on Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

Unread postby Decamouse » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:39 am

Give this a cheesehead try

1. Consistent - repeatable - If you come out hard and pushing or slow even walk in -- and you can not repeat consistently - it is a waste of time
2. Running cues I feel are a little more individualized -- a mid mark - but some peoples depth perception and ability to adjust is markedly different -- Advanced vaulters (I know this is the area we are in) may be taking more cues -- maintain the proper running form so you do not float into the plant (or like many less proficient vaults - slow)
3. Big advocate of sprinting with the pole -- including as the pole transition from the high carry to the plant motion. Arm movement in sprinting versus how you carry the pole allow means you need to learn to sprint carrying the pole.
4. I think some interrelationship -- speed is the squared term in the dominate equation -- usable speed in the pole vault - you do need to learn how to be a better sprinter - then carry that and the pole to highest usable speed in pv (if you go faster but lose body position and take-off mechanics - did you really gain anything?)
Plant like crap sometimes ok most times

CoachEric
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Re: Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

Unread postby CoachEric » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:54 am

My thoughts on the subject come mostly from the philosophies of Dan Pfaff. As a collegiate athlete, I was trained by Brian Hunter, who vaulted for Dan Pfaff at Texas.

I often hear cues from coaches that the run should be "slow to fast." While it's almost an accurate description of what happens, I think it's a terrible coaching cue. If the goal is maximum controllable speed at takeoff, then running slow out of the back doesn't help you run fast later, and it's doesn't make you efficient or consistent.

Because the vaulter has a fixed, relatively short distance to accelerate, efficiency is very important. Much better than " Slow to Fast" is "Power to Tempo." The vaulter should acccelerate out of the back like a sprinter, with the shoulders and hips in line as close to 45 degrees as possible. Faster, more technically sound sprinters will tend to achieve a better angle of acceleration. If the athlete pushes with maximum effort every time, the run quickly becomes much more consistent than if the vaulter floats their first steps. This is an even better technique in my opinion than using a "speed mark" at 2 lefts into the run for the vaulter to check themselves.

As the vaulter crosses the mid and approaches the box, they should stand up naturally (gradually), like a sprinter. If the pole remains high and drops freely, the effect of the weight of the pole on the run is minimized, and the athlete can sprint upright with the feet striking directly below the hips. If the athlete has accelerated efficiently, they simply have to keep their body off the ground by pushing vertically down into the runway. I don't believe athletes should think about "pawing" or pulling themselves forward on foot contact.

A common thought process on sprinting is that Speed = Stride Length x Stride Frequency. I believe this is a poor way to frame the action, because stride length and stride frequency are both a function of power (FV). The biomechanical reaction to a high powered foot strike and push is a high and fast recovery of the swing leg. It has been shown that the major factor that determines success among elite sprinters is contact time on the track (or lack thereof). Those sprinters who spend the least amount of time on the ground have the fastest sprint times. This is because the power generated from striking the ground hard and fast both increases stride length and frequency.

Another very important mechanic is foot strike. Most here will agree that a sprinter or vaulter should strike with the weight on the ball of the foot, but I will specify further that while the weight is on the ball of the foot, the heel is down. Plantar flexion prior to foot strike tends to place the foot in front of the hips, creating braking force. In additon, the resulting angles created by the ground/foot, foot/shin, shin/thigh, and thigh/waist, are increased, creating increassed opportunity for energy loss due to eccentric contraction at foot strike and landing. If instead the foot stays dorsiflexed at foot strike, with the heel down, the feet will strike directly below the hips with minimal angles at all leg joints, reducing eccentric contraction time and increasing reactivity off the ground.

Dan Pfaff trains his athletes on foot strike by conducting all warm-up/sprint drills and plyometrics on the heels, with no plantar flexion. This overemphasis on dorsiflexion translates to excellent sprint mechanics when the athlete trains at full speed. It has the added benefit of largely preventing overuse injuries of the lower legs. Anecdotally, as a high school and early college athlete I struggled with shin splits, as did my vaulter teammates. After changing all drills to the heel strike method, we were able to drastically increase training volume without getting shin splits or other overuse ever again. Meanwhile other event groups continued to struggle with shin, knee, and ankle injuries.

Another commonly overlooked consideration is the effect of the plant motion on run mechanics. The plant motion must be in time with the run to allow for the vaulter to continue to increase run tempo into the takeoff. When teaching athletes to plant, I cue them with "hands before feet," and "hands travel in a straight line toward vertical." Any hesitation in the plant motion or a long plant path slows the rhythm of the run because the body cannot move asychnonously. By increasing the tempo of the run through the plant motion, the vaulter puts the hips in the correct position to jump.

At takeoff, the vaulter should put the heel down hard with a quick heel to toe motion. The power vector generated by the athlete is aligned down the shin, so putting the heel down is the best way to get the vaulter moving vertically.

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Re: Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

Unread postby willrieffer » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:16 am

Just a small caveat.

Recently I was watching a sports biomech show. In it they showed two runners, one was a middle aged woman jogger and the other was a sub 10s 100m sprinter. When their strides were modeled on the computer they had the same stride frequency. SO the show went on to say that there is only small variation in stride frequency in humans running.

Also consider this. Usain Bolt takes 22 strides to reach the end of the 100m. Most of his opponents take 24. SO in fact he has LESS stride frequency over the race! What then must he have in contrast? Stride length. This comes out of a combo of power i.e. striking strength and stride length. Sprinters don't so much "run" as we have thought about it, but perform longer "jumps" from foot strike to foot strike. Flexibility as it adds to stride length must be considered.

As a simpleton I just advocate my kids run hills to enact both an element of strength training in the run as well as necessary high knee action.

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Re: Run Mechanics and Training Techniques

Unread postby grandevaulter » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:26 pm

CoachEric wrote: The vaulter should acccelerate out of the back like a sprinter,

I agree.

CoachEric wrote: If the pole remains high and drops freely, the effect of the weight of the pole on the run is minimized, and the athlete can sprint upright with the feet striking directly below the hips.

Video analysis shows most world class vaulters strike slightly ahead of the natural center of mass.

CoachEric wrote: It has been shown that the major factor that determines success among elite sprinters is contact time on the track (or lack thereof).

Research shows this to be correct and make reasonable sense.

CoachEric wrote:Dan Pfaff trains his athletes on foot strike by conducting all warm-up/sprint drills and plyometrics on the heels, with no plantar flexion.

I find this interesting and would like to know more about it.

CoachEric wrote: Any hesitation in the plant motion or a long plant path slows the rhythm of the run because the body cannot move asychnonously. By increasing the tempo of the run through the plant motion, the vaulter puts the hips in the correct position to jump

We have long been told the arms control the legs. This sounds like a good tool.

It also appears that many vaulters naturally land on their heels on the final two steps, it appears that Bubka dorsi flexed on his final steps. Do you have any other thoughts on this?


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