Should you pull at take off?

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Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby Branko720 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:44 pm

Ok so obviously there is a lot of debate about technique. I even hear some coaches out there professing that they coach the Petrov/Bubka model, but then they talk about pushing/blocking at take off. Other coaches out there love the swing, but really say nothing about what the arms should be doing.

I provide the following video. Maybe this might help. Any comments or questions would be great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mQsGGujUMs

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby PV2020 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:43 pm

As a coach, I would never use the words 'pull- with an athlete. I occasionally will say 'pull through'.

I am not necessarily saying that teaching the pull at take off is wrong, just that I believe there are better ways to do things. I watched a few of the other videos on your site and saw the girl jumping 12'1 with the 11'9 grip that pulls right off of the ground. She appears to not be the fastest athlete in the world or the biggest, so her grip height may be limited, and what she is doing is the best thing for her.

But I do not think you could watch a video of any elite pole vaulter and think they are intentionally pulling just the left arm (or both arms as they are doing in the 0's) off the ground in order to swing faster. It is a lot like cutting the trail leg. Will it make you swing faster? Yes. Is it preferred? No.

Now hopefully you have read this far and not already typing your rebuttal to my above comment. You made the comment of pushing/blocking as if all pushing is the same thing as blocking. There are several very good pole vaulters that drive up through both arms and have very efficient swings and push offs that never get stuck in their swing due to block. When I coach, I use a lot of slide box drills to get the plant up high and the athlete driving through the chest. But I also do a lot of high bar drills as well and teach athletes to 'connect the dots'.

When an athlete jumps off the the ground and starts to bend the pole, the initial press is the most important part. Once a vaulter jumps off the ground and gets their hands high over their head, they do not have to stay in a fully flexed out pressing motion with their muscles, they can instead begin to swing through both arms as if on a high bar. Those that end up blocking are the ones that press the left arm too far forward and do not allow their chest to come through before swinging.

In any video you watch of Bubka, his arms actually go from slightly bent over his head, to even straighter as he swings through and the pole becomes more bent. And if you look at the world record holder (Renaud), he is obviously not pulling off the ground.

In summary.. Do I think you should forcefully pull right off of take off? No. There are zero elite athletes that you can even remotely find a pulling motion until they are well into the jump. You may be able to argue for a row by watching some elites, but not a violent pull of the left, or both, arms right off the ground.

On a side note. Because 99% of college coaches do not teach a pull, I would never teach a high school athlete that. Because when they get to college the coach will just call it a 'bad habit' they need to fix and it will limit their progression with a more readily accepted technique.

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby KirkB » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:07 am

Branko720 wrote: ... they talk about pushing/blocking at take off. Other coaches out there love the swing, but really say nothing about what the arms should be doing.

I provide the following video. ...

Branko, I think PV2020 may have answered the question in your thread title: "Should you pull at takeoff?" from the Advanced Forum perspective, but I will answer it from the perspective of the 2 vaulters' vids (certainly not elite vaulters).

In the first vid, the vaulter is gripping with her top hand way too low. She also doesn't get enough forwards momentum in this zero step drill. I realize it's just a drill, but I'd say it's not only a useless drill, it's MORE than useless - it's teaching the bad habit of pulling with BOTH arms (bent at the elbows way too much). If she were to swing more properly (with at least the top arm fully stretched), she would have to drop her CoG immediately after she leaves the ground - this is NOT something you want to do. So I would avoid this drill (done this way) at all costs. Or if she's not ready to do a 3-step, then at least raise the grip of the top hand to a more reasonable height (to get the hang of the SWINGING motion).

In the second vid, the vaulter plants way too early. Is this on the instructions of the coach? It's certainly not a "natural" or "correct" way to plant. Her body posture on takeoff isn't too bad (her steps aren't in by much), but she immediately lets her hips swing forwards, causing herself to be "clotheslined" (instead of driving in, leading with the chest). So her posture (which wasn't too apparently bad on takeoff from what I could see) quickly becomes terrible before she even gets a chance to swing.

These issues don't have much to do with pulling on takeoff (and any "pull" on takeoff is an advanced topic - certainly more advanced than in this vid), so I fail to understand why this vid was chosen for this topic. Ditto the first vid.

I'm confused. What's your question again, and what relevance do these 2 vids have to your question? :confused:

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Last edited by KirkB on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby KirkB » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:28 am

Branko720 wrote: ... some coaches out there professing that they coach the Petrov/Bubka model, but then they talk about pushing/blocking at take off. Other coaches out there love the swing, but really say nothing about what the arms should be doing.

Disregarding the vids, I will try to answer your question posed in your title and body, considering that it was posted in the Advanced Technique forum ...

As you imply, you cannot talk about pushing/blocking at takeoff and complying with the Petrov Model in the same breath. Petrov does NOT advocate any blocking action with the bottom arm at all, and (subject to translation and transliteration misunderstandings) I don't think he advocates pushing with the bottom arm PRIOR TO TAKEOFF at all either.

Any push that Petrov refers to is simply to get the top hand up as high as possible BEFORE takeoff - not to initiate any pole bend. Unfortunately, I think a lot of other coaches are misunderstood re this too - their pre-takeoff "push" is just to get the pole up - not to bend it.

And what about post-takeoff? I'm of the opinion that if the vaulter misunderstands the coach (or the coach misunderstood Petrov), that pre-takeoff "push" will continue thru the takeoff, and then (incorrectly) turn into a post-takeoff push.

I don't care how quick the vaulter's reactions are - it will be VERY difficult to stop pushing with the bottom arm at the immediate point of takeoff if it's emphasized too much. So I advocate pushing (I call it pressing - so as not to confuse the action with a "push") WITH THE TOP HAND ONLY.

I'm one of those coaches that "love the swing". I would even conjecture that Bubka and Petrov love the swing too. I won't go as far as conjecturing what they might say about "what the arms should be doing", but I for one think that the vaulter should be swinging almost entirely from the top arm, using the bottom arm only for balance, and for supporting whatever (small) percentage of the vaulter's weight that they are unable to support with only the top arm and hand (this is mostly a strength issue, but can also be an issue of an abrupt - as opposed to smooth - plant.

Any elite vaulter that can do a one-armed giant should be able to do a one-armed swing on the pole. Certainly, almost every 5.80+ vaulter falls into this category, even if some of them haven't seriously trained on highbars - they have the strength to do it.

But I'm still confused. You refer to PULLING in your title, but PUSHING in the body of your post. These are opposites. So what is your question - is it about PULLING or PUSHING? :confused:

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby Branko720 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:12 am

Ok, I would like to bring up a few points and address a few comments. One, what muscle group is doing most of the work off the ground in the vault, the answer, the lats. They are working and responsible for most of the vaulter's ability to clear bars above their grip. In fact more than a giant I would propose that a better high bar exercise for a pole vaulter would be a pull over. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQpyYNxLxgI

Also what other exercises are good to build up the lats, pull ups. So why would anyone push, or neglect the use of their arms when they are pole vaulting. Initiating the pull immediately to accelerate the swing further would seem like the only logical thing to do. Think about this. If you are on a rope and would like to invert and get your body above your hands what would you do, just swing your leg as fast as you can? I think this helps, but why not pull?

As far as the drill, I don't see how she would be able to grip higher with no run up, and I don't see an issue with a 17yr old girl wrapping 9' without a run up, and a 14yr old girl wrapping 7' without a run up. In fact, please show me better if you can. I would love to see. I have seen girls of those ages struggling to do that with a 3 left approach. And no her plant is not coached that way, she has been struggling with her plant for some time. She hopes to correct it this year.

Also Kirk, what exactly is wrong with a hs girl clearing a foot above her grip. How much higher would she jump, and how much more would she push above her grip doing what you propose? I do believe pole vault is really about your grip, plus what you can push above your grip.

Also PV2020, you mention that her approach looks slow, and admittedly it is. And you mention that perhaps then the pull off the ground is beneficial for her. Why wouldn't the pull be beneficial for a faster vaulter? I'm not sure I understand the logic. And as far as college coaches, everyone has their own methods, and ways of teaching the vault. I am just trying to get the best results from the athletes I coach. I also coach college, and I often recruit athletes who come from different schools of thought. What is more important to me is their work ethic, and love of the sport. I would never discriminate due to differences of opinion, if it is a good kid. If anyone else were to discriminate based on style it would lead to them losing possible great athletes. Also if you are a confident coach and work well with kids you can always make it work, if the kid is willing to work.

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby vaultman18 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:32 pm

Pot stirrer! And yes provided some basic elements are met with the plant and take off I would say of course you should pull. If you are a foot under with a late plant...no I would not advocate or recommend it. I think a lot of people and definitely many on this forum see the word pull and think it is crazy. The pull is a very small but important part of the entire vault. Poor running mechanics, posture, pole carry, plant action, under take-off, jumping ability, etc tend to lead vaulters to push on the pole. I don't really talk about pulling with my vaulters but I do talk about not pushing. I personally think/believe that if a vaulter can correct/master a proper run/plant/take-off it will be immediately obvious to them that when they push they are so far behind the vault it is nearly impossible to finish. I think the idea of moving the pole with the bottom hand/arm is ridiculous and ineffective. But rather it should be moved by a proper plant, take-off and through the top hand.

For me it is very simple...if you don't do it on a stiff pole you should't do it on a bending pole. It is a well known fact that the bending pole will hide many, many mistakes.

I used to love the debate of this...but I have to tell you and this was pressed upon my by Altius (Alan Launder)...what you think doesn't matter nearly as much as what you do. I have found myself so busy with my own athletes over the past few years that changing someones mind on this issue is pointless lol.

Branko lets talk soon, I have a couple of things to run by you. And keep up the good work. Cheers!

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:39 am

Branko720 wrote: ... more than a giant I would propose that a better high bar exercise for a pole vaulter would be a pull over. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQpyYNxLxgI

Also what other exercises are good to build up the lats, pull ups?

Even better than the pullover is the shoot-to-a-handstand (from a standing start) on the highbar. You start out the same as the pullover (as per your vids), but then try to keep extending your body straight up.

This is a good excercise for elite vaulters, but intermediates can and should TRY to do this. In other words, try to get the hips and feet up as high as you can above the bar, before you fall over it.

I was never able to accomplish this perfectly, but occasionally came close. The secret is to be just as quick as possible with the actions just as soon as you grab the bar. I mean SUPER quick - not just quick. If you're slow when you grab the bar, then it just becomes a pure muscle exercise, so instead, make it a QUICKNESS exercise - and you'll be surprised how much better you can do this drill!

In fact, this is one of the main differences between the physical skills of an elite vaulter and an intermediate. We talk a lot about speed down the runway, but speed on takeoff and speed of inversion is also very, very important. This is something you can learn to be quicker at on the highbar.

Don't just do a lackadaisical pullover (like the guys and gals did in the vid), but challenge yourself to turn that pullover into a shoot-to-a-handstand. It might takes months and months - even years and years - but your advancement in doing this will reflect in your advancements in your PRs. :idea:

An easier drill is the shoot-to-a-handstand from a kip (or simply start with the bar at your hips, then push back and rotate around the bar). This drill should be within the capabilities of most intermediates, given sufficient gymnastic training.

To answer your question re the importance of the lats, Branko, I do agree that the lats are important. However - as is evident in the shoot-to-a-handstand drill from a standing start - you MUST initiate the drill with very quick actions in the lower body (primarily the quads and gut muscles). If you initiate with the lats instead, your hips and feet won't rotate quickly enough. Ditto in the pole vault.

If you don't believe me now, you will once you try these drills. From a kip, the shoot-to-a-handstand is easier (too easy) because you CAN just use your lats, but from a standing start, you MUST use your gut mucles and quads to quickly invert. From a standing start simulates the PV better than from a kip. :idea:

Learn the shoot-to-a-handstand from a kip (or push off from your hips at bar level) first, and then try it from a standing start. If you can't do it very well from a kip, don't expect to do it from a standing start.

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby IAmTheWalrus » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:21 am

Man I keep getting sucked back into these conversations. I have a problem...

Anyways, I would like to make a few points if possible

1)
There are zero elite athletes that you can even remotely find a pulling motion until they are well into the jump
I think this is misleading, because unless you can measure muscle activation throughout the jump, it can be very difficult to determine what the athlete's muscles are actually doing, especially given how fast the pole are bending as a result of the vaulter's speed. I would imagine some if not many elite vaulters (Lojo at the very least) are pulling with the left arm, but the pole is moving away from their body as it flexes, resulting in an eccentric contraction. As much as we talk about unbending the pole by pulling, remember that these vaulters are putting enormous amounts of energy into the takeoff which results in the pole bending. You're not going to undo that with a one handed curl.

2)
From a standing start simulates the PV better than from a kip.
Why would you say this? If anything sprinting towards the highbar, jumping to grab it, and then shooting to a handstand would be a better simulation. Standing start seems like a great strength/explosiveness exercise, but the dynamics of the pole vault are a bit different, your lower body is already moving very fast, so the upperbody has less inertia to overcome.

Also, below is a video from me, and you can find more at http://www.youtube.com/PVjammer. Anything after May 2011 is a video in which I pull. Is it always super obvious? Does it look that different from when I was pushing?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ofdhtz86wb348 ... 9.MP4?dl=0





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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby grandevaulter » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:47 am

According to everything that Bubka told Alan, no pulling. He went into detail of the position of the left elbow in the run up and into the plant that makes it possible, the rest is instinctual. This was from Alan's last clinic.
http://youtu.be/_nh64Hdl4To

The gals doing the zero drills are tucking both legs to aid the inversion. If they tried the same drill with a long sweep leg the pole would not rotate forward.

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:23 pm

IAmTheWalrus wrote: 2)
From a standing start simulates the PV better than from a kip.
Why would you say this? If anything sprinting towards the highbar, jumping to grab it, and then shooting to a handstand would be a better simulation.

As is often the case, disagreements or differences in opinion are dependent upon misunderstandings and different points-of-view. Such is the case here.

First off, after years and years of debating the topic of the "pull" and "push", we've still not establish exactly what we mean by each of these. And at this point, most of us aren't very hopeful that we'll ever reach consensus on the definitions of these terms. In fact, I still don't even know if Branko is referring to a pull or a push, because he used one of these terms in the title, and the other in the body of his initial post. So we could all be presenting our opinions based on misunderstandings.

Walrus, this is certainly true for your Point #2. I am simply saying that in the shoot-to-a-handstand highbar drill I was referring to, I explained 2 options (#1 - from a standing start, and #2 - from a kip). I did not mention a third option (sprinting towards the highbar). So when I say that OF THE TWO OPTIONS, "from a standing start" simulates a vault better than "from a kip".

But now that you mention it, I have also done (and coached) this drill from a JOGGING start, but NEVER, EVER from a sprinting start - even though I concede that from a sprinting start MAY simulate a true PV better than the other 3 options.

I did not mention from a sprinting start because I think it's impractical (and I think you would agree). Can you imagine the force you would generate if you actually SPRINTED towards the highbar, and then TRIED to hang on? You would rip your hands open (if you caught the bar), and you'd have a terrible fall if you failed to catch the bar. I wouldn't wish either of those outcomes on anyone! :no:

As far as simulating a vault from a JOGGING start is concerned, I never mentioned that one because I believe it to be inferior to #1 and #2. Why? Because the horizontal force generated by jogging puts too much force in the horizontal direction. Yes, this horizontal force will be converted to vertical energy by the natural "swing" of your body around the bar (and other forces that you generate as you grab the bar), but remember that in any PV drill of any kind, the idea is to focus on a single part of the vault (not try to simulate the entire vault - else you might as well just vault).

To explain a step further, the highbar is NOT like a pole, because the pole (other than the butt end) continues to move forward after it hits the box (it rotates to vertical); whereas a highbar is almost rigid (with only a slight give due to the flexibility of the steel bar). So this is why any highbar drill doesn't translate very well to a real vault when you grab it from a jogging start.

There is SOME value in doing a pullover (or perhaps even a semi-shoot-to-a-handstand) from a jogging start, but I think the horizontal force generated is too much of a disruption for getting your hips up and over the bar (and ultimately into a handstand on the bar). This is just my opinion (based on my personal experimentation), your mileage may vary (if you've also experimented with this).

I have tried this (without much success), so it's not as if it's new to me. Mostly, I used a jogging start just for the initial action of grabbing the bar and getting a bit of a swing going (stopping the drill well short of trying to swing up and over the bar).

So I would rank the 3 drills that best excercise the muscles of an elite vaulter trying to improve their inversion technique as: #1 - shoot-to-a-handstand from a standing start; #2 - shoot-to-a-handstand from a kip or cast-off; and #3 - from a jogging start, just reach up, grab the bar, and swing a bit (don't try to invert into a handstand - as you will either fail miserably, or - if you're a super-human elite athlete - in gymnastics or PV or both - you may be able to invert with no problem).

In any case, my opinion is that #3 will not help you to LEARN how to invert (by either swinging, pulling, or some other way).

IAmTheWalrus wrote: Standing start seems like a great strength/explosiveness exercise, but the dynamics of the pole vault are a bit different, your lower body is already moving very fast, so the upper body has less inertia to overcome.

I can understand why you might say this (I agree 100% that it's a great strength/explosiveness exercise), but remember that it's just a drill. So as a drill, it's intended to MAKE your body move super-fast, WITHOUT the "boost" of inertia that you get in an actual vault.

That was my main point to Branko - if you isolate the action down to just inverting from a standing start on the highbar, it carries over very well to the vault (more so than from a kip or cast-off). At the risk of repeating myself, I will also say that this probably isn't something that you can just theorize about to truly understand. You MUST experience this first-hand, or it's more unlikely that you'll believe my recommendations here.

Try it - you'll like it! :idea:

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:27 am

The swing to inversion on a high bar is a good way to think about what the arms should be doing. Imagine hanging and swinging with the arms completely passive, doing no work at all. I have not yet coached a single person who could swing their hips to their hands and hold there with no input from the arms. If you have an athlete swing to inversion and simply be aware of what the arms are doing to support the movement, it will go a long way toward helping them understand how they should work.

Part of the confusion comes from imagining that the pulling action should come from the biceps with the arms bending, which would be disastrous. The pull comes through the lats and serratus anterior muscles which have a limited range of motion and are not consciously used by most people in everyday life. They play a supporting role and their action is rarely felt. It is natural to focus on the more sensitive and expansive roles played by the hands and arms.

I think that this is the source of all of the confusion and conflicting terminology used when this subject is broached. Many great vaulters will swear that they pull as hard as they can because what they feel is the pressure increasing in their hands as they swing. Other excellent vaulters will swear that they don't pull at all because they are focused on a long and powerful swing and are unaware of the supporting role of the muscles in their upper back. Each will describe the movement in completely different terms and yet mean the same thing.

In my own coaching I try to identify which conceptual framework works best for each athlete. If I see that they are progressing by focusing on swinging alone, I may not ever mention what the arms should do. They are already working as they should apart from any conscious effort from the athlete. If, however, I find that the swing is sluggish and incomplete when everything is set up for it to work properly, I may work to add the support of the arms to the motion. It may be the missing piece of the puzzle that makes it all come together.

This is why I think it is a bad idea to be dogmatic about the pull. If you insist that no one should ever pull, you risk not being able to help the vaulter who needs to learn how the upper body supports the swing. If you insist that every vaulter focus on pulling, you may give an athlete with a natural swing one too many things to think about, confusing and needlessly complicating what is already a difficult movement.

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Re: Should you pull at take off?

Unread postby Branko720 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:52 pm

Sorry for not responding sooner. I am enjoying all the comments on this thread, I've just been busy with work the past few days. No real off season for me.

The gals doing the zero drills are tucking both legs to aid the inversion. If they tried the same drill with a long sweep leg the pole would not rotate forward.


it's teaching the bad habit of pulling with BOTH arms (bent at the elbows way too much). If she were to swing more properly (with at least the top arm fully stretched), she would have to drop her CoG immediately after she leaves the ground - this is NOT something you want to do


I don't understand the above comments. If you can't make it into the pit with a "long sweep leg" and disregarding the pull, what does that say about your "long sweep leg?" Also Kirk, if your COG would have to drop from a zero to swing properly, what do you think happens in a full approach? If the mechanics work in a drill, they should work from full approach and if it works from full approach it should work from a drill. Does that sound logical? Therefore, if the girls are making it into the pit with the pull, that means it does not prevent penetration into the pit.

Tim, thank you for your comments. I agree, you must differentiate for every athlete. At my club we have set progressions and a technical model that we follow, however it must be altered for each athlete to some degree. I do however believe that having athletes conscience of what their body is doing, using lats and shoulders, instead of triceps and pectorals, helps because they can improve the skills further.

I will be posting some more video soon, in order to continue this discussion.


Also Kirk, I do think your high bar drill is valuable, but as you say very difficult. Even a pull over cannot be done with all athletes. I will also show our high bar progression for athletes in a video. Hope to get it all done by next week.


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