Help Me.

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Tim McMichael
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Help Me.

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:34 am

This should probably be in the coaching forum but it might give rise to some more advanced discussion. I'm stumped. I have a very talented athlete who has improved dramatically. I have gotten her step out, her plant high; she looks like she should be on the cover of an instruction manual at takeoff now. But she cannot swing and catch the pole from there. Even though she is landing in the middle of the pit she feels like she will land in the box if she swings and finishes the vault. This may be because her improved takeoff has gotten her on much bigger poles than she used in high school. However, there is more to it. It's obvious to me that her under and low takeoff triggers her nervous system to swing. When she takes off from the correct position she is lost in the air. What is killing me is that she is jumping 13' even with this problem and would easily be over 14' if she could resolve it. Her academic and athletic future is quite literally depending on figuring this out, and we are running out of time. Help help help help.

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby Skyfly » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:09 pm

I would assume she already does plenty of high bar work, correct? We've had success doing running takeoffs and jumping on to a high bar. Emphasizing the takeoff only to start and then introducing swinging elements one by one.

What about short approach jumps? Can she execute a proper takeoff as you have outline from 6 and/or 8 steps and still swing correctly, or does the issue manifest itself there too?

If the issue is isolated to just a full length approach, I'm not sure what to suggest. If it also is an issue during the shorter runs, I've had success with high school vaulters doing the following
- Start with the 6/8 step run
- Always ensure that the take off is still the most important aspect followed by the swing (we cue this with either "finish the takeoff first", "takeoff THEN swing not takeoff AND swing")
- Use a stiff pole and low grip doing normal swing up drills
- Slowly move the grip up (also may need to progressively use softer poles to facilitate the pole bending) so that only a little bending of the pole occurs.
- Do not progress until the swing is executed properly on the current pole
- Repeat until using a grip as high and a pole as stiff as possible for the given length run.
- Once the swing with the shorter run is being executed properly, repeat the process at the next length run (we normally go 6,8,12,16). Sometimes kids get it fairly quickly and we can skip some points in the process, but some we have to go through it very slowly.
Last edited by Skyfly on Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby cdmilton » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:26 pm

Do you have a video you can share? I can picture what you are saying but it would be nice to see a regular jump.
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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby PVstudent » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:26 pm

Tim McMichael wrote:Even though she is landing in the middle of the pit she feels like she will land in the box if she swings and finishes the vault. This may be because her improved takeoff has gotten her on much bigger poles than she used in high school. However, there is more to it. It's obvious to me that her under and low takeoff triggers her nervous system to swing. When she takes off from the correct position she is lost in the air.


Whilst video would help readers to assist in solving the problem you describe the key is in "Even though she is landing in the middle of the pit she feels like she will land in the box"!

I suspect that the rate of progression to "bigger poles", especially increased grip length, has been 1. rushed and 2. the vaulter does not have a strong upspring at take-off due to 3. trying to bent leg "roll" through the mid position of the take-off foot contact allowing the impact of the pole in the box to provide lift into take-off 4. the effort of "bracing" through her torso and abdominal core to maintain the high plant freezes or locks the lower limbs due to massive co contraction of the hip muscles of the swing leg 5. positioning of the uprights not far enough back towards the landing pad.

If any of the above strike you as reasonably applicable to the specific case of this vaulter then I think short run long swing inversions to flat back landings on the pads may help. Then the same long swing drills finishing with half turn to front landing. The coaching emphasis should be on the upspring and immediate trail leg swing initiation on take-off (the emphasis in the long swings is to penetrate towards the furthest edge of the landing zone towards the back of the landing pads). This will help with "unblocking " the trail leg swing initiation especially if accompanied by the lead leg continuing to flex the lead leg hip to actively continue the upward component of the lead leg propulsive effort.

This can then progress to short run long swinging inversion half turn over a very low bungy located about 1.0 t0 1.5m back, from the box rear wall, with the bungy cord suspended beyond the leading edge of the landing zone. Then progressively bring the bungy towards the 0.8m upright setting increasing the height of the bungy in 5 -10 cm intervals repeating the above.

When the bungy is at about 2.0m in height and the uprights set at 0.8m the vaulter should be confidently jumping up at take-off, swinging the trail leg immediately after take-off, and able to maintain continuous motion into inversion half turn to a two feet landing well back on to the landing zone squarely facing back towards the runway. When the vaulter makes the two foot mat contact she should be encouraged to roll backwards maintaining motion continuity. Not only is this safer but it will encourage her to become confident in maintaining greater rotation speed in traversing the bungy cord.

Short run pole vault take-off swing and half turn drills using the sandpit is also useful in maintaining the trail leg swing early initiation and continuation throughout the vault as run up and grip lengths on the pole increase in the 2 step increment pattern. The sand pit drills have very good positive technique transfers to runway and box plant vaulting.

Keep the uprights at maximum (80cms) setting during the vaults with gradual increasing grip lengths and the step progressions to full run up. Resist the temptation, due to time pressure, to progress the vaulter so that she fails to fully execute the swing and inversion turn pull /push and demonstrate motion continuity with uninterrupted pole chord penetration towards the landing pads. When initial failure to achieve the desired action occurs go back to the previous step in the progression for increasing step number and grip length along the pole at which success was achieved 100% of the trials. Under no circumstances be tempted to persist and reinforce failure by persisting at the progression step at which failure was reached.

All the above is without seeing the vaulter performance and so may be quite irrelevant.

There are other coaching art issues that may be hindering this vaulter's progress such as the psycho-social considerations related to her particular circumstances and her opportunities to benefit from your coaching input which could be of equal importance in affecting her performance.

Hope this helps your joint efforts by "making haste slowly" to reach the desired goal despite the time pressure you both may be experiencing.

PS: Never include odd number steps in the progression to full run up, the order being 4,6,8,10,12, 14 ... to final desired full run on grip length and pole selected is recommended! Including odd step numbers is inviting confusion, diminishing returns in performance consistency and rapid erosion of vaulter confidence.
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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby grandevaulter » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:50 am

Symptom:
Tim McMichael wrote:It's obvious to me that her under and low takeoff triggers her nervous system to swing.

Cause and effect:
PVstudent wrote:4. the effort of "bracing" through her torso and abdominal core to maintain the high plant freezes or locks the lower limbs due to massive co contraction of the hip muscles of the swing leg
Now the body is firm enough to swing.

Like many, she feels vulnerable at a free take off position? The safety of taking off close to the box/pit and proven benefit of the contracted muscles that allow her to swing may be difficult to change. Jagodins working up to a full grip and out or free take off position.

I think this is the solution to what PVstudent is pointing out on the muscle contraction.
Skyfly wrote:- Always ensure that the take off is still the most important aspect followed by the swing (we cue this with either "finish the takeoff first", "takeoff THEN swing not takeoff AND swing")
Jagodins first?

Yes :
PVstudent wrote:This can then progress to short run long swinging inversion half turn over a very low bungy located about 1.0 t0 1.5m back, from the box rear wall, with the bungy cord suspended beyond the leading edge of the landing zone. Then progressively bring the bungy towards the 0.8m upright setting increasing the height of the bungy in 5 -10 cm intervals repeating the above.


When the bungy is at about 2.0m in height and the uprights set at 0.8m the vaulter should be confidently jumping up at take-off, swinging the trail leg immediately after take-off, and able to maintain continuous motion into inversion half turn to a two feet landing well back on to the landing zone squarely facing back towards the runway. When the vaulter makes the two foot mat contact she should be encouraged to roll backwards maintaining motion continuity. Not only is this safer but it will encourage her to become confident in maintaining greater rotation speed in traversing the bungy cord.

Short run pole vault take-off swing and half turn drills using the sandpit is also useful in maintaining the trail leg swing early initiation and continuation throughout the vault as run up and grip lengths on the pole increase in the 2 step increment pattern. The sand pit drills have very good positive technique transfers to runway and box plant vaulting.

Keep the uprights at maximum (80cms) setting during the vaults with gradual increasing grip lengths and the step progressions to full run up. Resist the temptation, due to time pressure, to progress the vaulter so that she fails to fully execute the swing and inversion turn pull /push and demonstrate motion continuity with uninterrupted pole chord penetration towards the landing pads. When initial failure to achieve the desired action occurs go back to the previous step in the progression for increasing step number and grip length along the pole at which success was achieved 100% of the trials. Under no circumstances be tempted to persist and reinforce failure by persisting at the progression step at which failure was reached.


I would try to get her to come in early in the morning by herself and work on the drills that PVstudent has presented in addition to her regular practice. You may not get it corrected but two a days may get you there.

I have gained more knowledge than I have contributed to this thread.

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby grandevaulter » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:03 pm

PVstudent, it appears that Jenn is not under but is producing the bracing and flat take off that you speak of. Is this an accurate comparison?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9s3I2FuOaQ

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby PVstudent » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:22 pm

Until Tim responds, and I think this may take some time if he and his vaulter are under time pressure, I am hesitant to make further comment without evidence of the actual vaulting performance being carried out.

If Jagodins are to be used to develop better upspring and increased initial pole chord rotation angular speed they should be completed to flat back landings to the rear of the landing zone rather than 2 feet landings.

When the Jagodin drills have two feet landings in the middle of the landing zone they will encourage further "freezing" of the vaulter in the excellent take-off posture Tim tells us his vaulter achieves.

The vaulter needs to initiate earlier swing (if my freezing theory has any validity for this specific vaulter) in the Jagodin drills and achieve powerful rapid swing past the pole chord prior to the lateral side deflection "buckle" of the pole.

I agree that the vaulter practice the drills but should not do them on her own. The coach needs to supervise that the drills are being properly executed and the vaulter is achieving the intended performance goals the drills should produce. From the safety point of view no vaulter should practice take-off and swing drills without there being at least one other responsible person present during the training/practice session.

Jen is bracing but does not get "stuck" in the take-off position. She is using the pole impact to provide some lift to finish the take off and consequently has a somewhat flat take-off trajectory.

So Tim whilst you have some positive advice from correspondents I reiterate until there is some further evidence of how your vaulter actually performs her jumps (video would be very,very helpful) we really are shooting in the dark.

PVP readers clearly would like to help but, despite your excellent statement in regard to the problems you are experiencing, visual evidence will provide much of the information words just cannot convey and give us the chance to be specific for the individual concerned.

Given there are some other significant factors influencing the situation (reading between the lines) I can understand if at this critical time putting up the visual evidence may not be in the best interests of your vaulter's potential to secure a college scholarship. If this is the case just ignore our requests for the visuals.
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Tim McMichael
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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:26 pm

Okay. This isn't slow motion. I'll see if I can get that done in the next day or so. This first video is of her getting stuck on her swing while clearing 12'6" indoor. The second is her jumping 13'1" today. What I did was to get her bottom hand elbow facing more outward which seems to have freed up her swing at the expense of a pole size or two. I haven't analyzed today's vault at length yet, but at first glance it looks like she might need a higher grip. We are still only coming from 7 lefts and I think she can handle an 8 left run right now, so that is another issue, and I am afraid of trying to move back too fast. Thank you all for the suggestions. I am taking them all into consideration, especially the drills. I am so grateful that you are all willing to share your expertise with me. Today was something of a breakthrough, but if I can make her swing more powerful I know there are higher bars to come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOKolzKYrIA&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXezhetT2PI&feature=youtu.be

By way of contrast. This is her attempting 11'6" last year. The main areas we have worked on are posture, pole carry, and getting her step on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFXMRyxcGQ
Last edited by Tim McMichael on Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby cdmilton » Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:04 am

Tim, lots of good stuff going on there. Nice work! FYI, you can slow down videos on youtube by clicking settings (gear icon) on the lower right corner of the video.

The one thing I see which would help her swing through quicker is how she operates her trail leg. She swings with a pretty stiff leg. When Alan L was in Minneapolis last summer he was emphasizing on the high bar and on "long swings" that the athlete should allow the knee of the trail leg to flex a bit before starting the swing. This will allow for a much stronger kick down and through the chord of the pole. Have her practice this on the high bar I've seen some good results from athletes working on this and should help your athlete get to the position you are aiming for.
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Tim McMichael
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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby Tim McMichael » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:23 pm

We are definitely going to work on the trail leg. I think her fundamentals are decent now, especially at takeoff, though they can always be improved. Her knees could be higher in the approach and she gets the pole a little low at the start of her plant. I'm reluctant to mess with those aspects because she is taking off right on with what she is doing now. Should she ever get to much bigger and heavier poles those issues will become more important. Right now I think our main task is making the things she is already doing better. The key will be not trying to add movements that contradict what her jump wants to be at this moment. More bend in the trial leg may be just such an element.

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:57 pm

Tim McMichael wrote: ... if I can make her swing more powerful I know there are higher bars to come.

cdmilton wrote: When Alan L was in Minneapolis last summer he was emphasizing on the high bar and on "long swings" that the athlete should allow the knee of the trail leg to flex a bit before starting the swing. This will allow for a much stronger kick down and through the chord of the pole.

I disagree with flexing the trail leg prior to "starting the swing" (whipping the trail leg).

To do so is too passive. Instead (with all due respective, but speaking from first-hand experience, and not from writing a book or hearing second hand from someone that wrote a book), the swing/kick/whip should be as long as it possibly can be, and start as soon as it possibly can. No hesitation!

Precious milliseconds are lost when you allow the trail leg to flex a bit, and then again when you straighten it out. From a physics perspective, you lose LEVERAGE AND TIME by doing this.

Instead, use the rectus femoris muscles to initiate the swing/kick/whip, with a straight-legged action. The rectus femoris muscles are the large muscles on the top side of your femur, between your hips to your knees. When you lie flat on the ground (or sit prone) and lift one leg, these are the leg muscles that tighten.

Unless you train them (weights, highbar, leg lifts), you won't be able to use them effectively, thus you will need to fall back to a bent-leg kicking action. But these are very powerful muscles (once trained), and will give you a much more powerful (and quicker) trail leg swing than any bent-leg action. (This advice applies to ALL intermediate and elite vaulters, not just to Tim's protege.)

Tim McMichael wrote: We are definitely going to work on the trail leg. I think her fundamentals are decent now, especially at takeoff, though they can always be improved. ... I'm reluctant to mess with those aspects because she is taking off right on with what she is doing now. ... Right now I think our main task is making the things she is already doing better. The key will be not trying to add movements that contradict what her jump wants to be at this moment. More bend in the trail leg may be just such an element.
:yes:

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Re: Help Me.

Unread postby PVstudent » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:41 am

"Sorry, the board attachment quota has been reached."
Every time I attempt to upload an attachment I get this error message. Is the problem at my end or is the PVP message board no longer able to allow respondents to post attachments. If so can any thing be done about this state of affairs?

Tim, I have reviewed the video material you referred us to and have some information on the root technical causes of Emily's quite normal and very rational "fear of falling in the box at the commencement of her swing post take-off".

I will attempt to pm you and include, if it is possible, the attachments that might be helpful to you.

You have made excellent progress and I encourage you to continue to work as you have been doing.

Emily's issues have their origins technically in commencing the pole plant which ultimately makes her take-off completion problematic in initiating the trail leg swing.

I agree that pre-flexing the trail leg knee immediately after the take-off and then trying to "whip -kick" may not be the best solution to the problem. However, it does work for some vaulters but I suspect will, in Emily's case, make matters worse.

Emily is showing very good potential. Keep working and if I can get the material to you via pm I hope you might find something helpful that you might consider using.
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