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Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:04 pm
by dhuntley95
I have been vaulting for 5 years now and I seem to still have one main flaw in my vault. This is that I can't seem to develop a bottom arm when vaulting. My jumps usually have my arm around 90 degrees when I take off, but push to roughly a 120 degree angle during the drive phase. Any ideas on how to fix this? Drills? I've done all the basics, and still can't figure it out. I think some of it might be that I don't jump into the drive phase as much, but I'm open to suggestions.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:21 pm
by vcpvcoach
Post some video.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:05 pm
by KirkB
dhuntley95 wrote: ... I seem to still have one main flaw in my vault.

Just one? :confused:

dhuntley95 wrote: ... This is that I can't seem to develop a bottom arm when vaulting. My jumps usually have my arm around 90 degrees when I take off, but push to roughly a 120 degree angle during the drive phase. Any ideas on how to fix this?

What is your target technique? Instead of 120 degrees, what do you want to do? What is it that you're trying to do with your bottom arm?

And what do you mean by the drive phase (it sometimes means different things to different people)?

dhuntley95 wrote: I think some of it might be that I don't jump into the drive phase as much ...

If you think that you might not be jumping on takeoff well enough, then that's probably true. That's two main flaws so far.

Of your four limbs, your bottom arm is (arguably) the least important what you need to cognizantly do with it to jump high. I suggest that you focus more on your top arm and trail leg first. If my guess is correct, that's now four flaws and counting. ;)

But as Vcpvcoach said, you'll have to post some vid so that we're not just guessing.


Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:18 pm
by kreeceman
I tend to have this same problem as well. My right arm is great but I lose alot of separation because of my left arm. When I vault I think to put my arms straight in the air and I have noticed alot of vaulters in videos straighten their arm forward right before contact. What approach would you guys prefer.

this is a video of my recent PR (excuse the noise) and I know there is alot of things that could use some improvement, but I am kinda at a brick wall with how to keep the left arm straight. if you see anything else that needs work im completely open for advice with those too... But i really need some help with this arm.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:05 am
by mtisfullofit
Don't beat yourself up It looks like you are blocking out when you need to. You are breaking a bit but nothing that is crazy out of the norm. You have crazy approach speed which is a big plus. I could not see your plant because of the phone but am wondering how your penultimate step is how are are steps? are you on at plant. the only thing I can see is that you are a little late with the timing of the pole which may be helped by sweeping your left leg long for a bigger pendulum allowing you to rock back and get ahead of the pole will get more "snap" out of the swing . When you tuck that leg you rob your swing and will fight to get ahead of the pole ....2 things standout in your favor you are fast and you are strong both of which help to make you a good jumper.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:35 pm
by Tim McMichael
You don't need to block out with the bottom arm. It can do far more harm than good, and doing it properly is really difficult to learn. My advice is to leave it alone and work on being taller at takeoff.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:32 pm
by Tim McMichael
The action of the arms is one of the most controversial subjects in the sport. There is a lot of disagreement even among elite coaches. If you ask this question of any five established valuters or coaches, you will likely get five different answers. I really think I have a good idea now of what the action of the arms should be, but it's really tough to communicate. I'll give it a try. First, the bottom arm (left for right handers) plays at most a very minor role. There are many successful jumpers who, from their perspective, do nothing at all with the bottom arm except hang on. There are also many others who use the bottom arm to create early separation from the pole. The inverse is also true. There are terrible valuters who use the bottom arm to push the pole into a bend at takeoff, and there are also bad jumpers who collapse the bottom arm and get yanked off the ground. From these facts, I think we can draw some definite conclusions. If there are so many good and bad jumpers who have very different plant actions, then something besides the bottom arm must be responsible for creating a good takeoff. I am pretty sure that what is most essential is a tall takeoff with the step directly under or even a little outside the top arm when the pole hits the back of the box. The force that actually bends the pole is the forward pressure from the right shoulder. You can do this drill to help you figure this out. Take a very flexible piece of pvc pipe and put it in the box while standing on the runway. Square your shoulders to the box and reach your right hand as high above your head as you can. Then without putting the bottom hand on the pvc pipe, lean forward, keeping your right shoulder square to the box. The pipe will bend, and the instant it begins to bend you will feel an upward pull against your top hand. THIS is the feel that every elite vaulter has at the takeoff. The pole is felt to pull upwards against the hands. What looks like a big push is actually experienced by the vaulter as a very violent pull. This happens because they are stretching up through their entire body to the absolute maximum possible at the instant the pole hits the back of the box. This means that what is most important for every vaulter, regardless of individual differences, is a very tall plant with balanced posture and square shoulders. If these factors are there, then the left arm becomes largely irrelevant. I have had a lot of success spending time working on pole carry and posture. Difficulties at takeoff very often solve themselves once the emphasis is on HOW to arrive at takeoff in the right position. How THAT is accomplished would take an entire book's worth of words to explain. Very briefly, every elite vaulter does these 5 things: 1) They have efficient sprinting form. 2) They carry the pole in such a way that it does not interfere with that form. 3) They move the pole from the carry position to the takeoff position in a way that keeps the weight of the pole from altering their stride length or posture. They essentially make the pole weightless as it falls into the box and their hands rise up. 4) Because of 1, 2, and 3 they accelerate through the takeoff and are maximally tall at the instant the pole begins to load. 5) Their swing flows from the energy of the takeoff with no pause or hesitation and the speed of their swing adds energy to the vault. Great vaulters penetrate further when they swing than when they just plant and hang. Bad vaulters do the opposite; they penetrate less when they swing than when they don't. The percentage of vaulters who have 1 - 5 is very very small, but those who do usually have a at least few trophies and medals up on the wall.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:08 am
by vaultmd
Would you mind if I copy and post that on my Facebook page (with proper credit given to you, of course)?

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:23 pm
by Tim McMichael
Absolutely. Feel free to repost it. I am more confident that I'm on the right track than I was a few years ago.

Re: Bottom Arm Technique -*Help Needed*

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:27 pm
by willrieffer
Physics of The Bottom Arm in the Immediate Post Take Off

The immediate post take off is regulated by the dispersion (not loss) of initial kinetic energy into 3 areas. 1) residual kinetic energy (horizontal veloocity) 2) pole energy and 3) potential energy. The lead arm can play a role in the direction of that dispersion. Since most vault coach/analysts don't consider gravity and the resulting potential energy curve, this relation is often ignored or misunderstood.

Of first consideration is the swing/pendulum of the vaulter in the immediate post take off. Since the pole produces a braking force the resultant activity is that the vaulter as mass will swing forward and more importantly UP unless some other force/resistance is used. If they swing forward/up kinetic energy is transferred into potential energy with a resulting loss in velocity. The equation is KE(kinetic starting) = KE(kinetic residual) + pE(pole energy) + PE(potential energy) which shows that for any increase in height/potential energy there is a corresponding loss in velocity. This lurks behind why there are questions about high angle takeoffs (pre and FTO) as well in that to achieve a reduction in pole braking force by driving pole rotation it takes an investment in converting kinetic energy into potential energy with again a resultant loss in horizontal velocity. So there are two braking forces in the early post take off in the vault, the pole, and gravity. It's notable here that vault coaches are often fixated on angular/rotational energy concerns. That moving the Center of Mass out/away from the rotational axis slows a rotating system. This idea is correct, but the physics of this is such that this situation can only SLOW a rotating system and NOT make it stop. What stops (and slows) the vault system is gravity. Think of a moving car meeting a hill (lets ignore friction). The car will slow down and stop and without putting on the brakes roll back down the hill. IF it meets a steeper hill it slows faster. But whether it meets a steep or gradual hill it stops where its initial kinetic energy equals potential energy. If we visualize these two hills, gradual and steep, as triangles they would have the same height but different base lengths where the base length is relative to the cars horizontal velocity where gradual is longer than steeper. This is all relative to the vault in that IF the vaulter does something to turn the potential energy curve up they will lose horizontal velocity. They "make the hill" steeper, turn up too fast, and stall out in gravity.

If we go back to the lead arm it lies in a triangle with top arm, and the pole between the two hands. And its one of the few places/ways the vaulter can effect the placement of the CoM/potential energy curve and thus regulate steepness of the curve(hill). Putting force/pressure on with the bottom arm can regulate the swing slowing or stopping the shoulders/hips/CoM from pundularly rotating forward and UP and the resultant transfer of kinetic energy into potential energy.