SuperBanana wrote: I feel like I normally have okay penetration although will lower my grip as I am probably focusing too much on getting onto the bed distracting from other aspects such as a powerful swing.
You can always raise it again if you start blowing thru. But lowering it will allow you to focus on the downswing; driving to the stretch; and then working on your downswing - without fear of stalling out.
SuperBanana wrote: ... you are talking about working on kicking down rather [than] up (correct me if I'm wrong) so I'll get on a high bar and pole this week and give it a go. In training usually my swing is the thing I think about least as in videos it always stayed straight (and seemed to move through the motions OK) and I thought that was all that was needed.
It's actually a circular motion - the first part of which is "down" (just like on the highbar). You will be very surprised at how much faster your extension off the pole is once you improve the speed of your downswing! The initial (and quick) effort in your swing needs to be immediately after takeoff - not when you're inverting. Kick down.
SuperBanana wrote:When working the swing before I always focused on keeping it straight and not closing my body too much, but you are talking about working on kicking down rather [than] up (correct me if I'm wrong) so I'll get on a high bar and pole this week and give it a go. In training usually my swing is the thing I think about least as in videos it always stayed straight (and seemed to move through the motions OK) and I thought that was all that was needed.
The idea is to swing your trail leg in a long, circular motion to get fully inverted by the time your pole begins to unbend. The faster, the better. Then (and only then) can you have an extremely vigorous extension - straight up. The initial motion is down, but the full motion is circular - just like on a highbar. In fact, that's where you need to learn this motion, then apply it to the pole via muscle memory.
SuperBanana wrote: ... will having a better downswing cause the pole to bend more (thus shortening chord so increasing speed the pole rolls forwards) or is the stretch and driving of the chest that does this (or a combination)? As another coach commented at a competition that my pole doesn't bend much and I do most of the work myself, I didn't think the bend was a particular problem.
Yes and yes - it's a combo.
Your pole is bending OK right now (you don't want it to be too soft, else you won't be able to extend off it vigorously), but once you get a better jump and drive into it, it's going to bend more on you. You will have to go up a pole or two quite quickly because of this increased power in your takeoff / stretch / downswing. That's all good news! Have your "next pole" ready to go (bring it with you to meets) to be ready for when you start overbending this one.
The best indicator that you're overbending is if you're hitting the bar on the way up (with standards at 80), and you're landing on the far end of the coach's box. Also, the pole will feel "mushy".