Missing the Mats

Discussion about ways to make the sport safer and discussion of past injuries so we can learn how to avoid them in the future.
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Re: Missing the Mats

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:51 pm

I'm not sure if the wording about the hard and unyielding surfaces is in the NCAA rule book? It is certainly common sense though!

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Re: Missing the Mats

Unread postby KirkB » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:26 am

I realize that I'm a year late in replying, but here's a few more possibilities that MIGHT have caused you to veer to the right (I'm assuming you're right-handed). Just trying to help solve the mystery ...

1. Not sure what shape the pit was around the box area, but maybe your bent pole hit the pit during its deepest bend, pushing you off to the side?
2. Maybe the box was illegal and had a 90⁰ stop-plate? (unlikely). 105⁰ is standard.
3. Maybe your pole tip missed the box entirely and didn't realize it? (unlikely)
4. Maybe the natural bend of your pole wasn't aligned with the way you were holding it, so it twisted to the side when it started to bend, and then flung you in the opposite direction?

I'm betting on #4. Especially since you weren't aware of what you did wrong, this is the most likely scenario that I can think of. I'm surprised that no one else mentioned this possibility, as it's happened to me more than once. Maybe modern poles don't have a natural bend direction? I thought they still did.

Now just a few more words of advice if you (or anyone else) feel yourself veering off to the side ever again ...

If you're an experienced male vaulter - say anything over 4.00 meters - then you should be reasonably aware of where you are in the air in relation to your pole. In other words, if your plant is late or "off to the side a bit", then as soon as your trail leg leaves the ground, you should feel an IMMEDIATE tug on your top hand - to one side or the other - which tells you that this is a bad vault and you should abort. Even if you don't know WHY you're being tugged to one side, you should definitely FEEL this tug.

IMMEDIATELY upon feeling this sensation, your IMMEDIATE reaction should be to abort! DON'T wait to see how bad you're off center. If you're off, you're OFF, so bail!

I speak from bitter experience - I missed the pit once when I was more interested in clearing the 15-6 bar than worrying about where I'd land, and I made the bar and missed the pit! I landed on the rubberized asphalt track. I felt the tug, but I ignored it. Bad mistake - it cost me my 2 front teeth, a broken nose (deviated septum), and a concussion. Thank goodness the track was rubberized! :D

That means STOP SWINGING. And if you've already started swinging it means STOP EXTENDING.

How? Well, first of all, just stop swinging. Try to keep your body in an upright position. Keep your legs down, and pull the pole in towards you.


Thirdly - and this is more difficult - if it's well into your swing before you decide to bail (while the pole is still bent), you can let go with your top hand but KEEP HOLDING ON WITH YOUR BOTTOM HAND. (If you let go with BOTH hands at the wrong time, you might fall head first into the box!)

I emphasize that this is a last-ditch desperation way of trying to save a serious injury from flinging you off the side of the pit, BUT it WILL help to keep you from getting flung quite as far. Think of it this way: The energy stored in the pole is safely dissipated by letting it straighten. If you continued to hang on with your top hand, this is energy that would have otherwise been used to fling you off the side of the pit.

When you release your top hand in this way, the pole will suddenly straighten, and it may hit you, but that's far better than landing outside of the pit. I also recognize that you may not have your wits about you this far into your vault, but if you do - and if you remember to LET GO WITH THE TOP HAND ONLY - this might save your life (or at least prevent a serious injury).

Kirk Bryde
Run. Plant. Jump. Stretch. Whip. Extend. Fly. Clear. There is no tuck! THERE IS NO DELAY!

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