Oklahoma Pole Vault Manifesto

This is a forum to discuss advanced pole vaulting techniques. If you are in high school you should probably not be posting or replying to topics here, but do read and learn.
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Unread postby OUvaulterUSAF » Wed Feb 28, 2007 4:17 pm

Tim McMichael wrote:
A note of warning in case someone gets the wrong idea from this: I do not recommend cutting poles unless you really know what you are doing.


I oftened wondered why we cut all our poles in college. Guess I was taught this model during college without knowing specifics. Back then using this model when I was 5'9" 160 with 17'3" PR and my max pole was a 5.00m cut to 4.90m 15.6flex (185-190 lb).

Tim, what you wrote...it all makes sense now. So coaches, sometimes you need to sit your athletes down and explain the methodology to them when you think they're ready.

Since transitioning to the Petrov model and without the support structure and coaching I had in college, I wouldn't nor couldn't switch back to the Oklahoma method. I like the incremental steps and reassurance used in Petrov.
wo xi huan cheng gan tiao.

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Unread postby altius » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:45 pm

Tim -You are a good man making a great contribution to this forum.


Just got back from 6 weeks around the world so have not had time to digest your ideas -will try. However scimming thru I saw many things which remind me of the petrov model - especially the whip swing in the second phase. Not sure if it could be done better that Bubbie showed on his 6.01 jump in Athens in 97. :rose:
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Unread postby altius » Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:58 pm

"Burgess is probably the best modern example of a pure drive vaulter." Sorry Tim but Paul is a soviet model vaulter with variations in his 'style' - ask Steve Rippon, his original coach, who knows him better tnan anyone.

Agree that there must be no delay after take off - see Feofanova for the problems such a delay causes her later in the vault.

Re Brits - there was a guy who should have jumped at least 6.20 - and would have done so had he used the Petrov model.

The major issue with any technique where the vaulter tries to force a bend into the pole instead of concentrating on driving the pole up and forward at take off it that it becomes a dead end technique, In other words it allows a vaulter to reach a pretty good level of peformance but then stops them from improving because of the inherent limitations in the method. So yes i can see that a number of variations can produce acceptable results - consider both the French and the Czech models which are radically different from the Petrov/Bubka model. But the first vaulter to jump 6.20 will be some one who drives the pole up and forward at take off - does not try to bend it. Ditto the first woman to jump 5.20m - if Yelena masters the take off that she is working on it will be her - if not she will not do it because at present she compresses the pole too much/ too soon.

Again yours was a great post which reflects an immense amount of reflection about what you tried to do as a vaulter - would that all talented athletes thought about the issues as clearly as you have. However for most readers the question is what will work for them. I suggest that it will be the petrov model, which can be used by ordinary athletes on normal commercial poles with no modifications of any kind. :rose:
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Unread postby KYLE ELLIS » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:29 am

[quote="altius"]"Burgess is probably the best modern example of a pure drive vaulter." Sorry Tim but Paul is a soviet model vaulter with variations in his 'style' - ask Steve Rippon, his original coach, who knows him better tnan anyone.


i agree, burgess is not what i would call a drive vaulter nor is stevenson. and problably none of the guys that tim listed thought about the polevault the same way tim did. even though some people may look simular their thought process, mental cues, and technique goals maybe very different (even if they do look simular) bubka, tarasov, yelena, and fefonova sp?? all use the petrov model if i understand correctly, but none of them look simular at all. From my perspective too many people get tied up into styles and looking like someone else instead of doing what makes sense scientifically. I am a mere 17ft vaulter but i just now feel like i am learning to polevault because i finally stopped trying to copy everyone around me, now i am doing what makes sense and finding my own jump and mental cues. To me there is no purpose to debate minor details of the vault. Like arguing the differences between the oklahoma model and the petrov model. instead why dont the guys using all the different technical models come up with all the basic simularities of each model to structure what the polevault should be for a beginning vaulter. For example if 4 out of 5 models agree that "the heel should be leaving the ground as the tip begins to hit the back of the box." then that would be one thing that we could say should be part of the GENERAL POLEVAULT MODEL. Then add in agreed upon running mechanics, plant timing etc and you can come up with a general model that everyone can start off with and because of their body types or natural talent their own style will show through instead of trying to force themselves to jump exactly like bubka, or tim mcmicheal, or paul burgess etc. I think tim jumped more at his takeoff than he realizes. I will use myself as an example, i tried the low takeoff for a while and it worked at first because i had years of jumping off the ground engrained in my head, but the better i got at a low takeoff the worse i became, until i was a complete mess. Now i try to jump up high as possible at takeoff BUT! I STILL LOOK LIKE I AM JUST DRIVING THE CRAP OUT OF THE POLE... but i am not. Just like i think it looks like tim is driving the crap out of it but he has good vertical lift off the ground, so i dont know what is really happening at his takeoff. Second off i saw becca's video's with alan and he was talking about the leg whip (how it should be like kicking a soccerball) .. no offense but anybody who compares the swinging of the trail leg to kicking a soccer ball hasnt actually polevaulted that much. its nothing like kicking a soccer ball. it may look like thats whats someone is doing but i garuntee its not. People who i have seen "kick: their leg have alot of slack in ther swing and are not connected to the pole. Basically i am suggesting instead of arguing over specific models. or variations on style. Come up with a general model. Take the best twenty vaulters ever and say ok 18 of the 20 did this, so add that to the general model. Then you can come up with a general jump by what the majority of the best vaulters did. Again this would be for beginners, then they can add their own style to it. Like everyone does anyways.
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Unread postby altius » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:47 pm

First point : "but none of them look simular at all."

Sorry old son but if you think that you need to improve your "coaches eye'. They are definitely SIMILAR because they use the same TECHNICAL MODEL but they all LOOK DIFFERENT to some degree or other because they overlay the technical model with their STYLE -which is a function of their unique personal characteristics - because 'what is technically desirable must be physically possible' .

So you can add Trandenkov, Markov, Gibilisco, Balackonova, Pyrek , Rogoska, George to your list of athletes plus a whole swag of athletes from the former soviet union who never got out of that country - and you will soon be able to add Alana Boyd 4.55 earlier this year along with the Parnov sisters as well as Steve Lewis of GB who is definitely following this model.. All these athletes look different to an untrained eye but similar to a trained one.

The secret of coaching at any level is to have a clear understanding of the technical model you choose to use -and choose to use because it is biomechanically superior - and an awareness of how every athlete brings their own unique charateristics to the event. You might find it interesting to consider the notion of and differencs between - A TECHNICAL MODEL and an ATHLETES STYLE - this would clarify a lot of the misunderstanding on this site. :rose:
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Unread postby altius » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:56 pm

Point Two "no offense but anybody who compares the swinging of the trail leg to kicking a soccer ball hasnt actually polevaulted that much."

Clearly you have neither taught nor coached for otherwise you would realise that one of the challenges of both is to reduce complex events to simple concepts so that beginners especially can get some idea of what that action feels like. None of the atlhetes I was working with had any real idea of how important the leg whip was and no idea of how to execute it. Kicking a soccer ball is one way of getting a basic message across but if you want to debate me as to what really happens in that phase of the vault bring it on. Tell me exactly how you would teach it - oh but before you do you might take a look at the new BTB teaching video Sean brown has because you may find i do know a bit more about it - although as you righly observed i havent pole vaulted much.

Just remember that the test of a coach is not how high they have jumped -Petrovs PR is 4.40m for example - but how high and how well their athletes have jumped - are you as good on the pole as Lauren Eley for example??
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Unread postby altius » Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:01 pm

Point Three. "Take the best twenty vaulters ever" Why bother - Why not look at the best three - Bubka, Tarasov and Markov? Note they were not the same physically and did not have the same coach - they look different but used the same technical model. It would save you a lot of time. Enjoy :rose:
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Unread postby Tim McMichael » Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:08 pm

I think tim jumped more at his takeoff than he realizes


This may very well be true. I was as aware of what was going on in my body as I think it is possible to be, but what I felt and what was really happening might not be the same thing. I was a very good technician in the structure of my run, and as the pole tip dropped into the box, and I strove to get as tall as possible, I may very well have been jumping up more than I realized.

Kyle, with what I have learned over the last several months I think you are on the right track and thinking about the vault better than I have been for the last several years. Good for you. I am glad you are getting away from the trap of trying to copy Joe and me, because it is a trap, and I think you will have much greater success learning the fundamentals you are working on and finding your own jump within that framework.

Here is a telling fact. In the twenty plus years that Joe Dial and I have been jumping and coaching in Oklahoma, only two people have achieved world class success with our method – Joe Dial and myself. Not a good track record. We have not lacked for talented athletes to try it out on. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but the difficulties of teaching spit second timing issues at full speed on huge poles have, so far, been insurmountable.
Last edited by Tim McMichael on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby Tim McMichael » Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:25 pm

Sorry Tim but Paul is a soviet model vaulter with variations in his 'style' - ask Steve Rippon, his original coach, who knows him better tnan anyone.


When I look at Paul Burgess, what I see is a huge chest drive, a long left leg, a long left arm, a blazing fast swing, a tuck that leaves his hips far behind and beneath the pole, then an active extension up the pole while using the arms and shoulders to turn and push. These are all elements that I associate with a drive vault, and I can see positions in his jump that are almost identical my own. Help me understand how this is still an example of Petrov’s model. The positions that you say are merely differences in style look too disparate to my eye. If you can convince me that he is following Petrov’s model, I will have to do a lot of reconsidering. While I am definitely aware of the distinction between a given model and the individual styles of the athletes who employ it, I have not considered that styles could vary so much within a given model.

I don’t understand. Specifically look at the position Burgess is in just before the pole stops bending: his left hand is as high above the right as it is possible to be; his hips are as far from his hands as his body will allow, and his legs are tucked in. Bubka’s positions could not be more dissimilar at the same point: his hands are level with one another; the pole is not bent nearly as much; his hips are close to his hands, and his left leg is as straight as the flexibility of his hamstrings will allow. Once again, I don’t understand. I am sure that my "coaches' eye" also needs work, but I have to wrap my mind around the principles and possibilities you suggest before I can begin to see similarities in these differences.

I have always believed that what we experience must first be filtered through the ideas and preconceptions we bring to bear on it, and then further filtered through the language we use to communicate it to others, which is why two people can see such different things in the same jump. And why one image (kicking a soccer ball) might work for one athlete and not for another. This is also why even what an athlete believes is happening in their own vault may not be accurate and should not be trusted implicitly. Alan, I cannot see what you are suggesting, but that does not mean it is not correct. Give me the rational that can bring such glaring differences under the umbrella of the same theory. What specifically does Burgess DO that makes his jump the same as Bubka's in terms of the model he is following?

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Unread postby altius » Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:49 pm

I will try to get a single image of Paul posted to illustrate the point that he was not a drive vaulter -that he was striving for a free take off - that he was trying to take off up through the pole - perhaps the single most important and obvious element in the Petrov model. Single images 'like one of video clips can be deceptive but this is from a 5.91 jump -a pr - so one would think he was jumping the way he wanted to jump.

This is a complex area because you can watch one clip after another of Bubka and THEY all look different to some degree of or other . Why is this. Well even gymnasts and divers who do not have to run forty metres carrying a long pole before they do their thing - often get it wrong. Sometimes completely wrong as you have no doubt seen,

The vaulter has a much more difficult challenge to replicate a specific movement pattern. Minute variations in the run up/balance/control /SPEED and Take off point all feed into the movement pattern for good or ill. Since everything that follows the take off is to some degree or other determined by that take off, it means that successive elements will vary as well. Consider what Bubka said when i asked him about what I had termed a pre jump. he said you are absolutely right - I always tried to pre jump - that is leave the ground before the pole tip hit the back of the box -and i managed it a few times in my career!

Many vaulters tuck and shoot simply because they have been unable to put sufficient energy into the vaulter pole system at take off or in the second phase to continue to swing long and instead are forced to tuck to increase the speed of their rotation -unfortunately and this was something you did not mention in your original piece - this rotation almost invariably leaves them UNDER the pole and often 30 cms or more further from the bar than athletes who do swing long to cover the pole.

So even a petrov vaulter who makes slight errors in any or all of the run /plant/ take off/ has to deal intuitively with the situation they find themselves in as they swing past the chord of the pole - and make intuitive adjustments accordingly. This is why you will see variations from one jump to the next in the same athlete in the same comp.

When you bring a different athlete into the picture then the differences between them and someone else using the same model get magnified. Compare Bubka with Gibilisco -both coached by petrov from the beginning of their careers but with significant differences. But they were both trying to exploit the same model. And that is really the issue -how were they trying to jump -what were they trying to do. So if you look for common elements you will see an attempt to execute a specific approach to carrying the pole, to running technique/ to lowering the pole/ to planting the pole / the free take off / the long whip swing of the take leg after a completely finished take off up and through the pole etc - when you know the model you can recognise it -even with a left hander like Annika Becker!

Another critical factor in all this is the coach. There is only one petrov. The rest of do the best we can in the context in which we find ourselves - and with the athletes we have. As I state repeatedly - and probably for the last time on this forum - ordinary athletes who manage to master SOME elements of the petrov model will jump higher because of it.

Finally Paul was coached from the beginning by one of the best young coaches in the world, Steve Rippon -presently in England working with, among others, Steve Lewis who jumped 5.65 earlier this year; Steve took on Petrovs ideas but his athlete model was Rodion Gataullin - not Bubka - so naturally there were going to be variations on a theme.

In the end you must understand the critical elements of the petrov model -and then you will see them - or at least some of them - perhaps in bastardised form - in any athlete trying to use it.

I think this is as much as I can contribute to this debate. No matter what I do or say the barbs come flying in - even from whippersnappers who may have vaulted higher than me but who have coached no one and who certainly are not as good a soccer player as I was!

I put my shingle up with BTB and i think it is time to leave it at that - at least until a second edition appears. Good luck with your search. :yes:
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Unread postby master » Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:48 am

Below is the image Altius referred to in the above post, including his comment about it.

Image

Altius writes: "Paul Burgess taking off on the way to a pr of 5.91m. Make of it what you will"

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Models....

Unread postby baggettpv » Sun Mar 04, 2007 2:47 am

When I started studying under Andjei Kzinski in 1985 one of the things I first observered was such a different approach to what he wasy trying to create. Much different than what I was creating in the athletes I worked with. With further study of the other coaches I was directed to investigate I discovered many similarities in their approach also. Which were different than my underlying philosophy of what was necessary in developing these athletes. Their guys jumped much higher than my guys so I listened and read. I still have a document in Italian that has many pieces of testing info on it but I know not what it means other than No American to that point had detailed info as much. I could tell some of the info had details of hand hold and non-bending poles...
Petrovs paper at that time on the free takeoff used a term that was not familiar by me at the time so I had to figure it out. He used the term of Support of the Pole in regards to the takeoff. What I fugured out was that the arc of the top hand with a non bending pole was the direction of the force of the jump at takeoff..If you held 12' that was possible. 14'? not a chance..but if you continued this concept onto a bent pole then that skill would enable a higher grip and free up the body from any external forces, ie the ground and the pole at the same time. Also note the heighth of the athlete when the support of the pole is realized! With a girl i work with now she goes from standing 5'9" to a realized heighth of about 6'1. Try this, stand straight up with the top hand to feet being vertical. Have the pole tip 2" from the end of the box. Now rise up onto your takeoff toes. Viola, the pole tip touches the box. Thats where you takeoff from with that last milli second of movement. Thats what J_Gal is doing. Holding at 13'10" and leaving the ground at 12' (ALOT OF THE TIME, BUT NOT ALWAYS). This same action is what was on the Plan for 2 of my other athletes that went off to greener pastures in their carreer but was never dealt with so far. Look at the posting from Master and you determine the advantage of this kind of action. He's what 6'1" tall standing flat footed? In his TO it looks like he's about 6'9!
Anyway. From 6 step out men should be able to jump a non bending pole into the pit holding 6' higher than their standing grip. Women should be able to go 5'. J-Gal is at 4'10. The best male I have worked with could go 6'6" over..Petrov said they should be able to hold where ther bottom hand is on a bending pole and get into the pit on a nonbending pole from 6. So, hold 16' on a bending pole, 24' spread, straight pole 14' from 6 steps. I am done...come to my clinics and let's talk. TO pic at willamettestriders.com of a girl striving for this method. 12'6 1/2" sophomore. I hope I made sense...

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