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    Of the jumps, the pole vault is the most demanding, has the most technical aspects and is by far the most dangerous. Whenever you vault you must make certain that all hard, non-dirt surfaces in the vicinity of the plant box and the landing pit are properly covered with soft padding.


THE GRIP: When gripping the pole, the wider the hands, the easier it is to carry. The pole is carried in the notch between the thumb and the index finger. The front arm should be held high and close to the chest with the wrist cocked back. The back arm hand should be beside the hip pocket with the elbow bent at 90 degrees.

    THE APPROACH: In the approach run, the motion of the pole is up and down and not front to back. In the drive phase, the pole should be pushed up as the body angle changes. As the body becomes more erect, so does the pole. The relative position of the pole to the body is not changed during this time. The pole should be carried high during the mid-portion of the run, letting it drop in the transition phase.

    There should be a check-point six strides out from the plant point to mark the start of the transition phase. The vaulter should not look at this, but have a teammate check it during practice runs. As the pole drops, the front hand becomes the bottom hand. The plant should start on the penultimate stride.

The pole drop and plant must be integrated into a continuous rotational movement of the pole. The body should be tall and the pole carried as high as possible. The shoulders must be kept square and parallel to the bar. The position of the hands do not change, moving in unison while pushing the pole forward and upward.

Gymboss Timers


THE TAKEOFF: (Note: This applies to a glass ple that will bend) As in the other jumps, the takeoff foot is dorsiflexed with the foot landing slightly in front of the hips on the takeoff stride. As the foot lands, the vaulter should start to rise onto the ball of the takeoff foot and raises knee of the lead leg. The knee need not be driven upward in an aggressive manner. The reason for raising the knee is to help the vaulter get up onto the ball of the other foot. When the vaulter starts to leaves the ground, the trail leg should be pushed hard against the runway as the lead leg is moved forward and upward. The hips must be advancing and leading the body through.

    The position of the top hand is critical at takeoff and must be located directly over the foot at takeoff. The shoulders are kept square and parallel to the bar. The body should stay long in full extension. During the swing, the body becomes a chord line of the arc formed by the flexed pole.


THE PULL: The pull is initiated with a straight fully extended top arm and is executed along the axis of the pole. During the pull, the bottom arm is collapsed into the body. At push-off from the pole, the thumbs should be pointed down.



    The NCAA and USATF have no rules covering the pole and how high up on the pole the hands can be placed. However, for vaulter safety, high school associations have established rules governing vaulters weight as it relates to pole stiffness and maximum hand grip position. For their own safety, masters vaulters should ensure that their pole is designed for their body weight.



    A good drill to use as a start for learning the pole vault uses the long jump pit as a landing place. This drill is started four steps back from the edge of the sand in the pit. Stand the pole vertical on the ground and grasp it with the top hand as high up as you can reach. Take a normal grip with the lower hand and then rotate the pole to the horizontal position.

    Starting the first stride with the takeoff leg, take three steps and plant the pole in the sand. (If you are uncertain about which is your takeoff leg, you can do the following simple tests to determine this. Stand with both feet fairly close together and have some stand behind you and push you forward. The foot that comes out first is usually your "power" foot and would be your takeoff foot. The other way is to cross your hands over you chest in your normal position. The top arm in this position usually indicates your power side.) On the third stride, plant the pole in the sand and let your arms carry you forward into the sand.

    Once you are comfortable doing this, go from walking to jogging the three strides. Mark your start point by jogging from the pit edge to your start point.

The next step in the progression is to grasp the pole 12" higher and go through the same progression. After becoming comfortable with this, move to a soft grassy area and go through the same progression planting the pole in the grass.

    Another drill is accomplished by standing on a platform or box that is three or four feet high. Plant the end of the pole on the lower level, grasp the pole high up with a normal vault grip and swing out to the lower level.

    Remember that it takes a lot of practice to learn the technical skills involved in the pole vault and if it is not done with the proper care, it can lead to serious injury.




as published in the Winter 2000 edition of Track Coach

    The difference in performance between first and fourth is often minuscule. In fact, at world levels, the top ten performers are notably similar. It is the slightest of edges that make the difference on race day.

    Researchers have tested athletes and determined quite conclusively, that the elite are often very alike in physical preparation. Their talents in strength, speed and stamina are virtually identical with most employing mental preparation experts to ensure they will access full potential on the big day.

    However, one common link amongst the super-elite is the speed of their vision. The medalists in the high-speed sports which demand superior skills in balance, precision and perception have exceptional visual prowess.

    These visual skills are frequently the difference between the gold medal and fourth. These visual skills allow precise information processing at a very high speed. This is sports vision.

    Sports vision is an area of study that combines science, motor learning, biomechanics, sport psychology and neuroanatomy. This article will review sports vision practice and its application to pole vaulting. It will, serve to identify the sports vision needs involved in vaulting, thus enabling the vision care professional, coach and athlete to approach this aspect of training with more precision.

link to this paper






link to: Groundwork For The Pole Vault




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