The groundwork is intended to
allow the vaulter to transfer runup energy to the pole. A critical part of this
process is the plant. The plant occurs over the final two or three steps and
should be a graceful transition of energy and position. Various terms and
processes lead to the common objective of having the top arm fully extended up
just prior to the final foot strike. Anything else leads to an inefficient
takeoff. The goal is a high speed and high
Once the runup and plant are in
place, the vaulter must have the correct pole in hand. The pole used should
reflect the performance of the vaulter on that particular attempt. The pole
selection is based on a prediction of how the vaulter will perform. Precision
and consistency developed through hundreds of rehearsals will aid this
The exact pole is influenced by the basic factors of runway speed. takeoff technique, angle of takeoff and angular velocity. The coach/athlete must learn or confirm something with every trip down the runway to aid in pole selection.
In addition. fatigue, psychological readiness. and previous success levels should influence the prediction. It is important that once the pole has been selected. the athlete should step onto the runway with confidence and perform at 100%. Use of the wrong pole may lead to failure and/ or personal injury.
PENETRATION AND DEPTH
The groundwork also has a significant
impact on penetration and, subsequently, selection of depth. Numerous factors
can influence the level of penetration. The exact positioning of the standards
is another prediction of how the vaulter will
Depth selection is a decision based on a series of factors including previous attempts, fatigue, pole se- lection, consistency of technique, environmental conditions and mental preparation. All of these components have a major impact on penetration.
It is best to take a positive approach to
depth selection. For example, if an athlete fails to penetrate on a first
attempt due to an error in technique, the temptation might be to jump the same
way on a smaller pole.
Changing poles, however, plays an interesting mind game. A small pole may result in less mental tension and the vaulter can focus well on skill execution. A big pole brings new anxiety, especially if there is any self-doubt. This extra tension distracts from the ability to coordinate the superior effort required.
Athletes who rehearse with "tail wind spotting," do drills on large poles, and mentally prepare for changing poles will have the advantage.
In the above scenario, if the vaulter chooses a
smaller pole and then jumps properly, he/she will over penetrate and failure
will result. It is generally best to base pole and depth selection on the
historical pat- terns of the vaulter. This is the art of coaching and vaulting.
Knowing what went wrong, what is fixable and then basing pole and depth
selection on these factors is the best way to
And it all happens on the ground.
CRITICAL FACTORS TO KEEP IN MIND
Runway Speed-Grip height is determined by pole speed. This is the speed at which the pole moves from the takeoff angle to vertical. A greater runway speed will foster higher grips. Runway speed is often lost due to over striding in the final six steps to hit a takeoff mark, head wind, fatigue and injury .
Takeoff Technique-If the takeoff technique reflects an efficient transfer of energy, a longer and stiffer pole may be used. The common factors found in good technique (assuming a right-handed athlete) include a tall plant hit- ting its final position just prior to the final foot strike, a driving and blocking right knee, and a body posture allowing the long sweeping swing of the left leg.
"A driving and blocking right knee"
Pat Manson demonstrates
Angle of Takeoff-The angle of takeoff influences the initial loading or transfer of energy to the pole. Too low or too high a takeoff angle impairs this energy transfer. Vaulters have a takeoff angle slightly lower than long jumpers and slightly higher than triple jumpers. A commonly accepted angle is approximately 22 degrees.
Angular Velocity-The vaulter can influence angular velocity with an aggressive swinging of the free leg and by using his/her upper body to put pressure down through the pole. This technique, employed by advanced vaulters, allows pole speed to be increased significantly.
COMMON PENETRATION FAULTS PROBLEMS
using a pole which is too heavy for the
the soft side of the pole is positioned incorrectly
upper arm not fully extended up at takeoff
lack off runway speed
takeoff point too close/far from box
shoulders not square at takeoff
lack of knee drive at takeoff
left arm too passive at takeoff
hips too low at takeoff
failure to push up with lower hand at takeoff
insufficient left-leg swing
throwing the head back at takeoff
FROM: TRACK COACH SPRING 2000 #151
Brian Risk is the National Pole Vault Development Chair for Canada and author of the pole vault book, Heat It Up!
For more info http://www-chi.nearnorth.edu.on.ca/polevault/index.html