Beginning Pole Vault Formulas
By: Jan Johnson,
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club
6505 Santa Cruz Atascadero,
1. Grass Vaulting the first step in the progression
Selecting the proper
starting grip is very important for learning the beginning drill
sequence. Selecting a grip that is too high will make it impossible
to learn the most efficient take off technique. Once the proper
starting grip has been establish, don't hesitate to progress quickly
to the optimum grip, by raising hands in 2" or 3" increments, until
he correct amount of pole speed is obtained. For the purposes of
learning the grass vaulting sequence outlined below, start by gripping
the pole only as high as you can grip with your top hand when the
pole plug is between your feet.
head carry tip taps. Walking and jogging carrying
pole over head tapping the pole plug on the ground with the contact
with each left foot contact. Tap the plug directly in of your take
of foot so that your arms are extended directly over head.
carry and planting mechanics featuring: high hands low
tip. Pushing pole slightly forward and then up so that hand are
under pole on penultimate step. Pushing pole straight up for arms
extended position prior to pole tip passing the front of the planting
3. Over head carry: jumping
over pole plug with top hand extended over head at take off, using
a three left run.
4. Jump Over's Gradually
raise your grip so that the pole plug barely brushes ground as pole
Emphasis on high hands at take-off, jumping up at take-off, and
staying right side up after take-off.
from 3 lefts on grass with standing grip.
1. Carrying pole
parallel to ground.
2. Shifting hands with the contact of the second left so
that arms are extended up over head prior to take-off.
3. Gradually raising grip so that pole tip barely brushes
ground as pole rows under.
4. Emphasis on jumping up, extended arms and staying right
5. Emphasis on not over driving the right knee, and at the
same time keeping the trail leg down and back.
***Best done in practice everyday as part of warm-up prior to vaulting.
2. Short Run Vaulting with no bend in the pole.
Start by vaulting from
a run of 3 lefts on to the pads using a grip of standing grip plus
two feet. Gradually raise grip so that optimum pole speed is achieved.
Learn the following drills and skills:
1. Stays Downs:
Staying right side up and landing in the center of the pads in swing
2. Swing to L: Keeping straight trail leg and not allowing
shoulders to roll back. Landing on the pads in seated L position.
3. Swing Ups: Taking off with high hands, swinging straight
trail leg up so that entire body is upside down position next to
hand grip on the pole.
4. Swing and shoot the turn: This is an entire short run
vault with no bend in the pole.
5. When technique is good from three lefts and the following
criteria have been met then move to a five left approach.
a. The vaulter with no bend in the pole can take off directly
below or slightly out side his or her top hand grip.
b. The vaulter is able to select a appropriate hand hold
which allows him or her to land safely in the center of the landing
pads with hips contacting the pads 3-6 feet directly behind the
back of the planting box. 9 out of 10 times.
c. The vaulter can complete a successful full vault with
no bend in the pole gripping the pole 3 feet above his/her standing
d. The vaulter can swing a straight trail leg into the shoot
e. The vaulter can turn over and finish 6 out of ten jumps
in the tummy to the bar position landing in the center of the landing
pad 3-6 feet behind the back of the box.
A Standard 3 lefts starting distances from back of box
footed start distance
foot start distance
assume vaulters of average athletic ability and aggressive starting
B Standard one left distance adjustments based upon body height
for vaulters of average abilities.
Use the above table to
add or subtract length to your vaulters approach, without having
to run steps back. Keep in mind that by adding approach distance
(lefts) you are increasing speed, by subtracting distance you are
decreasing speed. This concept becomes very useful when trying to
adjust approach lengths to pole sizes and grip heights.
Moving to longer runs,
stiffer poles, and higher grips, and increasing the top hand grip
to cross bar efficiency is what pole vaulting is all about. Adjusting
all these parameters is perhaps the truest application of coaching.
3. Selecting the correct beginning pole for bending.
(short run vaulting from 5 lefts)
It is my suggestion that
beginners in order to develop and perfect all the important mechanics
of: consistent approach run, jumping up onto the pole, swinging
and shooting the turn properly, should use approach runs of 5 lefts
with no bend in the pole for approximately 8 or 10 practices . These
vaulters are usually ready to bend the pole when they are capable
of vaulting consistently, and safely from 5 lefts with no bend in
the pole, using a grip approximately 3' above standing grip, swinging
a straight trail leg, turning over and landing safely in the front/center
of the landing pads approximately 5 to 10 feet behind the back of
the box. After several sessions where safe and successful jumping
is demonstrated, it is my suggestion; that they should begin the
process of bending the pole in the following manner: First, select
a pole that is approximately 2 feet longer than the athletes non
bending grip, and equal to, or slightly (5lbs) greater his or her
body weight. For example, if your athlete can grip the pole and
successfully vault from 5 lefts at 10'6" and he weights 130 pounds
then the proper starting pole would be a 12'6" 130 or 135, or perhaps
a 12' 135, or 140. Please note, that in the proceeding example I
have adjusted the weight of the pole up slightly for the shorter
pole. Since the relationship between pole length and pole and stiffness
are inter-related at the basic rate of 6" in pole length equals
approximately ten pounds in pole stiffness, both these suggested
poles would be acceptable . The suggested beginning pole will probably
not begin to bend immediately. However, after a few practices as
the athlete becomes more aggressive and more accomplished the pole
will gradually begin to bend, and in doing so will allow the athlete
to grip higher. Please note that part of the process of learning
to bend is a result of having the proper pole, and part of it is
the process of having the proper technique.
4. Increasing run-lengths and hand hold heights.
As the athlete raises
his grip the pole will begin to bend more, and the importance of
having a high and centered plant will become more and more important.
The importance of having a take-off step directly below the top
hand position at take-off will also become increasingly important.
During this phase of development it may become obvious that the
athlete can improve his potential by gripping the pole higher and
using a slightly longer run to generate more speed. This adjustment
is encouraged if the athlete is landing in a safe position on the
pads consistently, if the pole is not bending excessively. Under
these circumstances, I recommend that you use the "one left adjustments"
outlined in Chart B above. In general, the increased run length
may be accompanied by a 3-4" increase in grip.
In general as a rule
of thumb most HS beginners should vault from a run of no more that
six lefts. As they improve and become more proficient in their technique
they should gradually lengthen their approach runs to six, seven
and 8 lefts. However no matter how long their approach run gets
they should still spend approximately 50% of their practice time
vaulting from short runs of 4 to 6 lefts. As a rule of thumb the
pole size difference will be approximately 20 pounds, short run
to long run. The hand hold variation will be approximately 9". I
base this upon the fact that the resistance to pole bending will
be approximately the same on a 20 pound larger pole with a 1' higher
grip. However, the increased top hand radius may or may not be totally
off set by the speed gain of a longer approach run.