Beginning Pole Vaulting Progressions and formulas

Jan Johnson

Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club

6505 Santa Cruz

Atascadero, Ca 93422

Part 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.

1. Over 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.

2. Proper 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 box.

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 rows through.

Emphasis on high hands at take-off, jumping up at take-off, and staying right side up after take-off.

Planting 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 side up.

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.

Part 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 position (sitting).

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 grip.

d. The vaulter can swing a straight trail leg into the shoot and turn.

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.

Chart A     Standard 3 lefts starting distances from back of box

Vaulters height

5’

5’6

6’

6’3

Right footed start distance

30’

33’

35’

37’

Left foot start distance

25’

28’

30’

32’

 

Note: distances assume vaulters of average athletic ability and aggressive starting running posture.

 

 

Chart B      Standard one left distance adjustments based upon body height for vaulters of average abilities.

Vaulters height

5’

5’6

6’0`

6’3”

1 left

10’

11’

12’

12’6”

2 lefts

20’

22’

24

25’

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.

Part 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.

Part 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.

Pole progression chart

relative 

















stiffness

















line

















1
10' 60


This chart assumes
  that for every six inch length 







2
10' 65


increase in pole length
  the vaulters maximum 








3
10' 70
10'6 60

allowable boby
  weight is reduced by ten pounds. 







4
10' 75
10'6 65

This system helps reduce over-bending and thus
  pole breakage






5
10' 80
10'6 70















6
10' 85
10'6 75















7
10' 90 
10'6 80
11' 70
Vaulters
  who are incapable of vaulting on a pole equal to or greater than 





8
10' 95
10'6 85
11' 75
there body weights
  should move to a shorter pole. 







9
10' 100
10'6 90
11' 80














10
10' 105
10'6 95
11' 85

Vaulters
  should not advance to the next pole until they can vault on a pole 



11
10' 110
10'6 100
11' 90
11'6 80
ten pounds greater than
  their body weight. 







12
10' 115
10'6 105
11' 95
11'6 85













13
10' 120
10'6 110
11' 100
11'6 90
12' 80
Good pole vaulting programs offer progressions





14
10' 125
10'6 115
11' 105
11'6 95
12' 85
of poles, so that as
  vaulters improve they can 






15
10' 130
10'6 120
11' 110
11'6 100
12' 90
efficently move to longer of stiffer poles.







16
10' 135
10'6 125
11' 115
11'6 105
12' 95












17
10' 140
10'6 130
11' 120
11'6 110
12' 100
12'6 90











18
10' 145
10'6 135
11' 125
11'6 115
12' 105
12'6 95











19
10' 150
10'6 140
11' 130
11'6 120
12' 110
12'6 100











20

10'6 145
11' 135
11'6 125
12' 115
12' 6 105











21

10'6 150
11' 140
11'6 130
12' 120
12'6 110
13' 100










22


11' 145
11'6 135
12' 125
12'6 115
13' 105










23


11' 150
11'6 140
12' 130
12'6 120
13' 110
13'6 100









24


11' 155
11'6 145
12' 135
12'6 125
13' 115
13'6 105









25


11' 160
11'6 150
12' 140
12'6 130
13' 120
13'6 110









26



11'6 155
12' 145
12'6 135
13' 125
13'6 115









27



11'6 160
12' 150
12'6 140
13' 130
13'6 120
14' 110








28



11'6 165
12' 155
12'6 145
13' 135
13'6 125
14' 115








29



11'6 170
12' 160
12'6 150
13' 140
13'6 130
14' 120








30
The highlighted poles on
12' 165
12'6 155
13' 145
13'6 135
14' 125
14'6 115







31
this
  chart are what I call the 
12' 170
12'6 160
13' 150
13'6 140
14' 130
14'6 120







32
"key poles"


12' 175
12'6 165
13' 155
13'6 145
14' 135
14'6 125







33
I have arranged them in 10 lb
12' 180
12'6 170 
13' 160
13'6 150
14' 140
14'6 130
15' 120






34
increments



12'6 175
13' 165
13'6 155
14' 145
14'6 135
15' 125






35
These
  "key poles will accomidate 
12'6 180
13' 170
13'6 160
14' 150
14'6 140
15' 130






36
approximately 90% of HS vaulters

13' 175
13'6 165
14' 155
14'6 145
15' 135






37






13' 180
13'6 170
14' 160
14'6 150
15' 140
15'6 130





38






13' 185
13'6 175
14' 165
14'6 155
15' 145
15'6 135





39






13' 190
13'6 180
14' 170
14'6 160
15' 150
15'6 140





40







13'6 185
14' 175
14'6 165
15' 155
15'6 145





41
Each line on this
  chart represents a set of poles 

13'6 190
14' 180
14'6 170
15' 160
15'6 150
16' 140




42
5 pounds stiffer
  than the line which preceeds it. 

13'6 195
14' 185
14'6 175
15' 165
15'6 155
16' 145




43
All poles on an individual line offer
  approximatly

13'6 200
14' 190
14'6 180
15' 170
15'6 160
16' 150




44
the same resistance to penetration.



14' 195
14'6 185
15' 175
15'6 165
16' 155




45








14' 200
14'6 190
15' 180
15'6 170
16' 160
16'6 150



46









14'6 195
15' 185
15'6 175
16' 165
16'6 155



47









14'6 200
15' 190
15'6 180
16' 170
16'6 160



48









14'6 205
15' 195
15'6 185
16' 175
16'6 165



49










15' 200
15'6 190
16' 180
16'6 170
17' 160


50










15' 205
15'6 195
16' 185
16'6 175
17' 165


51










15' 210
15'6 200
16' 190
16'6 180
17' 170


52











15'6 205
16' 195
16'6 185
17' 175


53











15'6 210
16' 200
16'6 190
17' 180
17'6 170

54











15'6 215
16' 205
16'6 195
17' 185
17'6 175

55
To
  build a better progression of poles in your program. First circle all the 


16' 210
16'6 200
17' 190
17'6 180

56
sizes
  you currently have at your disposal. Then fill in the key pole sizes. 



16' 215
16'6 205
17' 195
17'6 185

57












16' 220
16'6 210
17' 200
17'6 190

58













16'6 215
17' 205
17'6 195

59













16'6 220
17' 210
17'6 200

60













16'6 225
17' 215
17'6 205

61














17' 220
17'6 210

62














17' 225
17'6 215

63














17' 230
17'6 220

64















17'6 225

65















17'6 230



















Metric Conversions

Standard Metric Crossbar Crossbar Crossbar Crossbar
Placement Equivalent Height Height Height Metric Height Height Height metric
Inches Centimeters Feet Inches English Equivalent Feet Inches English Equivalent
12 30 10 120 10' 3.05 16.25 195 16'3 4.95
13 33 10.25 123 10'3 3.13 16.5 198 16'6 5.03
14 36 10.5 126 10'6 3.20 16.75 201 16'9 5.11
15 38 10.75 129 10'9 3.28 17 204 17' 5.18
16 41 11 132 11' 3.35 17.25 207 17'3 5.26
17 43 11.25 135 11'3 3.43 17.5 210 17'6 5.34
18 46 11.5 138 11'6 3.51 17.75 213 17'9 5.41
19 48 11.75 141 11'9 3.58 18 216 18' 5.49
20 51 12 144 12' 3.66 18.25 219 18'3 5.56
21 53 12.25 147 12'3 3.73 18.5 222 18'6 5.64
22 56 12.5 150 12'6 3.81 18.75 225 18'9 5.72
23 58 12.75 153 12'9 3.89 19 228 19' 5.79
24 61 13 156 13' 3.96 19.25 231 19'3 5.87
25 64 13.25 159 13'3 4.04 19.5 234 19'6 5.95
26 66 13.5 162 13'6 4.12 19.75 237 19'9 6.02
27 69 13.75 165 13'9 4.19 20 240 20' 6.10
28 71 14 168 14' 4.27 20.25 243 20'3 6.17
29 74 14.25 171 14'3 4.34 20.5 246 20'6 6.25
30 76 14.5 174 14'6 4.42 20.75 249 20'9 6.33
31 79 14.75 177 14'9 4.50 21 252 21' 6.40
32 81 15 180 15' 4.57
33 84 15.25 183 15'3 4.65
34 86 15.5 186 15'6 4.73
35 89 15.75 189 15'9 4.80
36 91 16 192 16' 4.88

Shayla Balentine progression

SJVSC Central Coastal
www.skyjumpers.com

Shayla Balentine's rise to the National HS record....a coaches perspective.

By Jan Johnson

 

Shayla Balentine began pole vaulting last March. In the past 14 months she has gone from beginner to the Nationa HS record holder at 13'8". Here is a short history of her amazing progression. She is approximately 5'7", 130 pounds. The Morro Bay HS coach, Greg Wilson tried to get her to try vaulting for over a year before she actually did. She played rec league soccer , and did a little bit of gymnastics as a kid. She also played HS softball, until she went out for track as a sophmore. She has run the 100 meters in 12.2, and long jumped approximately 18'. However, I really don't think either of those marks indicate her true explosiveness, and ability to learn technique.

She jumped 10' in her first month or so. During this time frame we simply learned how to vault with no bend in the pole from 5 lefts. Most of our emphasis was on high hands at take-off, jumping up on to the pole, and sweeping the legs from behind the hips to the top of the pole. Early in the summer she jumped 10'8 at the Beach Vault in Santa Barbara from 5 or 6 lefts (slightly bending a 13' 140). At this point in her development she was having trouble with her turn, and kind of sitting over the bar. So we worked on swing up drills trying to tuck the bottom hand elbow inside the pole and trying to avoid spinning. By the end of summer she had cleared 11'8 from a 7 left run on a 13' 150.

During the summer we rope vaulted everyday. At first she was kind of scared of rope vaulting, but soon she became very proficient. I am certain that this portion of her training was very important in developing her ability to swing quickly and efficiently, and helped her un-canny ability to go "up the pole". During the months of September and October we did no pole vaulting at all. We began fall training in early November doing lots of running, hurdling, and weight lifting. Also, during this phase we would set aside 10 or 15 minuets each session to do some vaulting drills. Mainly we would slide box, and swing ups from 3 lefts.Occasionally, we would do some short runs from 5 lefts, in flats over low heights .

For recruiting purposes, we decided to try and get an early mark at the Summit, so we began vaulting seriously in late November. Most of this jumping was done from a short run of 5 lefts. During this phase she was clearing 11' and 11'6 on a regular basis. Around the middle of December we switched to 7 lefts and started moving up poles. However, during this transition she started shifting her hands up one step too early on her plant. My preception was she was moving so fast down the runway, she felt she needed more time to raise her hands. So we began doing lots of pole runs and slide box from long runs (7L) to correct the problem.

During this same time frame (Dec-Jan) she cleared 12'6 and 13' bungee a few times (gripping 12'8 on 13'6 145&150) from her seven. However, she was very erratic, often times landing near the edges of the pads, or coming up short. Most of her problems seemed more related to inconsistent steps, and tucking right off the ground, than early planting. These types of jumps almost always would produce too much bend and not enough pole speed. So we spent time on jump-off drills learning how to "stay down" better. In addition, we lowered her grip, and went to smaller bending type jumps. Using this method we went to the Reno Summit and vaulted 12'4 easily and nearly made 12'10, gripping a 13'160 at 12'3 from a seven left approach. We continued with this method of jumping until late April. During this time frame she made 12'6, 12'7, 12'8, 12'9, 12'10, and 13' in meets. Most of these marks came gripping approximately 12'4-12'6. It was also during this same time frame, that she corrected her early hand shift problems.

By the first of May she really seemed to be in a very good technical groove, so we decide to make an effort to raise her grip. During the next 4 weeks at every safe opportunity, we did so. As we raised the grip we also went to stiffer poles. This helped us avoid the pit falls and dangers of over-bending type jumps. At this point in the season we also moved her short run back one left to a 6, and her long run back one left, to an 8. During this phase, her long and short runs seemed to become mirror images of one another. As a result, she cleared 13' approximately 30-40 times in meets or practices from both her short and long runs.By the end of May she was gripping 12'9 on a 13'165 from her 6, and 13'3 on a 13'6 160 from her 8.

The last two weeks before the record were simply incredible: In one practice she made 12'6, 13', 13'3, 13'6, and 13'9 never taking more than two jumps to clear a height. Then the last practice prior to the record: she took a couple of short run jumps, then went to the 8 and smoked 13' and 13'6 on her first attempts.We then moved up a pole and had two real good tries at 14'.

At the California state meet the conditions were perfect. It was warm and a light tail wind. In warm-ups I became very concerned when she was running so fast she blew through every pole in her bag, except for a 13'6 160 Carbon 18.3 that Jill Starkey loaned us. I was worried we were under-poled under such good conditions, and we had never been up on the 160. She cleared 11'8 and 12'2 by wide margins on blow-through type jumps. At 12'9 she missed badly on her 13'6 155 18.8 so we went to the 18.3 for her second attempt. She took-off and got huge height but just missed the pocket. On her third attempt our entire group of some 30 parents and vaulters sitting together in the stands, held our collective breath as she roared down the runway and smoked 12'9 by 18". Then she easily cleared 13'1, and 13' 51/2" on first attempts. At 13'8 she was getting tired, but still had enough left for a third attempt clearance. The crowd was chanting 14! 14! 14!. So I think she felt obligated to try it. But she told me she was tired, so we elected to drop back down a pole, and just give it a couple decent shots.

Our plan now is to rest for a couple of weeks, then resume training later in June. We have worked 4-6 days per week for a year straight, and simply need some down time. Then later in the summer we will try to chase a higher mark.

~jan johnson~
national director
www.skyjumpers.com

Women Vaulting

Jan Johnson
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club
6505 Santa Cruz
Atascadero, Ca 93422
1(800)652-5201

 

To whom it may concern,

RE: Women's Pole Vaulting During the past several years I have been very impressed with the development of women's pole vaulting. Since its first beginnings in the early 90's women have demonstrated a unique ability to participate in this highly rewarding and challenging sport. It has been wonderful to see so many women take up this sport for which they are genuinely suited. The addition of women into the sport has made the over-all sport of pole vaulting better for a number of very important reasons. First and foremost, it gives opportunity for women to participate in a fun and highly rewarding sport. Secondly, it makes the sport of pole vaulting safer (since women are far less likely to have vaulting accidents and their male counter parts). Third, it more fully utilizes facilities and equipment. forth, it will ultimately double the number of potential vaulting coaches nationwide. In my mind, women's pole vaulting is perhaps the most important thing to come along since the fiberglass pole and the foam rubber landing pit.

Sincerely,

Jan Johnson
National Safety Chairman Director
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club