Guidelines for the Pole Vault

Increase Safety, Reduce Cost & Improve Performance

by Jan Johnson

Teaching Beginners Each season, start all beginners as well as more advanced vaulters with the following beginning drill sequence. Encourage your vaulters to use this set of drills each day as part of their regular routine prior to actual vaulting. Each drill should be done 5-10 times per session emphasizing perfect technique. Your vaulters are ready to begin vaulting for height when they have mastered the beginner's drill sequence. They should first find a pole they can bend and vault on safely from 4 or 5 lefts. This is commonly known as short run vaulting and is an effective approach to learning good technique. As they improve, athletes should gradually raise their grip one or two inches at a time until the pole is too soft. At this point, they should take the same handhold on a slightly stiffer pole from the same run. If the new pole is too big from their present approach, have the vaulter increase the length of his or her approach by one left (two strides). If the pole is still too big, he or she may need to move back one more left. This system is called "making the run fit the pole." It will save your program broken poles, give your kids great technique and improve the safety of your vaulters. Once the fundamentals of technique have been learned, the progression is really just a series of higher grips, stiffer poles and longer runs. During this entire sequence, it's very important to keep your vaulters focused on the basic elements of perfect technique listed at the right.Basic Technique Concepts for Success n n Use a measured check mark system for all approaches.n n Take off directly under top hand. n n Both arms pressed all the way up prior to pole hitting the box at take-off

"Standing Reach Grip" or "Bottom Hand-Top Hand Starter's Grip" is the perfect beginner's starting grip. With the tip of the pole between feet, reach as high as you can with your bottom hand. Then hold 12" higher with your top hand.

  • Jump up at the take-off like a long jump.
  • Stay right side up for the first instant off the ground.
  • Bring (swing) a straight trail leg forward and then up to keep pole moving to vertical and get body upside down.
  • Row hands forward during swing and use top hand as a guide to vertical.
  • Get feet past top hand, pull body (upside down) and stay close to pole.
  • Learn to vault with standards a minimum of 18 inches back.
  • Master all parts of the beginning drill sequence prior to progressing to advanced drills, long run vaulting and higher hand holds.

Common Technique Mistakes

  • Invalid step systems or no step system.
  • Running off the ground instead of jumping up at take-off like a long jumper.
  • Slowing down to plant the pole.
  • Starting pole plant later than the next-to- last left.
  • Hands not all the way up prior to the pole hitting the box.
  • Hands, shoulders, and hips not square at take-off
  • Take off inside of top hand.
  • Jumping around the pole instead of at it.
  • Pulling with arms instead of hanging during swing phase.
  • Tucking trail leg off the ground instead of staying long.
  • Throwing head back instead of swinging to get inverted.
  • Stiff arming the pole and thus blocking the swing.
  • Getting "jerked" (allowing hips and feet to get pulled in front of shoulders right after take off).
  • Holding hands wider than shoulder width.
  • Carrying pole across body so that it creates a roundhouse plant.
  • Holding too high on too small a pole for current technique and ability.
  • Failure to learn proper technique prior to raising grip.