Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pole Vault Learning Plan

I'll break this discussion over a couple of parts; this one focused on my plan and rationale, and the next one more dealing with specific technical changes.  Every year I start over as if I know nothing and rebuild my vault.  Of course I do this from very short runs.  My intention is to base train/rehab until July 1, when I begin jumping from 4 total steps or 23' run. I use 4m/13' 1 1/2" poles for this and my PR is 12'. 

Because my plan calls for me to vault every other Thursday, I will have two sessions where I jump from four steps in July. The first one will be more getting comfortable with my technique, a large number of jumps, etc.; session two will push to the limit of what I can do for 4 steps.  I will wear spikes and hit the biggest pole I can move looking for a PR. 

This is the base of what everything else is built from.  If I can jump 12' from 4 steps then I can jump 12' 6" from 6 steps, 13' from 8 steps etc.  That would put me at 14' from 12 steps and I have the ability to run from 14 steps.  A little margin for error or to try higher.  I used to stay at these runs until I hit certain marks but found I got to the marks sooner if I set a deadline to move on.  So two sessions = one month = move on to the next run.  Leave nothing out there.  Biggest pole, highest grip, in spikes like a meet and see what I can do.  Very little room for error with runs this short and poles this stiff - CRITICAL for learning and fine tuning.  Or like my buddy Tim McMichael says, the fastest way to get on big poles is to take a small one and move in a stride or two."

Rationale -  At Reno in 1994, Vitaly Petrov, Sergey Bubka's coach was asked why they spent so much time on working from 2,4,6 and 8 steps.  His response was that all vaulters are strong and fast so "I must take that away from them and teach them that they must work with physics instead of against physics."  Fast forward to my time in Sydney, Australia in 2009 for the World Masters Games, where we were discussing Alex Parnov (Steve Hooker's coach).  One of my friends told me that when Parnov went on the road with Hooker he sent his teenage girls (14' 5 1/2"-4.40m and 14' 7 1/2"-4.45m) to a coach in Sydney and told her not to let them run past 8 steps for the next 2-3 months.  Not surprising, when the girls took these new found efficiencies and put them on longer runs and bigger poles, they both got PRs early and often.

I had an elite vaulter, Borya Celentano, who I got when he was a 13' vaulter and retired six years later with a PR of 18' 10 1/2: - 5.45m.  Borya would start in practice from a standing 35' (11.5m) and run from those six steps until he made 15' or 15' 6" (4.60m-4.75m).  He would take about four good jumps per run and then move back a stride, ending at 12 steps (6 strides) where he would be attempting 18' (5.49m) on a 15' (4.60m) pole,  Then he would go to meets, use big poles and run from 18 steps and all of those refinements were magnified into very big jumps. The year he did this he had 11 meets over 18' and had an auto qualifier for the Olympic Trials in 2000.

So for me, I'm at 4 steps for July, 6 for August, 8 for September, 10 for October, and 12 for November. After that I will start at either 8 steps and work my way back after four jumps to 12 steps and see how many jumps I can get from there.  Very excited to get started but the reality is that I will have 8 weeks of tough training and pole drills under my belt before I try my first bar.  And because I'm jumping twice a month so I am always fresh, I will also continue to drive my physical level up as I go.

So that's this part of the plan.  Exactly what I will work on will come in the next edition.  Thanks for being here with me!  Bubba

Beasite Boys - "Sabatoge" in honor of the newly elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trio, and their member, Adam/MCA, who just passed away from cancer on Friday -

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