Monday, May 7, 2012

Technical Refinements

I hate getting into technical discussions on the vault because I really don't like to defend my findings.  I have been extensively around the top vaulters and coaches in the world and everyone has their own opinions and that's fine.  More often than not I find that we are saying the same things but just a little bit differently.  So I will summarize quickly what I work on to anchor my vault.  I'm in a very weird minority in that I can not jump at all for three months yet go to a meet with no practice and have my technique somewhat on.  I am a technical detail person so this is just a thumbnail sketch of what I really study but you will get the picture.  I'm not a believer that if you run and plant right the rest takes care of itself.   I use a simple checklist of priorities, in the order of the vault and that gives me a consistent jump, even if I haven't jumped in awhile. I call it a "Technical Checklist" and I make one before every meet and practice.  I would LOVE to jump a lot but I find it's more important that my body feels good.  So here's the deal.
  • At the top of your jump to reach a high object, like a basketball goal (yeah right), your body will automatically go stiff.  THAT is when you hit the pole, so JUMP UP at the take off for a consistent transfer of body mass to the pole.
  • If you put a large bag of poles in the box and I asked you to raise that bag to vertical, you would push it at a 90 degree angle - that is physics.  It doesn't matter if it weighs 2,000 lbs. or 2 lbs., the physics are it's easier at 90 degrees.  If you hit the take off by jumping forward and up with a stiff body at a 90 degree angle, the initial impact of the box will only knock your body to vertical.  If you are less than a 90 degree angle it will knock you backward.
  • With all of your effort, try and stop the pole with your right hand in front of your head?  Why?  Stand with the pole in the box and glue your bicep to your temple and you can support your entire body weight on that lean because it also engages the full torso.  Now let it slip back to behind your head and you will find a weakness so great that you will fall into the box.  Besides, if your hand comes behind your head you just lost your upward moving angle.  If you can jump up and stop your top hand, then the pole picks you straight up.  It's the only reason at 58 that I can jump of a 14'7"/178 without being knocked to my back.  The pole picks me up and therefore I can roll a higher sailpiece.
  • I try to punch the bottom hand up HARD just before the pole hits the back of the box.  Immediately after I squeeze the pole hard with my left hand to keep myself engaged with the tension on the bend.  If you don't do this the pole collapses on your body and now you have to punch it away while you're falling backward.
  • Don't break at the hips but rather try to lever your stiff long body in such a way with your arms that your hips rise to your hands.  To bring your hips up with your body long, your hands MUST move forward and if they move forward then you are that much further into the pit.  The second the hips break the hands can't move forward anymore and the pole swings to the side and all lift is gone.  Ever fell like you're about to boom a bar and then it goes away?  This may be why.
  • Extend your trail leg up the pole.  The pole is vertical so if your trail leg is extending up the pole then you are perfectly vertical.  If you are not you are flagging out.
  • Have a purpose for each jump and grade ONLY that effort.  Vaulters are aways told what they did wrong on the last jump.  On the next jump, that part was forgotten and the next thing wrong is pointed out.  Pick one thing and do it right twice before moving on.  This is planned success rather than random chaos.
The interesting thing I have found about vaulting is that something may work on one day but may not work again the next time.  Every single thing on this list works every single time, so take the time to master them and you will find more consistency.  Above all, have fun!  Thanks for being here.  Bubba

Going WAY old school on you here with The Gap Band - "You Dropped the Bomb on Me" -

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