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The Pole Vault Take-Off

Mark Strawderman

by Mark Strawderman,

Former 3x All American in the Pole Vault;
Director of the Everything Track & Field Division of M-F Athletic

The most important pole vault phase is the take-off. If the pole vault pole strikes the back of the box before the vaulter leaves the ground, the pole cannot move to vertical so the vaulter's penetration suffers. If the pole vaulter is in the act of leaving the ground when the pole vault pole strikes the back of the box, the pole moves freely to the vertical to create a powerful swing and good penetration into the pit.


- Start with 3 take-off steps using a low grip.
- Concentrate on mastering the proper sequence of timing at take-off.
- As the vaulter improves, raise the grip a little at a time.
- Make sure the pole vault pole does not bend.
- Bending the vaulting pole hides technical flaws in the take-off.
- Raise the vaulter's grip until the pole vault pole barely reaches the vertical.
- Then move the vaulter back to 4 take-off steps and repeat the drill.
- When the vaulter is ready, move him/her back to 5 take-off steps and repeat the drill.
- This pole vault drill helps overcome fear at take-off plus it demands proper timing be used.
- It's great for beginning and experienced vaulters and must be done on a stiff vaulting pole, without bending the pole.