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Use Adrenaline at the right time

Bill Falk, HOF Pole Vault Coach and founder of M-F Athletic

We'll assume the pole vaulter executes the Pole Vault Approach Run properly - maintaining erect posture as each stride bites into the runway underneath the knee. Our discussion begins at the next-to-last take-off step, where the Plant begins.

Instead of maintaining erect posture as they begin the Plant, many vaulters let their adrenaline take over. They pull the trigger too soon by driving forward prematurely across their take-off foot. Some athletes bend at the waist and lean forward while others drive straight ahead as hard as possible. Adrenaline, used too soon, destroys good mechanics and makes it difficult to plant the pole vault pole properly and to drive upward. The result is the pole bends low; the top of the pole stops moving; the hips continue driving forward and the chest stops moving. This forces the pole vaulter onto his or her back too soon. The Drive-Swing phase is eliminated, because the vaulter cannot remain upright long enough to swing. With no Drive-Swing, the "Continuous Chain" is broken. The pole bends, then unbends too soon, and the athlete is forced to do the work instead of utilizing the power of the unbending pole.

Top pole vaulters use adrenaline to great advantage. They maintain good posture while lifting the top of the pole vault pole upward as they begin the Plant. Their shoulders and hips are held back. A straight line can be drawn from the vaulter's head down to the take-off foot. That position is held as the last right step (penultimate) hits the runway.

The advanced vaulter continues to hold an erect position, with shoulders and hips back, without shifting weight forward until the last take-off step contacts the runway. That's the time to pull the trigger and use your adrenaline. Drive the entire body upward on top of the take-off foot as you complete the Plant. The top of the pole will continue to move upward creating a high bend. The chest is able to follow the inward bending pole while the hips remain underneath the chest. This erect position in the air creates a great Drive-Swing and enables the pole to position itself to bend and unbend properly.

Teach your vaulters to have patience. They should not shift their weight forward onto the take-off foot too early. By doing so, they can only drive across the foot. If they stay erect and wait to shift their weight until their last take-off step, they will be able to drive on top of the take-off foot and a powerful vault will be created

Bill Falk, who founded M-F Athletic in 1960, coached Olympic and All-American pole vaulters and had set the trend for new pole vault techniques in the U.S.A. He was the author of five pole vault books and had produced a number of track and field videos.