Pole Vaulting Techniques

Pole vault, in practice, is a series of body movements (muscle movement), which, step by step, takes you to a crescendo, culminating in your clearing the bar high above and landing safely on to the mattress. It is not an isolated motor skill but a whole motor skill encompassing every muscle movement right from starting run to the fall. The gradual building of thrust and the final explosion of energy that propels you up above have to be done with surgical precision and any lack of it at any building up stage will surely result in unsuccessful vaulting!

There are eight basic techniques which a beginner has to master in order to compete in major competitions. The eight rudimentary techniques are:

  1. The Grip
  2. The Carry
  3. The Run
  4. The Plant
  5. The Takeoff
  6. The Pull, Turn and Push
  7. The Clearance
  8. The Landing

The Grip

A beginner should try a light pole having a length of about 3.5 meters. The grip is the most important criterion for a pole-vaulter since, only it can determine the height the pole-vaulter can clear with ease! If your grip is high, you have the potential to vault high! A right handed competitor should have his right hand as the top hand while the left hand should hold the pole about 1.5 to 2 feet from the top right hand hold. However, the size of the pole and the grip i.e., the holding position of hands should have to be arrived at by the individual through trial and error method. After a few false starts one is bound to achieve the right combination of pole size and hands grip that may turn out to be a winning combination!

The Carry

The action of progressing towards the pit is known as the carry. In a majority of cases the pole is carried towards the right side.

Pole Position - Hold the pole steady without rocking it back and forth. Approximately 45 to 55 feet from the pole plant, you should start lowering the pole gradually. The position of elbows is important. Normally an elbow bent approximately 70 to 90 degrees is recommended for the pole carry.

The Run

When you got the pole firmly gripped and with it in position, start your strides, increasing the speed as you progress towards the pole plant; this process is known as the run. From the uprights and the plant you can take any number of steps for your run. There is no restriction. The distance to run before the leap is to be decided by the athlete on the basis of his training and experience. He can have as many check marks as he likes, but it is customary to have two check marks, the first at the starting point and the second at about 30 feet from the planting box. It is always better to have a stride check mark to monitor your strides. Developing a rhythmic stride with a gradual increase of momentum culminating in the final thrust that ensures a smooth and effortless takeoff like an airplane is necessary to be successful. Practice!

The Plant

When you are at the top of your speed with the poles front end progressively lowered towards the planting box and finally firmly planting it in the box is known as the plant.

It is always better to hold the pole as close to the middle of your body as is feasible. Your hips and shoulder should be square to the plant box. When you are lowering the front end of the pole during the time of the plant, the top hand, so far guiding the pole, now starts gripping it as the rear end is moved up and forward.

The Takeoff

It is a most fascinating action sequence in pole vault. You should takeoff from directly underneath the top grip of the hand bouncing from your takeoff foot. Immediately after the takeoff you should ride with the pole hanging behind it. The takeoff efficacy is the sum of the speed, the thrust, the plant accuracy, the bounce generated by you immediately after the pole is firmly planted and the angle of slope that is achieved while climbing.

More the slope, more the chances of your being catapulted higher, a reinforced fiberglass pole is ideal.

The Pull, Turn and Push

The following diagram shows:

The Clearance

Please refer the diagram:

The Landing

It hinges primarily upon the kind of pit made available for the event. In general terms, you should rotate the body naturally so as to effect a well-balanced landing on legs, which should be followed by a rollover.

Learn more advanced pole vault techniques and get better pole vault training by watching our pole vaulting videos. You might also want to purchase some pole vaulting books or pole vaulting DVDs.