Numbers and Pole Vault

“Magic Numbers”

There are four “magic” numbers pole vault athletes need to know before they are ready for competition.

  1.  Where they start their approach run 
  2. Where they takeoff from 
  3. Where they usually set their standards
  4. Where they want to start the competition

For example, 

  • Alonzo, a 13’ sophomore boy                   Abigail, a 10’ sophomore girl
  •  – starts at 84’                                                – starts at 71’
  •  – takes off at 10’                                           – takes off at 8
  •  – normally sets his standards at 28”        – normally sets her standards at 25”
  •  – will enter the competition at 11-6          – will enter the competition at 8-0

Three points of geography the coach needs to know for each vault

  1. Where was the vaulter’s takeoff step
  2. Where in the pit did the vaulter land
  3. Did the vaulter hit the bar –  on the way up or down, or
  4. Did the vaulter “peak” before the bar, over the bar, or after the bar

   What the Coach can do with the answers to those questions:

  1. Is the most important – if step is off, that needs to be corrected!!! 
  2. Is a pole/safety issue.  Use the coaching box to determine whether the vault is safe, and if hand hold or pole needs to be adjusted.  Fix safety issues immediately, don’t “wait for one more vault”. 
  3. Is a pole/competitive issue.  Should the standards be adjusted, or should the vaulter be on a different pole, or is there a technical vault issue that needs to be fixed.
Best Competitive Vaults

One way to determine starting height is by analyzing vaults in competition. What are the vaulter’s “best” technical vaults in competition. Assume (for the purpose of this analysis) that the first couple of vaults in competition are “shaking the cobwebs off”. And assume that there is a point where fatigue causes the vaulter to “fade”. Where in the series are the “best” vaults – 3-4-5, 4-5-6, or 5-6-7. Most vaulters will fall in one of these patterns.

The goal would normally be to have the vaulter at “their best” at their personal best height. So if a vaulter falls in the “4-5-6” category, and has a personal best of 12-0, then as a coach I’d want vault numbers 4-5-6 at that height. That means the vaulter would “warmup” on vaults 1-2-3. If there is a six-inch progression, and giving one vault for a miss for whatever reason, then the vaulter should start at 11-0.

  • Vault 1 – Starting Height at 11-0 – clear
  • Vault 2 – Vault at 11-06, miss – need to adjust standards
  • Vault 3 – Vault at 11-06, second attempt – clear
  • Vault 4 – First vault at 12-0 PB, clear
  • Vault 5 – First vault at 12-6, miss
  • Vault 6 – Second Vault at 12-6 clear
  • Vault 7 – (yes – this is past the progression – but adrenalin will kick in) 13-0????

Vaulter is a 5-6-7 – start at 10-6

Vaulter is a 3-4-5 – start at 11-6

I once had a 2-3-4 vaulter. He started to “fall apart” on the fifth vault. There was little room for error – we had to start high, and get everything right. Nobody liked this, neither the vaulter, nor the coach. But we did manage to get to state, indoor and outdoor.

And to prove that every rule has an exception –

Katie Nageotte – 2020 (21) Olympic Games

Height (meters) attempts

4.50 XX0 4.70 XO 4.80 O 4.85 O 4.90 XO 5.01 X

Katie is the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist – she won by clearing 4.90. But I expect she didn’t think it would take nine vaults to do it. No wonder there wasn’t much left for an attempt at 5.01

Published by dahlman2017

Retired teacher and coach

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