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Verticality

I’ve been looking over some of my old pole vault videos and comparing them to recent vaulting and I’m not too happy with what I see. I appear to have lost some strength in my arms to propel me up and off the pole. Also, my legs are bending rather than collapsing in a straight fashion. Third, what I think is vertical appears to be not vertical – my seat is still low and thus I turn and push off flat and proceed to collapse downward. Consequently, I’m clearing about my lower hand, when I used to clear about half way between my lower hand and upper hand. I have noticed my left bicep has been getting a workout lately and I have to be careful with not vaulting too much. That could mean that I’m starting to get more vertical and that I’m starting to push off with my left hand. I’m not sure I’m pulling up with my right arm, but I get the feeling from the videos that I’m pulling too soon with it. I’m hoping the simple solution is to not assume I’m vertical until I really am. I’ve been looking at the cross bar instead of looking up. I’m going to start working on really going vertical.
So, here’s all the things I’m working on right now: drills on high bar to help takeoff, hang longer on a deep bend rather than thinking I’m overbending the pole; keep left arm straight at initial takeoff, learn to row (I’m not sure how to train for that), practice pushing farther into vertical, make sure I’m really vertical before pulling up, including having a straight body in the vertical position. Whew! I am holding at the 12’3″ mark on a 12’6″ pole and should be able to go over my top hand, which would translate to an 11’7″ height. If I cleared my bottom hand I should be able to clear 9’9″, and if I were half way between, then I should be able to clear 10’7″, which is what I cleared at Senior Nationals. Right now I’m on a 140lb pole, and having a little trouble getting onto the 150lb pole due to speed and takeoff. One of the question areas I have is the proper angle at takeoff — equal pressure on upper and lower hands or more on the upper hand?
I really believe I’m starting to get more vertical and better use of the bend, but it is not translating into ability to vault well in competition yet. I have the Alki Beach vault on Saturday in Seattle and will find out if I’m having a pipe dream.
My take from all this is that I know I’m feeling better with the bend and my takeoff. I’m going to have to condition my mind to attempt to be even more vertical than I thought. Also, the last all comers meet I no-heighted because I switched poles after one vault and then couldn’t get on the 150. I’ve got to practice with a cross bar so I will know how deep to put it, I need to find a stable height on the pole, I need to not switch poles at the same height, and I should work to be stronger vertical. I believe I’m on the edge of dramatic improvement, but have nothing to show for it right now — somewhat distressing.
Saturday will be the test.

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