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Assisting with local track team pole vaulters – first practice

My dad and I are helping with the local track team pole vaulters.  Actually that is somewhat of a mis-statement because I was there on the first day they put the pit out (we live in cold, wet country, remember?) and then I had to go on a trip.  I’ll be resuming my time with the students in about a week and a half and am really looking forward to it.

We weren’t really sure how many students would turn out for pole vaulting.  We expected somewhere between one to three.  Here we were on the blustery, cold day and after carrying the pads out to the pit area and preparing the ground (used tires for the bottom layer — innovative) we began assigning poles to begin the very basics of training for the students — almost all rank beginners.  First came the drills of just holding the pole correctly.  I didn’t realize how many ways you can hold a pole incorrectly, but I have a better feel for it now.  After a while of working with the students on switching from the hip to the overhead position we moved to simple grass drills.  The students would hold a safe distance up the pole and practice running, planting the pole on the grass, and carrying through a small jump to a standing position.

One thing became very evident — it was cold and getting colder.  The wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour and the temperature was 41 degrees and they were in light sweat suits.  After a few minutes of practice, half the students were standing there turning blue.  I kept trying to remind them that if they would move they would get warmer.  I have a passion about pole vaulting, so even though it was cold, I was still motivated to stay out there and work with the students (that and my coat, hat, and longjohns!).

I hated to leave on a trip, because I worried about the staying power of the beginners with such a cold beginning and not yet progressing to vaulting in the pit.  I really enjoy Brad, the coach.  He seems to have a good feel for the sport and training techniques.  I’m looking forward to learning from him — one of my secret goals of the spring.

Some additional notes from the occasion:  We had two students who were of foreign background, so English was a bit of a barrier.  They didn’t know their weight in pounds so we had to do the kilograms to pounds conversion on the fly to get the proper weight poles for them.  I see potential in all of the students and I hope they have the staying power to stick it out until they gain some skills with the sport, but given the cold start several might drop out of the event.  Myself, I am just driven about the sport, but they haven’t yet developed the passion.  They have meets surprisingly quickly so I’m curious to see if they even have pole vaulting at the first couple of meets.  There are several students who appear to already have the basic skills to do well.  It will be fun to see all of them develop over the spring.

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