Friday, January 29, 2016

Taking the Jump

     Pole vault holds to be a unique, complicated, technique specific sport. Although lots show sheer terror when asked to pole vault, the sport in it and of itself is a very interesting combination of body control, speed, and strength. Unlike any other track event where the participant is slowly worn into practicing and competing by either gaining distance, speed, and or stamina, pole vault has a very steep, rigid learning curve.
    The first time I vaulted, I started on the ground. Holding just higher on the pole than I could possibly reach over my head, I would barely leave the ground. Not vaulting into the pit is how everyone starts. A very simple 3 step drill helps the vaulter learn the proper footwork while staying safe and close to the ground.
    Once warmed up and comfortable with the footwork and handling of the pole, I was eager to finally make my first actual vault into the pit. I remember asking my coach where to start my three initial steps from. Lining my left foot up with 33' mark on the runway, holding tightly onto the pole, I dashed towards the pit, barely clearing my feet above the mat in front of me. As you can imagine, my first vault did not look anything like actual pole vault. As a matter of fact, no one's first vault ever looks anything more than jumping onto the pit while holding a pole that does nothing but takes up space. Mastering the three step run up is the first major step in any vaulters carrier. Once its time to move onto actually clearing a crossbar, the whole game changes. Different techniques and forms present themselves creating infinite bad habit technique corridors to walk down.
The only way to work your way from a three step vault to a bar clearing five step vault is to "Just do it!" as my coach told me. Grasping higher on the pole and moving back to the your personal five step distance, you just have to go for it. Charge down the run as fast as you possibly can and let the pole take you is the best advice for any new vaulter. In order to become a sufficient fearless vaulter, you just have to take that initial jump, and go for it.

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