Many coaches feel pole vaulting consists of two seesaw actions. The first occurs when you push the top of the pole vault pole upward and forward with both hands during the Plant. This supplies momentum to create a powerful Swing so you can penetrate safely into the pole vault pit.
The second seesaw action begins as soon as you leave the runway. Your hips and legs start to rise as your head and shoulders begin to drop. By the end of the Swing phase, the seesaw action is finished. You are completely inverted with your head the lowest point and your feet the highest. This is a 100% reversal of your upright posture on the runway. Done correctly this inversion puts you into great position to be thrown up and over the pole vault crossbar by the unbending pole.
Here’s where the mind game comes in. You must believe the bent pole vaulting pole will throw you upward and safely into the pit as it unbends. Unless you have confidence in the pole doing its job, your mind will not allow you to complete the inversion. Instead, you will stop short of complete inversion so you can get off the pole by turning your upper body and arms prematurely. That causes the pole to unbend too soon, takes away the power of the unbending pole and stops your hips from rising over your head.
When you completely invert, the vaulting pole propels your hips well up and over your handgrip. But if you stop inverting before you are completely upside down, you will be thrown towards the bar, not over it. Visualize an American flag with your body being the flag extending out horizontally from the pole towards the crossbar. Your hips will only rise up to the grip height of your top hand, so a really good pole vault is impossible. Instead, you will be fortunate to clear a height equal to your top hand.
I find people who like to take over situations themselves are apt to stop the inverting process too soon, because they don’t trust the pole to do its work. They want to control the situation themselves, so they turn their arms and upper body too soon causing their legs and hips to squeeze outward towards the crossbar. No human can produce power anywhere near the power generated by an unbending fiberglass pole – when the pole is used correctly.
Great pole vaults occur when people place their faith in the power of the pole vault pole to throw them up and over the bar into the pit. You must get yourself in position to take advantage of this wonderful power. It becomes a mind game! Completely invert and let the pole do its work. Then you will fly off the top of the pole. It’s the way to be great.
by: Bill Falk