Pole vaulting IT’S like a rush.

Surfers get it when they’re deep inside a perfect barrel.

For pole vaulters, it’s called being in the pocket of the jump and last Saturday in Poland I experienced that for the first time in two years.

It’s what I’ve been searching for.

And it’s the reason you do hundreds of jumps in training, the reason we have never given up through all the down times this year and the reason I’m now again a contender in London.

That spilt-second sensation when you and the pole are as one. It feels like you’re just riding the perfect spot, everything you are doing is in perfect time with the pole and it just works.

While I’ve obviously jumped a lot higher than 5.72m over my career, what got me so excited and pleased about it was the feeling it evoked through my mind and body.
The timing and acceleration of the pole, that moment of hitting my shoulders into the pole and getting a lift skyward off the top of the pole. I haven’t experienced that for so long.

What was even more significant was it happened for the first time under my new set-up which is completely different to what I was doing to win in Beijing four years ago.

Now I’m using fibre glass poles, my run-up is different, all my cues for the jump are different so to get that feeling off a different base, a different technical model and on a different type of pole is massive.

Some people mightn’t believe me, but the thing was everything was coming together. I just needed an opportunity for it to come together.

Obviously the weather has been an issue in Europe but the great thing about Poland was that it was a particularly good competition with a lot of my rivals at the Games such as Steve Lewis, who jumped a personal best 5.82m to win, and American Brad Walker, who beat me on a countback.

Doing it against a really competitive field and not just somewhere where the conditions were nice and you’re jumping by yourself was also a major plus. I was able to keep my focus on my own process and what I was doing while the other guys were jumping well.

Over the past six months I’ve done everything that I could do. I’ve worked really hard, I’ve stayed in good physical shape, stayed healthy throughout the whole preparation, I’ve done a huge amount of jumps and I made the team early so all those little things I’ve ticked along the way.

The whole problem last year was my body didn’t allow me to jump enough in training which left me completely vulnerable in competition.

The jump numbers that I need off all of my approaches are now well up. I have done a big number of jumps off eight steps this year, a lot more than previous.

With that jump I’m now really doing great stuff technically almost every time and that’s why it’s starting to translate to the long approach.

When I had my confidence issues, I had no idea what to expect when I was standing at the end of the runway.

Now, I’m a lot more confident and just the way I’m covering ground now, the way I’m pushing down the runway feels really good.

Pole vaulting is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to work out what piece is missing, why it is missing and how do you replace it.

I will have three more vaulting sessions before the start of my competition in London and they will now just be short and sharp sessions focussing on quality because for the first time in a very long time the pieces to the puzzle seem to be in place.

from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/london-olympics/steve-hooker-pole-vaulting-like-a-jigsaw-puzzle/story-fn9dheyx-1226434957595

Steve Hooker
Steve Hooker

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