From the National Pole Vault Summit — Daily Blog Installment 2

by Debra Chappell


3 days to go before start of Summit:

Rock back  — swing — stiff pole — soft pole – run — yanked off the ground — grip tape — firm grip — pole wrap —  flex — flexing pole in the box – you’re under – you’re out —  pole drop — early plant — late plant – rhythm – position – timing — and after the penultimate…man she smoked it!

UnknownNo, this isn’t the opening paragraph or inventory list to Fifty Shades of Grey.  Still your beating heart, breathe in, take a sip of water and Welcome to Pole Vault Vocabulary Part II. 

I’m going out on a limb here and will divide these terms into two groups, one is what I regard as the List of “Essential” PV Terms. The other is just a lot of bluster that, in my humble opinion, has little to do with a really good, technical vaulting and just confuses the issue.  It is this first group we will concern ourselves with here.

Though it all might look complicated from start to finish, it’s really quite straight forward if you follow a few simple steps…namely the 16 or so between the beginning of the run and take-off.

imagesI know, I know… it’s the stuff after takeoff that brings the hush to the crowd, the cheers, the groans, the thrill of celebration or agony of…well, you get the idea. But really, take it from me…those 16 steps and the plant at the end of them is entirely where all the really important action takes place and will determine everything EVERYTHING that comes after.

So without further adieu…here’s my List of Essential PV Terms:

Stiff pole vs soft pole:  One if you’re feeling good, and one for when you’re feeling lousy. Pretty simple.  Forget about size and flex numbers for now, if you need to go to a bigger pole, you’ll know it when you feel it…and if you have to search the stands to ask your coach/friend/partner/wife/boyfriend/the guy selling programs… you probably don’t. It seems some people both inside and outside of the event lose track of the entire object of the CIMG1605game, which is to clear the crossbar.  Since there is no competition on record yet to see who can ‘get on’ a bigger pole in the quickest time possible, I’m dismayed when I hear vaulters bragging about their pole size when they’ve failed to clear the crossbar.  This isn’t the men’s locker room, as I understand the rules, you don’t get extra brownie points (or envy) for 3 misses on your biggest pole.

The Run:  Speed and consistency is what you’re looking for here from the first step to the last.  Some folks get this confused with all the other moving parts.  Let’s face it, the pole, the standards images-1and the pit are probably the most consistent parts of the whole darned event.  It’s the athlete, and his or her “run” which is most variable.  Get this part down, and it makes determining slight adjustments in the other stuff a heck of a lot easier.  (and that also means getting all those quirky little rituals at the beginning of each run under control.  It’s hard to make that first step the same length each and every time when you’re rocking back and forth, spitting 3 times, doing 2 deep knee bends and a squat before you even take the first stride.) Which leads us to the last step on the runway and the following terms you’ll be hearing alot:

“You’re Out” or “You’re Under”:  This refers to foot placement at takeoff. You can disregard the first one… rarely happens.  If a vaulter comes over and asks you after their vault,  nine times out of ten you’re safe saying “you’re under”. (Besides, if it’s the former, they’ve usually cleared the bar and are jumping out of the pit celebrating, hardly concerned if you caught their step or not.)

And finally, the holy grail, the kingpin, the grand daddy and whole ball of wax:

THE PLANT: (Not to be confused with that term from the other list: “yanked off the ground”) images  This is the all-in-one action when the vaulter,  reaching maximum speed and accuracy from their new oh-so-consistent run, drops his/her pole in the box (with an ever so relaxed bottom wrist) hopefully at the very same time or a little before his/her take-off foot lands for the last time on the runway, (not under, not out, but right on) with body mass moving directly over takeoff foot and top arm extended fully above head, elbow to ear.  Further explanation and complete understanding of this important concept would take days to explain…oh wait! I think there’s an annual event that covers that –  the  Summit something or other? I’m thinking it’s in Reno…

Anyway, my reference guide and technical advisor already went to bed by the time I got to THE PLANT,  so if there are any inaccuracies or misrepresentations, I apologize in advance and am quite sure someone out there will bring it to my attention.  In any case, tomorrow I will bring y’all up to date on what the staff/management has been up to over these past few days and hope you’ll join me here.

That’s it for now From the Pole Vault Summit…see you back here tomorrow!


*NOTE:  The views and opinions expressed in this space are those solely of the author and not of UCS Spirit, UCS, or any of it’s employees.  If you disagree, take issue with, or are offended in any way, they don’t want to hear about it — especially this week. Just bring it directly to me, preferably in the comment section of this blog.  Thank you.   From the Kitchen Counter Management