ARTICLE DIAGNOSING ERRORS IN THE POLE VAULT What caused THAT to happen!? Peter M. McGinnis, Ph.D. The Preferred Landing Zone (Plz) The errors presented in this paper are errors which may lead to dangerous vaults – vaults in which the athlete may land outside of the pit. These errors are important to correct immediately to prevent an accident and possible injury from occurring. Most of these errors can be diagnosed by examining where in the pit an athlete lands. The Preferred Landing Zone (PLZ) is the target which the vaulter wants to hit. The PLZ is an 8’ by 10’ rectangle in the center of the landing pit. Your vaulter’s head and shoulders should land in the center of the PLZ on all vaults. Anytime the vaulter lands outside of the PLZ, the error which caused this should be identified and adjustments made for the next vault Coming Up Short (Landing In Front Of The Plz) CAUSES SOLUTIONS Not enough energy put into vault. Run faster. Lengthen runup by one left. Plant is too low or too late. Initiate plant action earlier – don’t clench/hug the pole. Grip is too high. Lower grip. Pole is too stiff Use a softer pole. Takeoff step is too far inside. Move approach back if not overstriding. Move step approach forward if overstriding. Use a mid-mark. Takeoff step is too far out. Move approach forward. Use a mid-mark. Swing up is premature. Keep trail leg long to slow down the swing up. Pit is interfering with forward pole bend. Use a pit with a proper taper to the cut-out around the box so that it doesn’t interfere with the pole bend. Blowing Through (Landing In Back Of The Plz) CAUSES SOLUTIONS Too much energy put into vault. Shorten runup by 1 left (if no stiffer pole is available). Grip is too low. Raise grip 2-3”. Pole is too soft Use a slightly stiffer pole (5 pounds stiffer). Swing up is too late. Break at the hips earlier, don’t block with the bottom arm. Landing To The Either Side Of The Plz CAUSES SOLUTIONS Not enough energy put into vault. Run faster or lower grip or use a softer pole. Plant is to the right. This is often a result of a late plant. Initiate plant action earlier – get top hand overhead before pole strike occurs. Plant is to the left. Keep right hand close to body during planting action, don’t roundhouse. Takeoff is directed right or left of center. Emphasize squaring the shoulders and hip at takeoff. Drive the right leg straight ahead at takeoff. Swing the trail leg straight through following takeoff. Takeoff step is right or left of center. Practice plant while emphasizing stepping along the centerline of the runway. Trunk lean to the left or right at takeoff. Maintain upright posture, don’t jump around the pole. Helicoptering – spinning around pole. Left arm is interfering with proper swing through. Pit is interfering with pole bend to the left. Use a pit with a proper taper to the cut-out around the box so that it doesn’t interfere with the pole bend. References: Attig, R. (1990). USA Track & Field Pole Vault Education Manual. Indianapolis: USA Track & Field. Pole Vault Education Initiative. http://www.pvei.com. Pole Vault Safety Certification Board. http://www.pvscb.com. Thompson, M. (Winter, 2003). Troubleshooting the pole vault. Track Coach, #162, 5172-5176.
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