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Poles and Training
 

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The Continuous Chain Model
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Progressive Pole Vault Pole Stocking Program
by Marty Dahlman

To have a safe and effective vault program, coaches must be able to access a "pole progression". In simple terms, vaulters need to be able to progress through increasing weights and lengths of poles when needed. A beginning vaulter might begin on a 370 cm. pole just above their body weight. As they progress in skill, they would first move up in pole length, and then in pole weight.

Example (Athlete does not yet bend the pole):

  • Male 5'6", 129 lbs. novice pole vaulter
  • Top hand grip is placed at the bottom of the grip range (10'7") of a 370 cm. 130 lbs. pole.

    1st Progression:
  • Through technique improvements the vaulter is completely inverting and penetrating deeply into the landing mat on every vault.
  • The vaulter's standards are set to the maximum depth of 80 cm. and the vaulter's pole is rotating past vertical on every vault.
    Adjustment: The vaulter's grip height may be increased approximately 3" to 4" or about the width of the vaulter's hand.

    2nd Progression:
  • Through technique improves the vaulter again begins to penetrate deeply into the landing area.
  • The vaulter is once again rotating the pole past vertical and the standards are once again at the maximum depth of 80 cm.

    Adjustment: The vaulter's grip height may once again be increased approximately 3" to 4" or about the width of the vaulter's hand.

  • This progression should continue until the vaulter reaches the top of the grip zone (11'7") on the 370 cm. pole. At that time, the athlete could move to the next longer pole in the progression. The next pole in the progression would be the 400 cm. model. The vaulter would once again be at the bottom of the grip zone of the 400 cm. pole with a grip of 11'7" matching the top of the grip zone on the previous 370 cm. pole.
  • The progression in grip height will continue until the pole no longer passes vertical and/or the vaulter is no longer penetrating deeply into the landing area. At that time the grip should be lowered accordingly to allow the vaulter to rotate the pole past vertical and land deeply in the landing zone.

    3rd Potential Progression:
  • Through technique improves and correct of body position during the plant and takeoff the vaulter once again begin to penetrate deeply into the landing area and the pole may begin to bend.
  • The vaulter is once again rotating the pole past vertical and landing in the middle to the back portion of the landing mat.

    Adjustment: The vaulter's pole stiffness may be increased to the next increment made by the manufacturer (depending on the pole length the increment made by the manufacturer may be 5 lbs. or 10 lbs.).

    This is a general rule of thumb that may be used for grip and pole change (assuming that the vaulter's techniques and takeoff angles are good):

  • Deep penetration into the landing mat with minimal pole bend: Slightly raise the grip of the top hand
  • Deep penetration into the landing mat with deep pole bend: Slightly increase the pole stiffness by moving to the next increment of pole stiffness provided by the manufacturer

    The ultimate goal of a progressive stocking program is to have a full series of poles for vaulters to progress through, as they improve in skill, strength, and size through their careers. An example of this series might look like this:
      
    Sponsors, please note:
    Poles in blue are needed. (We already have the ones in black.)
    11' - 335cm Poles - 100 Lbs.
    11'6" - 350cm Poles - 100, 110, 120 Lbs.
    12' - 370cm Poles - 110, 120, 130, 140, 150 Lbs.
    13' - 400cm Poles - 130, 140, 150, 160 Lbs.
    14' - 430cm Poles - 130, 140, 150, 160, 170 Lbs.
    15' - 460cm Poles - 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 Lbs.

    As vaulters improve and as a budget will allow, it will be helpful to have five pound increments in the 400 cm., 430 cm., and 460 cm. length range. Furthermore, so the athletes have the same "feel" and a true stiffness progression, the progressive stocking program should be of the same brand of pole. The above example is well over $6000usd (A$8,570.00 Australian dollars) of poles. Double it for the five pound range
      
    12' - 370cm Poles - 115, 125, 135, 145, 155 Lbs.
    13' - 400cm Poles - 125, 135, 145, 155 165 Lbs.
    14' - 430cm Poles - 135, 145, 155, 165, 175 Lbs.
    15' - 460cm Poles - 145, 155, 165, 175, 185 Lbs.

    For most track programs on a limited budget, it is far beyond a one or two year plan. Nevertheless, a plan must be made in order to provide the necessary equipment that the club budget can't provide.

    Starting a Progressive Stocking Program begins by looking at what the current vaulters need. Pole purchases should be made to support those vaulters as part of filling in the ultimate pattern. If a club is just starting (or starting over) with it's vault program, then the focus ought to be on the 370 cm. and 400 cm. poles for boys, and 350 cm. and 370 cm. poles for girls with progressions in length and stiffness through the years as the vaulters improve.

(Extracted from USA Pole Vault Education Initiative)