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Murray Mead: Masters Vaulter, age 45
An e-mail Murray sent to me, Tim Werner (Advantage
Athletics Pole Vault Coach) April 2, 2000 titled "What
do ya mean don"t jump?"
The first time you saw me vault
you said that I needed to drive into the pit farther. I was struggling
with a lower abstrain and was happy to just be planting the pole. So I
discounted your tip as I knew it looked like I had no drive, because I
really did not. Last week you talked about driving straight in with a
high plant and my mind twisted that to "I need to jump higher into my
plant". Then I tried it and had the same season long problem of stalling
and dropping my right leg so as to stop my swing. Then I did the
ultimate. I read the instructions! I actually read the full Monte on you
web page and was disagreeing all the way about not jumping up when
planting, somehow I knew if I could develop a 30' long jump it would
propel me into this Giant rock back and I would finally be able to do a
handstand on top of my pole.
Then yesterday I went to the UCLA
meet and managed to get down on the field and Curran put me to work on
the runway placing the bar up so I could stay close to the action. I
really wanted to get a close up look and prove my foregone conclusion
that Tim was wrong and I knew better. I was really struggling with what
you said because the entire time I have been vaulting I have been
working on Improving my jump off the runway so as to get up on this big
After they vaulters got done with
their pop ups I smugly stood there waiting for the first leaper to
reconfirm what I actually knew. Then bam! The first one came down and
broke my golden established rule and planted a 16' 185# Spirit, bent the
heck out of it and kicked out the sky. And he never even made the
slightest attempt to jump off the runway. He simply drove right downtown
with a nice high extended plant and his trail leg seemed to dig up the
front of the pit as he rocked back and turned close to the pole and off
the end he went. I was in shock. My entire formula was just shook up yet
when the pieces fell the were now in proper order. Now each time one of
the vaulters came down I first watched their eyes, then shot down to the
last 4 steps each time kind of hoping to see them drop down like a high
jumper does but there was nothing there to see. They just kept barreling
down the runway, shot up the hands directly overhead and proceeded to
dig into the pole and whip back, in and up over the bar.
I could barely wait until today to
go try out this new found theory because I still had this little guy on
my shoulder telling me that what I had heard and seen were not real. I
had been timing my workout schedule so Sunday would be the day to get
some real pole work in and it turned out to be the perfect time. My
timing has been exceptional lately and I am beginning to think that I
have been blessed. I went up to Long Beach State and it was warm and
sunny with about a 10-15 mile steady tailwind straight from the back.
Conditions perfect. Then Tully and Johnson show up right as I am
uncovering the pit so the entire time I am warming up and stretching I
get to listen to them instruct this young lady on the proper techniques
and know that when they are done on the pit that they hang out for a
little while and do some chatting. The moment they moved aside I was
roaring down the runway on my 14' 165# Spirit and drove straight in
without jumping up. Bang, the pole stayed straight ahead of me and off I
went but ended up way back in the pit when I landed. I tried this once
more and ended up farther back then the first try. I quickly realized
that this pole was no longer usable and got out the 15' 160 and charged
back down the runway. I was probably 1' under on my plant but did not
leap and drove right in and got the biggest bend on that pole that I
have ever felt. Popped me right up on the top so I moved my step back
one foot and made sure I carried the pole down like we do in practice
and drove straight downtown and got what I nave been looking for all
year. Several of the problems that I could not fix were immediately
fixed. The pole stayed right in front of me, it bent fully, I could keep
my right knee up and did not stall, and my trail leg actually dug in and
created energy for the pole to give back as it turned and went up off my
Tim Werner Was Right!!!
I put the bar up to 13' and sailed
over with ease. My turn was a little weak and I knew it was because I
was overstressing the plant and waiting to see the results instead of
following thru with what I started so that was easy to fix. Up went the
bar to 14' and I cleared it cleanly with seemingly very little effort. I
kept it at 14 and probably cleared it 7 times but my lets started to get
heavy and a blister developed on my heel so I decided to call it a
perfect day and get ready to set up the next one.
I started this letter to simply
thank you Tim but I hope the story explains my feelings a little better.
Feel free to share it with anyone else that you know who was like me and
"certain" they knew something but somehow could not seem to improve. The
next time my lets are fresh and I am ready to vault I think I am going
to start right out on my 15' 165 stiffy because with enough speed and a
hesitation free non jumping plant I know it will roll right on in and
allow me to go higher.
Thanks again and although I can
not come on this Wednesday I hope to be there the following week.
Masters Champion and still
The following pictures were taken about a month before
the above e-mail was sent.
Thanks for coming Murray. You'll find some coaching
tips below your pictures.
Murray came to train with Advantage Athletics one time.
He took a few vaults, and I put them on tape for this page. He
finished the training session with the rest of our pole vault squad.
Murray needs to continue to do:
Sprint Drills. They will help him pull his lead foot
through better at the plant.
Ground Drills. They will help him keep his body
extended better at the take off.
Cleans in the weight room. They will help him keep
the pole higher above his head in the take-off.
The Rockback Drills. They will help him keep his
lead knee up and trail leg extended while swinging.
The Tap Slam Drill. This will help him find the
transition between drive and lift.
- When his top hand, shoulders, hips and trail foot come in
line, that line should be at a 45` angle to the box and pointed
at the box.
- Murray's position when this happens is way out in front
of his top hand and close to horizontal.
- As you can see, at the apex of his rockback he
doesn't come close to having his feet or hips over his