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Pole Vault Pull, Turn and Push Technique and Drills
by Advantage Athletics Pole Vault Coach
Tim Werner
Pole Carry / Plant / Take Off / Swing / Rockback / Pull, Turn & Push

       Pole Vault by Advantage Athletics can increase your ability to coach or train for the pole vault. The sequence photos of pole vaulting and pole vault drills with an explanation of proper technique will enhance your pole vault knowledge and form.  The exercises for weightlifting, running, sprinting, throwing and jumping will help develop form, balance, technique, flexibility, speed, strength and power.


The Pole Vault Pull, Turn and Push

This all begins when the body becomes fully extended on top of the pole with the shoulders under the hips and legs. No pulling should be done until the "Bubka Drill" is complete. The Bubka Drill should also be done in timing with the pole uncoiling. If the vaulter straitens too fast, his/her feet will shoot out forward toward the crossbar. If the timing is just right the vaulters shoulders will drop or "rockback" their shoulders under their center of mass. The vaulter can be turning slightly around the pole while doing the Bubka Drill on the pole. The "pull" can only take place if the body is pointed away from the crossbar. Pull the top of the pole under the shoulders and continue turning the body around the line of the pole while maintaining balance upside-down. Roll the body back onto the pole as explained in The Parallel Bar Drill. Rotation of the pole in the box and the movement of the right elbow out helps to keep the top hand and pole under the shoulders and body. When first learning this move try to keep the right shoulder as close to the right hand as possible without pushing. This will make it easier to balance on top of the pole. It is best to teach beginner vaulters to leave their pole on the crossbar when they release. This will teach the vaulters to keep their support (the pole) under them longer. It is easy to teach a vaulter to throw the pole away from the crossbar with a flick of the wrist rather than extending their top arm back toward the runway. Keep the feet on top of the shoulders and body while cleaning, turning and pushing. Pull and push down through the box. Keep the head down and in line with the back. Keep the top hand under the shoulders through the push. Pushing can only be done if the body still has vertical rise momentum. If the vaulter tries to push when the body is not balanced on top of the hand and box he/she will only force the rest of the body down. When the body reaches its apex in its rise push the pole back towards the runway with a flick of the wrist. Throwing the pole back towards the runway with the whole arm can cause the vaulter to lose his/her rotation around the crossbar. It may also cause the chest to drop into the crossbar. If anything the vaulter should reach back under the crossbar with their top hand after they have released the pole.


Pole Vault Upside Down Rope Climbs

Start with a rope hanging straight down. Put a landing pit under you for safety. Hang on the rope in an upside-down position. Trying to keep the body straight and as long as possible and the feet extended as high as possible, climb up the rope hand-over-hand. Try to use just the arms. Keep the feet off the rope. Climb to a safe height, drop your legs slowly and descend the rope in a safe manor. We usually do these right side up and then upside-down.

Pole Vault Rope Vaulting

Use a rope, about 1" thick, hanging from a tree or something very sturdy. The rope should be hanging at least ten feet. Use a soft crossbar to rope pole vault over and a platform to jump off. Use a pole vault landing pit to land in after you clear the bar. Start on the platform holding the rope the way you would a pole vault pole. Swing your lead knee up and your weight back on your shoulders. Start with your hands extended in front of your shoulders. Drop back, maintain your balance and swing forward. Stay upside-down, swing down, swing up, clean, turn and push off the rope. Practice clearing the bar at different heights.

Horizontal Bar Pole Vaulting

Start with an overhand grip on the bar. Use a bar that is just above head height. Have someone hold a crossbar about 4’ in front of the bar and low to the ground. Start with your arms extended in front of you, your weight back on your shoulders and your lead knee up. Swing your trail leg up and drop the shoulders back. Pull and fly away arching over the crossbar with no turn. Practice clearing the bar at different heights. As the crossbar gets higher it get closer to the high bar.

Do this same drill with a pole vault grip, and practice clearing the crossbar with a turn. Start with the crossbar low and away, and then bring it closer and higher.

Shoot the Gap Drill

All you need is a chin-up bar and a something to vault over. You don't have to be that high up to start the drill as in the pictures below. Just high enough so your shoulders can drop under you when you swing your legs up. The idea is to get your body perpendicular to the 2 bars and Shoot the Gap! Notice as the crossbar gets higher and closer to the chin-up bar that angle changes. It's learning how to adjust this angle in your vault that will help you make bars at all heights.

1. Hold the bar with a vault grip with your take-off foot forward.
2. Swing your right leg up, then your left leg into the Bubka position. 3rd picture.
3. Straighten your body as your shoulders drop back and down under your hips and feet. 4th picture.
4. Pull with your arms and "Shoot the Gap" between the 2 bars.
5. Turn over the bar while getting your shoulders parallel to the bar.
Note: Start with the crossbar low and far away, then move it higher and closer.
Finish with the bar about 2 feet in front of the chin-up bar and as high as you can go.

Pull, Turn and Push Pulley Drill

The Vault Trainer Drill TA190 $315 Call (818)261-4493 to order.

A unique device for beginner and intermediate vaulters. Allows the athlete to acclimate to the body positions occurring during peak vault height. Strengthens muscle groups for effective push off. Helps to coordinate grip and pole positions while rotating around pole for push off. Can be hung from goal posts and basketball backboard rigging. Complete with cables, ankle cuffs, and pole section.

The Pole Vault Topper Drill

After attending the Junior Elite Coaches Clinic at the United States Olympic Training Center and hearing the strength specialists tell us that pole vaulters should use more elastic strength exercises because that would mimic the elastic energy stored in the bent pole vault pole, I developed The Topper. It only bolstered my opinion after hearing the same thing from the strength experts talk at the Pole Vault Summit. This drill emphasizes the need for balance and alignment of the body and pole while pulling, turning and pushing. This is a great drill for developing strength and balance on the top of the vault. It accentuates the balance between the pole tip and the feet. The vaulter can also alternate using the lead foot. The elastic cord mimics the elastic energy stored in the bent pole. Beginners can start by doing the drill on the ground, while more advanced vaulters can do the drill balancing the pole tip vertically in a clear area in the middle of the field. The elastic cord can be adjusted by tying a knot in the middle of it to make it resist more, or adjust the length to suit what length pole the vaulter is using. It's best to grip the pole about 3 inches from the end to allow the vaulter to turn and shift the top of the pole above and between the shoulders.

1. Alternate attaching it to your right foot and your left foot.
2. You can do it standing up for more balance work.
3. The pictures of the vaulter with the yellow top are inverted pictures of a 19'10" vault.
4. The Topper very closely simulates the line of pull & turn and the elastic energy of the pole.

Notice the last few frames. The vaulter should keep his/her body close to and in line with the pole and bungee. In the last couple of frames the vaulter finds it difficult to get the top of the pole over the right shoulder. That's because she is holding the pole too far from the end of the pole. The vaulter should be able to get the top of the pole over the right shoulder and shift the top of the pole above and between the shoulders. This would imitate the finish position and balance at the end of the pull, turn and push.

The Topper Medium (Medium Stiffness) for 12' - 13' Poles for most high school girls $49
The Topper Stiff (Stiff Elastic Cord) for 14' - 15' Poles for most high school boys and Elite Women $49
The Topper Elite (Very Stiff Elastic Cord) for 15-16' Poles for most Elite University and Olympic Men $59
Call (818) 261-4493 to order today!

Pole Vault Swinging Rings Drill

Hang on the rings in the pole vault take-off position. Have someone push you hard enough to generate a big swing. With enough swing generated you will begin to swing on your own. At the apex of the back swing, power rockback. Try to keep the body long and extended. Hold the upside-down extended position as you swing forward. Try to keep the body perpendicular to the ground as the rings swing up. As the body approaches the apex of the front swing, pull the shoulders through the hands and extend the body as high and as far out as you can. With the body fully extended, there should be a smooth transition back into the swing. If this pole vault drill is done right, the swing on the rings will become larger.

This pole vault drill simulates the shoulders dropping back during the power rockback. It also helps develop balance and strength to keep the body extended while the pole vault pole is recoiling.

Swinging Ring Pole Vaulting (Done on one ring)