SprintsDistance RunTriple JumpHigh JumpDiscusHammerCoachingStunts
HurdlesLong JumpPole VaultShot PutJavelinWeightliftingWorkoutsLinks

Track & Field

Phone or Text

Email PO's



Pole Vault
Ask the Coach Your Pole Vault Questions

AOL Instant Message "polevaults"

       Studying questions and answers about pole vault may can increase your ability to coach or train for the pole vault. These sequence photos of pole vaulting and pole vault drills with an explanation of proper technique will enhance your pole vault knowledge and form.  These exercises for weightlifting, running, sprinting, throwing and jumping will help develop form, balance, technique, flexibility, speed, strength and power.

Timothy writes:

Tim Thanks a lot for all of your advice. My swing has gotten a ton better which has allowed me to get to the point where another problem arises, my turn is terrible. I keep going over the bar on my side. I think if I could rectify this problem I could add at least a foot to my jump. I've already jumped at one meet this year, everything was good, my plant was on, I jumped off the ground, I swung my legs to my hands, dropped my shoulders back, but I just can seem to get the turn down. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

That's an easy one. It's called the "Shoot the Gap Drill". You can find it under High Bar Vaulting on the page:http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/pullturnpush.htm 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 on the page. 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.

Kristopher 10/03/01 writes:

I am only able to load half (Bubka) of the pictures and would really
like to see (and show my vaulters) the other half. I am in complete
agreement with your pv philosophies and am having a hard time convincing
them because all the vaulters around here want to sweep the leg and row
the pole.

If you can help me out I'd appreciate it.

Kristopher Williams
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


I was at USC last week because Dennis Kholev (NCAA pole vault champion) was vaulting with Melissa Astete (our high school 13'+ girl pole vaulter from last year) (she's at USC this year), and he wanted to know what I taught her. He said that she has great technique. He was also telling 2 of the other new vaulters not to row the hands forward when they swing. He said Melissa has a great swing because she can lead with her head and chest. She doesn't "row" the pole forward, and she can swing and get back further than any of the other vaulters. She also vaults on poles 30 lbs over her weight with the standards all the way back.

However, if you let your top hand get too far behind you you'll be too much on your back (horizontal) when your top hand, shoulders, hips and trail foot line up. When that does happen you should be at a 45` angle to the runway and your foot should be pointed at the box. That's a good reference. If the vaulter "rows" his/her top hand forward too much, that line will be more vertical. Pressing too much at the take-off with the bottom arm will also cause the line to be too vertical. Pressing too much with the bottom arm stops the shoulders from moving forward. That should give you, as a coach, a good visual to look for when a vaulter swings.

The swing originates from the top hand. When the top hand, shoulders, hips and trail foot line up the swing transfers into the shoulders, and the hips and feet rotate around the shoulders. We look for the ankles getting high up on the hands after the swing with the legs straight when the ankles get to the hands. The next move is the "Bubka Drill" to straighten the inverted body up. Watch out for doing the Bubka Drill too fast. It should be done smoothly and in timing with the pole straightening. If the vaulter pops out of the Bubka Drill, the hips and feet will come away from the pole. If it is done correctly, the hips will finish next to the pole and the feet over the top of the pole. If the vaulter is very good at this the shoulders will drop under the hips and feet. I've seen Bubka (at 19' 10") and Mike Tully (at 19' 3") go past vertical on big vaults.

You can find a better Bubka sequence at:

Notice that Bubka never shoves "rows" his top hand forward. His top hand doesn't pass his shoulders until he turns.

Also see the page: Pole Vault Trail Leg Swing Compared to Gymnastics Horizontal Bar Tap

Beth writes:
I have been using your drills from Advantage Athletics and they work great. However are there any drills that will help in getting inverted?

*Defying gravity each jump at a time *

The key to getting inverted is having the strength to do so. All the drills you need are in:


Make these drills the #1 thing you do every day. If you can't do a drill, try them to the best of your ability every day. You don't have to do many at first. Just make about 6 attempts for each set. We do about 3 sets of each drill.

If you don't have a bar to do these drills on, get a 2' length of 1" galvanized pipe from your local hardware store and string a piece of strong rope through it. Tie knots on the rope on each end of the pipe so it doesn't slide. Tie the ends of the rope to a strong tree branch, beam in the garage or something that can hold your weight safely.

Start each drill in the take off position.  Use your trail leg swing to help get both of your ankles up to the bar. Hold your ankles close to the bar as long as you can.  If you can hold your ankles to the bar, straighten up without falling away from the bar.  A big mistake most athletes make is rushing out of this position. If you rush to straighten up, your feet and legs will fall away and down from the bar.

If you have a stationary bar at school, the park or home you can do the Rockback Rack Drill.  You don't need to have the Rack to do the drill. Have someone push your shoulders forward while you get inverted. If you can't get inverted all the way, make 6 attempts each set to the best of your ability.

We have a squat rack in our weight room that is stable enough to do the Bubka and Rockback Rack drills on. Check your weight room to see if you have the same.  Ask your coach too.

For more help see: Ground Drills 

Coach Tim
Advantage Athletics, Pole Vault Coach