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Pole Vault Row?
by Tim Werner

       Studying this article about "rowing" in the pole vault may can increase your ability to coach or train for the pole vault. 

You can't "row" if you don't have the strength to do it. See: http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/rockback.htm Look under Rockback Rack to find the ultimate drill to get stronger to "row" or get inverted.

Pole vault "row" is NOT the same mechanical action as rowing a boat.

1. In the pole vault, you never want the top hand to pass the vertical line of the shoulders before your are upside-down with your body fully extended.. (or completed the "Bubka Drill").

2. The pole vaulter never should pull to the chest or shoulders while the hands are away from the legs and hips. While rowing a boat the body never is fully extended where the feet, hips and shoulders are in a straight line.

3. The vaulter should keep the top hand away from the body when moving the top hand to the ankles. In "rowing" a boat, the hands should be close to the body and legs while the hands move in the direction of the ankles.

Notice the man on the right has his hands behind the oar pushing it.  His hands are moving towards his feet.  He has to keep the oar close to his legs to keep the paddle out of the water.

4. After the top hand gets to the ankles in the vault, the vaulter should keep the top arm straight and drop the shoulders until the body is fully extended with the head, shoulders, hips and feet in a straight line. In "rowing" a boat, the rower pulls the hands to the chest, keeping the hands away from the legs; at the same time he/she extends the legs while keeping the shoulders and head up.

5. If you were in a boat and "rowed" like a pole vaulter should "row", the boat would be moving in the direction that you're facing. The oars would be in the water when your hands are moving forward, and the oars would be out of the water when your hands are moving toward your hips.

Actually the action of paddling a boat is closer to the action of the vaulter, but paddling is still a very different mechanical action.

"Rowing" as in the action of a pole vaulter is a balanced act of moving the top hand forward and bringing the legs and hips up. Keep in mind the top hand is going to move forward when the feet and hips move up. If the weight of the vaulter is balanced on the shoulders, the shoulders will be hanging under the top hand. If gravity is going to move the top hand to above the vertical line of the shoulders, why does the vaulter have to emphasize "rowing" the top hand forward?

If the vaulter swings too far out in front of the top hand, it will be difficult to get back. If the vaulter rows the top hand forward too much, the top hand will pass the vertical line of the shoulders and the vaulter will have to compensate by splitting the legs and pulling the lead leg past the top hand. This split will slow down the action of turning. It also puts the center of mass outside the body. This makes it difficult to keep the body in line with the pull or recoil of the pole.

A good way to tell if a vaulter is timing the swing properly is to see when the top hand, shoulders, hips and trail foot line up. This should be a fully extended body pointed at the box and at a 45` angle to the runway. This is what Vitally Petrov teaches. See:http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/coachingpoints.htm for a comparison of Hartwig, Hysong, Johnson and Bubka. See if you can tell who was rowing too much in these photos. See if you can tell who gets the most vertical. See if you can tell who gets fully extended at a 45` angle to the runway and pointing at the box.

This extension of the body is also a loading action on the pole. See: http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/tapslam.htm
This is a comparison of Bubka and a gymnast on a horizontal bar. Bringing the trail foot from the furthest point away from the top hand creates a counter force against the pole. This keeps the pole bent more while the vaulter raises his/her feet and hips vertically toward the top hand. If the vaulter tucks his/her knees into their chest while inverting, they are moving in a horizontal direction. This releases the energy of the pole prematurely and makes it difficult to line up the body's center of mass with the directional force of the pole.

In conclusion, rather than emphasizing “rowing” the top hand forward, it is best to teach the tap action of the trail foot to achieve full extension of the body followed by the ankles rising toward the top hand and to teach the vaulter to straighten the legs as the ankles approach the top hand. The vaulter should also actively drive the shoulders down and back under the hips. If all is done correctly and timed properly, the vaulter will finish in a more dynamic position with the vaulter’s entire mass in line with the recoil of the pole and the body will become an arrow shooting past the top hand. Have you ever seen a bent arrow travel far?

Pole Vault "Rowing" Analysis
by: Tim Werner

"Rowing" (Pressing the top hand forward.)
Notice how vertical Johnson and Bubka get in http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/johnson.htm

Hartwig and Hysong don't get as tight into the vertical line as Bubka and Johnson.

The difference is: When Hartwig and Hysong "Row" their top hands pass the vertical line of their shoulders, that causes their shoulders to rise up the back side of the pole. It's a natural pendulum action of the top arm swinging from the top hand to the top shoulder. Have you ever seen a teeter-totter? When something is going up one side, something must be going down the other. When the shoulders rise up the back side that makes it difficult to keep the feet rising up the other side of the pole.

Note: Check the Tap Slam Drill in http://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/rockback.htm and the Trail Leg Tap Comparison of the gymnast on the horizontal bar and the pole vaulter inhttp://www.advantageathletics.com/polevault/tapslam.htm

This move of driving the trail foot down sets up the vaulter so he or she can get into the vertical position, like Bubka and Johnson, without the top hand passing the shoulders.

Notice in the comparison that Hartwig and Hysong don't do this but Bubka and Johnson do, and later in their vaults Hartwig's and Hysong's top hands pass the vertical line of their shoulders. Bubka's and Johnson's top hands do not pass the vertical line of their shoulders. Bubka's and Johnson's bodies are straight when they get inverted and closer to vertical.

Note: I've seen Bubka and Mike Tully go past vertical. The height on those vaults was phenomenal! Bubka's vault was at L.A. Times Indoor and Tully's was at a UCLA meet about 12 years ago.