1. You are only as strong as your greatest weakness
You can keep telling yourself the flaws within your vaulting and training will go away on their own or you can take the time to fix them. This can be related to pole vault technique, such as a late plant, or can be related to weaknesses within your strength or speed. Whatever it is, focus on those things needing improvement. I remember when I was in high school I had the Summer of the Running Plant Drill. I had developed a bit of a weak plant and needed to fix it. I vaulted a couple days a week and started each vault session with maybe 5-10 RPD’s from short approach and then a couple finished vaults to end the workout. By the end of the Summer my plant improved.
Since taking a break from vaulting one of the main things I struggle with is turning up my pole, which causes me to “hip” the bar. This Summer I have been taking the time to work on my turn from short approach on a soft pole. My first step in this process was understanding I had a weakness that needed to be addressed. The second step was humbling myself and realizing I needed to go from a short approach on a small pole. The third was tackling that weakness by focusing objectively and layering up good reps. Take the Summer and Fall to fix one or two things, not all of them. Here is a video I made last week of me trying to figure out how to turn again.
2. Get in the weight room and out on the track
This may come as a surprise to some of you. Lifting makes your stronger and sprinting makes you faster. Crazy right! I hate to be so bold but come on! Countless times I have talked to high school and even college level athletes who have these huge goals but can’t do a couple pull ups. You don’t have to spend hours in the weight room or on the track. Heck, you don’t even need to spend an hour. All you need to do is be consistently training your body to get stronger and faster. This doesn’t mean super heavy weight and full out sprints. In the weight room you should pick some upper body and lower body lifts and gradually increase the resistance over time. On the track you can start with some 100 meter sprints, maybe 5 or 6 of them, and work your way down or up based off how your body responds. It is very simple.
My brothers and I had it easy in one regard. We had each other as accountability partners. We knew 5 to 6 days a weeks we were going to be lifting, sprinting, vaulting, likely all of the above. When one got up in the morning they would wake the other and we’d be out at the track in 30 minutes. The workouts weren’t so easy. We didn’t just show up to the track or weight room. We ran and lifted hard, and I mean really hard. We knew to compete at a high level we needed to be some of the strongest and fastest vaulters in the state and the nation. All while trying to stay smart with our training and not using too much weight 😉
If you want some ideas check out my YouTube Channel or this playlist here. The videos will give you some helpful tips and information on pole vault related strength training (speed training to come). If you have any questions about any of it feel free to contact me on this website or comment on one of the videos.
3. It’s not always easy but hard work always wins
There will be times during your vault career that will be tough. That is just the sport. The good news is you can always progress even if it doesn’t show in your competitive performance. If you stick to a plan and work hard at it you will get better. Then, when the timing is just right, you will jump a big bar or develop that consistency you have always wanted. It takes time and patience. Don’t give in and wait until next season. Stay disciplined in your pursuit.
Remember though, rest is always important. Make sure you have some time to mentally and physically recover from the season. More importantly, have a plan in place. A periodization of days, weeks, months to help you get a better idea of what you want to accomplish during certain parts of the year. This will help you put the right work in at the right time so you know your hard work actually pays off.
If you really want to be the best you can be you are going to have to work at it. Just because you jumped a big bar one season doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again the next year. For instance, I jumped 16’9″ my junior year in high school. The following year at my first indoor meet I dislocated my shoulder and had to have surgery, which was nearly a 2 year recovery. Things happen. What I didn’t do was sit around and whine about it. My dad and I formulated a plan and stuck to it. I knew I was the hardest training pole vaulter with his arm in a sling that year, that was for sure. I always thought of it like this…Am I training harder and smarter than my competitors?