Pole Vault Approach and Pole Carry Technique and Drills
by Advantage Athletics Pole Vault Coach
Pole Carry / Plant /
Take Off / Swing /
Rockback / Pull, Turn & Push
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.
This page shows the pole vault pole carry drills that we do at practice.
These drills will help increase the speed and balance of the pole vaulter
while running with the pole and putting up the plant in the last few steps.
The pole vaulter doing these drills is Jeff LaMonica, decathlete and pole
Standing at the Back of the Pole
Place the left foot
on the starting mark. The right foot will be slightly behind and to the
right of the left foot for good balance. Hold the right hand along side of
the body at or above the waist. The left hand holds the pole a few inches in
front of the chest. The pole is balanced in an almost vertical position. The
vaulter should be in a position ready to drive off the starting mark.
To Start the Pole Vault Run
The right hand remains constant
at the waist. The top hand holds the pole a few inches away from the chest
as the initial body lean and push-off of the left foot tilts the pole toward
the pit. Drive hard off the left foot to get the pole moving. Transfer the
weight of the pole into the right hand. The legs are driving the hips. The
hips are driving the top hand and the top hand is driving the tip of the
pole. Relax the drive and work into a smooth accelerating run.
The Pole Vault Acceleration and Pole Drop
The pole vault
acceleration and pole drop begins at the starting mark an ends when the tip
of the pole hits the back of the box. The pole tip has a smooth and constant
drop to a horizontal position during the acceleration and pole drop. The
height of the pole tip dictates the speed and form of the run. The run gets
faster and the turn-over of the feet moves forward under the hips as the
pole tip drops. If the right hand gets behind the hips during the
acceleration and pole drop push it forward going into the left foot as the
pole reaches its level position. The vaulter may have to raise his or her
elbows slightly to get the pole to a perfectly level position. For the high
school pole vaulter this position is about hip level. For the more advanced
vaulter, this level position will be higher do to the longer length and
The Pole Vault Plant
The pole vault plant
starts on the left foot two strides before the take-off. The pole at this
point is level with the runway. The right hand moves directly vertical up
the side of the body and finishes directly above the head. The left hand is
also moving up as the pole tip continues to lower. If the pole tip starts
level with the top hand both hands can be moving up through this phase.
Continue to run tall and maintain running turnover, pulling the toes through
quickly and not letting them point of drag behind. The stride length must
remain constant. Only the stride frequency accelerates. The right hand
should be at ear height and behind the ear when the vaulter is on his/her
right foot. The pole tip continues to lower, and the hands continue to rise.
The top hand reaches its highest point with the top hand extended as high as
possible when the left foot touches the ground. The top arm should stay
behind the ear. Do NOT throw the hands forward. The pole vault pole tip
must not touch the back of the box before this task is finished. The hips,
shoulders, head and top hand should be directly above the take-off foot when
the pole tip hits the back of the box. The lead leg should continue its
natural running movement off the ground.
The idea of this pole
vault plant is to run the pole vault pole tip into the box. During the pole
vault plant the top of the pole rises but maintains its horizontal
acceleration in conjunction with the run. All energies are focused on
getting the top of the pole to its fastest and tallest position while
maintaining the direction of speed. Any change in this will result in
energy and efficiency loss.
Do not try to jump
off the take-off. To jump the vaulter must change the running form, which
will slow the vaulter down. Jumping off the ground also changes the
direction of the forces generated in the run.
Any attempt to jump over the pole is only taking potential energy from the
pole. However, we do teach our vaulters to "POP" off the
1. Put a tape box on the pole
vault runway or track with plenty of running room after the tape box.
2. Measure your pole vault
step and put a tape mark (#1) at the starting point.
3. Put a tape mark (#2) two
steps out from the pole vault plant. (The left foot for a left foot
4. Stand on the #2 tape mark,
holding the pole horizontal in the two step plant position. Place two
hurdles, one on each side of the runway, along side of the pole tip with
the hurdles set at the same height as the hip. Place two more hurdles in
the same manner ten yards from the first set of hurdles. Place two more
hurdles in the same manner ten yards from the second set of hurdles.
Now, you should have three sets of hurdles, ten yards apart and all set
at hip height (about high hurdle height).
A. Pole Vault Plant Position
Start at the starting
mark. Put the plant up in the take-off position with the pole vault pole tip
6" off the ground. Do full approach runs in this position keeping your
running speed through the box. The top hand stays directly above the head
and behind the ear tying to keep the hand high. The left arm pushes up on
the pole to maintain its position. The bottom arm elbow is bent. Both
elbows are out. Work on keeping the hands above the head while the feet
maintain good turnover as described in the one step plant drill. Try to keep
the knees up. Accelerate until a constant stride length is achieved then
maintain that stride length. Accelerating from here is only done by
increasing the tempo of the stride. Keep running until you pass the box.
B. Pole Vault Hurdle Drill
Begin at your starting
mark with a normal approach start with the pole vault pole up in the
vertical position. Do the pole vault acceleration and pole drop phase of the
approach. When you reach the #2 tape mark on the runway the pole tip should
be even with the top of the hurdles and over the center of the runway. Hold
the pole in this position, level with the runway, until the pole tip reaches
the second set of hurdles. Put the plant up on the next two steps. Let the
pole tip hit the ground when the plant goes up. Hold the plant up until the
body passes the last set of hurdles. Try to maintain total body and pole
stability and proper running technique as described in the speed plant
drills. Keep the stride length constant through this phase.
C. Catching the Pole Vault Step
Using a starting
mark, a tape box and a mark at the plant on the track ,do full pole vault
run approaches. Use this drill to practice the pole vault approach and speed
plant. Run through the plant and continue to run for 4 more strides
(or 2 lefts). Have someone catch the pole vaulter's step each time. Measure
this approach from the back of the box to the starting mark and use this
distance on the runway to measure the pole vaulter's step for pole vaulting.
This drill can be used to get the measurement for any length pole vault
preseason now and we do not use any mark on the runway for a box. We'll
measure their runs later when they get this drill consistent and do as shown
above. We have our athletes count their left foot every time they do this
drill starting from the first left after their starting mark. They try to
do 3 things at the same time when their 8th step hits the track:
- Their 8th left foot hitting the track.
- Their top arm fully extended and their hand straight
up over their head.
- The pole tip hitting the runway.