Pole Vault Swing 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.
The Pole Vault Swing
|The pole vault swing is a transition point
between the horizontal forces generated from the run and the
downward vertical forces applied to the pole generated in the
rockback, pull and push. The swing (or tap) is initiated with the
driving down of the trail foot to bring it in line with the knee and
hips and the bringing of the left leg and hips in line with the top
arm. This driving of the trail foot down can be compared to the
gymnast’s tap of the feet on the horizontal bar. It lengthens the
body quickly before the pole has a chance to recoil retaining its
maximum kinetic energy. It makes the extended body a long lever.
That will keep the top of the pole down longer while
inverting...again retaining the poles maximum kinetic energy. It
ends when the trail foot is in line with the hips, shoulders, and
The Pole Vault Gymnastics Tap Swing
This frame by frame pictured comparison between a gymnast and a pole vaulter
demonstrates the best and most efficient action of the trail leg in the pole
vault. This is the move as performed by a world class gymnast from the World
Gymnastics Championships and a world class pole vaulter from the World Track
and Field Championships. This move is done by gymnasts and pole vaulters
alike. The move helps load and get the most thrust out of the horizontal bar
or pole vault pole. The gymnast and pole vaulter both lift the trailing
feet, or trail leg, then drive them down to get full extension of the body
from the hands to the feet. This not only loads energy into the bar or pole
but for the pole vaulter it creates a long lever to lift against the length
of the pole. That is to say that when that long lever is lifted it helps
keep the pole compressed. If the pole stays short, it will continue to roll
over the top of the box. It also gives the vaulter more time to cover the
top of the pole with his body (see The Pole Vault Rockback). In the vault
the pole vaulter never wants the shoulders to pass the top hand, until after
he/she is fully extended and inverted. That's how the body covers the top of
The Take Off Point: Full extension at the plant.
The Drive: Driving the torso through the hands and feet,
keeping the torso parallel with the trail foot under the top hand.
The Load: Lifting the trail foot and letting the hips slide
to line up with the top hand and shoulders
and feeling the body swing from the top hand.
The Tap: Driving the trail foot down.
Full Extension: The hands, shoulders, hips and trail foot
are in a straight fully extended line.
That line is at a 45` angle to the runway and pointed at the box.
The Lift: The shoulders driving back and down while the
trail leg lifts and rotates around the hips.
DO NOT force the top hand forward. It must stay behind the
The Bubka Drill: (see Rockback) DO NOT "power out" of this position.
Extend the body smoothly and in time with the pole while driving the
shoulders down and back.
Fly Away: Using the Tap can make the body fly much higher
than the bar or pole.
Pole Vault Tap Slam Drill
Pole Vault Tap Slams are done on a high bar high enough to hang and swing in
the pole vault take-off position without hitting the ground. Hold the bar as
you would hold the pole vaulting pole. Pull up and cast out to start an easy
swing. Pike in the back and arch in the front of the swing. From the down
swing in the back, just after you arch, snap the trail foot down taping it
the way a gymnast would do on the horizontal bar. Then, power rockback
driving the hips to the bar while driving the shoulders back. If this is
performed properly, the shoulders will continue to swing back in front of
the high bar while the hips hit the bar finishing in the same position as
the power rockback rack drill.
Note: In the finished position on the right, the shoulders
are in front of the vertical line of the top hand.