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Take the “right” steps in your approach. The pole vaulter should begin the run aggressively, building momentum. The vaulters' steps should be directed along the axis of the pole, so that the pole is being “pushed” down the runway. A pole vault approach should be between seven and ten takeoff steps, shorter for a beginning vaulter and all runs should be appropriate to a vaulter's ability to accelerate and hold that speed, not the athlete's actual top speed.
The best vaulters are not always the fastest, but the best at not slowing down just before the plant and accelerating into the pit. When pole vault coaching, make it easier on your athletes and tell them only to count their steps with their takeoff foot, so they are counting in a fairly regular pattern, not too fast, and only up to seven, eight, nine, or ten.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|