ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

This is a forum to discuss advanced pole vaulting techniques. If you are in high school you should probably not be posting or replying to topics here, but do read and learn.
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ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby Bruce Caldwell » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:48 pm

ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA
July 20-21 Kingston, Jamaica

During the 9th IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championship held in Kingston Jamaica; RDC San Juan in conjunction with ILICS Spirit organized a Pole Vault Clinic. Together with the coaches in charge of the aforementioned workshop, the world record holder and many times Olympic and World Champion, Sergey Bubka was also invited to participate.

He shared with the participants, in a very precise and profound way, experiences and knowledge built on more than 20 years of his involvement in the elite circle.

In an open discussion, questions from the participants led Bubka to talk freely about his beginnings, technical aspects, training, etc.


Following are the more significant contents of the discussions:

Q. What is your point of view on the advantages and importance of the free take off?
A. In pole vaulting the crucial factor is how to transfer energy to the pole, through the complete body of the vaulter; the arms, shoulders, hip, back and legs. But, if the pole begins to bend while the vaulter is yet on the ground, it is impossible to transfer the energy, all the energy is lost and goes to the box. The point is, how to achieve this? The free take off is a very short period of time, we can say no more than hundreds of a second, going from the end of the take off and the moment in which the tip of the pole reaches the end of the box. But this very short time makes a big difference that allows the competitor to greatly improve the results.


When we begin to bend the pole, while being on the ground, we can see an arched position of the body, on the other hand, if we perform a free take off we can feel the pushing action of the whole body, and we can transfer the speed of the run up and take off.

Additionally, we can increase the angle between the pole and the ground in the moment of taking off. This angle is a very important technical factor, because the bigger this angle, the better the result.


But this angle must be achieved with a complete extension of the body, and mainly, keeping that short difference between the full extension of the body and the tip of the pole reaching the end of the box.

It is a crucial factor, but at the same time, it is not easy to achieve. During my career, I was able to do it some times.

That difference in time, is a safe difference, it is not dangerous, and in order to achieve it, you must be in very good form, not only physical but technical and mental as well. When you can do it, you can increase the angle of the pole in relation with the ground. For this reason, the way you run with the pole becomes very important.


The lowering of the pole in the last strides and the action you perform with the arms in order to perform a good take off are crucial.

The action of the arms must be to the front and up, if you lower your left hand, you loose control on the pole.

Last autumn, I began to work with a pole vaulter who asked me to help him. I gave him the material related to the free take off, this material was produced by Petrov. In the first days of training, the vaulter was very busy, training and writing down the workouts we were doing, so he had no time to read the material about the free take off. In the third day of training, he had the chance to read it. The first concept that you develop about it, is that it could be dangerous, or extremely difficult to do, but when at the same time you are practicing it, you realize that the vaulter becomes the boss of the action, on the opposite, if you don't master this action, you depend on the pole. My colleague told me that if he had only read the material, without practicing the action, he would have thought that it was impossible to achieve.

Q. Which kind of specific drills do you practice in order to master this action?
A. Basically we did a lot of drills while walking, imitating the action, then we added some run up strides, but more important is to understand the basics and what you want to do. It is also important to make many repetitions of drills, and the coach must have the capacity to create and vary the drills in order to achieve the goal. It has to do with the task of developing thinking athletes, rather than giving them an instruction and wait on them to do the task. It is very useful to help the athletes with questions like: "What was your feeling?" or "What was the mistake?", "Why?", "What is the cause?".

Q. Which is the correct way of performing the last three strides?
A. The last three strides are very important, they must be very compact in order to be able to increase speed. The movement must begin with your right hand, which cannot be behind the hip axis. If the hand is slightly forward, it is possible to move the arms to the front and upwards.

When you do the penultimate touch down, on the right foot for a vaulter who takes off with the left leg, the right hand must be at eyes' level, in front of the face and with the arm flexed at the elbow 90 degrees. In the meantime, the pole must be lowering towards the box. Both arms must be very active, it is not necessary to extend the right arm upwards when you are still on the right foot, in that case you will perform the take off closer to the box than recommended.

Q. How would you describe the action of bending the pole?
A. Before the fiber glass pole, pole vaulters put their focus on moving the pole, then, when the flexible pole appeared many people put their focus on bending the pole. The pole bends as a result of the speed and mass of the jumper,therefore, it is more important to concentrate more on moving the pole towards the plane of the bar, rather than being aware of bending it. If the vaulter can put all his speed to the pole, the bending of the pole will happen in a very natural way and this, together with a good height of grip will ensure good results.

Q. Some years ago an article appeared in which the author stated that you use to jump with a stiff pole, and with a run up of six strides you could determine the height of grip or take off efficiency....
A. It is true, we utilized this drill, but why? The bending poles allow you to hide technical mistakes, on the contrary, stiff poles immediately hurts you. I don't exactly remember, but I think I had a grip height of around 4.20 or 4.25 mts. With stiff poles, if you do the right action, you can feel where you are, and from then on you can increase the grip a height.

Q. Where is your point of focus?
A. To the front, many jumpers look at the box, the box doesn't move, it is always there. I think it has to do with mental pressure or being scared.

Q. It was published that you carried the pole in a very vertical position in order to minimize the weight of the pole; then in a distance of between 19 to 25 mts, away from the box you began to lower the pole at the same run up speed. Could you tell in which moment or where you begin to lower the pole?
A. Around 6 to 10 strides before the take off position. It has to do with Vitaly Petrov's concept of how to be ready for the most important phase of the jump.

Q. Which is the exact moment to start the inversion phase, and in which position is the body in the moment of maximum bend of the pole?
A. Let us start with the second part. The body must be inverted in the moment of maximum bend of the pole, with both legs vertical and upwards. If you perform a wrong take off action, the pole bends too soon and in doing so you don't recoil energy from the pole. The first question has to do with this point too. The concept must be to make a very dynamic movement, going into penetration and long pendulum phases, in order to be as soon as possible in the inverted position. By doing so, you ensure the movement of the pole. In this point is very important a good development of the gymnastics abilities of the jumper.

Q. How do you increase the confidence of a pole vaulter?
A. From my point of view, as long as you increase strength, speed and technical efficiency, you also increase your confidence. You also need to have a sound mental picture of the action, be able to repeat the jump mentally. I think it is very useful to focus on the weak points of the jump and be able to see them as if you are looking at a film.

Q. During a competition, how do you manage to keep focus and avoid distractions?
A. It depends on your ability to plan everything beforehand, what to do and all the things that can happen. You ought to be ready for rain, for a noisy crowd in the stands. If during a jump, you can listen to the public, it means that you were not focused enough. But there are also other types of distractions. For example, prior to the European Championships in Stutgart 1986, 1 had many meetings with students, workers, sportsmen. That was great, but it has a big effect on my performance during the competition. I was fully focused, and during the event I found myself in a situation I had never been before. In a given height I needed the third attempt to pass. This fact is very demanding, put you under big stress, after this moment I came back and finally won the competition.

Two months later, I began to have the help of a very good Psychologist, and when I told him about that experience, he told me that all the meetings, presentations I had done, made me loose mental energy, energy that I must save to train and compete. After that experience, two months prior to a big competition my only activities were train and rest. Coming back to competition, you must be ready for everything, I took my umbrella, something to dry the box and the take off point, because many times officials don't do this. But in case it begin to rain, you must assume it is not raining at all, you must be mentally strong because many times, the event can't be postponed, for example when it is scheduled for the last day of the meeting, and you must jump and be able to produce good results anyway.

Mental preparation has to do with decisions athletes have to make under big pressure. If you have a fault at a given height, and you choose to pass the remaining attempts for the next height, let us say 5 cm higher – which is not very significant but can make the difference between being out of the medals or winning the competition – you can take risks, but they are calculated risks.

Q. How do you describe the penetration of a pole vaulter?
A. We need to develop strength, speed, and at the same time we need to develop technique and gymnastics abilities. We can say that the training of a vaulter is very close to that of a decathlonist, we need a very broad development in terms of capacities.

Q. What were the factors that allowed you to jump with longer and stiffer poles, was it your level of strength and or speed?
A. I think people tends to think I am stronger, physically speaking than I really am. When I was 15 or 16 years old, it seemed as if I would be very big and strong, that made me try to eat less in order not to increase my body weight, I would never be able to pole vault. Towards the end of the 70s, my coach tried to convince me of doing decathlon, but I told him I wanted to stay with the pole vault. When I got my first poles in 1984, the Federation sent me to compete in the USA, in the indoor season. I was still worried about not increasing my body weight, because if that happened I would not be able to use the poles.

Actually, some of them were so stiff that I only could use them in the 90s. I think that the important thing, is how much of your strength and speed you can use while actually jumping. Somebody can run the 100 mts in 11 seconds, but if he does the proper movements, in the exact moment, he can jump very high. Same approach with weight training, we did a lot of weight training, but our goal was not to be extremely strong, we are not weight lifters, but to be able to use that level of strength in the jump action.

There are vaulters like Britts, who are stronger than I am, physically speaking. For example my best result in bench press was around 130 or 135 kg, while he has something around 160 kg. The bench press is important for pole vaulting, but it is a general movement that helps to develop physically, but when we jump we must do specific movements which we need to develop and improve in our vaulters.

When we met with Vitaly, we put everything on paper, and I was over the mean values in everything. In speed, strength, gymnastics abilities, mental preparation, coordination and all those factors gave me stability. If I had a technical mistake I could compensate it with my physical capacities.

But if you ask me about which is more important, the development of the physical capacities or technical abilities, my answer will be only one, technical abilities. These abilities help you to survive in different situations, while the development of physical capacities is not so difficult.

On the other hand it is more difficult to teach proper and sound technical elements, frequently you develop physical capacities and you can record this progress, for example in speed or strength, but one can't find the same improvement in the vaulting performance, we must be able to transfer that potential to the technical factors.

Q. How did you begin?
A. I began to do Sports in the streets, I was a very "sporting" boy. Then my coach at school communicated with Petrov and asked him to teach me pole vault. At first he said no, because I was too young, only 10 years old and he coached boys of 14 15 years of age but my coach finally convinced him, that was my beginning.

Q. Beginning with the first World Championships in 1983, there have been 7 World Championships and you won 5 of them, you also got an Olympic gold medal. How do you keep your motivations?
A. I learned from very great athletes, whom after having achieved good results, the next day went on training, trying to do even better next time. What you did yesterday is past, moreover, you always make mistakes that you can avoid the next day. For me it was important the example of Bob Beamon, who after producing a fantastic result, tried to improve it.

Q. You have developed a pole vault school in your country. What is the role that the coach plays during a competition?
A. Many times I see coaches who send a lot of messages, move their arms and shout from the stands. I think that all the work has to be done previously, we can do very little in the moment of competition but there is another point – the athlete must be knowledgeable of his event with a high level of motor awareness. What happen if the coach, in a given moment, sends a message which has nothing to do with what the athlete felt?

What to do, from the point of view of the athlete? Follow his own kinesthetic feelings, or follow the message sent by the coach from the stands?

This is a very important element to consider, and as coaches we must work beforehand and have less participation during the competition.

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The use of the Free take-off is not new here is proof!

Unread postby Bruce Caldwell » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:05 pm

While the above article is very informative however the use of the free take-off is not new!
It was discussed in my book the Elusive bar #2 published in 1974
I had two books purchased and sent to Russian to Coach Vokov in 1975!
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.251111941580270.66961.100000443985575&type=3
http://www.essxpv.com/photo-gallery/the-elusive-bar-2-book-on-pole-vaulting-by-bruce-caldwell-2/
and also discussed the Bill Falk's book published in 1976 the continuous chain and drop tip technique.
http://www.everythingtrackandfield.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product2_10152_10753_2003174_-1_2000175_2000168_2000165_2000165_ProductDisplayErrorView
also in every Bill Falk videos he talks of the pole bending with the swing of the vault!
http://www.everythingtrackandfield.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_10152_10753_2000185_-1_2000184_2000165_image_0
First mention by David Bussabarger in 1973 from studies of European vaulters.
David to day continues to coach this free take-off in his articles.
Track Technique, Fall 1991, The Importance of the Latter Phases in Pole Vaulting, David Bussabarger
The Transfer Of Momentum In Fiberglass Pole Vaulting by David Bussabarger

http://coachr880.com/id104.html
Dave Roberts used the free take off in 1975-76 to capture the 18'8" World Record.
Video on my website:
http://www.essxpv.com/the-elusive-bar-remixed/

In 1976-77 many vaulter jumped under because they could bend big poles it has stifled them in jumping real high now for years. Coaches in College are not moving the step out and many vaulters are on big poles but cannot transfer the energy to the vault like a free take-off can to the swing pendulum of the vaulter!

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby dj » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:53 pm

Big Thumbs Up.... Bruce..

dj

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby joebro391 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:06 am

The Transfer Of Momentum In Fiberglass Pole Vaulting by David Bussabarger

AWESOME read!! -6P
PR: 15'6 !!PETROV/6.40 MODEL!! http://www.youtube.com/user/joebro391

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby altius » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:59 pm

The responses to Bubka's presentation in Kingston raises many questions; since things have gone quiet on PVP again I will stir the pot -again! The first question is -if all of this information,knowledge and wisdom WAS available before Petrov's presentation in Birmingham in 1985 - why was it not taken up and immediately applied by every thinking coach in the US? I was a field events coach in the USA from 1967 until July 1973 and yet I never heard a whisper of it. Indeed why is it still being ignored by many??? Then if the notion of the 'free take off' was so common at this early stage, why was it that when I published my interpretation of 'the free take off' and what I called its extension -'the pre jump' - that these ideas attracted so much flak?? I suspect that the record of those discussions is still all there to be found in PVP?? For example at one point dj appeared to think that I was advocating a take off that was a foot out and a foot in the air when the pole tip hit the box - not the 3 to 4 hundredths of a second which Bubka mentioned in response to my question in Kingston.

There are a host of other issues but I will finish with the question - If he was so clear about the free take off why was it that. in Reno in 07 when I was discussing it with Darren Niedermeyer and Mark Hollis, Bill Falk passing by, glanced at the video of Isinbayeva training in a sand pit from 6 and 8 steps and said, much to the embarrassment of everyone there, "Why are they wasting their time jumping in a sand pit"? Unfortunately he did not stop to hear the answer - that jumping into a sand pit is the best way to develop/improve the free take off. Perhaps that is the reason why the idea has not been broadly implemented for as the quote below suggests - the need is for action -not merely knowledge.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby Branko720 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:20 pm

I'll tell you what, I think there is a lot of knowledge out there, but I think one of the biggest issues is what you have discussed in the past Allan, it's good enough where I'm from. I have been to some high profile meets and watched some upper echelon athletes competing and I see mediocre technique. We can argue perhaps some philosophical differences, but there are simple things like proper pole carry that are being done incorrectly. This only happens when coaches allow it to happen. However most of those coaches are happy to score at conference and get to NCAA's. They are not concerned with getting every possible inch out of an athlete. That is why the knowledge doesn't matter. It may be out there, but when people are happy with mediocre, they won't use that knowledge.

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby Branko720 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:21 pm

Sorry if I offend anyone, I just think as coaches we must be strict. Don't accept anything but the best.

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby Tom Wilson » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:01 pm

Does it really matter who first published or spoke about the benefits of an out takeoff or pre jump? I think the explanation of how it allows a higher effective takeoff angle is very good. As an engineer and vaulter I haven't understood how an under takeoff causes energy loss but have taken it as Bubka says, especially since we knew the best jumps were slightly out. I specifically recall in the 70's talking with my coach about how our best jumps were ones where we could takeoff right before the pole hit the back of the box, Wonderful smooth jumps were the result. We had no name for it but we sure knew it was a good thing to do. Doubt it is something only one person can claim credit for, more likely multiple people came up with it independently over time as we did. Thanks for the post Bruce.

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby dj » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:03 am

hello,

The pre-curser to an "out" takeoff is more speed, greater frequency over the last six steps and longer runs….

I agree whole heartedly that and "under" takeoff is a major problem…. Unfortunately EVERY current "under" takeoff has with it these physical characteristics ….

a short run, an out "MID" and a stretched run….
If/when we correct the problems that create the under takeoff we will start to see jumpers use and "out" or free takeoff.

You cannot tell and athlete to perform a free takeoff unless the other physical actions are accomplished….. it is not possible by the laws of physics.


dj

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby altius » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:02 am

"We had no name for it but we sure knew it was a good thing to do." Just two points. Firstly the question remains - if so many folk knew about it -the free take off - so long ago why did it not become an essential element of the technique of all vaulters in the USA? Secondly - perhaps one of the reasons it did not become more widely known and used was simply because there was no specific have no name for it - for as the Chinese proverb states "The beginning of wisdom is when things are given their proper names"! ;)
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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby ADTF Academy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:10 pm

I hate to be that guy because I totally agree with the premise and thought behind these posts and subject matter. Anyone who has ever talked to me or worked with me knows how much of a running mechanics and runway guy I am myself.

However, I would like to add the follow interesting information to the story. There is no magic fix to the equation of how to jump higher. You can't just pin everything on one factor alone. You can't sit there and focus on only one area to death and hope to jump higher. Just because you fix the run/plant and get a free takeoff doesn't mean you will jump higher. Just cause it’s not perfect doesn't mean you can't jump high either. The equation to jump high is based off numerous factors. I will agree being in a proper place for the individual athlete to transfer energy at takeoff is the biggest bang for the buck. That spot is not the same for every athlete.

As I was saying I've been doing an interesting data collection project I'm hoping to publish next year at Reno. Recently I have been talking to past US Vaulters and current that have jumped over 5.80 and 4.60 just to try to identify true bench marks needed by vaulters not just guesses. I have been collecting real data like grip and flex and ideal/typical takeoff spot and other bits of information. Not the tales people say occurred. Actually data gathered from the vaulters themselves.

It's been interesting so far because most of the vaulters all said their PR's were done when their step was slightly under ideal. Some performances were done with incredibly under steps as well. I've talked to vaulters from multiple generations now and the issue is still the same people have and will always take off under. The difference is the best vaulters takeoff correctly with proper posture and alignment. They learn how to accelerate into and through the takeoff. Instantaneous Velocity is what matters not 10m to 5m speed. Without proper posture and alignment speed slows. Good jumpers understand this and poor jumpers don’t.

Another interesting factor came when it was discuss what your vertical was at the time of your PR if they knew it. Those with a great vertical could and wanted the free takeoff those without a good vertical were under normally. Sometimes we do need to keep the athlete in mind and not cookie cutter things. If the athlete is not explosive in nature than why would they want to purposely takeoff out? They can’t jump period. I'm sure many coaches have noticed those athletes who can jump away from the vault tend to be more willing to takeoff out naturally. Those who can't jump period will reach no matter how much you try and fix their run. They don't know how to jump with or without a pole in their hands.

Posture and symmetry in the body is way more important than exact step IMO. Without proper posture it doesn't matter where you takeoff from. Getting long and reaching is a way different scenario than being upright and flat out under. Also chopping the last step, stumbling and being out is not good either. Posture with a correct takeoff spot for the individual athlete is the key with the emphasis on posture. Teach them how to be a long jumper than they can become a pole vaulter who can take off out. Otherwise all you get is the same as in the LJ flat takeoffs and poor performances.

I'm going away from the teaching of these posts and telling high school coaches that Teaching an athlete who can’t jump to be purposely out is a horrible coaching move. That statement is towards the athletes who have no hops, no vertical, can't jump period. They will not improve just cause you got their step out till they can handle it. Teach them posture and work on the step in conjunction to learning correct posture. As they learn to jump and learn posture their step will move out together. Otherwise your just banging your head against the wall and causing your athlete to underperform.

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Re: ROUND TABLE WITH SERGEY BUBKA

Unread postby dj » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:17 pm

hey

I feel "free" has been one of the best if not the best ways to explain a correct takeoff…

But the key issue is you still have to understand what "free' means in function. Just like you had to understand what "out" meant in function….

In Reno his first time .... Petrov said you have to takeoff "free from the resistance of the pole".. he went on to say the pole should not be bent while you are "in support" on the runway… you need to be leaving the runway and bend the pole with the transfer of your body mass onto the pole.. And not bending while in support (foot on the ground and body NOT past the vertical plain of takeoff) makes the vaulter "free' from the feel and strength of the pole.

That day showing a hand full of us, after his talk to the crowd, in front of the pit/box.. with his arms, and Roman translating… how he viewed how a correct and "free" takeoff must happen…

While doing this he said that it is a scary (un-nerving to the vaulter??) position for the vaulter, especially those that are holding over 5 meters, using big poles and jumping record heights,…………. and the "reaction" by the vaulter to not "feeling" the pole for that instant at the transition of leaving the runway to over-turning on the pole, was in his mind what is causing less than 6 meter vaulting… … here he made a little "dig" that everyone accepted with a chuckle… he said when the American vaulters find themselves in that "free' position.. they immediately.. try and pull the arms to themselves, clutch, hug the pole.. ever how you want to explain it… out of fear…

To overcome this you must reach higher with the arms and hands when in this "free" position (where you do not feel the pole) and not draw the pole back to yourself…
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Unfortunately we have worked in the wrong direction to even obtain a "free" takeoff..

again.....To have the "chance' for a "free" takeoff these things have to happen…. you don't slow down on the runway you have to run faster....

The pre-curser to an "out" takeoff is more speed, greater frequency over the last six steps and longer runs….

I agree whole heartedly that and "under" takeoff is a major problem…. Unfortunately EVERY current "under" takeoff has with it these physical characteristics ….

a short run, an out "MID" and a stretched run….

If/when we correct the problems that create the under takeoff we will start to see jumpers use and "out" or free takeoff.

You cannot tell and athlete to perform a free takeoff unless the other physical actions are accomplished….. it is not possible by the laws of physics.


longer faster runs, closer "MIDS" and increased fequencies over the last six steps without stretching........

Dj

Ps…. I have no problem with giving the credit to Alan, Bubka or Petrov . I felt when Petrov said "free from support from the pole" that finally I had a way to describe what the vaulters had been saying they felt when they had their best takeoffs.. like they were "flying", no pole.. or they felt 3 to four inches out…and that they had better, because of pole speed, swing as fast as possible to "catch up" with the pole before they went over the back of the pit….


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