Please exclude all listed universities here from my comments below, because we are preaching to the choir. They deserve the recognition for the programs they have built and their ability to work with a wide range of talents. CONGRATS!!
BUT - on the other end of this spectrum I would like to warn athletes to check on the incoming and outgoing PRs of vaulters who go to your university of choice. You would be shocked at the number of "major universities" who either do not have a good vault coach, or don’t feel the need to vault year round, or both. Many are of the belief that once the athlete becomes stronger and faster they will jump higher. I went to college to pole vault so I asked this question and chose the school where all athletes made the most improvement from high school to college graduation. I could have stayed home and gone to the gym and run.
One MAJOR school doesn’t think it is important to vault at all in the fall so their first meet is a week after they have first touched a pole. Another coach told me that “we don’t want any of those kids that think they need to vault all of the time or do gymnastics. We just need to get them stronger and faster”. Another is so obsessed with drills, yet his/her vaulters say they can’t vault AND they can’t do the drills. When they only do the drills then they can’t vault correctly. Obviously those drills have no place in the vault.
NOTHING is more discouraging than going to a university with good vaulters only to not improve. One school got three 16’ – 17’ vaulters in three different years. One was so discouraged that he quit after his sophomore year, a full foot below his high school PR. Another capped off his career with a 2” improvement over his high school PR of nearly 17’. The 3rd just completed his junior year and has tied his high school PR once. Finally, one elite high school vaulter went on to be an elite vaulter at a major university and gives all credit to IGNORING his coach. “I saw how he coached the others down and I didn’t want to be a part of that”
I’m retired from elite coaching but I once had a coach ask me why no one respected him since he had all of this knowledge and had studied so much. My response, “First you come off as an a** that knows it all, and I’m your friend telling you this. I know you’re not an a** but you’re keeping that secret from others”. I told him the problem is that he has not developed anyone. He recruited kids who were already good and hoped them getting strong and fast would make them better. I told him how we had gotten two kids, two years apart with PRs of 12’ and 13’ respectively after their sophomore years in high school. Six years later they were 18’ 4 ½” and 18’ 10 ½” respectively. We got a masters guy from 12’ to 15’ in one year and a girl from 12’ 6” to 14’ 4” in six months. That is development - nobody to somebody.
Our answer was the TALENT potential and kids who loved to vault and were committed to their training. ALL of these kids had good to great skills but were misusing them; working against physics instead of with them. That takes TONS of vaulting and the right drills to correct. The reality is that there is no one program as a good coach will have 6-10 individual programs in progress to accommodate the BEST way for EACH kid within the general system of beliefs.
So congrats to these coaches and schools that you are recognizing, as I am in total agreement with you. But my note is intended for the kids who will be going to other schools. Simple questions for those coaches, "what are the top high school and college marks of your best vaulters? How important do you believe it is to vault in the fall?"
You get ahead of people when they aren’t training. If you’re vaulting and they aren’t you can progress past a lot of them. The great Bob Fraley once said, “After you know how to vault, 70% of your improvement comes from how fast and strong you can get". His son Doug told me that “only 30% of meet vaults will turn out as you expect, so you had better have a lot of vaults under your belt so you can adapt”. AMEN to both comments! Bubba