Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

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PVstudent
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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby PVstudent » Mon May 06, 2013 7:28 am

Thank you Coach Eric and KirkB for your thoughtful responses.
I apologise, in advance for the length of my response.
I do have some considerable experience of coaching in the real world. (PM me if you want to check out my track record and credentials).
My concern, as a student of the event, is to become as clear as possible in my understanding about what actually happens in pole vaulting as opposed to what often gets assumed and presumed to happen.
If, in my practice of the Art of Coaching my observational and analytical skills are deficient then I am compelled to rely on best guess along with intuition based on my experience and study which is of course unique to me.
I don’t know it all, but I hope I have over the years acquired some rudimentary understanding of pole vault techniques and that I continue to learn something different or new every day.

Whilst I may appear to you to be a “stickler for terminology” the issue I raised is fundamental to my understanding of the Plant. I recognise the need for simplicity. If in oversimplification the conceptual basis is lost, misunderstood, misinterpreted or simply wrong or understanding is flawed I will continue to progress my knowledge through sensible PVP discussion and debate.
This contribution is not simply theoretical but founded, I would like to believe, on very practical experience and a rationale founded primarily based on mechanics.

CoachEric » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:36 am

“I think you would agree though, that it is highly beneficial for the vaulter to attempt to minimize torque thoughout the pole carry and plant motion. This is done by maximizing the role of acceleration due to gravity on the pole. Yes, there is inherent variability in every vaulter and in every vault. No one's technique is perfect. Yet we use ideas like "weightless pole” to communicate the concept to athletes who are striving for perfection.”

I most certainly agree with your concept of minimizing torque except that when I observe a “vaulter attempting the approach run pole carriage and plant sequential motion, I try to determine whether the vaulter had minimized all unnecessary torques.

Unnecessary torques in the Approach Run and Plant

I define unnecessary torques as torques that individually or cumulatively result in deleterious effects upon the timing, precision and accuracy of the pole sliding contact along the floor of the plant box until the pole tip makes initial contact against the the rear wall.
I will deal with a few common actions seen in the first step of the approach run resulting from deleterious torque application and control.

Each example is evaluated as being undesirable because it results from the application of unnecessary forces and torques that reduces first step consistency, vaulter confidence and the reliance placed upon the predictability and efficacy of the start of the approach run.
In each example the vaulter has a much lower mechanical advantage and efficiency and higher energy expenditure due to unnecessary, mistimed and graded muscle activation that produce un-required body motion and inertial effects that need to be corrected in the first few steps.

Much of the first phase of the approach run effort is wasted making compensatory adjustments for these technical errors that diminish efficiency and control of the pole translation and elevation. These errors also reduce available ability and capacity to build up initial runway horizontal speed of the total vaulter-pole system.
(Motion caused by unnecessarily deleterious torques when attempting to initiate a consistently repeatable and reliable first step of the approach run)

• At the initiation of the first step increasing or decreasing the pole angle with respect to the horizontal during or prior to the stepping foot making contact with the ground.
• Drawing the hands towards the rear simultaneously with the stepping leg moving forward.
• Leaning the trunk forward excessively to initiate the weight shift for the first step.
• Preliminary pumping of the pole up/down or forward and back prior to, at the start of, or after the initiation of the first step.
• Hunching the shoulders to “lift or hold the pole up” as the step is being made (The pole should not be lifted but suspended from the shoulders. The suspension is caused by the vaulter allowing the downward pull and slight rotation effect of gravitational force acting on the pole centre of mass, which is located eccentrically forward from the vaulter’s mass centre and shoulders, to assist in overcoming initial inertia in the intended direction of the run.)
• Pushing the whole pole unit forward so that both hand grips are out in front of the rest of the vaulter’s body prior to or just as the first step contacts the runway.
• Repetition of forward and rearward steps before actually making the first step with that same leg...Skip step and or jump start out from the start position are very common destabilising actions that interfere with developing highly reproducible, reliable consistency in making the first step. Fundamentally these first start step modes types demonstrate a lack of understanding of how the control of pole torque can be used to facilitate overcoming initial inertia in the intended direction of the first step.
• ad infinitum

Note: All of the actions examples above weaken or break the first link in the sequential causal chain of actions that finally determine whether the pole can slide at the right rate, angle and momentum in the planting box to result in the optimum take-off for that vault attempt.

When working with pole vaulters who have moved to 10(American terminology 5 lefts) – 12 - 14-16+ step approach runs some working phrases and cue words that I have used, depending upon the individual vaulter, their age, pole vault experience, pole vault knowledge and practical knowledge as demonstrated by their performance and depending of course on what the major problem is that I have observed with respect to the first step might be:

1. Pole up to stay up front. (Counteraction for tendency to lean back and over lengthen the first step because the pole is held too low or leading hand held out too far from the chest, or lower hand is too far forward in front of the hips, or some combination. Lean back can also be the result of the pole being held elevated too close to the vertical.)
2. Pole Pals who start together, stay together and arrive on target together. (In the initial step there should be minimal (preferably no rotation of the pole independent of the vaulter. The vaulter and pole rotate at the same rate about the support foot axis. This is applicable also in second run step contact and flight phase to ensure the arm and leg motions become synchronised with the appropriate phase offset. The phase offset is necessary because the pole suspension carry by the arms does not allow the usual reciprocation action of the legs to be counterbalanced by a reciprocating action of the arms as occurs in arm (of additional external load) free sprinting.
3. Don’t be a pole vault Jerk! Pole vaulters are smooth dudes!
(Many of the beginners try to produce an explosive type start as though they were trying to do a 100m dash from a standing start. The rate at which both the force and torque magnitudes are applied is so fast the vaulter jerks forward and the pole jerks upward, rotating in the opposite direction to the vaulter.
4. Smooth start speed picks up spectacularly.
5. Start upright to stay upright. (Pole vaulters start as upright citizens but ultimately become inverts!)
6. Rock and Roll (Action of the support leg foot during the first step – the weight of the pole vaulter and pole, acting through the support leg foot, transfers from the grounded heel, by continuous contact, on to the “ball of the foot” as the heel is raised by the vaulter’s graded muscle effort. During this time the total system centre of mass, considered to be behaving as an inverted pendulum, weight force action line passes forwards beyond the leading edge of the support leg base until the stepping leg foot contacts the ground. There is more I could add, but the point is the start and the run acceleration is profoundly influenced by judicious application of torques at the appropriate place and time in each running motion step cycle.)
7. May the pole force be with you... use it or lose it!

Let me illustrate this further in regard to developing the technique requirement to deal with examples 6 &7 above. Sometimes the correction of any of the issues alluded to, will involve some question and answer interaction followed by an isolation practice of a particular element of the start step. I often then use “Old Way, New Way Repetition Coaching Method” to establish vaulter awareness of how the pole induced torque can be used to facilitate initiating the first step and smoothly accelerate the first part of the approach run.

For example: the question and answer with the vaulter reveals that I have observed the pole being lowered slightly and that the vaulter was unaware that this happened or perhaps didn’t know how to use the torque effect of the pole to facilitate the whole of the pole-vaulter system weight shift forwards in the first step! The following guidance exercises might be tried:

• The starting position for each exercise: Stand with both feet together and body vertically upright. The pole tip rests on the ground whilst the properly orientated and correctly spaced hands grip the other end of the pole (note the pole should be oriented “soft” side up). The grip of the right hand is positioned at just below waist level with the little finger resting on, or close to, the right buttock and the pole is lifted primarily with the left hand. The pole is levered into the position that the vaulter determines to be ideal for the start preparation. The left hand is now the uppermost hand and should be positioned approximately in line with the breast bone (sternum) at a position about 15-20 cms forward of the chest. The lower hand should not have changed its height relationship or position with respect to the right buttock. The pole, when viewed by the vaulter, will be aligned diagonally across and in front of the vaulter’s body which is upright and in balance. The pole is inclined from the right hip so that the pole tip is positioned in the same vertical plane as the left shoulder. This becomes the reference preparation position as the initial start position in the following exercises.

• Exercise 1: Assume the start preparation position and with eyes open adjust the pole elevation angle until it is elevated to the angle that the vaulter finds easiest to maintain them self and the pole motionless. Ask the vaulter to keep the pole motionless fixed in that position with respect to the body for say 10 -15 seconds. Repeat this 2-3 times and check that the vaulter and pole reproduce as closely as they can their upright posture and pole elevation angle. Then the coach asks the vaulter whilst keeping his/her body straight to relax their calf muscles slowly. The Coach observes what happens and asks the vaulter to describe what happened? The trials are repeated using the coach /vaulter interactive feedback until on relaxing the calf muscles the vaulter, by keeping the whole body straight and without moving the pole in any way, allows the muscle relaxation to let them self be inclined forward about the transverse ankle axis until the right foot has to step forward to stop the forward rotation of the total vaulter-pole system acting as a single inverted pendulum unit.

• Exercise 2: The same exercise process but performed with eyes closed.

• Exercise 3: The same exercise as exercise 1 (eyes open) but when the pole is in the elevated ready position, release the fingers gripping the pole and adjust the pole elevation angle until the start ready position can be held motionless with minimal effort! The skin webbing between forefinger and thumbs of each hand should be able to provide sufficient pole support and control if the pole is properly suspended from the vaulter’s shoulders by the arms.

• Exercise 4: Repeat exercise 3 (eyes closed). When the exercise can be performed smoothly, with minimal effort and with control awareness the vaulter will have experienced the reciprocal relationship between muscle applied resisting torque to the action inducing torque due to the pole weight force.

• Exercise 5: Repeat Exercise 4 (eyes open) and walk forward 5-6 steps. Repeat and jog forward 5 – 6 steps. Repeat and run smoothly forward comfortably paced. Note during these exercises the trunk should be held erect to the extent that the vaulter can just feel the pole exerting a pulling sensation against it and not allow any bending forward from the waist to occur.

For advanced coaches this is probably old news.

What may be noteworthy is that the methodology focuses on the elimination of undesirable forces and torques at this vitally important stage of the vault.

Hopefully, I have made the point about how to use the action inducing effect of pole torque on facilitating the first step of the approach.

There are a whole array of exercises and drills that are used according to the particular technical issue that needs to be addressed. The exercises and drills ought to be selected on the basis of the evidence from the vaulter’s real life actions rather than application of recipes that are non specific or do not address the issue/s for that particular vaulter at that particular time.

Throughout the approach run and in initiating the plant the principle of utilizing controlled pole torque to assist the pole declination and total system acceleration is judiciously and continually applied by the vaulter.

I generally use the same method to introduce the Plant action.

The teaching procedure starts with feet together and then progresses to a single step from the rearward placed right leg stepping forward as the plant is initiated using pole torque assistance.

There are some important torque issues that also need to be resolved in using an arm motion pattern that reduces the natural pole “Yaw” so that as the pole elevation angle declines the pole moves into the same vertical plane as the mid-line of the vaulter by the time pole tip touch-down contact occurs within the planting box. The plant is an action occurring, as it must, in three dimensions and is most certainly not torque-free.

(The process of teaching the plant action pattern, plant integration into the approach run, the plant action modifications to cope with winds, wet and cold conditions, how hand grip orientations , over/ under grip, grip spacing etc., make planting easy or difficult, all have to be considered but well beyond the scope of this response.)

However, if “Free-Drop” Plant means that:

“The plant is made with minimal use of resisting and un-necessary forces and torques so that the net result is a pole plant of sufficient control in timing, sliding impulse, rate of contact rotation and precision of pole tip placement in the planting box to optimise the vault take-off for the particular vault attempt”
then I could reluctantly accept the wording “Free – Drop”.

I think that “Free” and “Drop” are misnomers that falsify the actuality of what vaulters should be attempting to do in the plant.

The where, when and how to eliminate unwanted motions, learning to inhibit or switch off unnecessary muscular efforts, is the instructional process the vaulter needs most help with. In this process ”Freeing” the vaulter from errors in action sequencing, timing gradation and directing of muscular effort and not merely allowing the pole to be accelerated about the pivot hand solely by the effects of gravity is in my view the primary coaching objective. This is the "Hard and Harsh" part of coaching in the real world. There is no perfect one way that will do the job for every individual.

There is little that is “Free” or “Dropping” anywhere in real world pole vault plant action.

When the velocity of the pole tip is appropriately synchronised to the body segmental actions of the vaulter effort and matches the resultant velocity outcome on the total system the vaulter will often report that the plant felt easy, the pole moved freely with minimal effort, the pole helped forward acceleration into the take-off and take-off confidence was high and certain.

I think the concept “maximizing the accelerating role of gravity acting on the pole” is simply a wrong description for what pole vaulter’s actually do, which is I suggest is to Optimise the Role of Gravity Acting on the Pole especially when initiating and controlling the plant action motion sequence.

If a pole vaulter were to simply maximize the accelerating role of gravity acting on the pole in the plant action they would actually need to project the pole centre of mass as far forward out in front as they could possibly manage whilst still retaining the axis of the pole rotation at the furthermost hand from the vaulter’s shoulder.

Vaulters should not do this deliberately whether they are beginners or World Champions for the obvious reason that their chances of executing the take-off successfully after having done so is dramatically reduced. Even when they get off the ground the probability of rejection back along the runway is high.

The vaulter, were they to follow the maximize principle, would have no reliable means of ensuring the motion of the pole was concordant with the motion of the rest of their body. This would in effect make a successful take-off highly unlikely.

The plant requires integration of the angular and translatory motion velocities of the pole to be temporally synchronised with the sequential body segmental actions and horizontal velocity of the vaulter in direct relation to the height and distance away from the rear wall of the planting box of the pole tip as the plant action is initiated.

I contend that maximizing the effect of gravity on the pole will actually produce increased probability of timing errors, pole placement errors and magnify the uncertainty and preparedness of the vaulter to actually execute a take-off.
I suggest that the fundamental goal of the plant action in pole vaulting is to achieve optimised angular and translatory velocities of the vaulter and pole system so that minimum energy losses occur upon pole impact with the rear wall of the planting box. This optimises the opportunity for the vaulter to take-off with maximum certainty, effectiveness and minimal energy / momentum losses.

The technique mechanics required to do this will be inefficient and more unpredictable in outcome if the pole rotation in the plant maximizes the acceleration effect of pole weight induced torque.

When the vaulter’s plant action is “tuned” to and accords with the velocity and spatial location of the pole tip with respect to the rear wall of the planting box, when initiating and completing the pole planting sequence, a successful take-off is made possible under the constraints existing on that occasion for that particular vaulter. In other words the vaulter has to act under the constraints that really do exist.

Given the runway horizontal speeds, that most vaulters exhibit, simply using “Free-Drop” Plant Technique is fraught with increased uncertainty of plant outcome which results in more frequent plant timing and spatial errors that erode vaulter confidence, predictability and consistency of outcomes.

(It must also be recognised that in the real world of outdoor pole vaulting head winds, gusting winds, tail winds and worst of all intermittent strong wind gust in the lateral direction add further uncertainties and demands that make plant action control a problem of optimisation rather than the reproduction of an invariant stereotypic response that the minimizing / maximizing approach implicitly assumes).

I don’t particularly have a problem accepting that many athletes would have trouble following my explanation. This is the advanced section of PVP so why dumb down?

However, I still believe that understanding the effects of forces producing torques during the pole carriage in the approach that culminates in the plant has consequent effects determining the efficiency in the take-off energy/momentum exchanges.

Also of course understanding and practicing the efficient use of torque pairs greatly simplifies and engenders greater confidence and reliability in executing the plant and achieving its intended goal of increasing take-off effectiveness.

According to what I understand and perceive in the planting of the pole in the box, there is a reduction in the vertical height of the pole tip whilst at the same time the hand grip end of the pole is raised upwards. The amounts of tip decrease in height and grip end height increase are proportional to the perpendicular distance these ends are from the pole rotational pivot point (axis/fulcrum).

The vaulter’s centre of mass is being raised by the upward motion of both arms. The total system centre of mass, when the plant phase is ending, has horizontal forward and vertical motion so that its displacement path is upward and forward as the pole tip contacts the planting box.

I simply ask what is being dropped and how does “dropping” the pole actually ensure that the vaulter is able to take-off with certainty, minimize energy and momentum losses and ensure the vaulter-pole total system translates toward the vertical plane of the cross-bar?

I think the unfortunate word choices “Free-Drop Plant” convey a meaning, to the uninitiated, that is directly opposed to what actually happens in the Plant. Blind faith advocacy of “Free-Drop Plant” opens yet another Pandora’s Box and I suggest will lead many a coach and athlete on a futile search for yet another Holy Grail in pole vaulting.
Every new opinion at its starting, is precisely a minority of one!

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby CoachEric » Mon May 06, 2013 2:31 pm

That was one hell of a response. I think we're not so far off. I like you're approach of focusing on removing unnecessary forces from the system.
However, if “Free-Drop” Plant means that:
“The plant is made with minimal use of resisting and un-necessary forces and torques so that the net result is a pole plant of sufficient control in timing, sliding impulse, rate of contact rotation and precision of pole tip placement in the planting box to optimise the vault take-off for the particular vault attempt”
then I could reluctantly accept the wording “Free – Drop”.

Yeah, we agree, but I still wouldn't use so many words :)

Mind you, I don't teach a beginner how to plant by saying "just let the tip drop into the box - don't worry, it'll get there." I have a set of cues to take a beginner through the plant "by the numbers." The model matches the positions described in Petrov's 2005 speech, and I take them through lots of repetitions in slow motion, eyes closed, backwards, left handed, walking, skipping jogging, etc. until it's perfect. So yeah, the plant is prescribed, and therefore matches your requirement for a controlled plant motion.
HOWEVER, when the plant is perfect, they can begin to learn to let the pole tip accelerate into the plant position. It increases the rate of rotation of the pole at the instant the plant is initiated, and it reduces the amount of required force from the athlete to press the pole towards vertical. The more force the athlete is required to apply to reach the plant position, the more likely it will result in deceleration into takeoff.

Only with the pole tip accelerating into takeoff will the vaulter be able to overcome the rotational inertia of the pole and allow the axis of rotation to move from the fulcrum (at the bottom hand) to the middle of the pole. This also makes the pole rotation faster, which encourages vaulters into a quicker run tempo in the last three steps. They are "free" to be taller, faster, and better prepared for takeoff because, by allowing the pole tip to accelerate into the plant, they have removed unnecessary forces.

I simply ask what is being dropped and how does “dropping” the pole actually ensure that the vaulter is able to take-off with certainty, minimize energy and momentum losses and ensure the vaulter-pole total system translates toward the vertical plane of the cross-bar?

In your quest for specificity, you've become hung up on the word "drop," and I can appreciate that in your case. The rotation of the pole during the approach is indeed controlled by the top arm, and there is a fulcrum. I still want the vaulter to apply as little force as he or she is able while still executing the prescribed positions, but yes there is a fulcrum. Because you basically have a working lever, the pole does not, technically speaking, "drop" freely.

But, as you put it:
"When the velocity of the pole tip is appropriately synchronised to the body segmental actions of the vaulter effort and matches the resultant velocity outcome on the total system the vaulter will often report that the plant felt easy, the pole moved freely with minimal effort, the pole helped forward acceleration into the take-off and take-off confidence was high and certain."

A vaulter will report this when the pole feels weightless! Or in other words, when they feel like they are just letting the tip "free fall" while hitting the correct positions. They have simply factored in the role of gravity - a constant - and executed the motions without applying unnecessary forces. Now the vaulter can be faster, and the hips will be alighned for takeoff. That's how energy loss is minimized.

Yes, this becomes more difficult with outside factors like wind or inconsistency on the vaulter's part. A vaulter will have to adjust to those factors.

I think the unfortunate word choices “Free-Drop Plant” convey a meaning, to the uninitiated, that is directly opposed to what actually happens in the Plant. Blind faith advocacy of “Free-Drop Plant” opens yet another Pandora’s Box and I suggest will lead many a coach and athlete on a futile search for yet another Holy Grail in pole vaulting.


It is important to understand that the "pole drop," or "accelerating pole tip" as you might be more inclined to accept, will look very different when Lavillenie does it than when my 9th grade girl does it. Lavillenie accelerates like he's strapped to a jet engine, it takes longer for gravity to overcome his perpendicular acceleration and visibly act on the pole. For him to time it up correctly, he must let the pole begin to fall sooner, and the angle of his pole relative to the ground will be lower for a longer time than a girl who has no jet engines.

And I wouldn't say that pole drop as I describe it is a pole vault Holy Grail, but I do believe it's a prerequisite for the Free Takeoff, which is at least more broadly accepted.

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby altius » Mon May 06, 2013 9:10 pm

"And I wouldn't say that pole drop as I describe it is a pole vault Holy Grail, but I do believe it's a prerequisite for the Free Takeoff, which is at least more broadly accepted."

Pole DROP is not a prerequisite for a free take of. Take a look at Wendy Young 19 (4.40) on the back cover of BTB2 and on the dvd - free take off - pole lowered under control. Ditto Patrick Jesser 18 (5.40), Ditto Tom Lovell 18 (5.00) both in the book and dvd. I suspect that if we had film of Chris Lovell's jumps - other than one which is a third attempt at a PR -and world junior qualifying height - we would see another example of a free take off. He is pretty close as it is. They all lowered the pole under control - there was never a DROP - there is never a DROP - it is a bad choice of words. Clearly any time the tip of the pole begins to move ahead of the bottom hand, torque forces come into play - torque forces that increase as the pole is lowered and the centre of mass of the pole moves further ahead of the support of the bottom hand. But athletes should never be encouraged to let the pole drop freely - it should always be controlled. They should certainly never be encouraged to learn to drop the pole through an intuitive 'learn by doing process'.

Unfortunately - as I indicated in BTB2 - there is always likely to be a problem when complex ideas are translated from one language into another.

Again - while I am not challenging the fact that you are an experienced and effective coach - I would like you to show us some of your athletes using a 'free' take off.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby KirkB » Tue May 07, 2013 11:48 pm

altius wrote: ... while I am not challenging the fact that you are an experienced and effective coach - I would like you to show us some of your athletes using a 'free' take off.

I abstain on whether every one of their proteges do a free takeoff or not, but here's CoachEric's credentials and the credentials of his mentor, quoted from the new website of Eric Lobdell and Dave Butler called Art of the Vault (http://artofthevault.com/). This is an excellent PV site! Check it out! :idea:

http://artofthevault.com/contact-us/ wrote:
David Butler

With 35 years of pole vault coaching experience, David Butler is one of the foremost pole vault coaches in the world. While at Rice University, he has coached several All-Americans and an NCAA champion, and currently coaches two promising athletes, Chris Pillow (5.41), and McKenzie Johnson (4.12). David’s close personal relationship with Vitali Petrov has afforded him exclusive insight into the Petrov model and Petrov’s coaching techniques. It has also earned him recognition as a top technical expert among National Pole Vault Summit Staff. He is a frequent speaker at the Summit, and has also spoken at the Somero, Finland Pole Vault Carnival, the European Pole Vault Conference, and the NACACTRCA Athletics Conference in Puerto Rico.

Eric Lobdell

Eric is a former collegiate pole vaulter for the United States Military Academy, originally from Houston, Texas. In addition to David Butler, Eric’s mentors include former NCAA champion Brian Hunter, speed/power development specialist Mike Young, PhD, and top high school track coach Richie Mercado. As an ardent technician, Eric conducted substantial independent study of the sport throughout his pole vault career. ...

I haven't seen any vids of Pillow or Johnson yet, but I've seen several vids of Butler's past All-Americans!

Here's the beginning of Dave Butler's bio from the Rice University website ...
http://www.riceowls.com/sports/m-track/mtt/butler_david00.html wrote:Widely regarded as one of the top pole vault coaches in the country, David Butler begins his 10th year as an assistant coach of both the men's and women's pole vaulters at Rice University.

The 2009 indoor and outdoor seasons proved fruitful for Butler and the Rice pole vaulting corps. Junior Jason Colwick had an exceptional year winning the 2009 NCAA Indoor title and the 2009 NCAA Outdoor championship as well. Colwick also posted the nation's number outdoor one mark for the second straight year.

In 2008, Colwick posted the NCAA's number one mark in the pole vault, 5.55m/18-2.5, at the Texas Twilight Meet. Colwick also won the Conference USA outdoor title with a meet record mark of 5.31m/17-5.

At the 2009 USA National Pole Vault Summit, Butler was awarded the 2009 Sports Culture Award for his work in promoting the history of the sport in the education of USA athletes and coaches. This award was given by the North American Pole Vault Association and the USA National Pole Vault Development Staff.

He was inducted to the Spring Branch Memorial Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, and into the New Haven High (Ind.) School Hall of Fame in 2006. He was the feature speaker at the 2012 Somero (Finland) Pole Vault Carnival, and presented at the 2008 & 2009 Houston Pole Vault Coaches Symposium and the 2011 HISD Coaches' Conference.

Butler's articles have been published in Techniques Magazine, The Pole Vault Standard, and recognized in The Illustrated History of the Pole Vault, Beginner to Bubka, and The Who's Who in the Pole Vault.

He is the creator of the "Steel to Fiberglass" and "140 Drills and Exercises for the Pole Vault" instructional DVDs, and the Facebook page, "The Vault: How Bamboo, Steel & Fiberglass Changed Our Lives."

Very interesting that CoachEric's mentor has been quoted in Beginner to Bubka. :yes: :D

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby CoachEric » Wed May 08, 2013 12:24 am

Thanks for the plug!! :D :yes:

There's a video of Chris Pillow on Butler's Facebook group page. I'm on a phone so I can't link to it. You can scroll down to his post on March 19th of one of Chris's jumps. In my opinion, he has the best technique I've seen in the NCAA this year, although he has a tendency to let his head back too far. He's just not fast enough yet to be one if the big boys, but he's only a sophomore. I think he'll be one to watch over the next few years.

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby david bussabarger » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:51 pm

Kirk,
Great post and I agree with everything you said here. In fact I wrote an article for Track Coach 200 ( spring 2012 ) on the same subject and mentioned many of the same vaulters you did. I consider John Pennel to be the father of modern fiberglass vaulting technique. Although he took off under you can see many parallels between Bubka's and Pennels' technique. In an evolutionary sense, technically Bubka was a improved version of Pennel. This is particularly obvious when you look at Pennel's superb vault over a WR 17-61/4 in 67 ( I have this vault on video and have studied it countless times ).

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:43 am

I'm very surprised that you credit Pennel with being one of the forerunners of the Petrov Model. From my posts, and even if you look at how Ganslen describes Pennel's technique in his Mechanics of the Pole Vault book (an earlier version that the one you and I have), Pennel specifically pushed with his bottom hand. Maybe not on takeoff (I'm not sure), but certainly AFTER takeoff.

Now you have me wondering. I think I read about his technique in a Mechanics of the PV from about 1964 or so (I'm quite sure it wasn't 1966 or 1967), so maybe 3 years later he ironed out that push and got a continuous sweeping motion of his trail leg going? I actually watched him vault in person a couple times in 1967-1969, but I was so young and naiive at the time, I can't honestly remember his technique from watching it live.

I wouldn't mind reading your 2012 article, if you don't mind posting it, or sending it to me via a private message. Ditto re the vid of Pennel - I'll give you my email address in a PM.

As I've explained in my Bryde Bend thread and elsewhere, I tried to emulate Pennel's technique in HS (pushing with the bottom arm), and it completely screwed up my technique. It's not that I have a grudge against Pennel for this, it's just that I feel I lost two valuable years of my HS career in trying to push the way he did - and failing. And more to the point, Bubka didn't push at all, whereas Pennel definitely did, so I don't see the comparison.

Kirk
Run. Plant. Jump. Stretch. Whip. Extend. Fly. Clear. There is no tuck! THERE IS NO DELAY!

david bussabarger
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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby david bussabarger » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:17 pm

Kirk,
I have several videos and photo sequences of Pennel and I also vaulted in a meet in against him in 1971, his last year before retiring.
It is my point of view that Pennel did not conciously push his lower arm out during his swing ( typically, like virtually all vaulters of that era, his lower arm flexed a great deal at the elbow during the take off ). I believe that the extension of his lower arm during the swing was an opposite reaction based on his specfic planting and takeoff action. Although I never tried to conciously push out with my lower arm during the swing I have videos of myself doing it ( on rare occasions ). So somehow I did it unconciously. Another related point is that in all the photos and videos I have off Pennel, his lower arm is never fully staightened during the swing ( another reason I think it was an unconcious action). If you compare Pennel with Papanicolau, who was an obvious Pennel imitator (sp), Papa definately actively pushed his lower arm out during the swing. Also, If you ask me, Bubka does straighten or push his lower arm out during his swing.
Another problem with analyzing Pennel is that his technical execution, like everybody else in his era, was very inconsistent. But, when he put it all together he was a superb technician (very smooth and flowinging, yet also explosive ).
If you compare him at his best, he was light years ahead of everybody else in his era technically. This is particularly true if you compare him with other top vaulters in the early sixties such as Sternberg, Hansen, Davies, Uelses,Nikula, Morris,Pruessger, Reinhardt and so on. With the exception of Hansen, all of these vaulters looked pretty much like metal pole vaulters using fiberglass poles ( many of them barely bent the pole ).
One final point, I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that you are one of those people who thinks there is only one correct way to vault, which is similar to how you vaulted. If this is so, I think you are making a big mistake. Although all relatively current elite vaulters do alot of things the same, you also see a great deal of variation in certain aspects of the vault ( variations in the take off point, front arm action and positoning during the bottom of the vault, rock-back style and so on ). These variartions persist even at the 6m level and above.
You have to make allowances for individual tendencies. The exact same techniques will not work well for all vaulters.
I have limited computer skills and do not know how to access a private chat room, so I will give you my email adress and hope I don't get alot of negative blow back from people who disagree with my views on pvp. davidbussabarger@yahoo.com I will be glad to send you videos and sequences of Pennel or any other vaulters you might be interseted in ( I have an extensive collection ) if you provide me with your address.
P.S., will also send a copy of my Track Coach article
Regards, Dave

david bussabarger
PV Nerd
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:35 pm
Expertise: former elite vaulter, author of vaulting books and many articles on vaulting technique.
Lifetime Best: 16-9, 1971
World Record Holder?: Renaud Lavillenie
Favorite Vaulter: Brad Pursley

Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby david bussabarger » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:17 pm

Kirk,
I have several videos and photo sequences of Pennel and I also vaulted in a meet in against him in 1971, his last year before retiring.
It is my point of view that Pennel did not conciously push his lower arm out during his swing ( typically, like virtually all vaulters of that era, his lower arm flexed a great deal at the elbow during the take off ). I believe that the extension of his lower arm during the swing was an opposite reaction based on his specfic planting and takeoff action. Although I never tried to conciously push out with my lower arm during the swing I have videos of myself doing it ( on rare occasions ). So somehow I did it unconciously. Another related point is that in all the photos and videos I have off Pennel, his lower arm is never fully staightened during the swing ( another reason I think it was an unconcious action). If you compare Pennel with Papanicolau, who was an obvious Pennel imitator (sp), Papa definately actively pushed his lower arm out during the swing. Also, If you ask me, Bubka does straighten or push his lower arm out during his swing.
Another problem with analyzing Pennel is that his technical execution, like everybody else in his era, was very inconsistent. But, when he put it all together he was a superb technician (very smooth and flowinging, yet also explosive ).
If you compare him at his best, he was light years ahead of everybody else in his era technically. This is particularly true if you compare him with other top vaulters in the early sixties such as Sternberg, Hansen, Davies, Uelses,Nikula, Morris,Pruessger, Reinhardt and so on. With the exception of Hansen, all of these vaulters looked pretty much like metal pole vaulters using fiberglass poles ( many of them barely bent the pole ).
One final point, I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that you are one of those people who thinks there is only one correct way to vault, which is similar to how you vaulted. If this is so, I think you are making a big mistake. Although all relatively current elite vaulters do alot of things the same, you also see a great deal of variation in certain aspects of the vault ( variations in the take off point, front arm action and positoning during the bottom of the vault, rock-back style and so on ). These variartions persist even at the 6m level and above.
You have to make allowances for individual tendencies. The exact same techniques will not work well for all vaulters.
I have limited computer skills and do not know how to access a private chat room, so I will give you my email adress and hope I don't get alot of negative blow back from people who disagree with my views on pvp. davidbussabarger@yahoo.com I will be glad to send you videos and sequences of Pennel or any other vaulters you might be interseted in ( I have an extensive collection ) if you provide me with your address.
P.S., will also send a copy of my Track Coach article
Regards, Dave

david bussabarger
PV Nerd
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:35 pm
Expertise: former elite vaulter, author of vaulting books and many articles on vaulting technique.
Lifetime Best: 16-9, 1971
World Record Holder?: Renaud Lavillenie
Favorite Vaulter: Brad Pursley

Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby david bussabarger » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:18 pm

Kirk,
I have several videos and photo sequences of Pennel and I also vaulted in a meet in against him in 1971, his last year before retiring.
It is my point of view that Pennel did not conciously push his lower arm out during his swing ( typically, like virtually all vaulters of that era, his lower arm flexed a great deal at the elbow during the take off ). I believe that the extension of his lower arm during the swing was an opposite reaction based on his specfic planting and takeoff action. Although I never tried to conciously push out with my lower arm during the swing I have videos of myself doing it ( on rare occasions ). So somehow I did it unconciously. Another related point is that in all the photos and videos I have off Pennel, his lower arm is never fully staightened during the swing ( another reason I think it was an unconcious action). If you compare Pennel with Papanicolau, who was an obvious Pennel imitator (sp), Papa definately actively pushed his lower arm out during the swing. Also, If you ask me, Bubka does straighten or push his lower arm out during his swing.
Another problem with analyzing Pennel is that his technical execution, like everybody else in his era, was very inconsistent. But, when he put it all together he was a superb technician (very smooth and flowinging, yet also explosive ).
If you compare him at his best, he was light years ahead of everybody else in his era technically. This is particularly true if you compare him with other top vaulters in the early sixties such as Sternberg, Hansen, Davies, Uelses,Nikula, Morris,Pruessger, Reinhardt and so on. With the exception of Hansen, all of these vaulters looked pretty much like metal pole vaulters using fiberglass poles ( many of them barely bent the pole ).
One final point, I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that you are one of those people who thinks there is only one correct way to vault, which is similar to how you vaulted. If this is so, I think you are making a big mistake. Although all relatively current elite vaulters do alot of things the same, you also see a great deal of variation in certain aspects of the vault ( variations in the take off point, front arm action and positoning during the bottom of the vault, rock-back style and so on ). These variartions persist even at the 6m level and above.
You have to make allowances for individual tendencies. The exact same techniques will not work well for all vaulters.
I have limited computer skills and do not know how to access a private chat room, so I will give you my email adress and hope I don't get alot of negative blow back from people who disagree with my views on pvp. davidbussabarger@yahoo.com I will be glad to send you videos and sequences of Pennel or any other vaulters you might be interseted in ( I have an extensive collection ) if you provide me with your address.
P.S., will also send a copy of my Track Coach article
Regards, Dave

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby tsorenson » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:08 am

I agree with Eric that the pole drop is an often overlooked, important aspect of vaulting that encourages, even FORCES, an acceleration into the takeoff. He has explained the idea and the drills used to emphasize it quite well, in my opinion.

I also agree with PVstudent and Altius that what ACTUALLY happens is a controlled lowering of the pole. It is yet another example of the fact that what you see during a vault is not what the athlete and/or coach is striving for. PVstudent is right when stating that attempting to learn to drop the pole freely can be dangerous, especially without a coach that understands how to teach it. And Alan and PVstudent are right that you don't necessarily have to teach it.

And also, to use Alan's words of wisdom (that he spoke to me yesterday :D ), "the human body solves the problem." Even vaulters who are not taught to drop the pole freely will still learn to capitalize on the benefits of the tip accelerating into the box, to one degree or another. Conversely, just because you do drills that focus on a gravity-drop does not mean that you will be able to achieve this on the runway. As Roman wrote a few years ago, every vaulter will control the drop, but the less the better.

PVstudent and Eric did an excellent job of describing the effect of torque forces on the vaulter during various aspects of the vault. I believe that minimizing these forces is most important during the plant phase, when a forced quickening without torque on the system (loss of posture and lowered COM) is most desirable. In my experience as a coach and a vaulter, I can say that as soon as you try to slow down the drop of the pole, you cause the hands to drop and the posture to break, because you must compensate for the torque delivered on the system. This causes an increase in stride length and a deceleration.

Many vaulters that do not have a fully free pole drop actually do drop the pole freely in the last stride or two, and manage to relieve torsional forces and quicken somewhat. The fully free pole drop is a very advanced skill that takes years to learn, but I would suggest that it is something to strive for. It assists greatly in achieving a free, uprising takeoff.

Respectfully, this is just my .02...I am not a great vaulter, but I still do vault as well as coach many athletes, and we constantly experiment with drills and concepts so my input is not purely theoretical.

Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments and the respectful discussion.

Tom

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Re: Fourteen Year Gap in Modern PV Technique in the 1970s?

Unread postby KirkB » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:34 pm

tsorenson wrote: As Roman wrote a few years ago, every vaulter will control the drop, but the less the better.
:yes:

I'm with you on all this! Not just Roman's quote - but your entire post.

David: I sent you an email. Thanks!

Kirk
Run. Plant. Jump. Stretch. Whip. Extend. Fly. Clear. There is no tuck! THERE IS NO DELAY!


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