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Why you need more drills!

When I think back to when I first started coaching, one mistake I made was not using and implemented enough drills. The longer I coach the more drills I use and knowing when to use a drill and what the purpose is becomes more important. Every mistake an athlete makes could use a drill to fix it.

I am the first to say full jumps are great and any pole vaulting program should include a high volume of full jumps, but there a couple thing to keep in mind. Full jumps can be done at any approach 0’s all the back to a full approach of 10 lefts. You do not need to be at a full approach every session otherwise you will overwork the central nervous system and lead to run throughs. The other thing is if an athlete keeps showing you the same mistake during a full jump session, that mistake must be addressed with a drill. Remember the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” As coaches this cliche is a great mantra to live by. Why would you keep doing full jumps with an athlete that isn’t jumping up and expecting them to magically fix it. Find a drill.

If we think about the various components of the vault (1. Carry 2. Run 3. Plant 4. Take off 5. Off the ground) we need to pick drills that can address the technical weakness an

athlete has. Full jumps will not help plant timing. You should stick to just take off to isolate the skill. In fact if jumping up is an issue, you can eliminate the plant and do an overhead carry drill so the athlete can really focus on jumping up. You can create or adjust drills to address the weakness by eliminating skills that would take away from the component you are trying to address.

Another consideration is that the longer you coach an athlete, 4-8 years, the more drills you will have to develop to vary the training and address new weaknesses after old one's are corrected. Context is so critical when we discuss athletes who jump for many years. The drill that lead to a pr in year 1 may not even be used during year 5. And the drill needed in year 5 may be a drill you would never have attempted with an athlete during year 1.

So many drills, especially running and planting drills can be done off the pit. You do not have to jump to work on pole vaulting drills. Standing and walking planting drills can be very useful. Many people will say their athletes have a poor approach but then rarely do pole runs. This can also help you make use of time when a pit isn’t accessible. Many people can do pole runs in a gym or outside without a pit. Use those days and times to work on drills off the pit.

Developing a schedule of big days (longer approaches, full jumps) and drill days (off the pit drills and short approach drills) is a great way to keep an athlete’s central nervous system recovered between long run days and address weaknesses that the athlete is showing during those big day sessions.

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