Thursday, February 9, 2012

Leap forward, big step backward.

Everytime I make a breakthrough in my vaulting, something else goes wrong. I've been trying so hard to be taller coming into my take-off and driving my chest forward in an attempt to get on longer, stiffer poles. Well apparently those aren't the best key words for me. Last weekend I competed in The New Balance Collegiate Invitational at The Armory in New York City. I felt fantastic during warmups and was determined to have a good day. I even took 2 attempts on my 5.10m - 14.0 flex pole in warmups but couldn't quite penetrate enough on it either time. But it was the biggest pole I'd ever planted outside of the meet itself. I ended up starting the meet at 5.30m/17' 4.5"on a 5m - 14.1, still the biggest pole I've ever started on but scraped the bar on the way down. I managed to clear it on my 3rd attempt, finally. I scraped the bar off on the backside all of my next 3 attempts at 5.40m/17'8.5" and was out of the meet. Nobody ended up clearing 5.40m but I don't care about that because IT WAS A COLLEGIATE MEET! I was embarrassed to say the least that I got 4th place in a college meet. The most frustrating part was feeling great at take-off every jump and still coming up short each time. I talked with my coach after the meet and we watched some film. We determined that it was my lack of "rowing" throughout the middle part of my jump that doesn't allow the pole to roll over into the pit like it should. The goal is to take-off tall and fast, while pushing the hands up in order to get the pole to bend correctly and create the elastic energy you need to perform a good vault. After you stretch through the take-off, you have to push your arms forward all the way to your hips while also swinging your legs in order to get upside down. Obviously it's not something easy to explain, especially in words on the world wide web, but this is at least my simplified version of vaulting. Once you do those essential steps, vaulting is easy. I just can't seem to do those few things in the same jump. I was taking off much better this meet, but then wasn't using my arms during the middle of the vault, which rolls the pole over into the pit if you do it in the right order. This created a loss of energy in the middle of my jump causing me to be thrown straight up in the air to fall straight back down on the backside of the bar. I made a short video of my last attempt at 5.40m where I slowed down the video so you can see the portion of my jump where I was not using my arms at all.

Yes, it's hard to see in the video but the bar does bounce off because my right nipple hit it. My mission this weekend is to improve on both aspects and jump like I was born to jump. I'm tellin you... if I can figure out how to do both of these things in the same jump on a big pole, it's going to blow your mind. I'm going to clear some big bars this year and I'm thinking they are going to come sooner rather than later. Oh and one last thing... I was just invited to represent the U.S. at a meet in Toyota City, Japan on March 3rd. Dreams are coming true after all!! Keep believing in me and we'll go far together! Thanks for reading my friend, My next competition is at the Tyson Invitational at The University of Arkansas. I'm actually on the KU Team bus right now on my way. I'll let you know how it goes! It also might be televised so I'll be sure to update you with details if it is. Wish me luck!

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