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Good Eye Focus Improves Pole Vaulting!
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by Bill Falk
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Eye control is vital to pole vault success! It's not always talked about, but it should be. Doing it right makes all the phases of the "Continuous Chain" of pole vaulting successful.

Let's look at it phase by phase:

The Approach Run

Look straight ahead at eye level throughout the Approach Run. Focus on the back of the pole vault pit. This helps the pole vaulter get ready to change from the horizontal movement of the Approach Run to the vertical lift-off of the Take-Off.

The Plant

It's more difficult to coach eye control during the Plant phase of the pole vault. As the pole vaulter lifts both arms to plant the pole vault pole, he/she must look upward to assist a vertical Take-Off. Don't fix the eyes on the pole vault box. Instead, look at the rising lower hand. This works great provided the lower arm creates a 45 degree angle between the body and the pole. It doesn't work if the pole vaulter doesn't raise the left arm high enough.

The Take-Off

The eyes continue to focus on the lower arm during the Pole Vault Take-Off. This enables the vaulter to drive upward off the runway with an upright running posture. A high pole bend is created to let the vaulter's chest move upward/forward to create a great swing action.

The Swing

As the chest swings upward and forward ahead of the extended top arm, maintain eye focus on the lower hand. Don't look at the pole vault crossbar! That interferes with the natural swinging action that is needed.

The Swing-Up

Upright posture changes during the Pole Vault Swing-Up as the hips and legs rise while the knees come into the chest. The eyes still look upward at the lower hand or at the sky. Don't ruin the pole vault by fixing your eyes on the crossbar. That will squeeze the hips and legs outward towards the crossbar instead of helping them go up the pole and over the crossbar.

The Pull-Turn

The eyes continue to look upward as the lower hand pulls back towards the vaulter's body before the turn starts. Then the eyes and the rest of the body turn around the pole as one unit. (left for right-handers and right for left-handers).

The Fly-Away

When the unit-turn is completed, the eyes face back down the runway away from the landing pit.


Good eye control isn't the only factor needed to produce great pole vaulting, but it is a great help!