The plant is very important. If you get this wrong the rest of the vault will likely go wrong. It is important for the athlete to keep their head looking up, not down at the box, as in athletic movements the body follows the head. Both hands should be pushing the pole up above the shoulders, with the palms aiding this upward push. The athlete must drive up off the take off foot and not just let the pole guide them up. The position of the takeoff foot differs for individual athletes but somewhere underneath the top hand is best. The following drills are aimed at perfecting the plant.
Walking Take Off Plant Drill
On this drill what we are looking for is a strong takeoff position, hands above the head driving the right arm up, hitting a nice strong takeoff position with a knee drive. Front toe turned and foot dorsiflexed (pointing upwards), rolling the pole forwards, holding the takeoff leg back to prepare it for the next stage of the vault.
The top arm is driven up straight and stays straight. Typically beginner vaulters will try and pull on the pole as they take off to get more height but this should be avoided. It is a push action, not a pull.
Two Step Plant Drill
This is a two step running take off starting with the arms above the head. The top arm is driven up and over focusing on pole movement and keeping the pole driving forwards. Aim to drive the knee drive upwards on take off after two dynamic steps, focusing on the primary aim of pole vault which is to get the pole to vertical nice and quickly with the left leg or take off leg staying long behind you.
Plant Drill In Long Jump Pit
This is another plant take off drill but this time done in the long jump pit. This enables the vaulter to put a bit more speed and height into the drill without fear of the bottom of the pole moving once they are airborne. Concentrate on driving the top arm high and through the correct position, not letting it drop behind you or coming too far in front. Aim to drive up and jump at the same time or just before the pole tip hits the sand pit.
Keep the eyes looking forwards or upwards at take off rather than down at the pit. The body tends to follow where the head is looking so by looking up you are more likely to go up!
Hold a nice strong take off position after take off with the knee high, toes pointing upwards and the rear leg held back ready for the next phase.
Pole Vault Running Plant Drill
This drill is adding plant action to previous drills. A six step running take off moving the pole through, right arm up the line of the body with a nice strong take off position, knee up and take of leg back preparing for the next phase of the vault.
Looking for a nice smooth pole drop with no pauses. It needs to be moving right the way through the run so that you do not have to carry the pole and add to the weight of the plant.
Pole Vault Drill Four Step Take Off
To achieve the four step running take off drive both arms up though the tack off into an explosive movement forwards.
The temptation on short approach drills is to drop the left arm and feed the pole into the box however you should avoid this as much as possible in order to replicate the hand movement when moving the pole off a longer run.
Pole Vault Two Step Take Off Drill
To achieve the two step take off hands should start above the head with the take off foot almost directly under the top hand.
The set up of the take off position is really important, the position of the foot at take off and where it is in relation to the top arm. If the take off foot is too close it puts too much pressure on the arm to move the pole over, if it is too far away it doesn’t allow a connection at take off to be able to move the pole forward.
Don’t extend grip too much but make sure of full extension at take off with a straight arm driving through the take off foot. At take off be sure to drive the top arm forward so the pole is moved to the vertical.
Pole Vault Single Arm Take Off Drill
To achieve a one arm take off slide the pole down taking off with full extension and really driving the top arm forwards. The end of the pole vault run up is similar to the lung jump so it is faster, shorter and sharper at the end preparing to transfer the horizontal speed into vertical take off.
The reason for this drill is to remove the left arm from the equation. Many vaulters when learning to bend the pole will block and drive out locking the left elbow, but the vault is predominately about the top arm moving the pole so by taking this arm out it forces them to learn to drive the top arm forward.