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Prioritizing Physical Determinants of International Elite Pole Vaulting Performance

Gross, Micah; Büchler Greeley, Nicole; Hübner, Klaus

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 24, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003053
Original Research: PDF Only

Gross, M, Büchler Greeley, N, and Hübner, K. Prioritizing physical determinants of international elite pole vaulting performance. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—The pole vault is a complex track and field discipline requiring speed, strength, and efficient technique. Strength is a fundamental physical requirement, which facilitates general sprinting ability; this in turn represents the exploitable potential during the approach, where kinetic energy for the subsequent vault is generated. This study investigated the relationships between pole vault height, approach speed, sprint-speed potential, and indicators of both explosive and reactive strength in 20 international female pole vaulters. Furthermore, changes in step characteristics between flying sprints and approach runs were analyzed. Data were collected during and after an international pole vault competition. The correlations between approach speed and vault height, between sprint speed and approach speed, and between explosive strength indicators and sprint speed were large or very large. However, the correlation between reactive strength and sprint speed was small. Differences in speed during the vault approach compared with the flying sprint are mainly due to reduced step length rather than lower step frequency. With the help of a flow chart and regression equations, sound decisions can be made regarding the prioritization of various training components of pole vaulters. With this tool, coaches and athletes can easily evaluate whether or not a facilitator ability is sufficient for improving a more specific performance measure on the way to the central criterion: pole vault height. Furthermore, the results of this study suggest that maintaining step length should be emphasized during approach drills to best exploit sprint-speed potential during the pole vault approach.

Section for Elite Sport, Swiss Federal Institute of Sport, Magglingen, Switzerland

Address correspondence to Micah Gross,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.