When USA Today ran a series in 2005 on the 10 hardest things to do in sports, pole vaulting ranked third. In Riverhead, Charles Villa routinely makes it look easy.
The senior recently set the outdoor school record of 15 feet 1 inch. He finished first at last weekend’s state qualifier by clearing 14-3. On Friday, Villa will compete at the New York State Championships, where he’ll be aiming to set the record even higher.
Here, Villa breaks down all the components to the pole vault:
1. “It is the plant where you must have your right arm completely straight and your left arm must also push up. The key idea idea is like you’re stretching your arms up.”
2. “This is the middle of your swing phase. In this phase you are trying to get your legs to swing completely past or to the top of the pole.”
3. “In this position you’re about done with the swing and getting ready to turn and pull the pole close to your body in order to finally push the pole.”
4. “Here you are pushing the pole and forcing the body over the bar.”
5. “This part of the jump is where you want do a movement called a ‘pike.’ This is where you try to turn your thumbs and attempt to bring your hips far up allowing you to have a bigger gap between you and the bar.”
6. “Here is the funnest part of the jump where you’re extended and finished the ‘pike’ and now you are simply free-falling.’