**Counting and Why?**Have you ever wondered why emerging elite and elite vaulters generally plant at the proper time, hit their takeoff point at the proper point, and takeoff time after time in the exact same spot? The easy answer is one of two possibilities. The first answer is that emerging elites and elite vaulters have taken thousands and thousands of jumps and know where these actions take place through repetition. The second answer is that many of the emerging elite and elite vaulters use a counting system. A counting system pairs Pavlovian conditioning with certain numbers requiring a response of a certain action at a certain time. Beginner, novice, intermediate, and advanced vaulters should use some sort of counting system, and most do.

Counting can be done in many ways, however some are better than others. Counting forward in a string is one possibility. An example of a 12 stride would be counting the left foot six times and on six takeoff. The problem with this is counting forward changes when you add or subtract a right and left stride. So there is no consistency in the numbers that key the plant action. For example if you are using a 12 stride approach with the count of one through six and want to go to a 14 stride approach you would be counting one through seven which would interfere with your Pavlovian conditioning. Also counting upward takes some thought. Considering counting upward takes some thought and your brain can only deeply consider one thing at a time counting upward in a string might not be the best choice.

Psychologists have found that counting backwards takes less mental energy than counting forwards. They have also found that counting in sets of three also takes less mental energy than counting in a long string. So therefore counting backwards in sets of three possibly could be the best choice. Example, a 12 stride approach would be a six count approach and would sound like 3 2 1 3 2 1. If the vaulter wanted to go to a 14 stride approach all he would have to do is add a one at the beginning of his run. It would sound like 1 3 2 1 3 2 1. A 16 stride approach would sound like this 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 1. Counting in sets of three also adds the advantage of being able to accelerate during each of the 3 2 1 phases.

Psychologists have also found that you can pair an activity to a stimulus, Pavlovian conditioning. In this case, the last set of 3 2 1 can actually stimulate, or cause the vaulter to plant the pole and take-off. Therefore on the last 1 of the last 3 2 1 can be used to begin the plant sequence and by allowing a right penultimate step and a left takeoff step that are not counted after the last 3 2 1 would be ideal. A 12 stride approach would sound like this 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). This type of count would be a 12 stride takeoff. The counting should be sub-vocal and used in drilling and jumping to make it consistent. A 14 stride approach would be counted 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). A 16 stride approach would be counted 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). An 18 stride approach would be counted 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step).

Most vaulters are surprised to hear this, but the majority of the sub-elite vaulters use a counting system such as what we've shown above.

Counting can be done in many ways, however some are better than others. Counting forward in a string is one possibility. An example of a 12 stride would be counting the left foot six times and on six takeoff. The problem with this is counting forward changes when you add or subtract a right and left stride. So there is no consistency in the numbers that key the plant action. For example if you are using a 12 stride approach with the count of one through six and want to go to a 14 stride approach you would be counting one through seven which would interfere with your Pavlovian conditioning. Also counting upward takes some thought. Considering counting upward takes some thought and your brain can only deeply consider one thing at a time counting upward in a string might not be the best choice.

Psychologists have found that counting backwards takes less mental energy than counting forwards. They have also found that counting in sets of three also takes less mental energy than counting in a long string. So therefore counting backwards in sets of three possibly could be the best choice. Example, a 12 stride approach would be a six count approach and would sound like 3 2 1 3 2 1. If the vaulter wanted to go to a 14 stride approach all he would have to do is add a one at the beginning of his run. It would sound like 1 3 2 1 3 2 1. A 16 stride approach would sound like this 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 1. Counting in sets of three also adds the advantage of being able to accelerate during each of the 3 2 1 phases.

Psychologists have also found that you can pair an activity to a stimulus, Pavlovian conditioning. In this case, the last set of 3 2 1 can actually stimulate, or cause the vaulter to plant the pole and take-off. Therefore on the last 1 of the last 3 2 1 can be used to begin the plant sequence and by allowing a right penultimate step and a left takeoff step that are not counted after the last 3 2 1 would be ideal. A 12 stride approach would sound like this 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). This type of count would be a 12 stride takeoff. The counting should be sub-vocal and used in drilling and jumping to make it consistent. A 14 stride approach would be counted 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). A 16 stride approach would be counted 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step). An 18 stride approach would be counted 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 (Right Pen Step) (Left Take-off Step).

Most vaulters are surprised to hear this, but the majority of the sub-elite vaulters use a counting system such as what we've shown above.