Missing the pit on the right or left side can be embarrassing and potentially dangerous. Misses on the right or left are generally due to a misaligned plant or being inside the ideal takeoff point that you misaligned the pole to your strong side. However, it can occur to either side.
The proper way to plant, a pole is to follow one of the two examples. First, the pole should be carried in the neighborhood of the hip joint with the top hand being just about on the hip. The bottom hand should be in the neighborhood of the mid-torso and close to the chest allowing the pole to be near vertical at the beginning of the run. As the vaulter approaches the plant, the pole is lowered and dropped into the box. While the pole tip is dropping, the top hand is the focal point. The top hand can move in two directions; forward and ahead, and then back toward the final plant position, or with a one-step shoulder turn towards the pole while moving the pole to the final plant position and squaring back up. The top hand will move upward in both cases to a position around 3 to 4 inches ahead of the mid-line of the vaulter and directly lined up with the vaulter’s mid-line.
A common mistake is to have the pole planted anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet more inside of the ideal takeoff. If this is the case, the vaulter either is over striding or has an inconsistent approach run. In this case, and as the pole tightens up, the vaulter will be pushed to the right or to the left of the pole causing them to miss and end up to the right or left of the landing box. This type of landing can easily cause the vaulter to miss the pit.
A second cause is planting outside of the mid-line of the body. This type of planning action is generally a result of too wide of a grip, or planting outside of the mid-line of the body forcing the pole out and around rather than straight into the final plant position. If this is the case, the vaulter should spend a significant amount of time working on the plant path until which time a path follows one of the two pathways.