Road to NBNI Blogs: Harrison Williams, Week 3

by Harrison Williams

New Balance Indoor Nationals are just around the corner, so I’ve been fine-tuning my vaulting these last few weeks.  The weather in Memphis last week was terrible.  We got out of school on Monday and Tuesday for snow and ice, and it stayed at around 20 degrees all week.  Needless to say, I didn’t get any vaulting done all week.

When my coach was coaching a lot more people a few years ago, whenever it would get into the 30s, we would still vault, but we’d build a fire and warm our hands in-between each jump.  However, we’ve since moved to a new location that doesn’t allow for a fire, and there’s only three or four of us left with my coach, we just sat last week out. 

Luckily, we’ve had great weather this week.  In one week, it went from freezing cold and snowy to 80 and sunny.  I vaulted on Monday, and the weather was great, so I was able to get on a new pole!  I jumped on my new 5-meter pole, and it wasn’t as stiff as I’d imagined it.  Although it took about five minutes of psyching myself up before each jump, I was able to get into the pit and get over that initial fear of jumping on a new pole.

Being able to jump on a 5-meter pole gives me a huge boost of confidence going into the meet, as now I don’t have to worry about trying to get on it for the first time at a meet.  Last year, I jumped on a 16-foot pole for the first time at a meet, so I knew I could do it if it came to that, but I’m much less nervous now that I know I can.

Side story: When I received the two 5-meter poles that I ordered, the pole company had forgotten to include weight labels for the poles.  Usually, this would never happen since normal poles are mailed with weight labels already attached (weight labels are the little stickers on the top of poles that tell you the max amount you can weigh to use that specific pole).  Weight labels really aren’t that important, because as long as the number on the label is within 15-20 lbs of your body weight and you know what you’re doing, the pole won’t break.

However, since the pros are normally the only ones that can use a 5-meter pole, and also don’t require a weight label, the manufacturer didn’t think they would need to include a weight label.  When I saw there were no weight labels, I initially feared they didn’t make weight labels for this big of a pole, and thus I couldn’t use it until college, but luckily they sent some over and I’ll be able to use it at my high school competitions.

I’m still trying to work on my inversion in preparation for New Balance.  While I was trying to get on the 5-meter pole, I wasn’t able to invert at all, as I was mainly focusing on my plant and driving through the takeoff, but I’ve been doing a lot of high-bungee vaulting with my normal poles.

My practice usually goes something like this: My coach, Kris, puts the bungee up to about 17 or 18 feet.  When I ask how high he put it, he says “don’t worry about it.”  I jump, do most of my inversion, but let my legs fall to the right as I’m getting near the bungee, and only get my legs over.  Kris tells me to keep my legs up and stay near the pole on my inversion, but I do the same thing again.  It’s not that I’m not strong enough to keep my legs up and complete the inversion, or that Kris isn’t telling me the right thing.  I can invert fine on my smaller poles.  I just have some sort of mental block when I get on my bigger poles in practice.

Although I haven’t made as much progress on my inversion as I would have liked before New Balance, I’m not too worried about it since usually things like this tend to click right before or during the meet.  I vault in two days, so now all I have to do is get to New York, rest, and invert!

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