On JEREMY SCOTT (’09 USATF indoor champion)
He’s almost 6-10 [2.09]. We call him “El Grande.” He’s kind of Earl’s right-hand man now, managing the day-to-day operations at Bell Athletics, which was my original job long ago.
Jeremy has showed a lot of resilience over the last couple of years. But I think he has kind of failed to address a couple of key things within his jump, most notably speed. Every year, we get the speed data from Dr. Pete McGinnis, who is the USATF biomechanics expert for the pole vault. His information is invaluable to vaulters because from the aspect of pure physics, he breaks down each vaulter’s jump and shows with hard numbers the details about the jump.
Jeremy’s most notable problem is speed. He just isn’t running fast enough to jump really high. Technically, he is amazingly agile and coordinated given that he’s as tall as he is. But regardless of height—which certainly gives him an advantage—you still have to transfer that energy from the horizontal to the vertical. Whether you’re 5-9 or 6-9, 20-feet is still 20-feet.
When you’re talking about going from 6-feet-plus off the ground to 20-feet off the ground, the difference between 5-9 and 6-9 isn’t that significant. You’re all essentially starting at the same place, so the guy who brings the most speed and puts the most energy in certainly has the potential to go the highest.
On SCOTT ROTH (’10 NCAA indoor champion)
He would be the opposite of Jeremy. Scott was a great high school vaulter and Pat Licari at Washington has done a remarkable job in terms of continuing to develop his progress. Each year he gets just a little bit better.
That said, of the young up-and-coming guys, he’s doing the most right of anybody. He is technically very sound. Last year at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, he was running about 9.6mps on the runway. Absolutely, undeniably, the fastest guy on the runway in Reno last year.
As I say when I work with high school vaulters, “When I tell you that you’re doing something wrong, that’s a good thing. The more things you do wrong means the more things you can improve and that’s only going to make you better.”
Scott’s in a position where he’s doing a whole lot of things right and he’s jumping 18-9¼ [5.72]. He’s going to have to develop the patience and continue to work on the things he knows are weak. Nobody is perfect, but he’s going to have to be patient. If he gets in a situation where he feels a sense of urgency to improve, I think he opens himself up and becomes more vulnerable to problems like injury by trying to push the envelop too much.
With as many things as he does well, he just needs baby steps in the right direction in some areas and he can continue to improve. He could be a guy who shows a lot of consistency because he is so sound technically.
Is there an “ideal” physical size for a men’s pole vaulter?
I’d say probably from 6-1 [1.85] to about 6-4 [1.93]. At that point, you’ve got the height advantage to have a little bit of a mechanical edge in terms of angle of takeoff to overcome the resistance of the pole that doesn’t want to bend. At the same time, you’re athletic enough in terms of speed and coordination. and the ability to perform the gymnastic elements of the jump in the air isn’t hindered by the length of your levers.
That’s what makes it tough for someone like Jeremy Scott. It is amazing that a guy who is that tall can be as gymnastically inclined as he is. He’s thin in stature, but he is actually quite strong. It’s just a question of speed for him.
Whereas, Scott Roth is dynamic as heck. Shorter levers give you a little more dynamic package. But then he also has to overcome that initial point of takeoff, with a lower angle and quite far away from the box. That’s where the speed comes in handy.
In installment 6, Hartwig will continue his 4-part analysis of the leading U.S. men by looking at Jordan Scott & Jason Colwick.
Part 1: Hartwig’s long career leads to a new role as athlete-agent
Part 2: What sets Steve Hooker apart as the world’s best men’s vaulter
Part 3: Talking about Yelena Isinbaeva's X-factor
Part 4: Hartwig analyzes Brad Walker & Derek Miles