Two of USA Track & Field’s greatest pole vault legends were part of a knowledge team representing USATF that partnered with the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to launch an addition to the NFHS’s lineup of free online Coaches Education courses and an update of its flagship course.
With USATF providing an elite level knowledge base and the NCAA supplying the funding, “Pole Vault: Successful Skill Development” is designed to further advance the knowledge of coaches and pole vaulters at all levels of sport. It targets introductory skills and safety in the pole vault. Information and a link for the course will be displayed on www.usatf.org on the coaches education page.
“This was a great collaborative effort and the goal of the course was to provide a consistent language of safety skills and technique that were endorsed by all three governing bodies of the sport,” USATF Director of Coaching Terry Crawford said. “USATF gathered the leading experts in the pole vault to develop the content for the course. We are pleased to partner with the two other entities to ensure that coaches on all levels are teaching safe, effective, consistent techniques.”
Part of USATF’s strong team of knowledge features two of the top vaulters in U.S. history. 2000 Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Stacy Dragila along with two-time Olympian and former American record holder Jeff Hartwig participated in producing the program.
“I have witnessed some tragedies that have happened in the sport and we as a group need to do a better job of educating our coaches,” Dragila said. “We felt it was very important for us to get some sort of education and put the information out there. It’s easy for a coach to read a book but to really understand the mechanics of the vault this will really help.”
“This course is about minimizing the risks associated with pole vaulting by teaching the proper skills and techniques,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports.
Additionally, in an effort to provide coaches with up-to-date resources and the opportunity to become better teacher-coaches, the NFHS has also updated its “Fundamentals of Coaching” course, which is part of the Coach Education Program’s core courses section. The new course content addresses topics such as social media.
“If you wind back the clock six years ago, social media is not what it is today,” said Tim Flannery, director of coach education at the NFHS. “That has changed the landscape for the coaches and the kids.”
Improvements have also been made to enhance the online course. A larger screen now includes additional exercises, including allowing coaches the opportunity to reflect on their current practices. The course is also available to be taken on mobile devices.
“If professional development became each coach’s goal, it would change the culture of coaching and provide a more positive sport experience for students who participate,” Flannery said.
The NFHS Coach Education Program offers 33 online courses, including the two core courses – “Fundamentals of Coaching” and “First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches.” The NFHS also offers 14 sport-specific courses and 17 elective courses, including eight that are free.
About USATF: USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States: www.usatf.org.