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Psychology of Pole Vault by Owen Heard

Psychology of Pole Vault


As many could assume, you have to be a little bit nuts to want to grab a 5-metre-long pole and run as fast as you can towards a hole in the ground, to then launch yourself in the air.

Pole vault is an event that requires lots of mental control but also a small dose of craziness. However, these made-up mindset labels are something that all humans can tap into. We all have them within us. The human mind is similar among all people, and we all have the same capabilities in controlling our minds. A strong drive of belief and confidence can allow you to do almost anything.


Pole Vault Mental Block

I always knew deep down that I had the potential to go high, but I began to accept the idea that my brain just wasn’t cut out for it, and I had ‘mental blocks’ and ‘malfunctions’ which meant I didn’t have the mental resilience to take off on big poles and big run-ups like all the other athletes.

This was probably the biggest load of nonsense I ever allowed myself to believe. I thought I was different to everyone else, and I was unlucky because I was an ‘overthinker’, letting all my thoughts get in the way of performing. In truth, I was no different to anyone else. I’d just told myself so.

Thought is an event that every human experiences 70,000 times a day. Everyone has bad thoughts, and everyone has detrimental thoughts. It is a personal choice which ones you decide to hold on to – every thought is powerless, a small electrical signal in an organ in your head. You give thoughts power by holding onto them, analysing them, and questioning them. A huge weight can be lifted off your shoulders if you merely accept them as what they are.

Pole Vault Training Program Pdf


For instance, every time I was going to pole vault training, my thoughts started to kick in...

  • I wonder if I'm going to run through today...
  • I wonder how many mental blocks I'm going to have today...
  • I'm worried about using this certain pole today...

Instead of just accepting these simple thoughts, I would sit there, lost in my mind asking myself...

  • Why am I thinking about running through?
  • Why does my mind function this way?
  • Why am I different to everyone else, who just goes to training and enjoys themselves?

The fact that I was giving these thoughts so much power, and trying to figure them out, was the real reason that they stayed around for so long.

After years of struggling and coming to a point where I was almost giving up and losing faith in myself – I reached a point where I just didn’t care as much. I’d started to look at it like ‘Oh, there’s that thought again’, and it would fizzle out and soon enough be replaced by another thought. I wasn’t focusing or holding onto my negative pole vault thoughts. I was accepting them and letting them pass. This understanding made me realise many things about how the mind works, not just the event.

I slowly realised that even the best in the world run through. They are human, the same as me. My inner belief was no longer ‘I’m an overthinker, so I will probably run through for the rest of my life’, but it was ‘I am a human, the same as any other pole vaulter’. This was by no means an instant realisation, but slowly over time, my natural care-free state overthrew the artificial mindset I had told myself I’d developed. When I ran through, I didn’t get so mad at myself anymore, as I knew it was normal and not a ‘curse’ that’s going to stay forever.

I have only progressed since this point, and I still continue to unlock even more of my potential. As long as you are carefree and enjoying yourself while pole vaulting, you’ll go a lot further than if you are ‘overthinking’ and holding onto your thoughts- which ultimately mean nothing unless you hold onto them.

Pole Vaulting Tips for Technique


  • Thoughts are powerless unless you hold onto them
  • Every pole vaulter will experience a mental struggle - you're not broken
  • If someone has the courage to use a big pole, then it's just as possible for you, too (as you are both humans - there is nothing 'special' or 'magical' about someone else)

Enjoy yourself when vaulting – this is always the best mental state to be in, and it’s why you started.


Owen Heard Pole Vaulter Neuff Athletic Blog

Currently 3rd in the UK rankings, Owen has been pole vaulting for many years, and you may recall seeing him compete in the Men's Pole Vault Final in this year's Commonwealth Games for Team England.

He is also a hurdler and a Team Pacer athlete, making him incredibly knowledgeable and skilled at what he does, especially as he's only 20 years old!

Click here to view his Team England profile.

Instagram: @owen_heard


Pacer Vault Poles

At the moment, we stock Pacer One and FXV poles, both of which are superior choices for vaulting and are loved by athletes worldwide, including Owen!

To see what's available, click here!

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