Whew, in the months since my last post have been truthfully the hardest of my career. Ive always known the impact the mind can have both positive and negative on anything you do but especially vaulting. Starting mid-November I began having doubts about my grip on the pole, first it was the chalk or the tape just didnt feel right which forced me to jump on smaller and smaller poles.
At the time I was still only jumping from 5 lefts so it wasnt like I was practicing from my full approach. So I did what I thought i should and I fought it, I thought that if I tried harder or stopped being a baby I would snap out of it, but that just made it worse. It got to the point where I would pick up the pole and not think I would be able to hold on...from 3 lefts. Ive always been the fearless one that was on the big poles and this was so unlike me. I had probably 4 practices where it would start good, I was starting small trying to gain confidence and I would get to 4 lefts and just be paralyzed with fear that I wasnt going to be able to hold on to the pole.
Most of those times I would leave practice in tears, not knowing how i was going to be able to get over it or if i would ever be able to pole vault from a long run again. I have never really put a date to when I will finish my professional vault career but I know Im not ready to be done yet, and the possibility that which has defined me for the past 15 years could be taken away from me was very hard. I tried to get my mind off it, I was able to go to California and help coach a camp with my buddy Paul Litchfield which was a great time but when I came back the problem was still there. Shortly after that it was time for the holidays and even with all the hustle and bustle pole vault was still on my mind.
Out of necessity I began using sticky spray on my hands rather than chalk, and little by little I am learning to use it. Im not pushing it, Im only back to 6 lefts right now but Im taking off and ive jumped in 2 meets. Right now Im not worrying myself with results but rather progress is my goal. Im gaining confidence with every jump and enjoying every time I leave the ground and fly through the air. I hope I never take for granted again the awesome ability I have been given.
Heading to the Reno Pole Vault Summit tomorrow with Amanda, really excited she is able to join me this year. Love the chance to get together with old friends and make tons of new ones. Make sure you come say hi and feel free to ask any questions you may have.
I think the reason it took me so long to write about this issue is that Ive been embarrassed. Ive never heard of anyone having this problem and I really thought that I could just snap out of it, but the reason I write this blog is so that you know the problems we sometimes go through. If you know that I Mark Hollis 2x National champ couldnt even leave the ground because I didnt think i could hold on to the pole, maybe it will help you to face your demons head on and overcome them. I plan on using this to be stronger and more confident than I ever have before.