By Erwan Le Corre, MovNat Founder
The Tripod Vault involves using a foot for support, not just one or two hands, making it the easiest and safest type of vault.
The great advantage of the Tripod Vault is that it is the best entry-level vault technique for those unfamiliar with vaults. Indeed, it is not necessarily as dynamic as others. It can be done quite slowly. And it is easy to break down into simple phases of the whole sequence when learning it, making it very scalable, and therefore, safer and less intimidating.
Here’s the Tripod Vault expertly demonstrated by MovNat Team Instructor, Kellen Milad…
You may have noticed the pattern is similar to the Tripod Transition used in balancing, only that there is a brief moment of take off where both feet are off the ground with one of the hands placed on the support just before the opposite foot briefly steps onto the supporting surface. That’s immediately followed by a phase where the body clears the obstacle and both feet are off the ground again before landing, with either one or no hands on support, which then turns the pattern into an actual vault.
The longer these two phases are, the more the movement resembles stepping over with hand assistance. The shorter and faster they are, the more it becomes a vault.
So what is really convenient with this technique is how the speed can vary based on your intentions. You can perform it slowly, in a controlled manner, for greater stability and safety. You can even pause and balance on top of the surface to check out the landing area before jumping off it. Or, you can perform it very fast if you’re in a hurry.
Here’s how to perform it…
Begin in a relaxed split stance, facing the bar. Approach the bar at a forty-five degree angle (it can also be done facing the bar straight on). Step towards the bar with the front leg closest to it.
A safe but slow option is to place the hand on the same side as the lead leg on the bar. Then, push off with the lead leg to pull the trailing leg forward and up so that you can place the foot of the trailing leg on the bar.
A more dynamic option is to transfer the stepping momentum to a jump with an airborne phase before the hand of the lead arm and the foot of the trailing leg land on top of the surface. With the more dynamic option, the hand lands just a little before the foot does.
Place the ball of the foot on the surface for better foot position, range of motion and control. As soon as your foot is planted on the bar, shift your weight forward onto the hand and foot that are on the bar to begin pushing off the foot. This will elevate your hips and create clearance above the bar so that you can bring your trail leg up and through the space between your supporting hand and foot. Extend the other arm for balance.
Tuck the knee of the trailing leg. Then extend the foot forward.
Push off with the supporting hand and foot. You can leave the hand on the bar to push as long as possible to reach far but also to guide the direction of your body toward the area where you want your feet to contact the ground.
Bring both legs together and transition into a standard landing technique. Other types of landing or transitions are of course possible after pushing off the bar and clearing the obstacle.
If the vault is new to you, it’s best to start with a slow approach. In that case, instead of jumping, first step into a classic Tripod Transition in a slow, controlled manner, stepping down on the other side. Once this is done nicely, then create a short jump phase where both your feet are in the air before one foot steps on the bar, and then manage also a short push off/jumping down phase with both feet in the air before landing.
Keeping the height of the obstacle low will make it easy at first. As you progress, you can go for higher obstacles, maybe longer (as in deeper) ones, thinner, less stable. And of course, you can also approach the obstacle at greater speed.
For an additional challenge, you can also load your Tripod Vault like MovNat Team Instructor, Stefano Tripney, does here…
- Start with a low obstacle at or around knee height, progressing to higher obstacles as your skill improves.
- Master each phase of the movement in a slow and controlled manner before you increase the speed.
- Check the area where you are vaulting for any dangers that may be present (e.g. sharp, slippery or abrasive objects or surfaces).
- If you’re having trouble, regress to the Tripod Transition performed on the ground, then work up to the Balancing Tripod Transition. This will help you build the conditioning and some of the coordination involved in the Tripod Vault.
- As you improve, try to land softly and minimize how much weight you place on the object you’re vaulting over.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Vaulting: From The Ground Up
- From the Ground Up – Part 10: Tripod Vault
- Beyond Box Jumps: The Power Jump to Hang Landing
Note: This article contains excerpts from Erwan Le Corre’s upcoming book, The Practice of Natural Movement.
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