The run is a critical, often overlooked, part of the vault and plays an important role in making a gymnast’s vault successful. What happens before the gymnast even touches the springboard often determines the success of the vault. To properly race toward the vault apparatus, a gymnast’s shoulders should be relaxed, arms pumping at 90º angle with the body leaning slightly forward and pushing through toes. The run progressively gets faster, building momentum to the end.
The Vault seems to be a simple event. After all, you just run fast, fly high and score big. However – even though this event may be a very short performance time, it is considered to be as difficult as any other because it requires that the athlete pay careful attention in different phases and body positions to perform vaults well.
Even an entry level Front Handspring vault, there are three phases – the Run, the Preflight and the Post flight. The punch (attack on the springboard) comes after the Run. The Block comes as the hands make contact with the vaulting table (after Preflight). The Landing obviously occurs at the end of the vault (Post flight). The run is obviously vital – even in this instance – because the athlete is just not going to have the speed to do everything they need to do if they don’t accomplish a powerful run in their approach to the vault.
This video illustrates a drill that will help the gymnasts improve her running skills for the vault.
Also take a look at this Run & Hurdle Drill for Vaults from Gymnastics Skills Coaching Handbook.