Well, people are always asking us about kong technique and I've spent quite a few years researching, learning, refining, and mastering my tech, so Gareth and Lorena decided that I should actually take all the information that I've gathered and write up an anlaytical break down of the Kong Precision. Im sure theres more to learn and you may agree or disagree with me, but here is all the information that I've gathered over years in writing.
Assuming you’re already fairly advanced with your cat pass and familiar with things like split foot/gather step take off, were going to start by jumping into the break down. If you don’t know how to do a split foot take off, go learn that before you even start trying big vaults.
Take off distance:
Based on my personal research and studies I have found that the ideal take off distance can be found by placing your hands on the wall that you want to vault, and walking your feet back until you’re eye level with the wall and standing slightly split foot.
Anywhere from where your front foot is positioned up to about one step in front of that is a good area to try to take off from. We’ve found that in general this ends up being somewhere between 3.5 to 4 steps away from the wall that you’re vaulting, depending on the person. So if you want to make it even more simple, you can just back up about 3.5 steps from the wall and see how that works for your last step.
I discovered this while watching videos frame by frame and realizing that all of the people whom I consider to have huge kongs come into the vault at this distance. If you watch some of the nicest kongs frame by frame, this is what you will find.
Go to the last step of the run up, right before the toe leaves the ground.
At this point, the toe is just about to lift off and the hands will either be reaching for the wall, or in some cases already on the wall.
Go one frame further and you will see the toe leave the ground.
Usually, the hands land on the wall at this same frame where the toe is off the ground, or within the next two frames.
You can see a few examples at this link: https://youtu.be/FOMTrhyDUno
So, if you look at a few different nice, big kongs, you’ll most likely find that the hands land on the wall either right as the toe is leaving the ground or 1-2 frames after it leaves the ground. That is the variance that I have found while watching people whom I consider to have great kongs.
This is probably the most important part of the vault by far. The idea is fairly simple, but applying it can take a while to get used to.
So on the second to last step that you take going into the cat pass, you want to dip to eye level with the wall that you’re about to vault.
As you transfer from your second to last step to your final step, you will lift back up and push off the wall. I usually think “Low to High” in my head when I’m going into a kong. I would say that the dip occurs in either a very wide U shape or in the shape of a rounded out check mark.
Study the dip here: https://youtu.be/Lfg_Z9PTk6U
Now I have heard the argument that this might be different for taller people or on different
sizes of walls, because it is hard to dip to eye level, but for the average athlete I believe this is the best method for getting the most power out of your kong. I also know that if a wall is low for me; thigh, knee, or shin height, I still use this method. The only difference is that I have to take off further away in order to get eye level with the wall. If you use the method above to find out your take off distance though, this makes sense, because in order to get eye level, you’ll have to be back pretty far from the wall and you’ll have to take off from much further than you would on a chest high wall. So for someone tall, you might have to adjust a bit, but I think it will most likely work about the same. The main difference will be that a 6’ person will have to take off further away from the wall than a 5’ person. You can see here a few screen shots of low kongs, and low kongs done by tall people. In these shots, you can see that the subjects are still pretty close to eye level, even though the walls are low and one of the athletes is decently tall.
So here is what I have concluded needs to happen when going through the actual vault. You’ve already dipped low to high, and now you’re about to push off of the wall. What you want to do here is push upwards popping yourself up into the air, pull your knees up to your chest, open your shoulders up and let the chest rise up and away from the knees.
So heres the break down:
1) In general, the distance that you travel on the vault is going to come from your run up. So running faster or getting a bigger jump will make your kongs bigger. In general though, you don’t need to be running super fast to hit massive kongs. I’ve never seen anyone hit full sprint into a vault. Thats terrifying. For the most part, you just need a decent amount of speed and power, and the rest is just tech. Get some decent power behind you and then focus on your dip and the actual vault. If you want to run faster, go for it, but dont lose the tech, and if you cant run faster without sacrificing tech, your best bet is to work on getting a bigger jump, which will transfer over to your vaults as well.
2) So if the distance comes from your run up, what are your hands for? Ill tell you what they’re for. Coming into the kong, we want to come out of our dip and push upwards. This will give us a really nice arc allowing us to travel even further out of the vault, but even more important than that…Posture! Combining a good dip with an upward push will help us pop up and into the ideal landing position, and allow us to float through the air with beautiful posture. However, in order to achieve this ideal position, you will have to follow the dip and the push with the final piece of the puzzle. The Rising Chest!
3) This is a part of the kong that I honestly think that 90% of the community doesn’t even realize happens, so pay attention, because a lot of people have trouble with the dip, or the pop, but countless athletes butcher the tech at this point. After you push off of your hands, you’ll get a nice big pop. At this point, you pull your knees up to your chest, and then your chest rises up and away from your knees. The mistake that tons of people make is that they bring their knees up to their chest, and from there, they just leave their chest down and stick their feet out. Now your just hunched over flying through the air in an ugly pike position. This is a crucial part of the perfect kong. Its not super difficult to pull your knees up to your chest and then extend your feet away from your chest, but if you hit your kong right, your chest will actually rise up and away from your knees creating the illusion that you’re extending your legs away from you. When this happens, you will have the most amazing feeling kongs in the world and you will most likely be at maximal power.
Look at these clips to see what I’m talking about: https://youtu.be/eRyYTWy8k5w
Here they are in slow motion: https://youtu.be/vprWWCNJGp8
Here are some examples of what you don’t want to look like: https://youtu.be/ta2dDqPHj30
Things I disagree with:
1) I sometimes see people give advice saying that all you need to do is use your arms more to push you further or that you just need to pull the wall behind you harder. If you’ve read this far, you probably can tell that I disagree. I feel confident in promising you that your vault exit distance is not reliant on your arm jolting abilities. Not only does trying to push harder for distance with your arms not help much at all, but it also destroys all of the tech that I just went over and will most likely leave you in the worst possible and least ideal position. You’ve most likely all been in this position at least once or twice after a cat pass. This is the position where you’re flying through the air and it feels like your hips are way up over your head, you’re flailing your arms trying to get your chest up, your legs are tucked up under you the entire time, and at the very last second you throw your feet under you and hope you don’t heel smash.
The one exception that I will give to this rule is standing, or 1-2 step take offs into a kong. In this situation, your arm jolting abilities may or may not help you out, but I am 100% certain that if you have 3 or more steps, you’re better off to focus on your tech and let your jumping power and momentum give you the distance you need.
2) Another thing that a lot of people will tell you to do is to drive your back leg up in the kong, but I completely disagree with that. In a dive kong sure, but if you want to hit a big kong precision, thats just going to kill your power. By throwing your leg up, you’re going to bring your hips up and come down on top of the wall and from there, you are now relying on those arm jolting abilities again to pop you back up into the air and recreate all of the momentum that you just lost by diving onto the wall. When you come into the kong with a nice dip low to high, and pop up into a nice arc pulling your knees to your chest, you seamlessly transfer your momentum up and over the wall. When you drive your leg, and dive up onto the wall, you lose a massive portion of that momentum, and transferring your run up into a nice floaty kong is now anything but seamless.
So I think I covered everything. Maybe this will help you. Maybe not. Gathering all of this information over the years has been a game changer for me. We always had the rule: If you can standing pre it, you can kong pre it. After gathering and applying all of this tech over the years, I can now kong pre further than I can standing pre, and thats pretty awesome, so hopefully this will give someone else a better understanding as well.