We are excited to announce the appointment of Greg Hull as a new addition to our Coaching Staff. A USA Track and Field Master Coach and the UCS Spirit National Pole Vault Summit Director of Coaching, Coach Hull’s experience spans four decades; and includes an illustrious record of success at the highest level. In addition, the former USA Track and Field Director of Pole Vault is a highly respected coach educator, having shared his knowledge with hundreds of coaches and athletes both in North America and Europe.
Commenting on the appointment, CEO John Godina said: “We are delighted to have Greg Hull join our Coaching Staff to work alongside Coach Dan Pfaff. Greg’s passion, expertise and intelligence is a great fit for Altis moving forwards, and will be an asset in the support we can offer our ever growing pool of athletes.” We sat down with Greg to find out more about him and his new role…
Coach Hull, congratulations on the new role, it’s great to be welcoming you! Let’s start with some background – how long have you been based in Phoenix?
I’ve been based in Phoenix for 40 years.
Where were you based prior to this?
I had a brief coaching job in California for 1 year.
How many years have you been Coaching?
I’ve been coaching for 40 years – makes me feel old!
So from your coaching to date, who have been your top 5 male and female performers in the Pole Vault?
For the men:
Nick Hysong 5.90m Olympic Gold 2000, World Bronze 2001
Dmitri Markov 5.80m (World champ 2001 at 6.05m while working with Alex Parnov)
Adam Keul 5.64m
Dominic Johnson 5.61m (1996, 2004, 2008 Olympian for St Lucia)
Paul Gensic 5.60m
Stacy Dragila 4.83m World Indoor Silver 2003 American Record Indoor and Out
Kylie Hutson 4.75m U.S. Champion 2011
Kelsie Hendry 4.60m Canadian Record Holder , 2008 Olympian
Tori Pena 4.60m Irish Record Holder 2012 Olympian
Mel Mueller 4.60m U.S. Champion and Indoor Record, 2000 Olympian
Impressive! So who are you currently coaching?
The athletes I’m currently coaching are Kylie Hutson, Tori Pena, Melinda Owen-Withrow and joining us this year is Nick Mossberg.
What do you enjoy about coaching?
The enjoyment of helping athletes truly understand the multi-faceted keys to success. There is also a tremendous sense of satisfaction from watching their growth as individuals and what happens after they leave the sport. A number of my ex-athletes are now doing an outstanding job as vault coaches and I enjoy the sense of full circle aspect of that.
What, in your opinion, makes a great coach?
Great coaches make highly technical concepts sound simple and easy to understand. They can find points of reference from items in an athletes past to tie together the things they are trying to teach. They give criticism without resentment and see elements affecting performance that the athlete or other coaches fail to see.
“Great coaches make highly technical concepts sound simple and easy to understand.”
What sets a good athlete apart from a great athlete?
Great athletes are not solely motivated by money or media fame. They demand a higher level of accountability from themselves and their coaches. Great athletes are not satisfied winning with mediocre performances, they constantly seek to perform at the level they know they are capable of.
You’ve had phenomenal success as a coach, for you, what have the highlights been in your career so far?
Well certainly the gold medal performance by Nick Hysong in the 2000 Olympics has to be the high point. There has been a great deal of satisfaction in seeing every athlete (except Dmitri Markov who’s time with me was limited to one year) I’ve coached improve their personal best but more importantly become very consistent at a high level.
What has been the most disappointing moment you’ve had as a Coach, and what did you learn from it?
My greatest disappointment came in 2012 when I had three women (from 3 different countries) all jumping over 4.60 and we believed headed for the London games. It would have been a very satisfying end to two years of hard work by these three. Unfortunate circumstances led to two of them not making the games. As a coach I felt like we had done everything right during the season so it was a terrible letdown for the women and myself. My takeaway from this experience is a valuable lesson for all coaches. Simply put we are dealing with human beings and sometimes there are outside factors we cannot predict or control that dictate the moment no matter how much we try to overcome it.
For a Pole Vaulter, what is the single most important determinant of success in your opinion?
All great vaulters have excellent approach runs. This is manifested not only by excellent maximal velocities but just as importantly by great tempo, posture and energy management on the runway. they also have the ability to embrace competition without falling victim to it’s pressures.
How much impact do you think a training squad has on an athlete?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in working with senior level athletes is the value of a cohesive training group. The dynamics of meshing various personalities and physical abilities into a positive and effective training group is very difficult. When done correctly it is a crucial component to success and makes training time for everyone, coach included, much more enjoyable.
What makes a great training environment?
The physical and emotional environment is also very important for the training program. Much like the comfortable space you create in a home the physical space you train in can lead to a more stable atmosphere. At Altis we are fortunate to have a great home at Paradise Valley College in Phoenix, Arizona. The track sits next to a golf course and some open land and is a beautiful setting. More importantly the coaches and staff of Altis set a tone of hard work, emotional support and overall excellence that is evident when you walk in.
What is your role going to be at the World Athletics Center?
My role at Altis will entail working alongside Coach Dan Pfaff to coach the pole vaulters that are part of the program. I will also be integrating my training group into the Altis program. As part of the commitment by Altis to athlete and coach education I will also be running some camps and clinics around the country.
What are you looking forward to with respect to coaching at the World Athletics Center?
I’m looking forward to being part of a larger group of coaches and athletes that I can interact, share and learn from.
Coach Hull – thanks for your time.