On a regular occasion, I have individuals from all over the world asking me, “what is the fastest way to improve my throw.” Generally, this is referring to the shot put and discus throws. Sometimes I have hammer throwers contact me and every once in a while javelin throwers will request strength training advice. These questions may range from “what drills do you prefer?” all the way to “when should I start anabolics.” The anabolics question is always entertaining, I have always been asked this question by foreigners and I cannot figure if they are screwing with me or if anabolics are used so freely in their native land that they actually want to know, “when should I start anabolics.”
Anyway, this still leaves us with the original questions, what is the fastest way to improve the throws?
Decrease parts, improve movements. What I mean by this, is focus on the entire MOVEMENT of the throw. Sure, a glider will benefit from a large standing throw, just as a spinner will benefit from a smooth half turn. BUT, this still is a PART of the competitive movement. Focus on the entire movement and what that movement entails and you will see a quick growth in technique and distance. Many throwers have a weakness in the circle, it could be out of the back, or a slow transition phase through the middle, or maybe they can’t control the speed at the front. By improving the movement as a whole, this will help the technique improve….as a whole!
Less useless movements. Cut out the bullshit. The more crazy movements a thrower has, the odds are high that they throw poorly. I have seen people literally JUMP before they start the spin, I have seen throwers take 5-6 winds before commencing a throw, I have seen gliders rocking back and forth for 10-15 seconds. These are all movements that DO NOT contribute to a positive result. On top of this, stop JUMPING in the circle. Watch Harting, Malachowski, Nelson, Hoffa, Rodhe, Alekna, etc...all the great throwers maintain a level rotation through the circle. Rarely, will you see an elite thrower elevate their hips or shoulders out of the back then lower them back down only to elevated them again in the final position. Reese Hoffa almost ALWAYS maintained a level position through the circle, same goes for Adam Nelson, and now we see Ryan Crouser doing the same! Stop wasting movement.
Throw different weighted implements. This seems like a no brainer to me but I have found that many coaches fear different implements and they fear what happens. I have heard the story from 15 different coaches, “I had my guy throw heavy/light but man it destroyed their technique.” The questions becomes, how long did they train like that? Variable weighted implements always alter technique. When you change the weight of the implement in the circle, the movement will alter, when the athlete adapts and learns to improve their weaknesses in the circle, the athlete and coach will see an improvement in their competitive weight as well! It may take time but the adaptations will occur and distances will grow. I compare this to weightlifting. Many weightlifters use variation lifts (power snatch, power clean, power jerks, snatch pulls, etc.) to improve their competitive movements. These weight changes are comparable to different loads and different movements for the competitive throw.
Improve mobility. By improving mobility, the body will learn new positions and over time will require more motor unit recruitment because of potential for greater stretched positions. As the body gains strength and activation in these more mobile positions, technique will improve, body control will improve and injury prevention will also improve! It pays to be mobile and to understand your body and the reaction it has to different training stimuli! Comprehending mobility improvement can lead to an even greater understanding of your body and it’s reaction to training.
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