Here I’m going to go over a pretty common worry for any technical athlete, but particularly throwers: how long will it take for me to apply a new technical change? I discussed this briefly on a recent episode of Dane’s Platform, but for those who haven’t had a chance to tune in yet, I thought I’d give a quick, slightly more focused response to the question.
As with just about anything in training, the easy answer is, “it varies”. No two athletes are exactly alike, and so nothing will impact one athlete exactly the same as another athlete. That being said, we can try to narrow athletes down into categories. If you have an inexperienced thrower, for example, they will generally take on changes faster than elite throwers. Even within inexperienced throwers, time to adaptation can vary. I would expect an uncoordinated, inexperienced thrower to require about 2-3 weeks for changes to start to imprint. A more athletic new thrower can see technical changes appear as quickly as 1-3 sessions.
As I mentioned above, as throwers advance in their career, technical changes become more and more difficult to implement as habits become solidified. Time to adaptation can vary dependent upon the type of change attempting to be made. With an advanced thrower, a simple change (think raising or lowering an arm) could be as fast as 1-2 sessions, as this athlete will have great understanding of their body and their technique, and can hone their focus on one, relatively easy cue. However, a global change (rhythm, large lower body moves) could take as long as 6-8 weeks. These changes require far more reps, and a lot more focus on the part of the thrower.
Other factors include mobility and type of implements being utilized. If a thrower has mobility issues, it can change the way they move, and subsequently change their technique. One of my discus throwers, Noah Kennedy White, has plantarflexion issues with his left foot, which has caused him to have trouble elevating his heel in the middle of the circle (he’s a lefty, so his left foot is grounded in the middle). We’ve worked on addressing those issues and seen marked improvements in technique. In terms of implements, weighted discs and shots can be huge for technical changes. Look for a future article about weighted implements and how they can be used for improving technique.