Ask Martin Vol. 12: Is the NCAA System Good for Hammer Development?

Question: Today I overheard someone say… “If an international hammer thrower is serious about being good, they will stay away from the NCAA.” Ouch. As a college coach I tend to be offended. But as hard as it is to hear that, are they right? I think the NCAA CAN be a great place for development, even for elite hammer throwers. It has it’s downsides, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. –Coach Lynden

I first met Lynden when he threw a personal best to beat me and win the always-fun Pepsi Invitational back in 2004. I’ve had some great exchanges with him over the past month that have us both thinking about what is needed to create a successful throwing culture. This one question popped out to me as especially interesting, and I hope to most more of our discussions in the future.


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2 replies
  1. Dave Ratcliffe
    Dave Ratcliffe says:

    Hi Martin

    You may have wondered why I am so interested in Conor McCullough’s Hammer Throw progress at Princeton and in the NCAA.

    My daughter Julia(who throws the hammer)is extremely interested in studying in the USA and competing in the NCAA and she is hoping to secure a place at one of the top Ivy League Universities or Stanford.

    We have been following Conor’s progress to give us a feel of how she may progress herself if she finds herself in Conor’s situation.

    This article that you have written confirms and adds to the information that we had found ourselves so far through personal research.



  2. Joe Donahue
    Joe Donahue says:

    Unfortunately we have only a handful of coaches who really understand the hammer. I’d like to think I am one of them due to my fortunate learning, helped by my few foreign athletes from Norway who trained with Yuri Tamm in the summer. There appear to be two kinds of ‘coaches’ 1. Coaches like myself and it is a growing number I call development coaches who primarily teach, consult and research the event. The second group are mainly recruiters interested in winning their conference and in some cases enhancing their reputations. Their are many of these.
    I urge any interested student or coach to research these \choices carefully and if able consult with athletes,students and those who now live in the USA as does Paddy McGrath the former Ireland Olympian. I have one of his athletes now. Do not trust NCAA statements to the contrary. One thing they do which is very helpful is to publish graduation rates of athletes which tell much about how serious the school is regarding education.
    As far as the NCAA helping hammer development, that is a non starter.They have done little because their focus is on American football and basketball. Most of us who have developed a knowledge base did it on our own at our own expense because of a love for the throws.Here is my schools website where you can check my bio and school records. Do this for anyone you are interested and don’t be afraid to ask for a resume from any coach who you will be coached by. We have many good schools and coaches but there are still too many we name ‘dead schools’ for throwers, where they come and do not progress. Good luck to all in their search.


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