A friend recently sent me a video of a competition throw from the 2007 season. Holy crap was it horrendous. Now, I never once said I had good technique. So it is what it is. I knew what my strengths were and I used them. All the while trying to improve my existing technique in training. (And knowing that there was more to me than being an “athlete throwing hammer”). I did realize early on in my career that constant learning and striving for improvement is absolutely required.
So this video got me thinking… I don’t look like that anymore. So what’s the biggest difference? The biggest change is where I catch the hammer. (Where the ball is each turn when my foot touches down). The goal is to catch the hammer at its highest point, or at least pretty damn close. This creates the most separation, or most degrees, yada, yada. So why do so few people do it?! I’m going to go out on a limb and call it an epidemic. It’s rampant! So I wonder, are people just not seeing this?? Or do they see it, but don’t know how to fix it? Can it be fixed?
So how can you improve this? In a word: patience. It’s an old story, I know. But you’re getting immediate feedback, so you’re free to try new things to find your technique. If you are pushing the hammer, this puts you in the position where your hammer will do the work. Thinking to “put your foot down faster” does not do this. In fact, I believe it slows it down. I think a lack of tension on the ball causes the issue of catching with the hammer pointed at its low point. Which is directly related to the relationship between hammer and athlete. Hammer is indeed a paradox.
Another to add to the list: The more you muscle it, the less tension there is.
I used to think that it wasn’t that simple. I thought that maybe it was a natural, “you either have it, or you don’t” situation. But I’m starting to think maybe it is simple (relatively speaking). Anyone who touches a hammer can throw it efficiently. The catch is the most basic way to tell if someone has a good relationship with the hammer. However, I’m fairly certain you won’t do it all the time. At least I don’t, but everyone is different. The closer I am to peak condition, the better my catches.
Can it be learned? Yeah, I think so. Especially since I used to be a zero separation kind of guy. Take my word for it, you want those nice catches. This post is not a condemnation, it is a call to action!