Determining the Length of Your Hammer Wire

Seventeen years ago I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Cal State Northridge and compete for coach Glenn McAtee. While at Northridge coach McAtee instilled in us a blue collar work ethic. Our group of throwers were jacks of all trades. We built and fixed everything that needed it. This included plyo boxes, shot put, discus, javelin, hammer, and med ball storage. We fixed our cages, installed the nets, and chalked/painted our own arcs and sectors. We even built our own shot wall out of railroad ties.

This work ethic and pride in our program not only saved the team a good chunk of money by making our own hammer wires and fixing all our broken implement, but it also helped us dominate the throws at the 2001 Big Sky Outdoor Championships. On the men’s side in the hammer throw Steve Lamoure won the hammer and John Dagata placed 4th. In the discus Dagata placed 2nd, Travis Jones placed 4th, and I placed 6th. Ryan Smith scored points in the Javelin and I won the shot put. On the Women’s side Laura Sauao won the shot, Sammy Freeman won the javelin, Carol Stevenson placed 2nd in the hammer while Laura also scored. Carol also scored in the discus. I mention all of them because each and everyone played a significant role in the growth of our program and all were willing to do what was necessary to make our program successful. I like to think I passed that work ethic on to my athletes as I know John Dagata has wherever he has been.

Determining the Length of Your Hammer Wire

Anyway, to get to the important stuff: we also made hammer wires and I continue to make them. I always get asked what the right length wire is for someone’s hammer. To answer that question I’ve put together a short guide on how to determine your hammer wire length.

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Three main things can determine wire length for a hammer. These include ball diameter, handle length, and swivel length. It can be challenging to get the perfect wire length for your hammer if you are not aware of how to do so. One way is to buy various wires and try them all out at weigh-ins. While this means more business for us, it is a pain. What I am about to describe will help you go to the meet dialed in as good as possible. Although my main event was the shot put, it was Steve Lamoure and my job to make sure each and every hammer was ready for competition while at Northridge. When Coach McAtee wanted to throw specific length hammers in training it was our job to prepare those hammers. Below is a list of what you need and description on how to determine wire length:

  • A dowel with simple hooks screwed into each end. Inside surface of hook to inside surface of hook should be 10 inches.
  • Yard Stick in which you can get for free normally at your local hardware store
  • Square or 90-degree straight edge
  • A reinforced bracket or hook that will extend 4-5 inches perpendicular out of the wall.
  • Lines on wall at regulation length for whichever event you are measuring for. For example, 121.5 cm for men’s competition hammer

Getting Started 

  1. To get started you want to place your hook or 90 degree reinforced bracket on the wall. The best way to do it is to screw it into a stud to make sure it is secure. The end of the bracket should be roughly 4-5 inches away from the wall. This is where you hang the handle when measuring.
  2. From the top surface of the hook or bracket you want to measure the regulation length of the hammer. For example, when using the 7.26K you want to put a line on the wall at 121.5cm. We actually have multiple lines to represent all levels of hammer throwing.
  3. Take your dowel with hooks on each end. Place hammer handle on one hook and ball on the other hook. (Remember inside surface of hook to inside surface of hook should be 10 inches because wires are measured inside of loop to inside of loop).
  4. Hang the handle on end of reinforced bracket or hook and let ball hang freely.
  5. Take yard stick and place directly under ball.
  6. Take straight edge or square and place at regulation length
The steps

Clockwise: the homemade 10-inch dowell hook, how to hang the hammer with the dowel and ruler (steps 3-5), measuring the length of the hammer (step 6-7), and all the tools required

  1. Where the square and yard stick intersect should be anywhere from 27-29.5 inches give or take. In this example it intersects at 28 7/8. I add 10 inches to that because of the 10 inch dowel. Therefore I need a wire at precisely 38 7/8″ for this hammer.
  2. Keep in mind that the accuracy is all based on the detail of your layout. If your not detailed and careful when measuring then it won’t be accurate.
  3. Based on the above measurement I would set my hammer up at 38 7/8. However, just in case I would bring an extra wire to the meet at 38 3/4 or maybe even 39. But you know that at 38 7/8 you will be pretty much dead on.
  4. The next step is to order new wires from HMMR Media. After receiving them attach one to the hammer and hang it on hook. If you place my square at 121.5 cm the hammer should be a hair away from touching the square.
  5. As you know each length of the ball/handle combo it is now also easy to determine a wire lengths for short hammers too. If your coach wants the hammer 8 inches short, for example, just subtract 8 inches from the length you got above.

I am not sure if this is the easiest way to determine your length of wire but it is the way I was taught and has proven to work time and time again. Of course it helps I can make my wires right away and even to the 1/16 of an inch. But we can also help you with that, it will just take a week to arrive on your door.

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