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10 Reasons to Watch the Hammer in 2013

Are you ready for the hammer season? Ready or not, elite throwers around the world are getting ready to enter the ring if they haven’t done so already. On Saturday, the first major US meet of the season will take place at the Mt. SAC Relays with throwers like Kibwé Johnson, Libor Charfreitag, Drew Loftin, Mark Dry, Sultana Frizell, Jessica Cosby, Sophie Hitchon, Sarah Holt, Britney Henry, and several other elites. The IAAF Hammer Challenge kicks off in a few weeks in Tokyo. I’ve had six months to speculate, talk about, and analyze the upcoming season. So without further ado here are the 10 reasons why I think everyone should watch the hammer this year. And feel free to comment below with what you are looking forward to in 2013.


1 – 80 meters still has to be right around the corner. It was first on my list last year and remains first on my list this year. I want to see the women’s world record broken with the first throw over 80 meters. A half dozen women are within striking distance and just one of them needs to get there. Betty Heidler has to be the favorite to reach the mark first. Not only is she the current world record holder at 79.42 meters, but her recent inconsistency plays to her advantage in this regard. Throwers like Lysenko have been so consistent that I would be more surprised by a big personal best. But with Heidler anything is possible and a big throw of 80 meters is definitely one of them. Read more

On Short Hammers

Throwing light and heavy hammers should be a major part of hammer throw training. But in addition to playing around with different weights, many throwers also add variety to the length of the hammer. This is another way to add variety to training, but one method I am not a fan of.

In most of Western Europe, short hammers and heavy hammers go hand in hand. I have never met a Swiss or German coach that has thrown a normal length 10-kilogram hammer for men, and few that even utilize a normal length 9-kilogram. The theory is that heavy hammers can develop bad technical habits, but shortening a heavy hammer makes the hammer feel lighter and easier for the athlete to throw with proper technique.
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In Defense of Kibwe’s Technique

Kibwe's old technique.

Kibwé’s old technique. For newbies, the bent arm is a bad thing.

When you ask people who are the best technical throwers currently throwing they will likely throw out the name of Koji Murofushi or Primoz Kozmus. Few would likely name Kibwé Johnson. The reason for this is that people tend to focus on what people do wrong rather than what people do right. For years, Kibwé did a lot wrong. As an example, take a look at the picture to the right. But now many of those errors are gone, and his strengths are even better. While his technique is still very much a work in progress, and he would be the first to say that, I feel it needs a defense since many people overlook the many things he does well.
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Looking Back on 2012: Top Hammer Throwing Stories

In an Olympic year, naturally many of the highlights came from London. But there were many more great stories throughout the season. Here is a selection of the top hammer throwing stories from the 2012 season, both good and bad.
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Looking Back at 2012: Men’s Rankings

Krisztián Pars remember his late coach Pal Nemeth after his victory in London.

Krisztián Pars remember his late coach Pal Nemeth after his victory in London.

Track and Field News will release their annual rankings soon, which are considered the international benchmark. Once again I can’t wait that long, so I’ve compiled my own year-end rankings.

My criteria is subjective, so let the debate begin. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comment section below. If you want some stats for the season, check out the IAAF’s performance lists. Because both Ivan Tikhon (BLR) and Kirill Ikonnikov (RUS) have pending doping suspensions, I have not included them in the rankings.


1. Krisztian Pars (HUN) – While picking Pars as number one last year might have been a litte controversial, he is the clear number one this year. After years of frustration he not only won his first international title, but he did so twice by utterly dominating the competition at both the European Championships and Olympics. He won 15 or 16 finals and had seven of the nine best marks of the year (seven of the best eight if you excluding Tikhon). His season’s best of 82.28 meters might not rank him among the all-time greats, but even non-throwers agree his season was one of the best in track and field this year.
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Ask Martin Vol. 17: In Defense of Bondarchuk

Question: I know you’ve written in the past about some of Dr. Bondarchuk’s concepts. Let me share two arguments that could be made:

  • For: Bondarchuk understand the science of throwing after decades of coaching and research. The periodization cycles that you discuss of being up, down, etc. are all based experience and data and have been proven through results.
  • Against: The general hammer community gets trickles of Bondarchuk’s wisdom, but it all seems vague and hard to grasp. Fuzzy science. It’s a community of people who have drank the cool aid. His record can’t be argued with, but he doesn’t walk on water as some may say. If I had access to some of the best athletes in the world, I’d look pretty smart too. At the end of the day, sound training theory, good technique, strength training, and special strength, etc. will determine performance. It doesn’t have to be as mysterious as it has been presented.

Discuss. -Coach Lynden
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Harold Connolly: Grit Personified

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has done some interesting research into what personality traits can be used as predictors for success in school and other ventures. IQ, for example, is actually a poor indicator of how high a student’s GPA will be. Duckworth’s early research showed that self-control was a much more reliable predictor, but even that was not a good predictor of higher successes. As a lengthy New York Times piece summarized “People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word ‘grit.'”

When I think of grit, I think of one man: 1956 Olympic Champion Harold Connolly. Read more

Reflections on the London Olympic Games

I may represent Switzerland, but I still cheer for my friends first.

Last evening the Olympics officially came to a close, but not after ten days of exciting athletics action. From David Rudisha’s solo 800m world record to 19-year old Keshorn Walcott surprise victory in the men’s javelin, the week was full of amazing feats, surprises, as well as some disappointments. The hammer throw was no exception. Here are five thoughts I have on the hammer throw in London after watching the greatest show on earth.

1. The atmosphere was electric

When I approached Olympic stadium on the first morning of athletics, I was expecting a somewhat groggy crowd interspersed with empty blocks of seats. After all, the morning sessions rarely receive a capacity audience to watch various qualifying rounds. But as I made it up to my seat not only was the stadium packed, but they all had arrived earlier than me. The sold out crowd of 80,000 fans watched impatiently as 40 shot putters slowly progressed through qualifying and 35 women’s triple jumpers meandered into the stadium. And they were enjoying it more than me. Their energy spiked, however, at the sight of British heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis; when her name was announced and again as she crossed the finish line the volume would have blown off the roof it their had been one.

The energy continued throughout the session and throughout the week. The only thing I have witnessed comparable was perhaps a college football rivalry game, except the level of intensity in London was maintained for eight hours a day, ten days in a row. London brought an energy to this competition that made it one of the most memorable competitions in a generation for both the athletes and fans there. Athletes often complain that the world only pays attention to us every four years. It’s true, and it’s a valid complaint. But we also have to admit other competitions can rarely match this atmosphere. If track can somehow bring this energy to more competitions it would definitely spread its appeal. Read more

London Olympic Preview: Men’s Hammer Throw

In normal years the hammer throw is already an event where you never fully know what to expect. This year it is even more so. Not only does the exclusion of the hammer throw from the Diamond League mean that the top names have rarely (if at all) faced each other this year, but three of the favorites have only competed in a combined four meets this year. This makes it incredibly hard to see how everyone stacks up and even more interesting to see how it all unfolds starting on Friday. Below you will find an overview of the competition format, profiles of the top athletes, start lists, 2012 performance lists, and predictions. I’ll also be traveling to London and hope to provide even more updates and a preview of the women’s competition in the coming week.
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Portugal Training Camp: Wrap-up

Alongside a former Olympic champion and a couple of 2012 Olympians.

As my training camp came to a close yesterday, I couldn’t have been happier with the progress I made over 10 days and 16 training sessions. My season plan may have been interrupted by setbacks in May, but now I am in the best shape of my life. In addition to the personal best with the 9-kilogram hammer on Monday I had personal training bests with the competition weight 7.26-kilogram hammer on both Friday and Saturday. First I launched 67.30 meters (video below) and then came back the next day to toss 67.70 meters. I had only thrown over 67 meters twice in training before, but this week I had nearly a dozen throws at or over that distance and am capable of more.
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