Don Babbitt has developed a name as one of the top throws coaches in the world after guiding athletes like Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson, Breaux Greer, Jason Tunks, and Andras Haklits. Recently he’s been involved with a number of projects in the throwing world like leading a rotational shot put project in Japan, analyzing throwing development in the US, and work with Koji Murofushi to research specific strength exercises like “hammerobics.” On this week’s podcast Babbitt joins us to brainstorm about what’s on his mind recently. Read more
Olympic medalist and two-time world champion Reese Hoffa recently retired as perhaps the top shot putter of this century. His longevity and consistency helped him set a record with 138 competitions ever over 21 meters. Since retiring, he has focussed on building up his own throws academy. On this week’s episode he joins us to discuss what helped give him such a long and successful career. In addition, we discuss transitioning to youth coaching, how to individualize technique, building athlete ownership and more. Read more
Dan Haakenson is the throwing coach at Western State Colorado University. For athletes looking to join a rising program in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, get in touch with Dan.
Have you ever noticed how you never see Olympic shot putter Reese Hoffa and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson in the same place at the same time? Speculation has arisen in the throwing community and elsewhere that this phenomenon smacks of the Clark Kent/Superman variety. Read more
On Thursday we posted our USATF Championships women’s throw guide. With stars and depth in every event, it will be an exciting meet starting on Thursday. But that is only half of the action. The men will also bring some big names to the table, led as always by a strong group of shot putters. With all the great throwers converging on Eugene we may have to rename the city #throwstownUSA by the time the weekend is over. Below is a in depth look at each of the men’s throwing events taking place at next week’s championship. Read more
Three years ago I rolled out a list of the top moustaches in throwing history in honor of Movember. From Mac Wilkins to Jean-Pierre Egger, and Yuriy Sedykh to Aleksandr Bagach, moustaches of all varieties were present.
But a moustache is just the first step on the facial hair train. So in honor of No Shave November, I bring you some of the best beards in throwing history. These throwers have truly taken it to the next level. As I am sure I have missed some, please add them to the comments below or contact me directly.
In part one of my interview with throwing coach Don Babbitt, he discussed how he indizidualizes the training plans of his athletes like Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa. Coach Babbitt continued the discussion by talking about what factors he looks at when tailoring a plan to an athlete how he came about this approach after learning under a quite different system as a thrower at UCLA.
Martin: When you mention what factors you look at before individualizing something and what you adjust, it sounds like most of the adjustments are made to fit an athletes schedule and prevent overtraining. Is that the focus of the individualization, or is it also adjusted to address shortcomings or other aspects of training?
Don: The answer is yes to both. When setting up a training plan, I try to look at the overall situation, and then prescribe a plan. The base of the plan will be to address the basic needs of the event from both a physical standpoint and a technical standpoint. There is not a preset plan that I could say is “my system.” If the athlete is new to the program, or a new athlete that I am working with the has been training for some years, I take a look at what they have done in the past as the “base” and then modify it to the situation at hand. Koji had expressed this to me in the past as if you have a training footprint or path is one direction. You have to continue to work down that path or deviate it slightly if this is the case, you cannot just pickup and go a completely different direction. This is the foundation of my training philosophy. Each athlete will also have a plan based upon addressing certain weaknesses and body balance issues, and with regard to technique, the technical model will be based around their strength and weaknesses too. It takes a lot of thought and time preparing, but it seems to be the only way to get the most out of someone in each case. A one size fits all system just does not meet the specific needs of every individual.
One of the most successful throwing coaches in the world over the past decade without a doubt is Don Babbitt. Coach Babbitt has been at the University of Georgia for sixteen years in which his athletes captured 11 NCAA titles, and 55 All-American certificates. Chris Hill (javelin) and Jenny Dahlgren (hammer) also set NCAA records under his guidance. In addition, he has worked with athletes like Adam Nelson (shot put), Reese Hoffa (shot put), Breaux Greer (javelin), Jason Tunks (discus), Brad Snyder (shot put), Andras Haklits (hammer) and many other international champions.
In addition to his success across all the throwing events, what sets Coach Babbitt apart from other elite coaches is the way he individualizes training. Many successful programs have a system which they apply to all their athletes. Coach Babbitt, on the other hand, adapts his system to the individual athletes’ needs. Just listen to Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson describe their training and you’ll immediately notice major differences even though they are training partners and produce similar results. Despite his recent trip to Japan for a seminar, Coach Babbitt found time to exchange some thoughts on how he fits individualization into the training of his athletes.
Martin: For starters, could you give us a quick overview of what are the major differences in the training of Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson and why that is the case?
Don: Adam and Reese are quite different in a number of ways, and this may actually be a reason why they can train together so well. In terms of mentality, Adam is a gambler by nature, and sets very high goals for himself. In a way it is manifested in his technique, high risk, high reward. It is challenge for him to stay on a certain course for more than about 3-4 months without a change. He needs and likes change. The key for him in this regard is to change things up to make it fresh without changing too much and getting of task. His training varies from year to year, and it may cycle back around to the same thing over a 2-3 year cycle.
Reese is much more steady and methodical, which again is manifested in his performance and results (very steady). Reese does not like change, he likes to keep homeostasis, so to speak, and do the same schedule and train the same way each year. Sure, there will me minor variations because of schedule, injury, etc., but he tries to replicate the same high level results each year. When things go a little off for Reese, he does not respond too well, and likes to keep things in a controlled situation. He does not like experiments.