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Training Talk: Shot Put With Justin Rodhe

Bondarchuk is most well known for his legacy as both an athlete and a coach in the hammer. But his greatest success since he began coaching Western athletes has been in the shot put. His star pupil Dylan Armstrong increased the Canadian record to 21.58 meters and placed fourth in Beijing, just one centimeter off of the podium.

Often hidden in the shadow of Dylan is Justin Rodhe, and that’s something he hopes to change in the future. When Justin arrived in Kamloops in 2007, he had just graduated Division 3 Mt. Union College, where he was a consistent 16 to 17 meter thrower. During his last meet for the school, he threw 18 meters for the first time and won the NCAA D3 title. Since joining the group he has made quick progress: last year he threw 19.52 meters and this year he expects to be in the 20 meter range in 2011. Rodhe also married Megan VanderVliet in 2009, a Commonwealth Games participant for Canada in the hammer throw, and is deciding whether to compete for America or Canada in the future. The two recently launched RodheThrows.com. Justin has been kind enough to share some of what he has learned about the shot put from Bondarchuk and others.


Shot putter Justin Rodhe

About RhodeThrows.com

Martin: To start off with, tell us a little about RodheThrows.com and what you and Megann are trying to do with the new site?

Justin: RODHETHROWS.com is the platform from which Megann and I have found ourselves in a unique position to offer professional products and services as well as an information resource for the throwing community and our support groups as we endeavour toward the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

The site offers blog updates concerning our nutrition, training research and competition updates. We also provide handmade leather products for sport performance, our signature product being the RODHETHROWS Shot Put Glove.

What Sets American Shot Putting Apart

Martin: Unlike the hammer throw, the U.S. has been able to stay on top of the world lists in the shot put. Why do you think the U.S. has been able to maintain such a high level of success in the shot put while success in the other throwing events has fallen?
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How Not to Reach Your Goals

Sometimes things are so stacked against you that you feel like you cannot fail. It’s a similar line of thinking to the famous “two wrongs make a right.” That is how I felt on Friday and why I was so optimistic. In reality, however, the more things that are stacked against you, the more likely you are to fail. So the fact that I’ve been sick of the past week with my first illness in year, the fact that I didn’t throw the shot put much, that my technique is erratic, and that others actually focus all their energy on the event ended up winning. I lost. Badly. I took home a measly tenth place and was five feet under my personal best. But as I said on Friday, I had nothing to lose. I enjoyed the competition and will try again at the Swiss Outdoor Championships in August.
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My Goal of Becoming a Shot Put Champion (Seriously)

My goal for tomorrow: a medal in the shot put.

U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Loree Smith recently wrote a detailed post on goal setting for hammer throwers. She provided, better than any sport psychologist I have ever heard, the best explanation of how useful goals can be.

To summarize, athletes need long term goals, short terms goals, and flexibility. I believe the long term goals are the most important for a hammer throw since shortcuts and quick success are hard to come by in such a technical discipline. It takes a certain type of athlete to train year after year towards a goal that may be a decade away. But those as the type of athletes that succeed in the hammer throw. I’ve seen many talented throwers give up the hammer after one day since they were not able to throw further than their shot put best. That was probably the right move because they didn’t the mental prerequisites to be a good hammer thrower.
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The Universal Language of Throwers

If you want to be a successful hammer thrower, curiosity is a requirement. Language skills are not. I’ve traveled the world in search of hammer throw enlightenment. Some coaches speak English, some do not. But they all speak hammer throw, and that transcends any language.

Sometimes hands can speak better than words.

When I tell people that I’m coached by Anatoliy Bondarhcuk, their first questions tend revolve around his level of English proficiency. His English is actually relatively good after six years of living in Canada, as are the multiple other languages he speaks. However, when he first arrived it was another story. His advice was broken into choppy three or four word sentences. Onlookers seemed perplexed that we understood him, and were even more perplexed that we instinctively replied to him with our own version of broken English. But his messages nevertheless came through clearly. Sometimes you don’t need any extra words to say “push entry more” or “terrible” or even “double excellent.” I still remember one of his first pearls of wisdom to me: “If hammer feel heavy, then you pull. If push, then hammer feel light in hand.” He couldn’t have said it better if his English were perfect.
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The Big Shot: A Lesson in Thinking Outside the Box

In addition to my comments below, read my thoughts on watching Weltklasse Zürich over at Jesse Squire’s Track and Field Superblog.

Although I’m a track fan and athlete, my interest in athletics goes well beyond spectating and competing. For me, I also love the business side of the sport and am constantly thinking about the challenge of how we can grow athletics. One recent idea that has proved very successful is the shot put’s move outside the stadium at many meets. This has been a classic example of thinking outside the box (and the stadium) that has worked.

How We Got Here
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Coming soon: Swiss Championships

Lugano

A panoramic view of Lugano, the host of the 2010 Swiss Championships. The hammer throw will be hosted off-site in Locarno.

I thought I would post a quick note before heading down to the Swiss Championships tomorrow morning. The competition itself isn’t until Saturday afternoon. My first event will be the hammer in Locarno, where I competed last week. Immediately after the competition, I will head into nearby Lugano for the main portion of the meet, where I will throw the shot put. Both cities are beautiful and the weather should sunny and nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Tune into the Olympics Tonight

My training partner Dylan Armstrong competed in the Olympic shot put final today.  The competition will be shown tape-delayed tonight on NBC, so tune in to see him.  In the second round, Dylan threw a new personal best and Canadian record of 21.04 meters (69’00.50″).  That remained his best throw throughout the competition and he sat in the bronze medal position entering his last throw.  Unfortunately, American Christian Cantwell improved on his final attempt and ended Dylan’s chance at a medal.  When the competition was over, Dylan was just one centimeter (.25 inches) shy of the bronze medal and four centimeters (1.5 inches) shy of the silver medal.  Nevertheless, he put forth one hell of an effort and should be proud of his new Canadian record. Read more