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Jean-Pierre Egger Resources: Video, Articles, and More

In addition to the interview I posted earlier this week, there is some other information available online about Werner Günthör’s training and Jean-Pierre Egger’s training methods. I have tried to collect much of it below to help put the interview in context and also provide more information for those interested. Enjoy.

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Training Talk With Jean-Pierre Egger (Part 2)

Olympic champion Valerie Adams training with Jean-Pierre Egger.

On Friday I posted the first part of my interview with Jean-Pierre Egger, the coach of former shot put world champion Werner Günthör and current Olympic champion Valerie Adams. Click here to read part one. After talking about training methods, our discussion turned towards throwing and technique and the future of the shot put.


Training Technique – Range Throwing

Martin: Does Valerie normally throw without a reverse like she did today?

Jean-Pierre: She normally throws with a reverse at meets, so today was naturally not her competition technique. It is only a training technique that we use because she has a tendency to jump too early. Last year she came to Zürich and threw almost 20 meters and then came to Magglingen. We did five training sessions then like we are doing now: precise throws without a reverse and without measuring or anything else. Then in Croatia at the Continental Cup she threw 20.86m, the second best result of her career and in an important competition not just a small one.
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Training Talk With Jean-Pierre Egger (Part 1)

Top shot put coach Jean-Pierre Egger of Switzerland

Nearly every thrower knows who famed shot putter Werner Günthör is. But few people know the man behind the athlete: his coach Jean-Pierre Egger. A former Olympian himself, Jean-Pierre became the Swiss national throws coach and guided Günthör to three world titles and an Olympic bronze medal in 1988. After Günthör retired in the mid-1990s, Jean-Pierre began to focus his attention on other sports and found just as much success as the strength and conditioning coach for, among other, the America’s Cup champion Alinghi yachting team and the silver medal winning French national basketball team.

Jean-Pierre has now returned part-time to the sport and has been coaching Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams since last winter. In June I had a chance to visit a training session at the Swiss Olympic Training Center in Magglingen. After the workout we sat down to discuss throwing and training. The interview was conducted in German and I later translated it to English.


Throwing in Switzerland

Martin Bingisser: My first question is about the current level of the throwing events in Switzerland. It’s low right now. Very low. What do we need to increase the level?

Jean- Pierre Egger: We need talent that doesn’t go to other sports like Handball, Volleyball, Schwingen (Swiss-style wrestling), and so on. We have definitely have the potential though.

Martin: Last year I was at the Eidgenössische Schwing- und Älplerfest (the historic Swiss wrestling championship) and everywhere I looked I saw potential shot putters.

Jean-Pierre: I do the strength and conditioning coach for one of the best, Mattias Sempbach. He just took second place in Zollikofen yesterday. He would be a good thrower. And may others too. The problem is that they have more fun wrestling. The shot put is just not as attractive. And more importantly they don’t see the way that they can really more forward in the event. And that problem isn’t just one for the shot put, it also affects other athletic disciplines. The top results are so far, so high, so fast that for the it is more discouraging than it is attractive.
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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