An Introduction to Biomechanics

I recently came across a biomechanical analysis of the hammer throw at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. While the report is brief, it perfectly illustrates a few points that all hammer throwers need to know.

Basic physics tells us that there are three main variables that impact the distance of the throw: (1) the velocity of the hammer at the time of release; (2) the angle of release; (3) and the height of release. Obviously other factors also come into play, such as the wind, the density of the air, and so on, but these factors are the same for everyone and cannot be influenced by the throw. The height of release also plays a relatively small role since it remains fairly constant despite attempts by Harold Connolly in his prime to try to throw will taller shoes.

This report, conducted by the German Olympic Training Center in Hessen, simply provides raw data and refrains from making any conclusions. By looking at high speed film, the team determined the speed of the hammer, the duration of each turn, the path of the hammer, and several other variables. This data teaches you a lot about the hammer without even looking at the throws (although looking at the throws is just as fun: you can view video Primož Kozmus’s winning throw here. Here are the most important conclusions you can draw from it:


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3 replies
  1. Emil Muller
    Emil Muller says:

    Hi fellow hammer thrower,
    I am a hammer coach and thrower for many decades .Hall of famer in Canadian Masters athletic association.I like your letter .We are on the same wave length.For not too knowledgable people you should add at #2 that
    there is a limit of the angle of release of the implement , something around 43 degrees .After this the distance is getting shorter. I know you know this , but some people do not .
    Keep writing , it is always interesting. Cheers Emil Muller 75 and still throwing at international level.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      Definitely, thanks for pointing that out. Steeper is not always better, but you rarely see throws steeper than 44 degrees anyways (then you start getting close to hitting the ground), so I didn’t think that was worth mentioning.


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