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.

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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5 replies
  1. TBell
    TBell says:

    Holy cow, what a tour of hammer coaching you’ve had! You are now the envy of every American hammer thrower. Well done.

  2. Joe Burke
    Joe Burke says:

    Hi Martin,
    My experience is most athletes learn better through demonstrations rather than words. Too often words lead to analysis which leads to paralysis. Imitation may be the best form of flattery but it is also the best way to learn how to throw/

  3. Zach
    Zach says:

    It’s amazing too how coach-athlete communication gets to be very non verbal over time so that after a few years a coach in the stands can communicate perfectly both technical and emotional messages perfectly to a field athlete. Great post and topic.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      I didn’t even think of that, but it is so true. Even where there is no language barrier, common verbal cues turn into nonverbal cues. When I’m at a meet, my coach can coach me just as well from the stands without saying a word, mostly because I know what I normally do wrong and he just has to remind me. You see this all the time in the field events at major meets when they show the coaches in the stands.


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  1. […] background and philosophies are very similar to mine. While both of us have trouble with German, we are fluent in hammer throwing.AKPC_IDS += […]

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