Ask Martin Vol. 14: The Orbit

Question: When you talk about focusing on the orbit, what do you mean? -James

People like to focus on footwork, but it is the orbit of the hammer that is the most important element of technique. This isn’t even a debatable question. But, what is the orbit? And what should a hammer thrower know about it?

In short, the orbit is the path that the hammer itself travels. The most discussed part of the orbit is the low point, with coaches often talking about if it should be to the left or right. But focusing on this is just focusing on a two-dimensional snapshot of the orbit. In addition to being left or right, the hammer can be too high or too low. And the most important aspect is yet another dimension: time. Where the hammer was and where the hammer is going is just as important as where it is.

When I talk about focusing on the orbit, I mean several things. Here are a few of the major points of focus.


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5 replies
  1. tomsonite
    tomsonite says:

    Something I’ve never quite understood is the whole going left vs. being centered concepts. In the above post you say (and this is something I agree with and that most others would say) that the left side is the center of the circle, or the axis of rotation. Yet you also say to stay “centered” and give Hal Connolly’s pencil experiment as an analogy. A pencil has no left side obviously…
    My question is, how can you stay “centered” while allowing one side of your body to be the center of rotation? It seems like that would be trying to have two different centers of rotation at the same time.

    • TB
      TB says:

      Keep the center (of the orbit) the center (of the orbit). The left side is your pencil. For me, it feels like the left chest.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      Exactly. The left side is the pencil. The left side, and not the middle of the body, is the best axis because the left foot is fixed to the ground throughout the throw. If the axis went from the left foot to the middle of the body, then it is already tilted. Naturally it will always tilt a little as you have to counter, but the aim is to have it go around the left side.

  2. Bryan Kolacz
    Bryan Kolacz says:

    This is great stuff, I agree with this and it is a hard thing for many people to let the ball pull them and not the other way around.

  3. Alison
    Alison says:

    I read once that hammer, was dancing. You’re just letting the hammer do the leading. Since I read that, thought about it and started to trust the hammer (just focus more on where my butt was) the throated were better and more ‘poetic’. I’ve also noticed that as I’ve gotten more confident with footwork and not having to think about it as much, focusing on the orbit as discusseed, lifting the hammer up and turning with it, it’s more of a two party event now, so much easier!

    Thanks Martin for all the great info x


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