Finding the Right Rhythm

Watching the acceleration patterns of Yuri Sedykh gives you a good idea of his rhythm.Rhythm and the hammer throw are inseparable. A good throw needs it and bad throws lack it. As a coach I often have my throwers focus on the the rhythm of the throw as much as any other aspect. But as a thrower training alone, rhythm is something that is difficult for me to focus on in my own throw. Perhaps it is just me, but rhythm seems much easier to watch or hear than to feel. The blur of the throw prevents me from getting much feedback about the rhythm. I can feel when a throw is smooth or easy, but I can tell you little about the rhythm. Harold Connolly told me that at least one of his athletes must have felt the same way so he altered his hammer to whistle as he threw, with the pitch varying as speed increased.

Thankfully I can sometimes get others to come and watch me throw. Yesterday Terry McHugh was once again able to watch me practice and his sole focus was on rhythm. Terry has little experience with the hammer, but he is a talented javelin coach and has a good eye. As with focusing, rhythm is universal and something Terry can help me with as much as any hammer coach can.


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8 replies
  1. Taylor Berliant
    Taylor Berliant says:

    How would you classify a thrower like Nikulin, who appears to go slow through one and two, but then has significant acceleration on three and four?

    Also, how much do you think rhythm is consciously achieved (or should be), or does it manifest itself indeliberately from a well-connected acceleration of the implement?

    Thank you.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      The idea that there are three types is just an example of the main points on the spectrum. Not everyone starts slow, medium, or fast. Some start medium slow, others medium fast. The point is that different rhythms can be successful.

      I think consciously focusing on the rhythm can achieve a lot. Obviously properly accelerating the hammer will automatically generate a good rhythm. But you still have to decide how fast to start and that affects how much you will be able to accelerate in the remaining turns. Plus you have to accelerate at the right time. For these points focusing on the rhythm can be helpful since it will get you to repeat the same thing every turn, just a little faster. It is just approaching the same issue from a different direction; it is the more big picture approach than focusing just on the acceleration, which can also be helpful.

  2. Robert
    Robert says:

    I find trying to find a rhythm for a throw can be a daily thing that depends greatly on the overall feeling of the body. If I am fatigued in general, or if specific muscles are still sore from a previous workout, than I seem to find myself using a different rhythm than is typical. In my youth I would try to force the issue, and match whatever tempo was “normal” for me at the time. Now I find myself being a bit more open to whatever tempo feels right on any specific day. As I am coaching my athletes and trying to emphasize something particular, I find myself “playing” the throw in my head at whatever tempo is correct for that athlete.

    I find that Martin’s use of the term rhythm and specifically medium fast or medium slow to remind me of musical notation from when I used to play in my high school band. And I typically use those terms in many of the ways I describe a throw, from the pacing and the energy of the winds, to the steady increase in speed and force as the “music” of the throw proceeds into the turns and the crescendo at the release.

    As I speak to my athletes I find that I will try to teach them to perform their throws as a soloist such as Yo Yo Ma would during a symphony. To find the connection between themselves and their instrument the hammer, and to simply play with confidence and purpose. Changing the tempo of the throw depending on whatever skill or technical flaw is being figured out, much like sight reading a new piece of music. You have the written speed on the sheet music, but you sometimes have to make changes to learn the correct notes. Then bring the music back to full tempo once those corrections have taken hold.

    Another way I try to bring across the musical nature of throwing to my athletes is the use of the idea of the relative sound of the throw. You can play softly or extra loud, which to me means you can adjust the amount of “force” or muscle you put into certain parts of the throw. With the best throws seeming to come from a middle or effortless amount of “force”, while maintaining a consistent tempo.

    All of this make a lot of sense to people that have or do play musical instruments or have sung while reading sheet music. While sounding vaguely wonky to people who do not.

    I have often wondered if elite throwers go further than I do using these types of thoughts on throwing, like playing different types of music before throws to see if the tempo or rhythm could be altered. Or if the visualization of a throw from different angles as Kibwe mentioned in one of his blogs also has a sound track, and does thinking like this about throwing really help my athletes or is it just so much silliness…Not that I am opposed to being silly!

  3. Joe Burke
    Joe Burke says:

    Here are 3 general observations I have about rhythm.
    1. Good rhythm improves bad technique and bad rhythm harms good technique so rhythm is always a really good place to start when working on technique.
    2. Whether you have a fast, medium speed or a slow start a thrower’s individual acceleration from turn to turn should be roughly equal. This individual acceleration pattern helps determine whether he can start slowly or has to start more quickly.
    3. I think the time taken for single support in each turn should be about .21 secs, ie the same rhytnm we find for the last two strides in all jumps and throws.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      Hey Joe – Great point about no matter what the start speed is the acceleration should be smooth. As I like to tell my throwers, you don’t want to go from 0-60 in one turn. Spread it out over all of them.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] technique should be chosen based on the rhythm that fits the individual. That is no surprise as Bondarchuk has said the same thing about other technical points. He concluded his article by noting that “at this time 3 turns is fully enough to throw the […]

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