Training Talk With Dan Pfaff (Part 3)

Coach Dan PfaffFor the past week I’ve been posting snippets of my training talk with coach Dan Pfaff of the World Athletics Center. I’ve spent time listing Pfaff’s numerous accomplishments over the past week, so this time I will just jump back in to the discussion. If you like what you read below, also check out the first or second part.

For even more you can become a member of HMMR Media to get access to hundreds of other great articles I have posted, including more training talks with some of the top coaches in the business like Harry Marra, Derek Evely, Jean-Pierre Egger, Don Babbitt, Vern Gambetta and many others from the world of throwing and beyond.

Martin: To end with I’d naturally like to know your experience with the hammer. How would you approach the event if you had a hammer thrower currently? What would be the training focus and what do you think hammer throwers can learn from other events in this regard.

Dan: Again this goes back our generation concept. I don’t think I’d train hammer thrower much different than other events. I would do a key performance indicators (“KPI”) analysis to determine what are the KPIs for that athlete at that stage of their career and development. I would identify a priority list on those KPIs. The highest KPIs would get the most attention and density during the training week. The secondary KPIs would fill in the gaps. And all the work would be done with this movement screen idea where you are constantly evaluating movement to adjust KPIs, prevent injury, and enhance skill.


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2 replies
  1. Scott Dochat
    Scott Dochat says:

    As a high school coach, how do I identify these KPI’s for each athlete with whom I work. Coach Pfaff makes it sound easy but I struggle constantly with what works for each kid. Any tips on identifying these KPI’s easier/sooner…
    Thank you for all you do for the sport and coaching!

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      I’m just speaking off the top of my head here, so bear with me. I’ll also try to get Dan to chime in with a more experienced viewpoint.

      I see various types of KPIs. First, you have general KPIs that do not very much from sport to sport. For instance, key performance indicators in all sports are technique and specific strength. The you have sport specific KPIs. In hammer this would be efficient hammer technique and hammer special strength, for example. Then there individual KPIs. This looks at the individual’s strengths and weaknesses to see how they differ from the model for their sport. For instance perhaps a particular style of technique suits them better, or they get more benefit from certain exercises or training styles.

      I think for beginners it is actually a bit easier to identify the KPIs. Beginners can focus a bit more on the event level KPIs. Identify what the sport requires I be successful an use that in training. For the hammer I focus on the basics of technique, as well as building general strength, specific strength, and specific work capacity (which often goes together with technical and specific strength work). With young athletes, general abilities or even abilities at just one specific ability are great performance indicators (as opposed to with world class athletes). This is also a time to experiment. Athletes are young, so throw different things at them to try to identify their individual KPIs, i.e. how they set themselves apart from other athletes. Then, as they progress and you gain experience with them, the KPIs should become more individual. They are always changing, but experience helps shape them. First it is experience with the sport that helps as beginners. Then it is experience with them as athletes.


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