The most amazing performance at the recent World Athletics Championships didn’t take place on the track, it took place on the field. On his final attempt, shot putter Joe Kovacs summoned the best effort the world has seen in nearly 30 years. Not only was his performance historic, but the whole competition was as he edged out both of his top rivals by just one centimeter. Kovacs joins us on this week’s podcast to talk about the competition, the ups and downs he’s faced in the years leading up to his breakthrough, and the evolution of rotational shot put technique.
Notes and quotes
Joe Kovacs is a two-time world champion in the shot put and 2016 Olympic silver medalist. His new personal best from the Doha World Championships moves him to fourth best all-time in the event.
- 5:15 – Thoughts on the World Championships final, expectations, and the setting.
- 8:15 – Reacting to the competitors: “I was training better than I ever had. I was in PR shape so my whole goal was to come out with a PR. Even if I ended up off the podium, I would left with my head up if I executed that plan. ” “I was like a horse with blinders on, not seeing left or right, just going forward. That’s what helped me build and not get caught up in the competition. Every throw I felt like I was getting closer to what we worked on in practice. “
- 12:15 – Training changes over the last two years: “A lot of what I was doing before was about emotion and putting a show on. When I moved to Ohio I quickly learned that wasn’t possible any more. That was the biggest change. “
- 15:30 – Technical changes over the last two years: “Trying to change my technique gave me a lot of stress by not throwing far, but a year away from travel saved my body and kept me fresh. It also made me lock into what I did well in my previous technique. “
- 18:00 – Coming back from a bad year: “You need to know why you are doing something. What’s your carrot? Lifting heavy and destroying your body needs a reason. My carrot used to be proving people wrong, but that changed. “
- 21:00 – Proving people wrong, considering walking away, and developing a plan.
- 27:00 – Consistency and throwing.
- 31:30 – Working with his wife.
- 36:00 – What will it take to the world record. “There isn’t one magic thing to reach the world record. Getting my bench press up 20 kilos isn’t going to help. It is about doing what I did last year and learning how to be a bit more relaxed and faster in the movement. “
- 38:00 – Base strength and old man strength.
- 41:00 – Developing perspective. “Find out what you need. The void I needed to fill when I went to the Olympic Training Center was becoming a competitor. Now it is to go out there and smile. “
- 47:00 – Focusing on the Trials vs. Olympics.
- 50:00 – The evolution of rotational shot put technique and comparing Kovacs, Crouser, and Walsh. “It used to be whether you did the spin or the glide. Now there are different types of spins where you can put them in different categories. I would never take Ryan Crouser and have him try and throw like me. ” “Don’t just experiment, understand why. If the ball went farther, who cares? What really matters is what is giving you the feelings and positions. “
To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- This month’s site theme is core strength. Join HMMR Plus so that you don’t miss out on our archives and new resources, including our latest video on medicine ball training from Vern Gambetta and much more.
- You can see some of the top throws from Doha here. Track and Field News has a great play by play commentary of the competition.
- You can follow Kovacs on Instagram (@joekovacsusa) and Twitter (@joekovacsusa).
- We talked about the shot put on quite a few other episodes. Most relevant here are Episode 66 and Episode 121 with Tom Walsh’s coach Dale Stevenson, Episode 170 compared shot put technical styles of Don Babbitt, and Episode 42 with Olympic champion Adam Nelson.