HMMR Podcast Episode 256: Throwing trends (with Don Babbitt)

The dust has settled following Tokyo, giving us time to analyze the most recent trends in our sport. It’s not just a question of who is hot and who is not, but how current throwers are adapting and changing technique to reach new levels. On this week’s podcast coach Don Babbitt joins us to look at the technical trends in the throws that emerged in Tokyo.

Listen Now

Notes and quotes

Don Babbitt is the throwing coach and Associate Head Coach at the University of Gerogia. In 25 years at the school he has guided some of the top collegiate and professional throwers in the world, including Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson, Breaux Greer, Jason Tunks, Andras Haklits, and many more. In addition, he supports World Athletics on coaching education and throwing topics.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:30 – Comparing javelin throw blocking styles: “It’s not to say a harder block is better. It’s not about running down, stopping, and throwing. You’re throwing while you are still moving forward. It is just the amount of deceleration you have while you throw.”
  • 9:45 – The role of the surface in throwing, and preparing the optimal surface for a championship.
  • 19:30 – Variation of release styles across all the throwing events: “There is more variation in the javelin since more of the throw comes from the last few steps when you draw back the javelin. In the hammer there is not that much you can change at that point; you’re just trying to survive.”
  • 23:30 – Breaking down Valerie Allman’s discus technique: “When you look at the champions they’ve had the same coach for a long time, working on the same things for a long period of time. That’s a key to success. It’s getting increasingly difficult in the US to have that continuity.”
  • 30:45 – Why and how different countries develop their own throwing styles and models.
  • 38:00 – Methods of coming out of the back of the ring in the shot put.
  • 44:15 – Linking the back and the front of the throw: “It’s like a downhill ski race. You might start fast, but if there is a crazy curve in the middle of the race, faster isn’t better even though you want to finish as fast as you can. It is more than coming in fast, you have to come in the right way. If you come in too fast to a curve, you’ll have to do something drastic to save it.”
  • 47:30 – Western and eastern hammer throw technical trends.

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.

Further reading

  • This episode is brought to you by HMMR Plus. Become a member for full access to our videos, articles, and podcast archives. The August/September site theme is analyzing the Olympics. Check back throughout the rest of the month for more insights from Tokyo.
  • You can learn more about Babbitt’s background from the University of Georgia webpage.
  • Babbitt was also a guest on Episode 170, where we broke down the 2017 World Championships biomechanics report. We also spoke with him on Episode 116. And he sat down for a lengthy interview on individualization and other training topics back in 2012.
  • HMMR Plus Members can watch Babbitt break down rotational shot put styles, technical development, and training methods in this 3.5 hour video lesson.
  • We analyzed the Olympic results on our last Episode 255 with guest Shaun Pickering. In addition, we wrote some insight on the throwing surface controversy and what needs to be done to standardize surfaces in the sport.
  • Valerie Allman’s technique and her work with coach Zeb Sion was discussed in this recent Track and Field News article. Coach Sion regularly posts training videos on Instagram, including her incredible 22 meter overhead throw.
  • Also mentioned in the episode, we interviewed dutch discus thrower Eric Cadee in 2012 about his experiments with a new discus throw start.