Over three decades of coaching at the University of Washington, coach Ken Shannon quietly developed one of the most successful and diverse stable of field event athletes in the country and was a key influence on Vern’s own approach to training and weight lifting. On this week’s episode coach Shannon joins us to discuss his own development as a coach, throwing technique, and advice for young coaches.
Notes and quotes
Ken Shannon was the head coach at the University of Washington for nearly 30 years, focusing on the throws and field events. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at UCLA and his alma matter Occidental College. Throughout his career he coached Shannon has produced 39 conference champions, 18 NCAA Champions and has coached 10 athletes to NCAA record-holder status. Among his top athletes was 7-time NCAA champion hammer thrower Scott Nielsen, American collegiate discus throw record holder Aretha Hill, Olympic discus thrower Adam Setliff, and collegiate decathlon record holder Mike Ramos.
- 0:00 – Introduction.
- 4:45 – Early coaching experiences as Occidental and UCLA.
- 11:30 – Learning new events: “I always learned a lot from my athletes. I learned more from NCAA champion Scott Nielsen than he learned from me.”
- 13:30 – Javelin technique: “Gymnastics was a big part of our javelin training program from the standpoint of flexibility and strength.”
- 15:30 – Overlooked qualities for thrower: “What do you look for in a young thrower? Hand strength. Any thrower has to have hand strength.”
- 19:15 – Javelin technique.
- 21:30 – Discus technique: “So many throwers, when they hit the center of the ring they already start to throw. We worked on turning on the right foot.”
- 25:15 – Remembering the 1976 Pac 8 championships and the historic UW throwing sweep.
- 28:30 – Training tips.
- 30:00 – Advice for young coaches: “(1) Be honest with yourself, assume responsibilities for your actions. (2) Find your own gifts and follow your own goals. (3) Be able to adapt to stress.”
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- Our monthly GAIN Master Class Series features speakers from all aspects of performance. Sign up and learn more here.
- The GAINcast is also sponsored by HMMR Media. Join HMMR Media to get access to a vast library of online training resources, video, articles, podcasts, and more.
- You can read a bit more about Shannon’s background on the UW webpage. The Seattle Times also wrote about his retirement back in 2000.
- Two of Shannon’s former athletes have been guests on the HMMR Podcast: Episode 105 with Justin St. Claire and Episode 166 with Aretha (Hill) Thurmond. There are also some great videos of his throwers on YouTube such as this one of Rod Ewaliko.
- You can learn more from Shannon in his classic book Track: The Field Events.