GAINcast Episode 230: The dawgfather (with Ken Shannon)

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.

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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.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: