HMMR Podcast Episode 266: Use the ball (with Lance Deal)

The hammer throw is a unique sport. Most types of throwing require an athlete to apply force to an implement, but in the hammer throw you have to work together with the implement. That changes the whole dynamic of how you think about accelerating. On this week’s episode we nerd out a little and get into technical detail with one of the best of all time as Olympic medalist Lance Deal explains how he thought about accelerating in the hammer throw.

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Notes and quotes

Lance Deal is one of the most successful American hammer throwers of all-time. He began focusing on the event only after college, yet still managed to make four Olympic teams and hold the American record from 1994 to 2021. His top season was 1996, when he won Olympic silver and was ranked first in the world by Track and Field News. After retiring he worked as a coach at the University of Oregon, as well as facilities manager and has designed some of the world’s most innovative hammer cages.

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 3:45 – Getting to know Lance Deal.
  • 7:00 – The American resurrection and the influence of Stewart Togher.
  • 12:30 – Remembering Jud Logan.
  • 18:00 – Stewart Togher’s technical philosophy: “The biggest technical thing for Stewart Togher is use the ball. Like a golf swing or cracking a whip, the snap at the end is the key. To do that you have to figure out a way to slow down the rest of it.”
  • 21:00 – The paradoxes of hammer throwing: “The zen paradoxes of hammer throwing: in stillness there is movement, in weakness there is strength, and you have to slow down to speed up.”
  • 24:00 – Acceleration: “The hammer doesn’t accelerate as much as you think it does. Everyone expects to have massive acceleration, but it barely accelerates through the throw. It is not superhuman, it is just normal.”
  • 27:30 – Slowing down to speed up: “The hammer is 7 feet away from you, you have to wait for it. My entire career was an exercise in waiting for the hammer.”
  • 31:45 – Tension and the water ski analogy.
  • 35:00 – What you think about vs. what you do and finding 180.
  • 44:45 – Getting too creative in coaching.
  • 48:30 – Evolution of Togher’s technical model.
  • 53:15 – Mindset of an athlete vs. a coach.
  • 57:30 – Cultivating athlete motivation.

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. This month’s site theme is throwing, so keep an eye out for more on the topic in the coming weeks and visit our throws page to see our top archived content on the topic.
  • We’ve had many discussions with Sergej Litvinov Jr. over the years about accelerating the hammer. He has shared his thoughts on how the ball movesaccelerating the hammer, and understanding the orbit.
  • HMMR Classroom Video Lesson 10 also explores the core elements of hammer throw technique and how to train them.