HMMR Podcast Episode 285: The real strength guy (with John Smith)

When we chase power we often look to strength coaches for the answers. But some of the most powerful athletes in the world are throwers. Coach John Smith thinks we’re asking the wrong people; we should be looking to the throwing coaches for the best examples of how to develop powerful athletes. Smith is one of the most successful in the NCAA. On this week’s episode he talks about how he developed his unconventional approach to strength and power training, and much much more.

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Notes and quotes

John Smith is the throwing coach at the University of Mississippi and one of the most successful coaches in the NCAA. In his decades of coaching he has produced 4 Olympians, and athletes that have won 34 US titles, 13 NCAA championships, and 92 All-American honors.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 5:00 – Background and influences.
  • 8:30 – Learning to do less and transitioning to just 2x a aweek lifting.
  • 9:45 – The current structure in detail.
  • 11:15 – Safety squats: “The way to build a big back squat isn’t to back squat. The way to build a big bench isn’t to bench. You do everything around that. When you take that stuff away all of a sudden you have a massive squat.”
  • 17:45 – Talent and recruiting: “A lot of my athletes were high school athletes no one would give a dollar too. People downgrade the training and coaching. They think you have it or you don’t. But that’s not the case.”
  • 25:00 – Influences on training and Olympic lifting.
  • 30:00 – Lifting volumes and work capacity: “Lift half as much, get stronger, and throw more. That’s a good deal.” “There is a simple rule you cannot deny in throwing: you can only do what you can recover from. No program is worth a crap unless you can recover from what you’re doing.” “When we lift and throw on the same day, one suffers. So we have lifting days or throwing days, not both.”
  • 33:45 – Working with S&C coaches: “Weight rooms used to be someplace where people could be creative and solve problems. S&C coaches used to be support staff, but they have become the coach who has the power to dictate what the sport coach does. If people want to create powerful athletes, listen to the throws coaches, not the S&C gurus.”
  • 38:45 – Speed and strength thresholds: “You think you can technique it out there when you have guys like Kovacs? If you don’t have certain strength levels you just aren’t going to make it.”
  • 41:30 – Throws training and technique.
  • 44:15 – Coaching the hammer vs. shot put.
  • 50:00 – Coaching men vs. women.
  • 54:30 – Kids these days.
  • 59:00 – Exchanging ideas.
  • 1:04:00 – Comparing mid major to power 5 schools.
  • 1:07:30 – Final thoughts.

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.
  • You can learn more about Smith’s background on the Ole miss webpage.
  • Smith also has done an interview with Long & Strong Throwers Journal which details a bit more about his own background, and this article about his work with Raven Saunders in 2017.
  • For more throwing resources, check out the HMMR Media throwing hub which combines our top videos, articles, lessons, and other content about all of the throwing events.