HMMR Podcast Episode 287: Part 2 (with John Smith)

Last month Ole Miss coach John Smith joined our podcast for a rare interview looking at his unconventional approach to strength and power training. The conversation got a lot of people thinking and left us with many more questions. Thankful we were able to get him back on this week’s episode where we dived into many more throws-specific topics such as throwing heavy and light implements, peaking strategies, individualization, technical models, motor learning, and more.

Listen Now

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.
  • 2:15 – The origin story of multiple weight implements: “I was the original gangster of throwing light and heavy in America. I was doing it before it got popular.”
  • 7:15 – Toughness: “It’s good to be tough when it goes into a competition, but if you don’t have the training behind you, it isn’t going to happen. I don’t see anyone do something in a meet that I didn’t see coming. I don’t believe in magic.”
  • 10:15 – Peaking: “The worst thing you can do for peaking is play the maintenance game.”
  • 14:00 – The value of heavy hammers and the weight throw. “The weight is heavy, the weight is fast. If you can handle those two things it’ll cary over to the hammer. The best hammer throwers are the ones that can throw the weight well too.”
  • 19:15 – Using competition weight implements and finding your indicator implement.
  • 23:30 – Finding a personalized recipe: “You can be training 65-70% speed and 65-70% heavy at the same time. Heavy short hammers are both heavy and fast at the same time.”
  • 28:45 – Shot put technical model and hammer training for the shot put: “If you have a shot putter is a crappy hammer thrower, still have them throw it since it’ll make them a better shot putter.”
  • 32:30 – Work the earth: “You have to stay on the ground with the right foot until the ball is gone. If you lift it up early, you lose power.”
  • 39:45 – Individualizing technique: “Technique is subjective. You look at 10 hammer throwers you see 10 things. There ain’t no right way to throw far. There’s just a way for the athlete you’re working with. I don’t train a model, I train somebody to get the most out of them.”
  • 41:30 – Strength levels, specific strength levels, and coordinating throwing and lifting workouts: “You can’t just technique your way out there. You have to certain power levels to play.”
  • 45:45 – Personalizing pre-meet plans.
  • 47:00 – Applying “work the earth” to the hammer.
  • 48:00 – Parallels to shot put and hammer technique and thoughts on direction and rotation.
  • 50:00 – Use of drills and constraints.
  • 52:00 – Differences in training men and women: “Women simply have to be trained harder and heavier closer to the main competitions.”
  • 54:30 – Finding an athlete’s recipe.
  • 57:00 – 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