HMMR Podcast Episode 289: Finding focus (with Tony Ciarelli)

High performance success has a lot of factors. Even each factor, such as technique, is multifaceted. It is hard, or even impossible, to focus on everything at once. Success, therefore, comes through finding focus. On this week’s podcast coach Tony Ciarelli joins us to talk about he tries to find focus in his periodization, and also in his approach to teaching technique.

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Notes and quotes

Tony Ciarelli is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the University of California Irvine track team. Prior to his current role he spent decades as one of the top high school throwing coaches in the country, producing more than 20 high school throwers over 55 feet in the shot put and another 20 over 160 feet in the discus. He has worked with Olympians in several sports such as Cara Heads in Olympic weightlifting and former world championship shot put and discus medalist Rutger Smith.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:15 – A brief background of block periodization and timing. “You need to separate the season into parts instead of thinking of the season as a whole. You can see if your program is working by looking at each part, because it’s not going to end better than it started.”
  • 4:30 – Adapting to NCAA schedules.
  • 7:00 – Putting theory into practice: It’s about emphasis not exclusivity.
  • 9:15 – Programming of lifters vs. throwers.
  • 13:45 – Block periodization and more focused training for weightlifters: “Lifters always think they will lose strength if they don’t do a certain exercise, but the residual effect has a huge impact.”
  • 15:45 – More on training residuals.
  • 20:30 – Lifting while older and longevity: “There is no drug that can equal the positive effects of exercise.”
  • 23:45 – Lessons from Bill Starr and philosophy.
  • 26:45 – Teaching history of training and psychology to young athletes.
  • 29:00 – Getting throwers to focus: “If you’re trying to throw like a smorgasbord of 10 different throwers you’re going to throw like shit.” “I would rather fight a man that has practiced 1000 kicks once, than a man who has practiced one kick a thousand times.”
  • 36:15 – Learning curve at NCAA level: “The big difference in college is understanding how hard you have to work. In high school you can often get success without putting everything into it. But at college you have to put in 100% or you won’t make it to the top.”
  • 41:00 – Experiences coaching alongside his daughter.

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 Ciarelli’s background on his UCI website biography.
  • Ciarelli was also a guest back on HMMR Podcast 28. German national discus coach Rene Sack also discussed how he’s modified and used block periodization in HMMR Podcast 211.
  • For more about the discus and throwing events, check out our throwing resource hub with links to all our top resources on the topic.