Posts

Fall Training Update

6-.Since my season ended in September, my own training has barely warranted a mention on this site. Part of the reason is because I took a few weeks off. But the main reason is that I was trying out some new things and didn’t want to post until I had some concrete feedback about whether or not it was successful. On Monday I began my second training block of the season, so now is a good time to talk about how my training has started out for the 2013 season.

As Kibwe noted on his blog this week, Fall training is a perfect time to work on technique. If is dangerous to try to exaggerate changes, take a lot of low intensity throws, or do other drastic adjustments during the competitive season because it can throw off your rhythm enough to ruin a few competitions. But in the Fall you have plenty of time to play around and find out what works and what doesn’t. Like Kibwe, I am focusing on improving my winds and entry. The start of the throw is the most important since if there are problems there, they will be amplified as the throw progresses. But unlike Kibwe, I don’t have the most decorated coach in history watching my every move. This makes the process more difficult since even though I know what I want to fix, I have to rely on feeling and that can be deceptive at times (what feels good might just be what is comfortable, not what is better). In addition, an external pair of eyes can give you a different perspective.
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Cue Staleness

I’m ready for some sun and a few new cues from my coach.

Last month I wrote about the importance of finding the right cue to use to improve technique. Each athlete responds individually to technical cues, so what works for me may not work for you. But the process of coaching technique does not end once you find the right cue. As my friend Derek Evely pointed out, cue staleness is a big issue that coaches fail to deal with.
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Ask Martin Vol. 15: Finding The Right Cue

What are cues are you using for your technique in training now? -Brian
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Should beginners use a toe turn?

Tonight I had my second training session with my club’s under-16 group. Twice a month I am given a chance to teach them a little about the hammer throw and I try to make the most of the limited opportunity. If I had my way, I would have them throwing hammer much more, but these kids are still rotating through all the events to find what they like the best (and what they are the best at). In our first 90-minute session together a few weeks ago each thrower was able to do a one turn throw. Today they started to perfect that and I think they will be ready to move on to a full throw in their third session. In addition to coaching these youth throwers, I also have a few junior throwers that train more regularly this year. All of this has had me thinking the coaches perspective a bit more this year.
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Training on Sundays

For most people in Switzerland, Sunday is a day of rest. The labor laws generally prevent anyone from working on Sunday. Therefore, with a few exceptions, all stores are closed. Residents are expected to keep loud noises to a minimum, meaning that even things like laundry and vacuuming can be frowned upon in certain apartment buildings.

But since I work all week, Sunday is the one day where I have lots of free time. It is my biggest training day of the week, yet the only place to lift weights is in the basement fitness studio of a hotel half way across town. Furthermore, I have to go out of my way to pick up an access card from my club on Friday. And the equipment doesn’t always fit my needs. This is a stark contrast to America where you can almost always find a gym open and when you can’t you know the guy who has the key.
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UK Hammer Workshop

The Loughborough, England national training center.

This last weekend I was invited to present about training methods at the National Coach Development Programme Hammer Workshop in Loughborough, England. With the 2012 Olympics coming up in London, the country has been infused with cash and done a great job of using the resources wisely to develop coaching and facilities. Events like last weekend’s are commonplace, and Loughborough is putting the finishing touches on a beautiful covered throwing facility that will complement the indoor throwing facility they already have.
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Predictors of Success for Collegiate Throwers

Coach Glenn McAtee recently published an article with Larry Judge and others analyzing collegiate hammer throw performances.

Since I’ve been strongly influenced by Bondarchuk, I love reading studies that look at how well certain exercises or training methods correlate to results. I recently ran across a new article co-authored by a friend and former coach of mine (Glenn McAtee) that is one of the first of its kind to analyze the result of American throwers. The article, titled “Predictors Of Personal Best Performance In The Hammer Throw For U.S. Collegiate Throwers” was published in Track Coach this year by Larry Judge, David Bellar, Glenn McAtee and Mike Judge.

To gather the data need for the article, the authors sent out a questionnaire to over 200 collegiate hammer throwers and received a response rate of 35%. The questionnaire asked athletes to list their best results in various exercises, answer questions about their technique, and also provide information on their training background. Read more

Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 2)

Last week I posted a discussion I had with Derek Evely regarding training theory. Despite it’s length, that was just part one. Part two is below and part three is on the way soon. All of these touch on a common theme: discussing how to implement Bondarchuk’s methods. For those of you unfamiliar with Coach Evely’s background, he is currently the director of the Loughborough (UK) University High Performance Centre. He had the opportunity to learn from Bondarchuk first hand when they worked together in Kamloops, and has been fine tuning his approach ever since. As I mentioned in the last post, to get the most out of this interview it helps to have a little understanding of Bondarchuk’s approach to training. You can learn more about that through this link, or by reading Part I. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.


Part 1: Turning Theories Into Practice (17 May 2011)

Part 2: More About Hammer Throw Training

Maximum Strength Training

Coach Evely with Sophi Hitchon, the UK record holder at just 19 years old. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

Martin: As I was saying, it might seem strange to some people but I’ve been able to make strength gains despite never lifting at a higher intensity.

Derek: I think that the single most difficult hurdle in describing Dr. B’s methodology is interpretation. I’ve done a number of presentations both with Dr. B. and without him, and I’ve talked to a lot of throws coaches about this because they hear the stories; they hear it about Dylan most of all, how he doesn’t really lift heavy, he doesn’t lift anything over a certain amount of weight, and it really messes with a lot of people’s heads and they really battle with that kind of concept. And I see why, but the biggest problem with it is that people look at it in such black and white terms, and they struggle with getting what the real message is.

And the real message is not that you don’t do maximal strength, or even that maximal strength doesn’t transfer, the real message is how much do you need and once you’re there then what are you going to do? People think that Bondarchuk’s message is “don’t do any maximal strength”. That is not it at all. You absolutely need a certain level of it, and you need a fairly high level relative to most athletes. Let’s face it; you’re not going to throw 20m in the shot with only a 100 kilo bench. Maybe someone’s done it, but it is going to be the exception not the rule. So absolutely you need it. The problem is we love the weight room, especially in North America and here in Britain. At the point where the pursuit of absolute strength starts taking away from the throwing, and it can take away from it really easily and really quickly, then you have to ask yourself is this all worth it and is there something else I could be doing or implementing, perhaps another direction, that may pay bigger dividends. In order to get very strong in a short period of time you have to lift a lot and it will really affect your throwing. If this is your plan, then fine, but as we know block periodization schemes (by Verkhoshanki’s definition, not the misleading title given to Dr. B’s work) are difficult to implement and can wreak havoc on event-specific abilities. You have to look at it over the long term.
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How to Coach Another Coach’s Athlete

Putting on a clinic in 2009.

Since I am still training as a thrower, I have not developed my own stable of throwers to coach. Instead I help my club’s youth throwing coach, put on clinics, or respond to videos sent via email from all over the world. Coaching another coach’s athlete can be very difficult since you have limited time to make an impact and also do not want to step on the toes of the other coach.

Since starting as a coach several years ago, I’ve found that some things I’ve tried have worked well and other things have failed. Overall, the following steps have worked the best for me:
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Training Talk: Shot Put With Justin Rodhe

Bondarchuk is most well known for his legacy as both an athlete and a coach in the hammer. But his greatest success since he began coaching Western athletes has been in the shot put. His star pupil Dylan Armstrong increased the Canadian record to 21.58 meters and placed fourth in Beijing, just one centimeter off of the podium.

Often hidden in the shadow of Dylan is Justin Rodhe, and that’s something he hopes to change in the future. When Justin arrived in Kamloops in 2007, he had just graduated Division 3 Mt. Union College, where he was a consistent 16 to 17 meter thrower. During his last meet for the school, he threw 18 meters for the first time and won the NCAA D3 title. Since joining the group he has made quick progress: last year he threw 19.52 meters and this year he expects to be in the 20 meter range in 2011. Rodhe also married Megan VanderVliet in 2009, a Commonwealth Games participant for Canada in the hammer throw, and is deciding whether to compete for America or Canada in the future. The two recently launched RodheThrows.com. Justin has been kind enough to share some of what he has learned about the shot put from Bondarchuk and others.


Shot putter Justin Rodhe

About RhodeThrows.com

Martin: To start off with, tell us a little about RodheThrows.com and what you and Megann are trying to do with the new site?

Justin: RODHETHROWS.com is the platform from which Megann and I have found ourselves in a unique position to offer professional products and services as well as an information resource for the throwing community and our support groups as we endeavour toward the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

The site offers blog updates concerning our nutrition, training research and competition updates. We also provide handmade leather products for sport performance, our signature product being the RODHETHROWS Shot Put Glove.

What Sets American Shot Putting Apart

Martin: Unlike the hammer throw, the U.S. has been able to stay on top of the world lists in the shot put. Why do you think the U.S. has been able to maintain such a high level of success in the shot put while success in the other throwing events has fallen?
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