Tag Archive for: Featured

Show Me Your Hands

Back when Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd were still funny they put together one of the best Christmas movies of all time: Trading Places. Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe III who finds himself homeless and penniless overnight after a life of country clubs. There, his character asks a prostitute for help. She was skeptical until looking at his hands. “Soft hands,” she noticed, “never done a hard day’s work in your life, have you?”

Hammer throwers would never be greeted with the same reaction, but we have our own telling features. You can tell a lot about a person by their hands. Last week a friend’s son audibly gasped when he felt the calluses on my hands. He turned to his father and asked what was wrong with my hand. And that is the least of it. When I worked briefly for the US government they were unable to obtain the requisite fingerprints on my left hand because the callouses were so thick. My ring finger is often swollen to the point that I cannot wear my wedding ring. And making a tight fist is difficult.
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Playing With Fire

Disclaimer: Please be careful if you try this at home. We take no responsibility for your actions. Obviously throwing a flaming hammer is dangerous, and might cause damage or injury.

We all love throwing hammers. And fire is pretty awesome too. Combine them together and you get a night of fun throwing flaming hammers.

This is hardly a new idea, just search YouTube for “flaming hammer throw” and you’ll find a ton of hits. But it is about time I write about. I first tried this in 2008 by draping a sock over the hammer, dousing it in lighter fluid, and lighting it on fire. Hammer thrower and George Fox University throws coach Greg Gottfried emailed me his new take on it: throw a hammer with steel wool. As he explains it: “It is a simple process of attaching a wire cage to the swivel with a zip tie, filling the basket with steel wool and then shorting the steel wool with a 9V battery.” Rather than producing a whooshing ball of flame you get a glittering comet. Either method makes for some cool photos.
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Some Random Thoughts on Sports, Coaching and Life

Advice from best selling author David Baldacci:

“Don’t write what you know about, write what you’d like to know about. And never chase trends. Don’t write about dinosaurs because Crichton did, or codes because Brown did. Write something you’re passionate about and want to learn more about. Have fun with it. Don’t treat it as a job. Exercise your imagination, treat it like a game.”
-David Baldacci

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Don’t Forget the Speed

Over the last two weeks I’ve compiled a lot of great information on Olympic weightlifting for throwers. Weightlifting coaches provided their feedback on variations of the lifts for throwers and lifting technique. Elite throwing coaches Dan Lange and Don Babbitt discussed how they implement Olympic lifting in their programs. And I reviewed Greg Everett’s book Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, which provides great teaching progressions for each lift. But in all the great advice each coach gave, one thing was barely mentioned: speed.

I was reminded of this while reading through the final draft of Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s new book Olympian Manual for Strength & Size (available for pre-order here). The book will be published by Ultimate Athlete Concepts in the next few weeks, and unlike my book they are good about meeting deadlines. Jake Jensen has been working diligently on the translation and in my opinion it is the best translated book by Bondarchuk so far and covers a diverse range of topics that he has never written about in English before. I’ve also helped edit the work, which helped me make sure it addresses some of the shortcomings in prior translations.
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Coaching Roundtable: Olympic Weightlifting for Throwers (Part 1)

After actually throwing, most coaches regard Olympic weightlifting as the most important training exercises for throwers. The clean, jerk, and snatch provide a great method for developing explosive strength that can often transfer into better throwing results. With many variations of the lifts, there are many exercises to choose from ways to implement them into training.

Over the next week we will ask many top coaches about the use of Olympic weightlifting for throwers. In the first two parts we will ask for the input from weightlifting coaches on technique, variations of the lifts, and other comments. Then in the final part we will also ask a few top throws coaches about how they implement Olympic weightlifting into training.

The Lifting Coaches

Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, and director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting. I subscribe to the Performance Menu and can highly recommend both that and the Catalyst Athletics blogs as great resources for Olympic weightlifting.

Matt Foreman is the football and throws coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix. A competitive weightlifter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He currently writes regularly for The Performance Menu and the Catalyst Athletics webpage. I read and highly recommended his book Bones of Iron two years ago.

Wil Fleming is the co-owner of Force Fitness and Performance and Athletic Revolution Bloomington, in Bloomington, Indiana. He recently released the DVD Complete Olympic Lifting. Prior to working as a coach Wil was an all-American hammer thrower, school record holder, and Olympic Trials participant at Indiana University as a hammer thrower. As a junior athlete, he was an Olympic weightlifting resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center after winning a junior national championship. He also blogs about weightlifting at WilFleming.com.

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Shot Put Specific Strength Exercises

In addition using heavy shot puts a great way to develop specific strength is through the use of specific developmental exercises. These are exercises that Bondarchuk defines as exercises that use the same muscles, same systems, and parts of the competitive movement.

There are lots of specific developmental exercises you can use for the shot put, but here are 7 exercises I have been using in my own training or with my athletes lately. The exercises shown in the video are:

  1. Medicine Ball Stand Throws
  2. Nieder Press
  3. Shoulder Punches
  4. Sand Bag Stand Throws
  5. Sidewinder Press
  6. 3-Step Javelin Chain Puts
  7. Nelson Kettlebell Throws

For some good hammer throw specific strength exercises, check out Martin’s video from a few years ago.

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For America, Marry the Methodologies

I wanted to throw my hat in on the American Hammer discussion because I am happily a product of two seemingly opposing systems. John Smith and Martin are sharing good ideas. While we all agree on most topics, there are a few worth discussing further. What I have to say is meant for a broad audience, not just as a response to Coach Smith.
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A Little More on Simplicity in Coaching

Sport performance occurs in an information rich, dynamic environment that requires complex coordination patterns to produce optimum performance. Along with that we need to understand that the body is self-organizing – it will find a way to get the job done if we put it in position to do so – The implication being to use more implicit learning and let the sport or the event be the teacher at certain times in the process. We can do that in practice by not always trying to replicate the game but instead distorting it so that the game is “easy.” Read more

Foundational Beliefs – Guiding Lights

The following are some of the basic tenants that I believe in as a coach. These are foundational beliefs that make up the pillars of my coaching philosophy. I was taught from day one as a coach that the philosophy is the guiding light, the beacon that guides you through the good times and the bad. They may be of assistance to you in defining how and what you do as a coach. In future blogs I will elaborate on each of them and share why they are important to me: Read more

Managing Variables in Training

Simple training variables can have a large impact on adaptation. When looking at the typically prescribed training of expert throws coach Anatoly Bondarchuk, we see that very simple programming is working quite well. The beauty in applying this type of programming is that it embraces the experimental nature of training rather than making the assumption that one’s training methods are in line.We must understand that each training program is simply a science experiment. The coach and athlete may hypothesize the results but they must understand that there are no absolutes to training and adaptation. The coach and/or athlete will need to be educated to program training in a way that most likely gets a suitable outcome. Let’s look at the primary variables in developing a training program.

  1. Objectives- exactly what the coach and athlete feel should be the goal of the training program
  2. Exercise selection-what exercises will contribute to attaining this goal
  3. Intensity- work measured as a percentage of maximal performance
  4. Density- frequency of work
  5. Volume- total quantity of work measured in repetition

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