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Announcing MBingisser.com Memberships

Last month I wrote a lengthy post soliciting comments from readers on how I could focus my efforts to help the hammer throw and also make the efforts sustainable. After hearing some feedback and bouncing some ideas off of my old training partners, I have come up with a few ideas which I will roll out over the next six months. The first one is on this site.

My personal blog and website have morphed over the years from an avenue to write about my training and solicit sponsors, to a website dedicated to education about training. And it is not just coaches education or athlete education, but my own education as I learn while I research and write about every new topic on the site. The only problem I face is I love writing for it so much that I invest a lot of money and time into it. The data I have authored and compiled over the last five years could fill volumes of books: nearly 250,000 words and 350 posts. Read more

Hammer Review: Ziolkowski Premium Hammer

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I like to make even my smallest competitions a little special. The routine of putting on my uniform and picking up my competition hammer lets my body know that it is time to step it up. Part of this is saving my nicest, best hammer for use in competitions only. It is a treaty to be able to throw it. Once it gets in my hands I feel like I can do anything with it.

The Premium Szymon Ziolkowski Line hammers from Polanik.

This year Polanik gave me one of their Premium Szymon Ziolkowski Line hammers to throw. I wanted to make sure I had thrown it enough before giving my feedback, but after one season and a dozen competitions I feel like I can finally give a good assessment of it. Read more

Finding the Right Hammer

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Autumn is the time of year that most people work on three things: technique drills, heavy weight training, and heavy hammers. While our annual planning model doesn’t follow that same route, I am in the middle of a training block where I am throwing just the heavy 9-kilogram (19.8-pound) hammer. In this respect, hammer throwers around the world are ahead of the other event groups. I know many shot putters that throw only the competition weight hammer, out of fear for ruining their rhythm. I know others that might dabble only with light shot puts. But it seems the majority avoid heavy shot puts. It is a similar story in other events. Despite this, it can still be difficult to find training hammers in various weights.

This post is not about rehashing why this is an important part of training (the two main reasons are: overweight implements help develop special strength and, as I pointed out again last week, training variation is critical). What it is about is how to find the best implements to train with. After nearly a decade of training in Seattle I had amassed a personal arsenal of perhaps 30 hammers with 18 different weights ranging from 2-kilogram to 16-kilogram (plus an adjustable weight hammer I inherited from Ken Shannon). Now that I have moved to Zurich I have slowly been increasing my club’s inventory with the help of Polanik. This is essential to becoming a good hammer thrower. Even if you focus on the weight throw throughout the winter(which again, I am not a fan of), it is still helpful to have a variety of weights to use so that you can work on different aspects of the throw. Read more

US Youth Hammer Throw Survey

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We all know that the American hammer throwing has grown tremendously at the youth level over the past decade. While some countries and some events here in America see participation declining, the number of throwers over 50 meters has doubled in the States. America was once a country that had trouble qualifying athletes for international championships, but now it has produced junior world champions and has young throwers regularly in the finals at age-group championships. There are many reasons for this surge and I have put together this survey in order to help identify what cause Read more

On Watchmaking and Hammer Throwing

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The world of watchmaking and the world of hammer throwing can seem very different at first glance. One appears to rely on power and strength while the other requires finesse and attention to detail. But when you think about it, you could just as easily swap the descriptions. The hammer throw requires as much technique and finesse as it does power. Like the watchmaker, a hammer thrower must combine many parts (speed, rhythm, technique, power, balance, strength, flexibility, etc.) into a working throw. And, like the hammer throw, watch making is also about power. Making a mechanical watch is as much about generating consistent and reliable power to the watch than it is about the looks. After all, the watch’s first function is to tell the right time.

The new Maurice Lacroix Pontos S watch with orange highlights and a NATO strap.

As was the case last year, I was invited to BaselWorld to get a hands on look at Maurice Lacroix’s yet-to-be-released new watches for 2012 and a front row seat to their launch event with other friends of the brand and brand ambassadors like Henrik Fisker, who brought along his new Fisker Karma hybrid sports car. I always meet some amazing people at these events since Maurice Lacroix selects individuals that have followed a unique course through life, just as Fisker has paved his own path throughout his career to leave a large imprint on the automotive industry. Read more

Announcing a New Sponsor

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A decade ago I was searching all over for a 6-kilogram hammer. At the time the IAAF had changed the official junior implement from the 16-pound (7.26-kilogram) implement to this new odd weight of 13.2-pounds (6-kilogram). And it was nearly impossible to find. The large equipment suppliers offered 12- and 16-pound varieties for high school and senior athletes. Some of them also had 14- or 18- pound hammers for training, but not what I was looking for. Then I heard rumors of a Canadian company that had discovered a polish supplier. It was like I had discovered gold, and within the next week I was the proud owner of a Polanik 6-kilogram hammer.

The same thing happened to me in 2005 when I started to train with Bondarchuk. He Told me to throw the 10-kilogram hammer one session and I had never even seen one. Again, none of the American suppliers were helpful nice they did not carry anything that heavy, but Polanik had just what I needed. For the past decade I’ve been a Polanik thrower, and that makes me proud to announce that they are my new official equipment supplier. Read more

USATF Foundation Youth Hammer Throw Grants

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The USATF Foundation helps support the Youth Hammer Throw Grants.

Harold Connolly dedicated his last decades to the youth hammer throw. After encouraging athletes such as myself to pick up the event, he began to see that it wasn’t just the lack of throwers that was hurting America’s prospects in the event, it was also their isolation from one another. This isolation meant that talented kids were not getting the resources they needed to become world class throwers. So, in addition to all of his other projects, Harold began raising money in 2005 to give grants to the top youth throwers. He would email hundreds of people, plea on the internet, and hand out coaching DVDs in order to encourage donations. It started as a grassroots project every year and the money started to trickle in. He received a few larger donations, but the bulk of the funds came from $5 and $10 donations from people who believed in what he was doing. Read more

On the Red Carpet

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On the red carpet.

Since announcing my partnership with Maurice Lacroix last month, I have been eagerly looking forward to visiting the annual Baselworld international watch show. For those of you not familiar with Baselworld, it is to the world of horology what the Detroit Auto Show is to the car industry. Over 2,000 brands converge on the Swiss town of Basel to show off their new offerings for the year to industry insiders, journalists, and consumers. Every type of watch is there, from Timex to Rolex to niche brands selling timepieces that cost more than a house. Read more

Follow Your Convictions: Introducing My New Sponsor

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When I came to Switzerland last May I began the search for one of Switzerland’s national icons: a mechanical Swiss watch. Every time I walked by a watch boutique at lunch, I peered in the windows at their offerings. The Swiss watches all offered great quality and design, unsurpassed craftsmanship, and a storied tradition. The first watch I tried on was a Maurice Lacroix. I loved their style, but was also drawn in by their slogan: Follow Your Convictions.

Maurice Lacroix’s slogan aptly describes me. Nearly everything I have done and every decision I have made over the past few years has been in pursuit of my unique dreams. I want to be an Olympic hammer thrower and I also want to be a top attorney. These are two time-consuming pursuits, but I haven’t compromised. I have followed my convictions. That is why I was out training before dawn in law school while most of my classmates slept. That is why I moved to rural Canada in search of the world’s top coach. And that is why I am now in Zurich working at one of the few jobs in the world that will allow me to pursue both my athletic and legal careers simultaneously. The hammer throw itself is a sport only for those that follow their convictions. There is no chance for riches, fame or glory. What is left is a group of determined athletes chasing their dream. As I described last month, my days are long, but it is worth it as the challenge of balancing it all in pursuit of that dream is a thrill in itself. And every day I also work on passing that dream along to others through the Evergreen Athletic Fund.

After trying on the Maurice Lacroix watch, I contacted them to see if they would be interested in sponsoring me. Luckily, they also felt I exemplified their slogan and invited me to become their newest brand ambassador. I am honored to accept. Read more

Learning the Hammer Throw

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In the last issue of Track Coach, my training partner Ryan Jensen and I published a short article about learning to throw the hammer. Our approach is simple: get kids throwing as fast as possible and then start to refine their technique. The article is built on our experiences in coaching, watching Dr. Bondarchuk coach, and learning to throw ourselves.

I actually learned to throw the hammer twice and the first time I was unsuccessful. I first threw the hammer at at age 15 and began to coach myself. Even after three years of training once a month, I was still just using one or two turns in competition and had no concept of what the event is about.

When I was 18, I met Harold Connolly and began learning all over again. This time, I had a plan. For weeks I did drill after drill, but not one throw. Harold’s theory was to perfect the basics of technique before ever entering the ring. Even after I began throwing, drills took up a significant part of my training for the next four years. My footwork was great, but in hindsight that isn’t where my focus should have been. My footwork has never been a problem, but I still have issue with my balance and rhythm. Drills can’t replicate the true rhythm of a throw. Only a throw can, and that should have been my focus from the beginning. Read more