Youth Hammer Throwing in America

Last month I promised to write a little about what I think are some of the causes for why Americans are not as internationally competitive as they should be (for other discussions on this topic, see here and here). This post will focus on the role youth hammer throwing might play.

In the early twentieth century, hammer throwing was an official high school sport in 23 states. America also won the first six Olympic gold medals in the event, as well as four silver and four bronze medals at those games. Since then, things have changed. Now, only one state (small Rhode Island) has hammer throwing as an official high school event and America has won only one Olympic medal in the past 50 years (Lance Deal‘s bronze in 1996).
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Diamond League Plans to Exclude Hammer Throwers

The world’s largest one-day meetings will undergo a huge reorganization next year. Currently, the top professional circuit is the Golden League, a six meeting series offering winners of certain events at all meetings a share of a $1,000,000 jackpot. The Golden League will be disbanded next season and replaced with the Diamond League, a larger, more international circuit of 14 meetings in Europe, America and Asia. Each meeting will have prize money of $416,000 and all 32 disciplines will have the same prize money. In addition, points can be accumulated at each meeting throughout the season. The athlete with the most points at the end of the series will be awarded a 4 carat diamond (worth approximately $80,000).
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Reviving American Hammer Throwing

The hammer throw competition at the IAAF World Championships finished today. Today’s women’s final was highlighted by a world record performance by Anita Wlodarczyk and national record by home crowd favorite Betty Heidler. My training partner and roommate Sultana Frizell also made her first final and place tenth. While the American women had a strong showing, the Americans were once again absent from the podium. In fact, Lance Deal‘s silver medal at the 1996 Olympics was the only medal an American has won in the event at an Olympic or World Championships since 1956. I may throw for Switzerland, but I still am heavily involved in the hammer throw in America and hope the country can find success again, as has recently begun at the junior level. I hope I can help highlight some of the hurdles that need to be overcome in order for that to happen.
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An Introduction to Special Strength

One of the big things that sets Coach Bondarchuk apart from the typical American coach is how he approaches weight training for the hammer throw. Most coaches simply think stronger is better. To a certain extent, this is true; strength is a necessary component to success since you need to be strong to throw the hammer far. However, strength is not sufficient to throw far, and after a certain baseline level of strength is attained, you reach a point of diminishing return where strength’s correlation to success falters. Coach Bondarchuk takes a slow and steady approach to weight training. This is an approach that will get his athletes to the level of strength they need over the long term. His athletes do not aim to be the strongest and will take plenty of time to develop strength. In the short term, this also means they will have more energy that can be used to take the volume of throws needed to improve their technique, another essential element to success.
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The Deficiencies of Indoor Track and Field

I mentioned in my last post that I had published my first article. I have actually published one prior article back in the Summer of 2006. Track Coach, the technical periodical of the US Track and Field Association, published my article on track and field training called Rethinking Your Approach to Training for the Weight Throw (available below). The weight throw, for those of you unfamiliar, is the indoor version of the hammer throw. It is shorter and heavier, but athletes use essentially the same technique to throw the implement.
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