The main training rings in Szombathely, Hungary.
I started my international search for hammer throw enlightenment in the fall of 2004. My study abroad program in Vienna took me to the front door of Eastern Europe. After classes finished my first stop was hammer throwing mecca: Szombathely, Hungary. For the two years leading up to my visit I repeatedly heard about hammer throwing in Szombathely. First former European champion Tibor Gecsek came to America to put on a clinic in 2002. Then, in 2003, Harold Connolly visited a hammer seminar in Szombathely and came back sharing lots of video and stories with me. Then, in 2004, Harold arranged for two of the top US junior throwers to do a training camp in Szombathely (their journal can be read here). Before 2002 I had heard little about the small city. And now, everywhere I looked, people were talking about Hungarian training. But I could only hear so many stories about dozens of elementary school kids throwing hammer every afternoon. After a while I wanted to see it for myself.
Coming from an environment where I was considered to have begun early when I picked up the hammer in my late teens, Szombathely was a real eye opener. But it was just the first leg on a trip that also looked into Soviet training methods. By the time I returned home the individuality and periodization of the Soviet system won me over. I immediately began to model my training on Bondarchuk’s teachings and have thought too little about Hungarian training since then.
That was until I heard Zsolt Nemeth’s presentation at the UK Hammer Workshop this month. As the son of the late the Hammer Pope, Nemeth now runs the Szombathely club which has 58 hammer throwers on its roster. His presentation was very similar to Gecsek’s seminar back in 2002. But since I have gained so much experience since then, I processed everything he said in a new way. When I first learned about Hungarian training it seemed to be very different than Soviet methods since I focused a lot on small peripheral aspects of training. But now that I have seen even more styles of training, the Soviet and Hungarian methods actually fall closer to each other on the spectrum of hammer training. Both programs spend the majority of time in the ring. Both programs utilize a large stable of special strength exercises. Both programs have a high overall volume. And both programs have consistently churned out results. While the periodization model still seems quite different, the structure of day-to-day training has many of the same elements.
I am not an expert on Hungarian training methods, but there is actually quite a bit of information available about Hungarian training online. Harold Connolly compiled much of it for his website nearly a decade ago. Below is an overview of all the materials I have indexed on the topic. Hopefully by looking through them you might also get some new ideas for training like I have.