Tag Archive for: Sports Psychology

The Right Picture with the Wrong Light

Right now I don't just visualize my throw, but I try to see the hammer's orbit.

The best set of eyes I get to watch me belong to my training partner Dejan, a masters thrower who returned to the sport two years ago after two decades away. One thing we share in common is that our enthusiasm sometimes make it hard for us to boil down what we see into just a few words. But unlike me, Dejan sometimes produces these little pearls of wisdom that get to the point so well that I leave practice with a smile on my face as if I have found true enlightenment. After talking about visualization earlier this month, he threw this line at me: “Sometimes you have the right picture, but the wrong light.”
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Coming into Focus

Focusing before a training throw.

One of the most difficult aspects of training alone is focusing. I no longer have a coach there that will yell at me after every throw and tell me that I need to push the hammer more. After a long day at the office, it is easy for my mind to wander about my latest work project, what I need to pick up at the grocery store after practice, or even what my next blog post will be about. If I don’t watch out practice will be over before I know it and I will have taken all my throws without really thinking about what I wanted to improve.

The flip side of this difficulty is that once I learned to focus better, it has added a new dimension to my throw. Training alone forces you to be an independent thinker; you cannot just rely on someone else’s input. It forces you make all the small adjustments on your own. All this comes in handy at competitions where you are often separated from coaches and left along with just your thoughts.
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My Goal of Becoming a Shot Put Champion (Seriously)

My goal for tomorrow: a medal in the shot put.

U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Loree Smith recently wrote a detailed post on goal setting for hammer throwers. She provided, better than any sport psychologist I have ever heard, the best explanation of how useful goals can be.

To summarize, athletes need long term goals, short terms goals, and flexibility. I believe the long term goals are the most important for a hammer throw since shortcuts and quick success are hard to come by in such a technical discipline. It takes a certain type of athlete to train year after year towards a goal that may be a decade away. But those as the type of athletes that succeed in the hammer throw. I’ve seen many talented throwers give up the hammer after one day since they were not able to throw further than their shot put best. That was probably the right move because they didn’t the mental prerequisites to be a good hammer thrower.
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Swag Vol. 2

Since posting my most recent blog last Thursday, I’ve gotten quite a few requests to expand on some of the points that I mentioned. So I’m going to try and address as much of that as possible with my personal experience and other information.

I personally have not always been so confident in sport. It’s definitely something that I have had to cultivate over time. I think like everything else we do in sport, it takes practice. And practice make perfect. Controlling your emotions is very important. Being both over-stimulated or under-stimulated are things you don’t want. Having your emotions more in check will give you better success. You are driven by emotion, the important point is to know when to change your expectations.
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The Importance of Swag in Athletics

Swag

Swag in full effect.

Urban Dictionary defines Swag as “the way in which you carry yourself. Swag is made up of your overall confidence, style, and demeanor.” I will reiterate. Swag is confidence. And confidence is power in the athletics world.

In my opinion, swag and faith go hand in hand. The best athletes in the world are made average by having no swag. It’s an extremely sensitive thing. This is probably why sport psychology seems to be taking off more these days. There is a business in helping athletes not only get an edge, but learning how to maintain that edge. Aside from natural talent, swag is the most powerful asset an athlete has at his or her disposal.
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The Paradoxical Nature of the Hammer Throw

When I wrote about my training last month, things were going quite well. Distances were at an all time best, but my technique was mediocre. This month has seen the reverse. My results have declined, but my technique is progressing. This reversal often happens in my training and is one of the many paradoxes in the hammer throw. You would think that my best results would occur when I had the best technique, but it doesn’t always work that way. This time the cause of the apparent paradox is the intense special-strength oriented training program I began in November. I would complain about the crazy amount of volume, but I think Kibwé‘s new program has me beat. Nevertheless, my energy level has plummeted and my results have slowly gone with it.
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