Cue Staleness

I’m ready for some sun and a few new cues from my coach.

Last month I wrote about the importance of finding the right cue to use to improve technique. Each athlete responds individually to technical cues, so what works for me may not work for you. But the process of coaching technique does not end once you find the right cue. As my friend Derek Evely pointed out, cue staleness is a big issue that coaches fail to deal with.
Read more

Training Talk With Erik Cadee

Twenty-seven year old adidas discus thrower Erik Cadée brought a fresh new idea into the discus ring last season. The Dutchman was already among the world’s best, but he took a risk and began training with a new technical style. It paid off and Cadée threw a new personal best of 66.95 meters in the spring. That ranks him just barely behind former World Championship medalists Erik de Bruin and Rutger Smith on the Dutch all-time list.

For years the major difference in technical styles at the elite level could be boiled down to whether or not a thrower ‘reversed’ at the end of the throw. Cadée’s style plays with the orbit and adds another quarter turn of rotation at the start of the throw. After seeing him train and throw in Turkey last year and talking with his coach about the technique, I figured it was time to ask him a few questions directly.

The style itself is so unique that it doesn’t even have a name yet. Feel free to share your thoughts on the technique and a potential name in the comments after the article. My suggestions are either ‘540’ (for the number of degrees you rotate to get to the power position) or ‘Neu’ (after a German who used a variation of the technique in the seventies; the word also has the relevant meaning of ‘new’ in German).

Martin: For people who are unfamiliar with the technical changes you have made in the last year, can you give a brief overview of what you are doing differently?

Erik: As you can see from my throwing videos I get into the throw from a slightly different starting position where I put my right leg further back and keep the disc higher. From there I let the discus drop and make a longer turn. During the throw I try to keep things more relaxed and let it happen, instead of forcing it all. By using this technique I try to generate more energy and create more time and easier positions the get the most efficient path for the discus before releasing it at the end.
Read more

Ask Martin Vol. 15: Finding The Right Cue

What are cues are you using for your technique in training now? -Brian
Read more

Should beginners use a toe turn?

Tonight I had my second training session with my club’s under-16 group. Twice a month I am given a chance to teach them a little about the hammer throw and I try to make the most of the limited opportunity. If I had my way, I would have them throwing hammer much more, but these kids are still rotating through all the events to find what they like the best (and what they are the best at). In our first 90-minute session together a few weeks ago each thrower was able to do a one turn throw. Today they started to perfect that and I think they will be ready to move on to a full throw in their third session. In addition to coaching these youth throwers, I also have a few junior throwers that train more regularly this year. All of this has had me thinking the coaches perspective a bit more this year.
Read more

An Introduction to Hungarian Hammer Training

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.

The Training Center

Training Methods


Special Exercises

Read more

Kamloops Training Camp 2011

Reunited with the master.

Over the past ten days I have taken a trip back in time. I returned to my former home and training partners. I returned to working with my coach in person. I returned to the routine of a life 100% focused on training. In other words, I returned to Kamloops.

After nearly a year away from coach Bondarchuk, I needed to touch base with him. We talk or exchange emails every week, but that isn’t the same as getting in person feedback from him. The feedback is something he also needs, since it is also difficult for him to determine my progress without observing me first hand.
Read more

Learning the Hammer Throw: Perfecting Technique

My old training partner Ryan Jensen and I published a short article in Track Coach last winter about coaching beginners. Ryan coaches the youth throwers at the Kamloops Track and Field Club, and we worked together to lay out a method for getting a beginner to easily complete a three turn throw. This fall, we published a follow-up where we discuss what to do next. Finishing a throw is step one; perfecting it is the next step.

The second article focuses on some common errors and ways to approach fixing them. I talk about technical issues on here from time to time, but I often stay on the theoretical level and have never attempted to put the different pieces together. This was an attempt to do so in a very quick and readable way. As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback.
Read more

Shifting the Focus to 2012

When I started training again last month I was very optimistic. I took some time off after the Swiss Championships and was surprised to start my 2012 training at my pre-break level. Our hope was that the break was short enough that I could pick up with my same training program. And it looked like the plan worked. But over the next few weeks my results slowly got worse and worse. If our plan had worked, my body should have responded with even results after a few weeks of training. Instead we realized we had wasted a few weeks and wasted a few meters. I don’t exactly know why my body’s reaction was a different than expected – it could have been the break, it could have been the travel and honeymoon – but in any event we started over again from scratch and scrapped my plans to have some September competitions.
Read more

Ask Martin Vol. 14: The Orbit

Question: When you talk about focusing on the orbit, what do you mean? -James

Yuriy Sedykh’s orbit during the 1976 Olympics.

Read more

Training Talk With Jean-Pierre Egger (Part 2)

Olympic champion Valerie Adams training with Jean-Pierre Egger.

On Friday I posted the first part of my interview with Jean-Pierre Egger, the coach of former shot put world champion Werner Günthör and current Olympic champion Valerie Adams. Click here to read part one. After talking about training methods, our discussion turned towards throwing and technique and the future of the shot put.

Training Technique – Range Throwing

Martin: Does Valerie normally throw without a reverse like she did today?

Jean-Pierre: She normally throws with a reverse at meets, so today was naturally not her competition technique. It is only a training technique that we use because she has a tendency to jump too early. Last year she came to Zürich and threw almost 20 meters and then came to Magglingen. We did five training sessions then like we are doing now: precise throws without a reverse and without measuring or anything else. Then in Croatia at the Continental Cup she threw 20.86m, the second best result of her career and in an important competition not just a small one.
Read more