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While the Weltklasse Zürich Diamond League bills itself as the “Olympics in a day”, it is hardly a one-day event. For me, the action began on Tuesday as I coached some kids to throw medicine balls and toy javelins with Valerie Adams at the Weltklasse Zürich Kids Clinic.

On Wednesday I attended the “Big Shot” shot put competition with Kibwe. For the second year in a row, the shot put competition was held one day before the main meet and placed in the center of Zürich’s main train station. With over 350,000 people a day passing through there, it made for a packed and energetic venue. We produced a video for Flotrack (see below) showing a behind the scenes look at the venue, the competition, and the competitors. The competition was thrilling. Valerie Adams controlled the women’s competition until Nadzeya Ostapchuk took a brief lead. Adam responded for the win. The podium for the meet (and the final podium for the overall Diamond Race) were the same as in Daegu. The men’s competition was very close and the top five throwers were nearly within a foot of each other. Reese Hoffa led for much of the competition before a struggling Ryan Whiting found his technique in the final round. Then, on his last attempt, my old training partner Dylan Armstrong responded for the win. His first place also secures a victory in the Diamond Race for him. Young Swiss shot putter Gergori Ott also got to throw with the big boys and set a new national under 18 record of 20.00 meters with the 5-kilogram shot put.

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Jean-Pierre Egger Resources: Video, Articles, and More

In addition to the interview I posted earlier this week, there is some other information available online about Werner Günthör’s training and Jean-Pierre Egger’s training methods. I have tried to collect much of it below to help put the interview in context and also provide more information for those interested. Enjoy.

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Training Talk With Jean-Pierre Egger (Part 1)

Top shot put coach Jean-Pierre Egger of Switzerland

Nearly every thrower knows who famed shot putter Werner Günthör is. But few people know the man behind the athlete: his coach Jean-Pierre Egger. A former Olympian himself, Jean-Pierre became the Swiss national throws coach and guided Günthör to three world titles and an Olympic bronze medal in 1988. After Günthör retired in the mid-1990s, Jean-Pierre began to focus his attention on other sports and found just as much success as the strength and conditioning coach for, among other, the America’s Cup champion Alinghi yachting team and the silver medal winning French national basketball team.

Jean-Pierre has now returned part-time to the sport and has been coaching Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams since last winter. In June I had a chance to visit a training session at the Swiss Olympic Training Center in Magglingen. After the workout we sat down to discuss throwing and training. The interview was conducted in German and I later translated it to English.


Throwing in Switzerland

Martin Bingisser: My first question is about the current level of the throwing events in Switzerland. It’s low right now. Very low. What do we need to increase the level?

Jean- Pierre Egger: We need talent that doesn’t go to other sports like Handball, Volleyball, Schwingen (Swiss-style wrestling), and so on. We have definitely have the potential though.

Martin: Last year I was at the Eidgenössische Schwing- und Älplerfest (the historic Swiss wrestling championship) and everywhere I looked I saw potential shot putters.

Jean-Pierre: I do the strength and conditioning coach for one of the best, Mattias Sempbach. He just took second place in Zollikofen yesterday. He would be a good thrower. And may others too. The problem is that they have more fun wrestling. The shot put is just not as attractive. And more importantly they don’t see the way that they can really more forward in the event. And that problem isn’t just one for the shot put, it also affects other athletic disciplines. The top results are so far, so high, so fast that for the it is more discouraging than it is attractive.
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Confidence in Numbers

Tomorrow will be exactly one year since the last Swiss Championships. It will be exactly one year since I threw my best result of 2010: 66.03 meters. With a season’s best of 65.61 meters this year, my position right now is not that far off of last year.

But if you have been following this site, you know that I want more this year. Matching last year’s performance is not enough. With two meets left in the season, I feel like I’m ready for a breakthrough. I had some big fouls in June and threw nearly 66 meters at last week’s meet despite completely training through the competition. It feels there.

But I’m a numbers guy. Feelings don’t normally do it for me. Read more

Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 3)

Over the past week, I’ve posted the first two parts of my interview with Derek Evely, the director of the Loughborough (UK) University High Performance Centre. Both of those posts focused on how to apply Bondarchuk’s theories to the throwing events. But while Bondarchuk’s has focused on coaching the throwing events, his theories and research extend to all of track and field. In addition to coaching the throwing events, Derek also has had international success coaching sprinters. The final part of our interview focuses on how Bondarchuk’s theories apply to other events like the sprints and javelin.

He had the opportunity to learn from Bondarchuk first hand when they worked together in Kamloops, and has been fine tuning his approach ever since. You can learn more about those through this link, or by reading Part I. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.


Part 1: Turning Theories Into Practice (17 May 2011)

Part 2: More About Hammer Throw Training (27 May 2011)

Part 3: Applying Bondarchuk’s Methods to Other Events

The sprinting events

Martin: When you were coaching the sprints, were you still following Bondarchuk’s methods?

Derek coached a young Shane Niemi to the Canadian Junior Record

Derek: Well, to begin with, the way Kevin Tyler and I were already setting up our sprint periodization and sprint methodology is very similar to how a sprint program would work under Bondarchuk’s methodology anyways. I just sort of formalized it in terms of looking at the athlete’s reaction and particularly the number of sessions it would take for an athlete to reach peak form. That is one of the keys elements of his whole methodology: that you understand that what amount specific training or more specifically exposures to specific training it takes for an athlete to reach peak condition. We found that with a lot of our sprinters they were coming into form after about 36-45 sessions with a mixture of various types of speed training. And that is what we were doing already.
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Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 2)

Last week I posted a discussion I had with Derek Evely regarding training theory. Despite it’s length, that was just part one. Part two is below and part three is on the way soon. All of these touch on a common theme: discussing how to implement Bondarchuk’s methods. For those of you unfamiliar with Coach Evely’s background, he is currently the director of the Loughborough (UK) University High Performance Centre. He had the opportunity to learn from Bondarchuk first hand when they worked together in Kamloops, and has been fine tuning his approach ever since. As I mentioned in the last post, to get the most out of this interview it helps to have a little understanding of Bondarchuk’s approach to training. You can learn more about that through this link, or by reading Part I. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.


Part 1: Turning Theories Into Practice (17 May 2011)

Part 2: More About Hammer Throw Training

Maximum Strength Training

Coach Evely with Sophi Hitchon, the UK record holder at just 19 years old. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

Martin: As I was saying, it might seem strange to some people but I’ve been able to make strength gains despite never lifting at a higher intensity.

Derek: I think that the single most difficult hurdle in describing Dr. B’s methodology is interpretation. I’ve done a number of presentations both with Dr. B. and without him, and I’ve talked to a lot of throws coaches about this because they hear the stories; they hear it about Dylan most of all, how he doesn’t really lift heavy, he doesn’t lift anything over a certain amount of weight, and it really messes with a lot of people’s heads and they really battle with that kind of concept. And I see why, but the biggest problem with it is that people look at it in such black and white terms, and they struggle with getting what the real message is.

And the real message is not that you don’t do maximal strength, or even that maximal strength doesn’t transfer, the real message is how much do you need and once you’re there then what are you going to do? People think that Bondarchuk’s message is “don’t do any maximal strength”. That is not it at all. You absolutely need a certain level of it, and you need a fairly high level relative to most athletes. Let’s face it; you’re not going to throw 20m in the shot with only a 100 kilo bench. Maybe someone’s done it, but it is going to be the exception not the rule. So absolutely you need it. The problem is we love the weight room, especially in North America and here in Britain. At the point where the pursuit of absolute strength starts taking away from the throwing, and it can take away from it really easily and really quickly, then you have to ask yourself is this all worth it and is there something else I could be doing or implementing, perhaps another direction, that may pay bigger dividends. In order to get very strong in a short period of time you have to lift a lot and it will really affect your throwing. If this is your plan, then fine, but as we know block periodization schemes (by Verkhoshanki’s definition, not the misleading title given to Dr. B’s work) are difficult to implement and can wreak havoc on event-specific abilities. You have to look at it over the long term.
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May Training Update

Back when I was throwing at the University of Washington my season was almost over by this point in the year. Rather than having thrown in just one meet, my season had only one or two meets left. Here in Switzerland, on the other hand, I still feel like my season has yet to begin and I’m getting a little impatient since all the men I used to train with in Kamloops threw new personal bests last weekend: Kibwe Johnson became the first American in a decade to break 80 meters and now ranks third in the world; Michael Letterlough improved his Cayman national record; and Ryan Jensen broke 60 meters for the first time. But, since our national championships are not until August, I keep reminding myself that there is no need to start as early as I did in North America.
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March Training Update

It’s been nearly two months since my last training update on here. However, it seems like you all enjoy other topics more since I had a record number of readers last month. Lately I’ve also enjoyed talking about other topics more because my results have been reliably mediocre.

I tend to be optimistic about training. When I have a bad day or bad week of training, I tend to write it off since a step back is actually part of the my plan to progress forward. However the past two weeks have been different because this step back was not planned. I picked up the flu right around the Swiss Indoor Championships. While it was never that bad, it drained my energy for a while, left me five pounds lighter, and somehow stole most of the technical progress I’ve made in the offseason.
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Offseason Training Recap

My year typically can be broken down into three phases: the offseason, the preseason, and the competitive season. The offseason lasts from September until February and can hardly be thought of as time off. This is the time when I dedicate myself to training and put in the highest amount of volume during the year. The preseason begins in March and lasts until the end of May. During this time my training will remain the same, but I will begin to do a few competitions to test my form. Then, from June until August the big meets begin and I start to back off the training a little to try and reach new bests.
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Ask Martin Vol. 9: Kettlebells

Question: I enjoy your posts and web site very much. I have incorporated a lot of it into our training routines. This is my third year at the school and we are working at building a throws program literally from scratch and we are starting to make a little progress. I have a couple questions for you? Do you incorporate pud (kettlebell throws) in training? If so, what weight ranges do you use, type of throws (1 turn, opposite side throws, left arm, right arm), before or after throwing the hammer, etc.? -Paul
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