Another Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 2)

Earlier in the week I began a discussion with coach Derek Evely on how training needs to be tailored to the event for which you are training. He provided two examples from the hammer throw by looking at two unique aspects of our event. First, the hammer throw is the only track and field event where the athlete keeps contact with the ground at all times and the goal is to lengthen the amount of ground contact. In part one, we discussed how this fact has an impact on selecting exercises for the event. Second, hammer throwers must work together with an external object. In this final part we move on to discuss how the hammer’s forces also impact training.

For the best opportunity to learn from Derek about this and other topics, check out the Canadian National Throws Conference in Ottawa from October 18-20. Derek will be presenting along with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson and Esa Utriainen on the theme of “Developing the Throws: European Perspectives.” Registration is now open. Another good read from Derek is the training talk we did two years ago.

Part 1: Optimizing Jumping Exercises for the Hammer Throw

Part 2: Recreating the Hammer’s Forces in Training

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Another Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 1)

Coach Evely with Sophie Hitchon, the UK record holder. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

Coach Evely with Sophie Hitchon back in 2011. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

We all know the hammer throw is a unique sport, but I rarely stop to ponder why exactly it is unique other than the fact that we are hurling a ball and chain as far as we can. It is unique in a number of ways and this uniqueness should play an important role in training. I recently re-watched a presentation Derek Evely made in Sweden last year where he addressed this specific point and pointed out two key facts about the hammer throw that make it unique. First, the hammer throw is the only track and field event where the athlete keeps contact with the ground at all times and the goal is to lengthen the amount of ground contact. Second, hammer throwers must work together with an external object. Both of these facts have an impact on training and I recently had a chance to talk with Derek about how he took these facts and used them to create a hammer-specific training plan for his athletes. We started out talking about the first point and its impact on training. Part 2 will discuss the second point.

For those of you not familiar with Derek, he was most recently the head of the UK Athletics High Performance Centre in the lead up to the London Olympics where he also served as the personal coach of Sophie Hitchon. He has had a long and successful career that also included time working with one of my mentors, Anatoliy Bondarchuk.

This isn’t my first training talk with Derek. We sat down two years ago for a discussion on Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk which I feel is one of the best examples available online of how to implement Bondarchuk’s theories in a variety of events. Derek is one of the most knowledgable and thoughtful coaches I have had the chance to work with and, as you can tell, he is more than willing to share his knowledge with others. If you get the chance to hear him speak, I guarantee you will walk away smarter. One good chance for this will be at the Canadian National Throws Conference in Ottawa from October 18-20, where Derek will be presenting along with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson and Esa Utriainen. The theme for the conference is “Developing the Throws: European Perspectives” and registration is now open. This topic is just one of many that Derek will touch on in his presentations there and will be a can’t miss event. Read more

Cut to the Chase

Focus clearly only on what needs to be done to get training results that translate in competition performance. This demands focus on the training tasks that are meaningful. Eliminate the nice to do activities that make you tired but don’t make you better. It is so trite to say but less is more. Read more

Meet Recap SVM and Training Update

I reached the end of my latest training program on Friday and was feeling in great shape heading into this weekend’s annual club championships, the Schweizer Vereinsmeisterschaften (SVM). The SVM is normally not the ideal setting to throw far with just four throws, one flight of 25 or more throwers, an early morning start, and no one near my level. But some great weather and a chance to throw in the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, home of the Lausanne Diamond League meeting, was motivating to me and I was able to put together another solid meet with a throw of 64.38 meters. In addition to winning the hammer, I contributed some more points with a fifth-place finish in the discus. However it was not enough as our injury-plagued men’s team took second place by just three points.

It shouldn't be such a big deal, but it's always fun to throw in the stadium.

It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s always fun to throw in the stadium. Foto by Fritz Berger.

With the meet behind me, it is time to start my next training phase and also a good time to reflect on the last training program. I had been training under the old program since the European Cup Winter Throwing at the end of March and it had obviously worked well since I improved more than four meters over the last two months and am way ahead of where I was last year at this time. However not everything went as planned since my best competition results came a month before the end of the program and I never really felt like I put everything together with the competition weight hammer.
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Ask Martin Vol. 23: Strengths and Weaknesses

Question: Is it better to train the implements that the athlete throws best or to train the implements that the athlete struggles with? Try to improve where the athlete already throws well and improve that or attack the weak points (or balls that the athlete does not perform best with)? -Frederick Hannie

Choosing the right weight hammer for training takes effort and experience.

Choosing the right hammer takes effort and experience.

This is quite a complex question, so I will try to break it down into the two core points I see: (1) whether a thrower that focuses their training on weights they can throw the best; and (2) the broader question of whether it is best to design a training plan that leverages the strengths of an athlete or focuses on eliminating weaknesses. Since the questions go in two different directions, I will address only the first one below and get to the second question in another post later this week.
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Vern Gambetta

Food for Thought From Martin Bingisser

Martin Bingisser is a Swiss hammer thrower and coach. His blog is on my must read list. I think Martin is one of the bright young minds in track & field. I find his ideas informative, stimulating and challenging. Here he is talking about his coach Anatoly Bondarchuk, a true coaching legend: Read more

The 60-Meter Hot Spot

One of Bondarchuk’s biggest contributions to training methodology has been to highlight and measure “transfer of training.” He has written two books in English on the topic in the past few years that explain the topic thoroughly. In researching this topic he has compiled correlations between different training exercises by observing and surveying thousands of throwers over the past few decades. He took his findings and, among other things, calculated the correlations between light and heavy hammer to the competition implement for various levels of throwers. This has been extremely helpful in identifying the transfer of training between different practice implements.

One of this site’s readers, masters thrower Terry Noyes, made a keen observation after parsing these numbers. The highest correlating implement for an athlete is almost always the hammer that flies closest to 60 meters. Take a look at the chart below, where the implement with the highest correlation to the competition hammer is highlighted in yellow.
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Book Review: Bones of Iron

The worlds of Olympic weightlifting and the throwing events have much in common. I’m not just talking about the fact that we all use cleans and snatches as an important part of our training plan. I mean that at their core, the worlds are built with similar principles and similar people. Both sports require excruciating attention to detail. Both sports require thousands of repetitions to master the rhythm and balance of each attempt. And Olympic weightlifter Matt Foreman could have just as easily been describing the hammer throw in his new book Bones of Iron: Collected Articles on the Life of the Strength Athlete when he said “Our sport offers almost no money and promises pain, so only fanatics will survive for the long haul.” For these reasons, and the fact that Foreman runs a throwing club with more than 60 athletes, I picked up his recent book of musings on weightlifting and all things related.
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