Happy mother’s day! Like most other throwers I know, my mother has been very supportive of my throwing career as well as my schooling and professional career. Without her support and help I know I wouldn’t be able to pursue as much as I have or even possess the confidence to try.
Despite that introduction, today’s post isn’t just about mothers. One of the best parts about writing on this site is that I get a lot of e-mails from throwers across the world. Whether it is a high school athlete or masters thrower, I try to take the time to answer every question and help people learn about the hammer throw. My mother has reluctantly convinced me over the years that I do not have all the answers, but I do have some unique experience that I think can help others.
Most of the questions I get relate to technique or are follow ups to posts I do. Starting now, I’d like to start posting questions that I think everyone might be interested in hearing. Here are a few to questions from hammer thrower Thomas DiCiaccio to start things off. If you have a question, please send it my way. I’ll answer almost anything, including tax questions if you are so inclined.
It’d be cool to know what Dr. B is like as a person and his coaching style. We all know about his amazing success as an athlete and a coach, but what’s the guy like in every day conversation and what would you say his coaching style is?
To put it in one word, Dr. B is very blunt in his coaching style. If we are doing something wrong, he tell us. And tell us again. And tell us again like a broken record until we start doing it correctly. He is gentler on the female throwers, but harps on them just the same sometimes. (On a related note, he once had me act as a crash test dummy for Sultana after she banged up her hammer and he wanted someone to take a test throw to see if it was still safe for her to use). His approach is also very hands on and he does not use many cues. While some coaches are quieter, Dr. B has something to say after every throw. Normally his comments relate to whether the flaw we are working on was better or worse. He will then tell us in simple terms (and broken English) what he wants us to do. On the flip side, he is never in the weight room with us and is very hands off in that regard.
Even outside of coaching, Dr. B is still very matter of fact. If he thinks something is stupid, he will tell you. Don’t even get him started on internal Athletics Canada politics or ask him how strong you need to be to throw further. While our training center is great, he is a very resourceful man and could produce the same results with athletes training Rocky style. Growing up in Ukraine, he had to use whatever was available to train. Now he still brings that mentality to our training. One time he showed up to practice with a hunk of metal he found on the side of the road that he intended to turn into hammer handles. That project didn’t turn out so well. Thankfully he is also very funny and can laugh when we call him crazy for doing things like that. If you can get a story from him about back in the day, you’re bound to end up laughing. And while he isn’t always spitting out one-liners, he can have some funny post-throw comments.
Above all else, he loves throwing. He lives and breathes throwing. He will be reading, writing, studying, and learning about the throwing events until the day he dies. He knows he can learn more and share more information with others and doesn’t understand why more coaches aren’t like this. He likes throwing so much, he even coaches when it is not required. For instance at last Sunday’s competition he pulled me aside to give me some shot putting advice even though that was likely a waste of the man’s knowledge. He also helped out one of the master’s throwers. I think it is hard for him to watch us make mistakes when he knows how to fix them. even when we’re just doing another event for fun.
I read both your blog and Kibwe/Crystal’s. Both of you have stressed that you do a lot of special strength exercises. I know you train 10 sessions a week, but can you go into some of the actual numbers that constitute “a lot” of special strength work (i.e. reps per week, etc.)?
As far as volume goes, it varies from training program to training program. Since starting the season, I have done very little special strength work. The highest weekly special strength volume I’ve had came from doing simple plate twists. With one program I would do 6 sets of 10 reps with a 25-kilogram plate at every practice. Since we do 10 training sessions a week, that mean I did a total of 16.5 tons of volume each week from plate twists alone (60 reps per session x 10 sessions per week x 55 pounds = 33,000 pounds).
Another high volume special strength workout I did in the fall was more throws oriented. In that training program I would take 8 throws with the 8-kilogram hammer and 8 throws with the 9-kilogram hammer at each training session. After each throw I would do five one-armed hammer releases with the a 16-kilogram kettlebell. With 10 training sessions a week, my volume added up to 80 throws with the 8-kilogram hammer, 80 throws with the 9-kilogram, and 800 kettlebell throws.
However, like I said above, our volume varies. These programs are all at one extreme. A typical program would have a much lower special strength volume. We tend to do higher special strength volume when our volume in the other lifts is lower. A normal training session will have 3 sets of 10-15 reps in a special strength exercise and an occasional kettlebell or medicine ball throw that uses a twisting motion or mimics the hammer release.