The Merit Badge for Winter Throwing

The first day of training in the snow each year fills me with the excitement of a schoolboy arriving to the first day of class. The snow mutes the air, leaves a still, peaceful and relaxing silence to train in. I am not alone either. I was excited to see some of my young throwers not only train without complaint in the snow this year, but hit a few personal bests and brag about training in the snow on Facebook. It is a merit badge in winter throwing.


But it gets old. Fast. First is the physical element. I put together some tips for throwing the snow last year, and while it makes things better the weather still drags on you. Walking to retrieve the hammer drains the legs more and more every training. While you may think it would be good to be warmer, the slushy snow is just more slippery with throwing shoes on.

Then there is the effect on technique. As Jüri Tamm noted in our interview last year “In winter the weather conditions are very bad. It is also a question of quality if you are always training in the snow. The muscles are not the same. The feeling is different because you have a hat, heavy clothes and heavy shoes.” Throwing the hammer just doesn’t feel the same.

Finally, the psychological impact is perhaps the strongest. It is hardly motivating to wake up knowing that no matter how good your technique is and how good you feel you will not throw far. Knowing that a real competition is still months away. Last week I was nearing top form, but first hard rain, then wind, then near gale-force winds, and then a combination thereof arrived. It felt like someone was against me as I struggled to throw within a few meters of what I knew I was capable of. I would normally advise throwers to just focus on technique and throw as far as possible. To not be afraid to take your time to stay fresh or to throw in the towel if you’re too tired. But this is difficult for me, especially since I train in a program where we are taught to measure our results every day.

Why am I writing this? I just need to vent a little. Hopefully spring will be arriving in a month, but my patience is wearing as thin as the layer of ice covering the ring each morning. But it is not only a pain; it is a test. It is the merit badge, not just to share on Facebook but for ourselves. For better or worse, only the truly motivated will train no matter what the conditions. Knowing I passed this test keeps me going on days like last week.

5 replies
  1. gary cooper
    gary cooper says:

    In response. Since we started throwing hammer here at our home facilities in 2009/2010, Our winter training have had their moments. But the worse conditions we have had to deal with is a new Sector that had been leveled this past August. Off the right sector , removing almost 4′ of dirt and grass to be taken across to the left to raise that sides 3 feet of decline. Leaving us with no grass. And now with the Winter’s snow and rain. We have MUD. Mud is a royal pain. I have the throwers stay up on the 14×30 pad, or the ones not throwing, we have 4×6 ft 3/4″ rubber trailer mats on the outside of the cage for them to try and keep from dragging the mud into the cage. This leaves the old guy ( yours truly) out in the field dragging the hammers back to them. Which they are great in helping clean each others hammers off. Using shovels and towels to remove the last bit of “yuck” so it won’t drip off the hammer onto the Circle.

    The worst of it is when the college kids were home for Christmas and guys threw heavy hammers. Dragging 4 – 20# hammers back to the cage was an effort through the mud.

    It’s these things that one enjoys seeing throwers out in this element and putting in the training time. There is complaining, but its in a comical manner. Then the “contest” as to who can splatter Coop with the most mud from the impact on the hammer slamming into the mud. I don’t care if I stand 20 feet away from where they normally hit. The mud finds me. But another reason not to have the youngsters out in the sector retrieving. Risking a serious injury is not an option.

    Looking at the picture of your cage Martin, is indeed a Merit Badge of commitment of you and your throwers. Spring time will be here in a few months along with sunny drier days. Lets continue to push through to that more conducive time of training.

  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    training in the lower mainland, and not having access to a regular indoor training circle, i find the rain also dampens the training mood. during nov-feb training at night, i am throwing in the dark, in the cold (relatively speaking of course) and in the wet heavy rain. I grew up in an area that received a lot of snow, and there are for sure night sessions where i almost wish it was snowing instead of raining. great post martin.

  3. Glenn McAtee
    Glenn McAtee says:

    One of the Soviet era throwers told me that they spent more than 200 days a year at training camp, much of which was on the Black Sea where it very rarely snows. Good weather and access to fresh fruits and veg…..


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  1. […] the saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. After complaining about training in winter conditions a few days ago, I decided to just give in and embrace the winter. I took an extra day off of […]

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