For the past week I’ve been posting snippets of my training talk with coach Dan Pfaff of the World Athletics Center. I’ve spent time listing Pfaff’s numerous accomplishments over the past week, so this time I will just jump back in to the discussion. If you like what you read below, also check out the first or second part.
For even more you can become a member of HMMR Media to get access to hundreds of other great articles I have posted, including more training talks with some of the top coaches in the business like Harry Marra, Derek Evely, Jean-Pierre Egger, Don Babbitt, Vern Gambetta and many others from the world of throwing and beyond.
» Part 3: Key Performance Indicators and Hammer Throwing
Martin: To end with I’d naturally like to know your experience with the hammer. How would you approach the event if you had a hammer thrower currently? What would be the training focus and what do you think hammer throwers can learn from other events in this regard.
Dan: Again this goes back our generation concept. I don’t think I’d train a hammer thrower much different than other events. I would do a key performance indicators (“KPI”) analysis to determine what are the KPIs for that athlete at that stage of their career and development. I would identify a priority list on those KPIs. The highest KPIs would get the most attention and density during the training week. The secondary KPIs would fill in the gaps. And all the work would be done with this movement screen idea where you are constantly evaluating movement to adjust KPIs, prevent injury, and enhance skill.
I’d also go back to the parasympathetic/sympathetic concept. I’ve always been curious with range throwing where guys throw in different zones. At those lower zones, is it really parasympathic response? And what is it doing to the brain maps?
Martin: Is this something we do better or worse than other events?
Dan: I traffic in a lot of circles and have a lot of friends in the throws world. It is amazing to me that athletes and coaches don’t do thorough debriefs after each competition or each training year or each cycle to analyze whether they accomplished what they were trying to accomplish. People have loose debriefs and loose target discussions about upcoming programs. But the plot gets lost and people default to comfort zones of training and emphasis.
For some reason I have been coaching a lot of pole vaulters over the last six or eight years. They might not do a speed endurance workout for two or three weeks. But when they come back to it they don’t lose a step. It begs the question of how many hits of these various regimes do we really need in a given time frame.
There is a world-class discus thrower whose therapist I share with a lot. He realized at an advanced age he probably didn’t need to lift as much and as frequently. But after a rough start to the season he went back to what he did 10 years ago. When panic sets in we tend to default to that magic year we had and stray away from the current KPIs and KPI intentions.
Martin: On the one hand you learn a lot about yourself over the years and what works. But on the other hand, circumstances definitely do change.
Dan: With this athlete he has had multiple surgeries and injuries that have continued to manifest. The body and mind he is training with today is much different than what he had eight years ago.
Martin: Definitely. I’m at the point now where I want to do what I did years ago, but that is not necessarily what is best for me right now. It feels comfortable.
Dan: One of the rages right now is about variability, anti-fragile, and this kind of stuff. A lot of times life present the variables. You are a lawyer working, writing, weather is crappy in Switzerland, you don’t have your coach there. There is a lot of variability every day. Because there are new variances you have to have new KPIs and new plans.
I’ve also been asked many times in many interviews “how does an advanced coach working with an advanced age athlete continue to excel.” I think it is this juggling game of KPIs. Both parties need to identify different generations of KPIs and learn to juggle throughout the year.
Martin: Thanks for taking the time to share some knowledge with everyone. We look forward to seeing your team’s results next year.