While presenting at GAIN 2014 I got meet several great coaches, including James Marshall from the Excelsior Group in southwest England. He recently asked me to write a guest post on his blog about weight training for throwers. You can visit his blog here or read the post below.
I like numbers. In an interview in February I said the technology I use and profit from the most is Microsoft Excel. I guess this explains why I work in tax, but even in training I am constantly analyzing the data I get out of my own training and of my athletes. Numbers are the feedback that is easiest to work with.
Historical data is also quite rich. This week I decided to do an analysis of the top 100 male shot putters of all-time. That is every person to every break 21.12 meters or 69 feet 3.5 inches. What I was interested in was the age at which athletes reached their personal best. After looking at the data, I saw three clear points emerge.
Back in January I wrote about how I will give several presentations at Vern Gambetta‘s The Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network (GAIN) program this summer. A few weeks ago Vern announced the compete week-long schedule for the event, which will take place from June 17th to 21st. This year’s program will include top track coaches like Vern, Gary Winckler, Vince Anderson, and Steve Magness. Also there will be Oregon strength coach Jim Radcliffe and many other specialists in training, sports medicine, and physical education.
I will present on three topics. Here is a little about each one:
The coaching roundtable on Olympic weightlifting started last week off by discussing lifting variations and lifting technique with some top Olympic lifting coaches. For this final part I thought it would be best to hear from throwing coaches and see how they actually implement Olympic lifting in their training plans. I was able to talk to two of the top coaches in America, Don Babbitt and Dan Lange, to get their input on the topic.
Don Babbitt has been the throws coach at the University of Georgia for eighteen years in which his athletes captured 12 NCAA titles, and 68 All-American honors. Chris Hill (javelin) and Jenny Dahlgren (hammer) also set NCAA records under his guidance. In addition, he has worked with athletes like Olympic champion Adam Nelson (shot put), Reese Hoffa (shot put), Breaux Greer (javelin), Jason Tunks (discus), Brad Snyder (shot put), Andras Haklits (hammer) and many other international champions.
Dan Lange has the honor of being the only living American to have coached an Olympic hammer throw champion. In 24 years as throws coach for the University of Southern California, Lange’s athletes have won 8 NCAA championships and 58 All-American honors. His most successful athletes have been Balazs Kiss, 1996 Olympic champion and NCAA record holder, and Adam Setliff, who he worked with post-collegiatelly as he qualified for two Olympic finals in the discus. Lange also worked with Kevin McMahon for a season.
Part 3: Input From Throwing Coaches
Olympic weightlifting is an essential part of training for all throwing events. But as with any component of training, getting the most out of it requires knowing how to implement it properly in training. This week we have put together a coaching roundtable on Olympic weightlifting. In Part 1 we heard from weightlifting coaches Greg Everett, Matt Foreman, and Wil Fleming about what variations of the Olympic lifts are best for throwers. In part 2, the three coaches provide their input on weightlifting technique. The series will conclude later this week with some thoughts from throws coaches about how them implement Olympic weightlifting in training.
After actually throwing, most coaches regard Olympic weightlifting as the most important training exercises for throwers. The clean, jerk, and snatch provide a great method for developing explosive strength that can often transfer into better throwing results. With many variations of the lifts, there are many exercises to choose from ways to implement them into training.
Over the next week we will ask many top coaches about the use of Olympic weightlifting for throwers. In the first two parts we will ask for the input from weightlifting coaches on technique, variations of the lifts, and other comments. Then in the final part we will also ask a few top throws coaches about how they implement Olympic weightlifting into training.
The Lifting Coaches
Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, and director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting. I subscribe to the Performance Menu and can highly recommend both that and the Catalyst Athletics blogs as great resources for Olympic weightlifting.
Matt Foreman is the football and throws coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix. A competitive weightlifter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He currently writes regularly for The Performance Menu and the Catalyst Athletics webpage. I read and highly recommended his book Bones of Iron two years ago.
Wil Fleming is the co-owner of Force Fitness and Performance and Athletic Revolution Bloomington, in Bloomington, Indiana. He recently released the DVD Complete Olympic Lifting. Prior to working as a coach Wil was an all-American hammer thrower, school record holder, and Olympic Trials participant at Indiana University as a hammer thrower. As a junior athlete, he was an Olympic weightlifting resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center after winning a junior national championship. He also blogs about weightlifting at WilFleming.com.
In addition using heavy shot puts a great way to develop specific strength is through the use of specific developmental exercises. These are exercises that Bondarchuk defines as exercises that use the same muscles, same systems, and parts of the competitive movement.
There are lots of specific developmental exercises you can use for the shot put, but here are 7 exercises I have been using in my own training or with my athletes lately. The exercises shown in the video are:
- Medicine Ball Stand Throws
- Nieder Press
- Shoulder Punches
- Sand Bag Stand Throws
- Sidewinder Press
- 3-Step Javelin Chain Puts
- Nelson Kettlebell Throws
For some good hammer throw specific strength exercises, check out Martin’s video from a few years ago.
It may seem counterintuitive, but there is no substitute for experience when using an individualized approach to training. Sure, you start anew in many respects with each athlete, but with experience you start to see certain patterns emerge and can more easily prescribe the best training protocol.
This is the main reason I find it so interesting to hear about the experience of others. I have a lot of experience training, but as a coach I am still young. Therefore I want to leverage the experience of others. Recently a topic that has come up over and over when I pick the brains of others is how to choose which weight implements to throw. This is a highly individualized process and it’s led to some great posts giving an overview of what top shot put coaches do, a detailed description of Nick Garcia’s method, and laying out Canadian coach Larry Steinke’s formula. Perhaps we have written about it too much, but as the topic keeps coming back up and I realized I have been so busy listening that I have never really given my own input.
Earlier this week top high school throws coach Nick Garcia explained on his blog about how he determines whether his throwers will use light or heavy implements in training. After researching the practices of the top shot put coaches in the country, the main theme he noticed was that everyone had their own approach. So he created a systematic method to track and test his athletes to determine which combination of implements and what timing of each was best for them.
I love the simplicity and individual nature of Garcia’s approach. But it isn’t the only approach out there. I use a variant of it myself. Bondarchuk has commented on the topic too. And coach Larry Steinke has an interesting approach that he explained at the Canadian National Throws Conference in October. Steinke uses a basic formula to determine whether an athlete should throw heavy or light hammers in training.
My previous two posts (available here and here) discussed the findings from my graduate school thesis when nine of the top American shot put coaches were surveyed. I would now like to address my thoughts on the findings and how I apply the training theory of using multiple weighted implements. First off, each of the coaches surveyed have had extreme success applying their theories to this training method. What they do has obviously worked for them. Furthermore, the fact that each of these coaches have successfully applied this training theory in different ways is proof that there isn’t just one right way in doing it. Therefore, I needed to come up with my own way of applying this training theory.
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