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Adam Setliff (left) was coached by Dan Lange. Don Babbitt guided Breaux Greer (center) and Adam Nelson (right).

Coaching Roundtable: Olympic Weightlifting for Throwers (Part 3)

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.

Wil Fleming cleaning. Prior to coaching, Fleming had success both as a lifter and a hammer thrower.

Coaching Roundtable: Olympic Weightlifting for Throwers (Part 2)

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.

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Coaching Roundtable: Olympic Weightlifting for Throwers (Part 1)

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.

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Shot Put Specific Strength Exercises

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.

Speed skating legend Jeremy Wotherspoon provided a great example of how focusing on weaknesses can backfire.

Throwing, Fast and Slow

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.

Canadian record holder Jim Steacy.

The Steinke Formula

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.

A sample graph of training results from my own training.

Finding the Right Weight Implements For Your Throwers

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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How and When Elite Coaches Use Light and Heavy Shots

My first post for HMMR Media laid out how top American shot put coaches choose what weight implements to throw in training. The data came from my master’s thesis on the resistance training methods of elite shot putters, where I asked nine of the top shot put coaches in the USA a wide range of questions. These coaches were chosen based off of the results they had in International Championships, USA National Championships, and NCAA National Championships.

After I asked them what weighted implement they used, the next logical question was to ask how and why they used each one in training. Just as each coach had a different formula for what implements to use, they also had their own approaches to when they would use them.

Elite coaches have quite different approaches to using multiple weighted implements in training.

Training With Multiple Weighted Implements

In Martin’s post from earlier this week he mentioned that coach Jean-Pierre Egger had expanded his rule of not using implement more or less than 10% of the competition weight. With Valerie Adams now uses a range of plus or minus 25%. Larry Judge is one of the few American coaches to write about the topic and he mentions a similar 10% rule, although he noted that it is not uncommon to throw an implement upwards of 20% higher then the competition weight to develop special strength. Is there such a simple rule that can be easily applied to throwing heavy and light implements?

When working on my graduate degree I chose to do my thesis project on just this topic. The final thesis was titled “Resistance Training Methods of Elite Shot Putters” and I asked nine of the top shot put coaches in the USA to participate in the project. These coaches were chosen based off of the results they had in International Championships, USA National Championships, and NCAA National Championships. One of the questions I asked each of these coaches was if they used multiple weighted implements as a means of training. I included this question because using multiple weighted implements for training was widely accepted and at this time there had been very little research done using this training method.

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German National Throws Conference

RegineGermany is the top throws country in the world. Other countries may have more depth, but Germany has developed an unmatched elite throws team. Despite being a fraction of the size of rivals like the United States and Russia, it is the only country in the world that has a legitimate medal contender in all eight throwing events.

This past weekend I travelled to the Kienbaum national training center outside of Berlin for the German federation’s annual throwing conference. The training center is already a heaven for throwers. Add in 100 energetic coaches and you start to see why the country has so much success. But as good as thing are, the Germans face the same problems every country does. There was much heated debate about how to get kids started in the sport earlier, retain them longer, and provide better support for elite athletes.

But this debate is also key to their success. Rather than being antagonistic, everyone was on the same page because they were working towards the same goal. That teamwork and structure forms the foundation of their success. Despite being the best they want to improve and learn from the best in Germany and around the world in order to do so.

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