The outdoor season is upon us. High Schools and colleges have started their first outdoor competitions. Even the Europeans, who start their season later, have completed their first round of meets with Pawel Fajdek emerging as the first 80-meter hammer thrower of the season last weekend. This is the time of the year that marks the transition to the final phase of the season. This phase may last just six more weeks for some athletes, but it is the most important of the year. Below is a list of five things throwers in any event should keep in mind as they start out down the home stretch. Read more
Mr. Kuehl, my high school basketball coach used to tell us that we do the whole the whole practice to get the last the last two minutes because that was where the games would be decided. He emphasized that it was the last two minutes that we worked for, that is when we were tired and we had to execute. Read more
A few nights ago, I was sitting at the table having dinner with my son Omo and wife Megan. I swear my son is getting smarter by the minute, and every moment he is learning more how to play the system. Like any 4 year old, he wants to eat his treats (dessert, junk food, etc.), but we always try and make him eat his healthy foods first. With his brain power at full tilt, he is always attempting to devise a way to get what he wants, by smooth talking and looking cute. Ladies beware of this guy in the future! Read more
A rivalry between two athletes or teams can be something truly incredible to witness. Ali vs Frazier. Magic vs Bird. Palmer vs Nicklaus. All of these athletes were incredible to watch on their own, but when they performed in opposition, special things were bound to happen. Read more
With a new year upon us there has been lots of talk about goals over the past few weeks. After all, it’s about the time of year when many non-athletes have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. In track and field our year started months ago before the first day of training, but a new calendar year still marks a good time to assess our progress and a last chance to make changes if needed. Read more
I have been reading a lot lately and not just about training. But as with anything, I can always bring the topic back to training. In January, I finished two good non-fiction books: Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To by psychology professor Sian Beilock. And David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell.
After taking two weeks off at the end of September, I have already jumped back into training for 2014 and the first week is now behind me. During my time off I took some time to reflect on the last season. Whether I make this public or not, this is something I do every year. Some things are more clear in hindsight than they were at the time and everyone must learn from these moments in order to continue to improve in the future.
I had just two goals to start out the season. Unlike many athletes, I do not define my goals in terms of how far I want to throw or what place I want to finish. I simply identify what I need to do to get better and then focus on that. After the 2012 season I was physically in the best shape of my life but I couldn’t translate that into the throw. Therefore my first goal was clear: my technique needed to get better. My only other goal related to my priorities for competitions. Rather than trying to hit a peak for the Swiss Championships, I wanted to shift my peak to the Jeux de la Francophonie this year. Having a later peak allowed me more time to prepare and hopefully reach better performances. With those two goals I started out towards the 2013 season.
First of all as I have said several times over the years in this blog mental toughness is a figment of the imagination. Throwing a bunch of exercises together in a circuit and calling it mental toughness training is just an excuse for doing stupid stuff. Getting tired is not training. Read more
Over the years I have used this blog to discuss the work of coaches, athletes, psychologists, physiologists, biomechanists, and economists. But I have not once discussed the work of a philosopher. Since I have my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, I have to take the opportunity once it arises. In a New York Times Online piece earlier this month, philosophy professor Barbara Gail Montero dissects the widespread view that thinking about what you are doing while doing it interferes with performance. There are few philosophical topics which relate more directly to hammer throwing.
In many areas, thinking about an action can make its execution worse. As Montero notes, “Start thinking about just how to carry a full glass of water without spilling, and you’ll end up drenched.” But this isn’t the case for all actions. Ordinary actions like carrying water will be easier when you do them without thinking about it. But when you start looking at the actions of experts, or hammer throwers, the just do it approach doesn’t always hold. And, for Montero, this is the area that interests her since she has a forthcoming book on thought and effort in expert action.