Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Change of Pace

The scholastic Track and Field season here in Arizona is rapidly coming to a close. It doesn't seem that long ago we were just getting started. By our standards this has been a pretty successful season with our throwers winning (usually sweeping the top 3 places) in most of our meets. Admittedly the throwing events on the Navajo Reservation do not have a history of high performance like our distance runners do. Throwing on the Rez is probably on a level equivalent to what Cross country running is in Samoa. It's not really culturally or genetically inherent. Still we had two boys throwing the discus 150' this season and a couple girls over 100' which isn't bad for our little corner of the world. For the first time I had 3 boys break 40' in the shot with 3 girls over 30' in the shot. They are all undersized, but only one is graduating this year, so things look positive for the future too. We can attribute some of our "success" to a good weight training program and commodity cheese.Thanks Uncle Sam.
This week we needed a change of pace in our practice routine, something to instill a little fun,but still help us to get better. We decided on some left-handed throws, moving backwards through the circle, and throwing with our eyes closed. These are not our inventions, of course, but we take ideas from whatever sources we can. A few months ago Leif posted a video of Gerd Kanter throwing left handed. Mac Wilkens on his video also advocates doing some opposite arm throws. While some may not see value and call it a waste of time, I think it assists in feeling balanced and helps body awareness and feeling positions. It is also fun to have your throwers compete this way. We had a lot of fun trying to hit 100' left handed.
Next we worked on moving backwards across the circle in reverse fashion. This also helps with balance and feeling the important positions.It is challenging for most throwers at first and fun for high school kids at least.
Finally, we ended with throwing with our eyes closed. This helps young throwers to be become aware of internal feedback and to feel balance and power positions without the benefit of visual ques.

These activities and drills served the purpose. It stimulated interest, generated some enthusiasm, and helped us to improve our kinesthetic sense while having some fun. Of course you wouldn't want to spend too much time on such things, but a change of pace now and then keeps things fresh and more interesting. Especially with younger throwers.
I would like to hear what some of you do for variety in your programs.


  1. Besides left handed and blind, I like to use ear plugs from time to time. My job is at a noisy factory. And something interesting happened while doing my job, and messing around a bit. I did some dry hammer turns, while waiting to do my normal duties. With the ear plugs in and being in a quietish place, I felt my feet turn, I felt the vibrations and the friction of my shoes against the ground. I could feel when I took a big breath the way my chest and abodomen expanded to take in the air, as I tensed my muscles to do work, I could feel it. It was a strangely awakening feeling. So every now and again I bring a handful of ear plugs from work and have a few of my athletes use them. Sometimes combining ear plugs with eyes closed to really get the senses working in a different way.

    Robert Willmott

  2. Interesting. Thanks. What do your co-workers think when you break into Hammer turns at work?lol I can relate.