Keeping Up With The Big Boys


Size matters in the shot put.

There’s just no getting around it.

Exhibit A:

              Dan phone may 2013 011

From right to left, World Indoor Champion Ryan Whiting, two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, my friend Peter Trofimuk, Joe Kovacs (currently ranked fourth in the world), and World Outdoor Championships finalist Cory Martin.

Exhibit B:

EPSON scanner image

From right to left, Dan McQuaid the author of this article, and Christian Cantwell one of the greatest putters of all time.

What do these fine throwers have in common? They are biiiiiig boys. I’m 6’2″, 215lbs (most of it in the biceps) and Christian makes me look…well…kind of wimpy.

Same for Cory, Tomasz, and Ryan.

There is one exception here, though, and that is Joe Kovacs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Joe is clearly not a normal human being. He is tremendously fast and strong. But, so are the other guys in those photos, and they are much larger than Joe.

Yet, at the recent Diamond League meet in Shanghai, Kovacs defeated all of them with the exception of Cantwell, who beat him by 21 centimeters.

How did this happen?  Let’s take a look.

Here are Whiting, Cantwell, and Kovacs at the point at which their right foot first leaves the ground:


ryan 1 


can 2


joe 2

Though Cantwell does not bend his left knee as much as the other two, it looks to me like all three are adhering to a similar technical template.  Notice that each keeps his left shoulder closed as the right foot leaves the ground.  This gives them a chance to get their right hip and leg ahead of their upper body as they run the ring.


ryan 2


can 3


joe 3

Christian does not sweep his right leg as wide as the other two, but all three have kept their right shoulder back as their right hip begins to pull them out of the back of the ring.

Here are all three at the point where their right foot touches down in the center of the ring.


ryan 3


can 4


joe 4

Here is the first sign that Kovacs might be taking a slightly different approach with his technique.

All three have done a great job of keeping their upper body passive and pulling their left leg out of the back of the ring so that they can get both feet grounded in the power position before their shoulders begin turning into the throw.

 Joe, however, seems to be more aggressive about accentuating the separation between his right hip and his shoulders as his right foot touches down. Notice that his right foot is turned farther as it touches the concrete, and that he is really working that left arm across his chest in an effort to keep the shot back.

Here are our fearsome threesome at the moment the left foot touches down in the power position.


ryan 4


can 5


joe 5

All three have their weight back on a bent right leg as their left arm sweeps forward to set up a pre-stretching of the chest muscles, but look at the difference in the right elbow as the left foot grounds.

Kovacs is much more wrapped than the other two, thus giving himself a chance to use every ounce of his leg strength to accelerate the shot.

Each of these throws was a bomb. Whiting…21.31m.  Kovacs…21.52m.  Cantwell…21.73m.

But I have to believe that the reason Joe is able to hang with guys who have a significant size advantage is because of his ability to hit a really solid power position.



Three Things I Know… Part 2 Mac Wilkins

Three Things I know (No Secrets here)

Part Two : Work a Wide Right Leg from the back to the middle

These three high level concepts will work well as a tune up before the big meets in May and June.  You won’t get bogged down with complex details and “forget how to throw”.   They are also foundation concepts that can and should be mastered from the beginning of your throwing career.

The three moves are good for advanced and beginning throwers as well.  They are easy to grasp and execute.  The trick is executing them well in the whole movement of the throw.

Each of these three concepts have many sub parts or details that can be explored and I will list a few of them.  Primarily, though, I am looking at these as high level movements, positions and rhythm that can be approached with the end result in mind.  Work one idea or all three per throw in training or competition.

1.    See the Horizon to the Target (throw direction)

Slow Down, see the horizon to the target.  Let the eyes and left arm lead the body to the target.

2.    Work a Wide Right Leg from the Back of the circle to the Middle

The Right Leg is your engine for the throw

The wide right leg works/races ahead of the paused or slowed left side to create torque.

Starting too fast in the unwind and first turn with the left side makes the right leg go fast to catch up to the left side.  To go fast it works like a hammer thrower’s right leg, short, fast and close to the left knee.  This narrow and fast right leg has NO POWER in the middle of the circle.  It has a short radius and is trying to catch up to the fast upper body.  It never does in this case.  It is forced to create a fast to slower rhythm.  Longer and slower on the first turn to shorter and faster in the middle is the correct but counter intuitive rhythm for the throw.

“On your mark.  Get Set…”

We are only trying to get down to a powerful start position at the back of the circle like a sprinter in the blocks in the “set” position at the start of a race.  Think about what position will create the most power for you when facing the throw direction in the single leg support phase.  How can you create the most linear AND rotational force with your right leg?  How can you best make your hips rotate as fast as possible in the middle of the circle?  Feet and knees close together is not a powerful starting position.  A wide right leg out the back of the circle with the left thigh vertical (left hip out) providing some unseat to the target just naturally feels powerful.  See the photos below.

Also note the upper body posture.

Ish POst

No, he really isn’t throwing here, just finding the position during a competition.

LJ WS left foot slide and drop 001

LJ Silvester, the Original, First over 60m, First over 70m.

WS Wide RLeg side



Mac Furth Hang

Throwers start with different timing and different right leg action at the back.  LJ Silvester and Wolfgang Schmidt got their right foot off the ground sooner than anyone in relation to the turning of the left side.  Their right leg swept forward leading with the inside of the thigh.  Others (Lars Reidel below) keep the right foot on the ground longer at the back and lead more with the top of the thigh with a bit of a hitch kick action.

In any case:

1. All who do this effectively will show in the shortened position a right leg with the foot slightly under or behind the knee similar to  a sprinter’s leg position.

2. The key is to not turn the left side too fast so the right leg cannot swing wide before shortening and accelerating ahead of the left side, creating torque.  When you have that down, don’t forget Point #1 about pausing or slowing the left side somewhere while turning on the left leg  to ensure the right leg can get ahead to create torque.

Using the Wide Right Leg DOES NOT require a 600lb squat.  It is a position you move through.

Loly 90 degrees

14 yr. old non weight trained female with wide right leg.

Whatever you do at the back of the circle you must repeat at the front, whether good or bad.  If you want to throw the discus with your right hip ahead of the right shoulder (for right handed throwers) then work the right hip (wide right leg) at the back to the middle of the circle to lead the upper body.  If you lead with your head and shoulders at the start you will lead into  the throw with your head and shoulders first in the delivery.   Good Luck with that one.

Other side notes.

Left Side Drive v Right Leg Engine – Its OK to push with the left leg at the back of the circle.  Just maintain the integrity of the throw rhythm.  You do want to load the left foot as you turn at the back getting into the “set position”.  Getting the left foot down as fast as possible at the front is NOT the goal.  Getting the left foot down AT THE RIGHT TIME  is the goal.

Keep the right foot close to the ground – yes, if you are hopping up in the middle and destroying your rhythm.  But if the right foot is close to the ground all the way, you are losing power by having a shorter right leg radius.  Check out the long right leg on Ms “Seventy Meter Sandy” Perkovic below.  She’s not skimming the ground with the right foot.

Below are More Long, Wide, and Relatively Slower Right Legs waiting to shorten and accelerate the rotation of the hips and discus/shot put.

Guess Who?

rh wide right rear


perk wide


lars wide



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