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In Berlin

It seemed like the perfect plan. My wife’s sister who lives in Berlin recently had a hip replacement. My wife wanted someone to go and stay with her for a few days to make sure she’s doing okay.

Chivalrous bastard that I am, I volunteered.

My school has the entire week off. I got a great fare on Air Berlin. I made a lunch date with Torsten Schmidt, the coach of Robert Harting, so that I could continue to badger him into helping me understand why the Germans consistently produce great discus throwers.

My wife and mother-in-law dropped me at the airport on Saturday and then headed to the outlet mall while I breezed through security.

Got a couple of magazines. A nice iced tea. A rather excellent gyro.

They begin to call out group numbers. I heard mine, stepped up and handed over my boarding pass and passport, the guy takes a look at it, then looks at me and says “Please step over to the counter.”

As I do, he yells to the counter person “Check his passport!”

At this point, I imagine everyone in the vicinity figured they had just nabbed a terrorist trying to board with a fake passport. I could not imagine what was the deal. Then they told me.

“Sir, your passport expires in two months. You cannot travel to Germany within three months of your passport expiring.”

Imagine my vexation.

I stood there probably looking a bit stunned and watched the plane fly away without me.

After a while, the gate supervisor explained to me that this was a fairly new regulation and that I might be able to get an expedited passport on Monday and they would put me on their next flight, which would not be until Tuesday.

My immensely patient wife came back to the airport to get me and immediately upon our arrival home started working the phone to make sure Air Berlin was going to honor the supervisor’s promise that I would get on the Tuesday flight.

Long story short, they were less than keen about doing that in spite of my wife’s pointing out that that they ought to let a guy know  there might be a problem with his passport before he is ten feet from boarding the plane.

The last person she spoke to in Berlin finally told her that I should show up for the Tuesday flight and basically throw myself on the mercy of the ticket agent.

At that point we had no idea if they’d let me on the flight or if they’d say “tough luck” and make us eat the cost of the ticket.

Luckily, we had one other option. If I could get a new passport on Monday and get to O’Hare by 4:00ish I might be able to use a buddy pass on United (another of my wife’s sisters is a stew) that would at least get me to Frankfort. From there I could figure out how to get to Berlin and then come home on the return portion of my Air Berlin ticket.

If you can’t tell by now that my wife is a saint, just know that she spent about seven hours at the passport bureau with me on Monday and if you think that was a barrel of laughs…try it some time.

Got to go. I’ll finish the story later!

 

How Could They?

Is anyone else astonished that the IAAF chose Qatar to host the 2019 World Championships?

Let’s see…Qatar has been strongly suspected of bribing their way into hosting the soccer world cup in 2022, they have been accused of badly mistreating the foreign workers that they import for construction projects, and the competition will have to be delayed until late September/early October to avoid the insane summer temperatures in that region.

Great call IAAF!

Here are a couple of excellent articles on this matter:

http://www.insidethegames.biz/sports/summer/athletics/1023933-exclusive-iaaf-claim-doha-s-37-million-offer-in-2019-world-championships-bid-was-legal-and-within-guidelines

http://www.insidethegames.biz/blogs/1023916-mike-rowbottom-why-the-iaaf-disregarded-a-herd-of-elephants-in-the-room-to-give-doha-the-2019-world-athletics-championships

Any thoughts? I just don’t know what to think other than to wonder if the IAAF  is as corrupt as FIFA.

–McQ

3 Things I Know – Part 3

More details at:
The Wilkins Review
                                   

MacWilkins.com
 
Mac Wilkins Throws Channel

Part 3   Rotational Continuity into the Block    

The Right Leg drives around into the throw, rotating the Right Hip WITH LITTLE OR NO PAUSE (even before the left foot is grounded) into the left side block.

This is the key difference between 67m+ and NOT.

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.

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 them as “Big Picture” movements, positions and rhythm that can be approached with the end result in mind.  They are “End Result” concepts.  Don’t worry about the details of how to get there, as much as just making the end result happen.  There is room for personal style in the throw but these concepts are universally applied by top throwers.

1.    See the Horizon to the Target (throw direction)
Slow Down, see the horizon to the target.  Let the left side: eyes, arm, knee and foot 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 shortens and accelerates/works ahead of the paused or slowed left side to create torque.

3.     Rotational Continuity into the Block with little or no pause.  The Right Leg drives forward rotating the right hip into the left side block.

The goal is to minimize or eliminate any pause or delay in turning the right hip into the block or even around past the block!  At first, you may have to exaggerate the turn in the air to get the right foot around and into the throw.  The right foot should touch down pointing to the back of the circle (12 o’clock).  However, where it is pointing on touch down is not as important as making sure that you are getting the right hip to turn ALL THE WAY into the block without a pause or delay.  Don’t let the right foot impede the hip rotation by grounding the heel.

The Right Leg is the initiator, not the right foot.  You don’t want to “pre-turn” the right foot ahead of the knee. 

You can’t make this rotation happen starting from a dead stop, with all your weight on the right foot as the “Wheel Drill” practitioners seem to believe.  Logon to The Wilkins Review and click on Training Resources; Drills and watch The False Wheel Drill October 2009 in for a more complete explanation of why the Wheel Drill teaches  incorrect technique.

Work the right thigh forward and bring the foot under the knee to shorten the leg/lever for acceleration.  Your skill at doing this will determine how fast you can spin your hips (how far you can throw).

If your right foot is not “back under” the right knee you are probably not shortening enough thus not creating enough rotary momentum.

Although it feels like a linear right leg drive into the throw, it’s the rotary momentum created during the left leg pivot that creates the power.

If you land heavily on the right foot this rotation won’t happen.  You must be on balance from left to right and back to front for a quick and timely right foot rotation.  Don’t let the right heel touch down and impede the hip rotation.

Check the Bend in the Right Leg on these throws.

Aleekna Sprint

 

Dietszche bent right leg

 

Greek

 

LJ BRL cropped

 

Lo 14 BRL

 

Malichowski BRL cropped

 

Robert H BRL Cropped

Right Leg Continuity into the Block

In this video look for the long to short right leg creating torque and then the immediate transfer from right to left in the power position with upper body being dragged into block.  The “walking torque” drill at the start seems simple but must be done like a martial arts movement for maximal rotational speed.

 

If you can feel the Right Leg Engine work twice, once at the back and again leading the upper body into the delivery, you are making progress.  The next step is to feel the right leg work to the middle and without pause, turn into the block.  The goal is to “be surprised” at how soon the right hip delivers into the block, not unlike a good javelin throw.

 
www.thewilkinsreview.com    Over 110 instructional Videos

www.macwilkins.com for Video Analysis and Online Coaching

Mac Wilkins Throws Channel  YouTube quick and dirty lessons

 

The European Athletics Championships Part 1: Men’s Shot

leitzigrund

 

I’ve done my share of dumb things in my life, but one thing I got right was that I married the perfect woman. She is beautiful and nice and very patient with me, and…I’m not going to say this is the most important thing, but…she has a brother who lives in southern Germany just across the border from Switzerland. He and his wife also rent an apartment in Winterthur, Switzerland, which is a 20-minute train ride from Zurich, which is where the 2014 European Athletics Championships were held this month…which I got to attend all because I married the right woman.

A fantastic week of competition at Letzigrund Stadium began on the morning of Tuesday, August 12th with the qualifying rounds of the men’s shotput.

Tuesday also marked the beginning of my never-ending quest for unobstructed sight lines from which to view the throws. I say this good-naturedly, as the folks in Zurich did an amazing job of hosting this meet. Inside the stadium there were dozens of volunteers, all dressed like this…

volunteers

…and all utterly determined to be helpful.  It didn’t matter that I only speak English. It didn’t matter that it took me about ten minutes to figure out which Swiss coins I needed to hand over every time I bought a brat. It didn’t matter that when I said “brat” it sounded like “brot,” the German word for bread. Everyone I dealt with at Letzigrund was cheerfully patient.

Actually, the volunteers did not know it, but the most helpful thing they did all week was to take public transportation to the stadium with the rest of us. Any time I got confused as to which tram or bus I should board, all I had to do was to find and follow members of the purple army.

I intend to write more later about the way the meet was managed because I think the organizers had some great ideas about how to engage the fans. And, as I discovered when I returned to the States, the television coverage of every event including the throws was astonishingly thorough, so they did a great job of engaging their viewers as well.

The one person they apparently were not worried about accommodating was the Handicam-wielding obsessive throws fan who shelled out 100 to 140 francs per day to see the likes of Robert Harting and David Storl compete and wanted to see the way they moved through the ring rather than just watching their heads bob up and down behind a barricade of television cameras and portable shelters for the athletes.   In other words, me. Here, for example was my view of the men’s shot prelims:

shot prelim

They ran flights simultaneously in two rings, each of which was substantially hidden from view.  Luckily, there was not much drama to the proceedings. Everybody knew that Germany’s David Storl was going to qualify on his first throw (I think the automatic mark was 20 meters) and then dominate that evening’s final.

There was even talk of him breaking the meet record of 22.22m held by the great Swiss putter Werner Gunthor.

What intrigued me about Storl was that he had been throwing with a fixed-feet finish this summer after winning the last two World Championships using a violently aggressive reverse. Apparently he knew what he was doing, because he tossed a PR of 21.97m a couple of weeks prior to the Euros using his new style, but I was dying to find out the reasoning behind the switch.

Storl did, in fact, dominate the competition that evening. You can find the results here:

http://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2014/athletics/event/mens-shot-put/phase=atm051100/index.html?intcmp=[#]-schline-calltoaction

But he did not look very comfortable, and after finishing one throw with an awkward looking semi-reverse, he limped from the ring and sprawled out on the ground for a couple of minutes.

As he held a half-meter lead over Spain’s  Borja Vivas and Poland’s Tomasz Majewski at the time, I expected Storl to pass his final two attempts, but much to the delight of the crowd…

crowd shot

 

…he did not.

By the way, the view of the shot final was much improved over that of the prelims:

shot final

 

Here is the video that I took that night:

http://youtu.be/VT_O5u8CBXo

It certainly does not match the quality of the televised version, but I did include a brief clip of a cameraman pursuing the women’s 10,000 meter runners around the track on a Segway.

When the competition ended, I knew I was very unlikely to get anywhere near Storl to ask him why he had switched to a fixed-feet glide. There were about a million credentialed media members in the stadium who would get first crack at him. Here is a partial view of the temporary media offices erected next to Letzigrund to accommodate them all..

press offices

…and when I say “partial view” I mean it. This is less than half the total number of them.

Also, they were holding the medal ceremony that night, so I knew Storl was going to be tied up for quite some time.

I decided, therefore, that my best bet was to stalk his coach, who was sitting one section over from me. Unfortunately, every time I approached him he was either on the phone or in deep conversation with the guy sitting next to him and I didn’t want to interrupt. Okay, he got up to go to the bathroom once, but not even I am weird enough to approach a strange man in the men’s room and start questioning him about shot put technique.

Before long, the post competition festivities began…

high wire

…and I headed back to Winterthur without solving the mystery of the fixed-feet glide.

Fortunately, another possibility soon emerged.  On the way out of the stadium, I got a look at a list of press conferences scheduled for the following morning. The German team was staying at the Hilton out near the airport, and were going to make athletes available to the media at 9:30am.

The efficient Swiss public transportation system made it quite easy to get to the airport. The Hilton operated a free shuttle  every fifteen minutes. Long story short, at 9:25 the next morning I walked into the London Room of the Hilton Hotel and took a seat among half a dozen journalists. Sitting at the front of the room were three German athletes (I think they were heptathletes), a coach, and a media liaison.

heptath press conf

 

Precisely at 9:30, they all began conversing in German.

Holy cow, did I feel like a fish out of water. I had no clue what anyone was saying, and after a few minutes was about ready to slink out of there when I heard the door open behind me and saw the media guy look up and smile. The person who entered uttered the word “morgen” in a deep but tired-sounding voice, and I knew it was Storl.

The man of the hour, he was ushered right up to the podium and began answering questions, once again all in German.

storl press conf

I was embarrassed as hell, because this was clearly a news conference meant for the German press, but no way was I getting this close without asking my question.

I raised my hand, and when they called on me I decided to take the humble approach.

“Pardon, may I speak English?”

I’ve never had six heads, so I can’t say for sure that’s how the media guy looked at me, but let’s just say he was plenty surprised.

Storl took it in stride, though, and I finally got my question answered. Why had he switched to a fixed-feet style? He had injured his knee shortly after the Glasgow Diamond League meet and had changed his technique to protect it until he could have surgery after the season.

I followed up by asking him if he was surprised by how far he had been able to throw without a reverse. Everybody in the room including Storl laughed when I asked him that, but he acknowledged that yes, he was pleasantly surprised by his success with his modified style.

And that was it. The reporters resumed pelting him with questions in German, and I walked out of there thinking that getting to talk to Storl had made the whole trip worth while. Little did I know that there was lots more excitement to come.

Is Gia the best female American discus thrower ever?

2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships

As a matter of fact, she is.

Here is the evidence.

Exhibit A: US Women’s Discus Throws over 65m

65mb

Okay, I know that’s hard to read, but I couldn’t cut and paste the damn thing without the margins going all goofy. Basically, what you’ve got there is a list of the 40 throws of 65m or better that have been produced by American women.  By  no means does Gia dominate that list. Suzy Powell has the most throws over 65m with ten, followed by Gia with nine.  Stephanie Brown-Trafton has the farthest throw on the list (67.74m) followed by Powell (67.67m) and then Gia (67.59m).  However, take a look at…

Exhibit B:  Throws over 65m in International Competition

67.59m  Gia   (Glasgow)

66.29m Gia  (Zagreb)

65.77m  Gia  (Oslo)

65.59m Gia (Paris)

65.38m Powell  (Rethimno)

65.10m Aretha Thurmond (Monaco)

This list, she does dominate.  And why, you may ask, is that a big deal?

That is a big deal because the throws on this list were taken inside of stadiums overseas.

I’m not going to condemn anyone for seeking out windy climates in an effort to break a record or achieve an “A” standard.  But throwing bombs on the California coast has zero relevance when it comes time to go up against the best of the best at the Olympics or the World Championships, which are held…inside of stadiums overseas.

In order to contend for a medal, a female discus thrower must set aside  the distractions of travel and the lack of those lovely ocean breezes and throw at least 65 meters.

Among American discus throwers, Gia has become the best at doing just that.

There are those who would argue that Stephanie Brown-Trafton should be considered the best ever after winning  gold at the 2008 Olympics. I am a big fan of Stephanie, who is on the comeback trail after giving birth nine months ago. Last week, at the Chicagoland Throws meet she told me that she is feeling good and just needs to build up her strength levels in order to return to peak form. But the peak form that got her the gold in Beijing in 2008 with a throw of 64.74m is unlikely to win her a spot on the medal stand in Beijing in 2015 or in Rio in 2016.  Sondra Perkovic, the defending World and Olympic champion, has shown a consistent knack for throwing 68-69m at the biggest meets. Australia’s Dani Samuels is having a great year, and there are a handful of others who have recently thrown 65+m in stadiums.

The only American thrower ever who has shown the ability to hang with that crowd is Gia.

Actually, she has done more than hang with them as of late. Last week in Glasgow in this stadium…

 glas stad 2

 …she handed Perkovic her first loss of the season by launching a PR throw of 67.59m.

Gia is now the only thrower to have defeated Perkovic over the last two years. That alone might qualify her as the best.

 
                

 

 

Where does that leave us? Part 2: The Women

My last post examined the prospects of US men making the finals and/or medaling next year in Beijing and the following year in Rio.

Now, let’s consider the ladies.

The Discus

Moscow Results:

8th:62.80m  Bronze: 64.96m  Silver: 66.28m  Gold: 67.99m

Sacramento Results:

3rd:  Shelbi Vaughan 59.75m

2nd: Liz Podominick 59.96m

1st: Gia Lewis-Smallwood 65.96m

2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships

Gia’s career seemed dead in the water just a couple of years ago, but she pulled off a rare trick for an American thrower: she found a way to stay in the sport long enough to find her groove.  She finished fifth in Moscow, and has shown the ability to throw 64-65 meters overseas in stadiums.  She is also, to my knowledge, the only thrower to defeat Sandra Perkovic in the past two years. (Fun Fact: over 600 people have climbed Mt. Everest in that time).  The big question is, can Gia at thirty-five years of age hold off the ravages of time long enough to get on the podium in Beijing and Rio?  If she does, it will be a great, great moment for American throwing.

(This just in! As I am about to post this article, Gia has thrown 65.59m to take third at the Paris DL meet)

Another question: Can 2008 Olympic champ Stephanie Brown Trafton come all the way back from taking time off to have a baby? She had to be encouraged by her performance in Sacramento (58.84m), but she and Gia are about the same age, so…

A final question: What about the youngsters? Shelbi Vaughan is a special athlete, but she cannot be expected to throw bombs overseas in August after enduring the rigors of the NCAA season, especially if she continues playing volleyball. Whitney Ashley (fifth in Sacramento at 58.68m) is another gifted athlete waiting in the wings. (Fun Fact: At the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix meet, Perkovic’s coach told me that he thought Ashley had a lot of potential but that she should reverse instead of using a fixed-feet finish).

Outlook: In my dream scenario (the one that does not involve Angelina Jolie) Gia and Stephanie both elbow their way onto the podium next to Perkovic in Beijing or Rio.

 

The Javelin 

Moscow Results:

8th: 61.30m  Bronze: 65.09m  Silver:66.60m  Gold: 69.05m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Leigh Petranoff  57.80m

2nd: Brittany Borman 62.05

1st: Kara Patterson 62.43m

kara

 Does anyone else view the javelin as a fickle event?  Three weeks ago in New York, I watched the Australian javeliner Kathryn Mitchell throw 66.02m easy as pie and Linda Stahl (a German) throw 67.32m easy as strudel. Then, earlier this week at the Lausanne DL meeting, they went 58.23m and 63.20m respectively.

Outlook: Given the “on any given day” nature of the event, it is entirely possible that Borman or Patterson could make the final in Beijing and/or Rio. A medal, though, is unlikely. Their best route to the podium at a major international meet is to pull a Gia and stay in the sport into their thirties (Mitchell, by the way, is having her best season at the age of thirty-one).

 

The Shot Put 

Moscow Results:

8th: 18.09m  Bronze: 19.95m Silver:20.41m  Gold: 20.88m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Tia Brooks 18.83m

2nd: Felisha Johnson 19.18m

1st: Michelle Carter 19.45m

carter 2

Loads of potential among this threesome of young gliders, two of whom have already garnered significant international experience. Tia was 8th in Moscow, Michelle missed the bronze by a centimeter.

Outlook: There is no reason the US should not have two shot finalists in Beijing and Rio. And after that?  Valerie Adams is only twenty-nine, but the Herculean effort behind her seemingly effortless domination of the sport (two Olympic, three Indoor World and four Outdoor World golds since 2007) has left her contemplating retirement after 2016. Carter, who threw an American record 20.24m last season, is only a year younger than Val, but seems to be just coming into her own. If she can hang in there for another Olympic cycle after Rio, she might be able to contend for that rather large open space at the top of major championship podiums.

The Hammer

Moscow Results:

8th: 72.70m  Bronze: 75.58m  Silver: 78.46m  Gold: 78.80m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Amber Campbell 71.35m 

2nd: Jessica Cosby Toruga 71.72m

1st: Amanda Bingson 75.07m 

bingson

In the past two seasons, three American women (Bingson, Cosby Toruga, and Jeneva McCall) have thrown 74 meters or better. Cosby Toruga is thirty-two, but both McCall and Bingson are just two years out of college.  Same for Gwen Berry, who threw 73.81m last year.

Outlook: For Beijing and Rio, getting two in the top eight is certainly attainable. Beyond that, one or more of the Bingson/McCall/Berry trio needs to get her PB into the 77-78 meter range to increase the odds of hitting a medal-winning 76m in a major championship.

 

 

 

Tim Glover ready for the next step

glover

A two-time NCAA champion while throwing for Illinois State University, Tim Glover will try to show that he belongs at the top of the professional level as well when he competes in the USATF Championships this Sunday in Sacramento.

Glover announced himself as a world class javeliner this April when he unloaded a world-leading  84.01m in Knoxville. Currently, that throw ranks him 13th in the world.

It is a bit remarkable that Tim was able to unleash a throw of that caliber because at the time he was still attending classes at ISU three days per week from 9am until 3pm.

He attributes his improvement partially to an increase in strength.  With a 315-lb bench press, a 500-lb back squat and a 319-lb power clean the javelin has been “feeling light” in his hand.

Also contributing to his breakthrough is his ability to maintain speed on the runway.

“Last year my coach (Scott Bennett) came in and we worked all speed. I dropped some weight and focused on how fast I could go..never could catch one, or any for that matter. I would always miss the point and it  got frustrating but I kept reminding myself that this year was a transition year and if I wanted to improve in the future the speed would have to increase. This year my speed isn’t crazy on the runway but it is faster and more comfortable. I am still working on keeping it up through the crossovers and also working on driving out not up.”

Coach Bennett agrees that Tim’s increased strength has been a big plus, and he also credits Tim’s improvement in “blowing the right side through to the brake” during the last two steps of his throws.

Bennett also believes that Glover has the “perfect demeanor” for his event, describing his as “modest, independent, and even-tempered.”

That temperament will be put to the test on Sunday by a field that includes veterans such as Cyrus Hostetler, Sean Furey, and Craig Kinsley, and last year’s US champion Riley Dolezal. Also competing is  the physically imposing Sam Humphreys. At the Tuscon Elite meet earlier this season,  Humphreys– who looks like he might be able to throw a telephone pole 80 meters– defeated Glover in a battle to determine who would get the final spot in the jav field at the Prefontaine Diamond League meeting that took place over Memorial Day weekend.

Glover is still waiting for his first chance to go up against the world’s best.

A win on Sunday would go a long way toward establishing Glover as a consistently world class performer and possibly get him invited to some meets in Europe where he could show that he is ready to take the next next step.

 

 

 

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:

Whiting…

ryan 1 

Cantwell…

can 2

Kovacs…

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.

Whiting…

ryan 2

Cantwell…

can 3

Kovacs…

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.

Whiting…

ryan 3

Cantwell…

can 4

Kovacs…

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.

Whiting…

ryan 4

Cantwell…

can 5

Kovacs…

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.

–McQ

 

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

 

DSCN0245

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