Trials Tidbits: Friday Edition

The Dana Pounds Rule

There will be an automatic qualifying mark for each of the throwing events at the Trials, but what exactly that mark will be for each event seems to be a mystery. I have spoken with several coaches and athletes and have yet to find anyone who knows for sure. Several have speculated that it will be the Olympic qualifying distance, which seems kind of harsh as those distances are extremely beefy this year. 

In the men’s hammer, the Olympic standard is 77.50m, a mark that will likely get someone into the top five in Tokyo. In the women’s disc, it is 66.00m–again, a distance that will get anyone who throws it at the Games pretty darn close to a medal. 

One reason to have an auto qualifier at the Trials should be to allow the best throwers a chance to go “one-and-done” and save energy for the final. Why then, use such tough marks?

Sean Donnelly pointed me in the right direction. “I think,” he explained, “that it has something to do with Kara Winger and the 2008 Trials.”

I went to the source, and it turns out that Kara was tangentially involved, but not the reason for USATF using such high auto qualifiers.

The person in question turns out to have been Dana Pounds Lyon, currently a coach at the Air Force Academy and of Kara Winger. 

According to Kara, at the 2008 Trials, Dana “threw 58 meters on her first attempt in qualifying with the auto mark set at around 54 meters. So, they made her stop.”

Why would the officials have had to “make” Dana stop throwing when it is most people’s goal to go one-and-done in the prelims? 

Because she had not yet achieved the Olympic A standard, which Kara estimates was in the 60.50m to 61.00m range. And, according to Kara, Dana was feeling “awesome” in the prelims and wanted very much to take two more whacks at that standard.

And, there is a sad coda to this tale.

“Dana threw at one more meet after the Trials, and as the heartbreaking story goes, hugged the foul line to get every last inch of distance, but couldn’t stay behind it on a giant throw.”

She did not end up qualifying for Beijing, and the memory of that has made Kara all the more determined to make the Tokyo squad and finally give Dana an Olympic experience.

This Just In

Well, I just watched the live stream of the men’s shot prelims, and Ryan Crouser opened at 22.92m, well past the Olympic standard of 21.10m. He then stepped in and took another throw (which went 22.64m) before passing his final attempt. So, they apparently are giving one-and-done folks the option of continuing.

Stability, Part 1

When I asked Rudy Winkler to explain the factors that have allowed him to blossom into an eighty-meter thrower, he emphasized stability. It is no easy task for a post-collegiate thrower in this country to find a way to stay in the sport long enough to reach their prime. USATF does not provide much funding, and endorsements are hard to come by, even for the top performers. World champions Tom Walsh and Daniel Stahl, for example, currently have no shoe contract.

So, it is up to the athlete to figure out a way to eat and train and get coached and pay the rent. Rudy has recently taken a job with a cyber security firm whose CEO is a former Rutgers University hammer thrower. They have, he says, been very understanding about his need to take time off for competitions. 

“And the money has been very helpful,” he explained. “I don’t have to go into competitions worrying about prize money or anything like that. I can just compete.”

Rudy has also settled in with his longtime coach Paddy McGrath, with whom he has worked since high school. 

North Carolina throws coach Amin Nikfar also coaches hammer contender Alex Young, and he told me that stability has been a big factor for all the participants in the recent American hammer surge.

“Rudy has been with Paddy forever,” he pointed out. “Daniel Haugh has a great thing going with Mike Judge. And Alex has managed to follow me around the country, to Stanford and now North Carolina. Maintaining our relationship as coach and athlete has given him the stability he needed to develop.”

Discus thrower Kelsey Card has been able to remain in Madison, Wisconsin training with her college coach, Dave Astrauskas since graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2016. Kelsy works as a marriage and family therapist which, according to Coach Astrauskas, gives her the flexibility to train. 

Speaking of stability, my marriage is going great, but if my wife and I ever hit a tough patch, I’m calling Kelsey. Here’s how I imagine it going:

My Wife: “All he ever does is watch throwing videos!”

Kelsey: “That is a perfectly normal activity.”

The Rings

The word out of the NCAA meet was that the two shot put rings have very different surfaces. One is super fast. As I am writing this, the shot qualification just finished and all the expected contenders advanced, so I do not know if the quality of the surface had any effect on the competition.

I’m told that the discus ring is fast as well. Luckily, the competition rings were open all week for athletes to try out, and these folks are the best at what they do, so they should be ready even on an unusually quick surface.

One Last Thing

NCAA shot and disc champ Turner Washington did not compete in the shot today due, I am told, to a sore groin muscle that he has been dealing with for several weeks. Turner will, however, compete in the discus.

Nerds of Throwing, assemble! ITCCCA presents the best clinic ever!

The 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic begins on Thursday, March 18th, and for throws aficionados, rarely will life be better.

Want to learn about the glide shot from someone raised in the system that perfected it? On Saturday, March 20th, Germany’s René Sack will break down the glide technique and show you the drills you’ll need to help your athletes master it.

Want to learn about discus throwing? One of American’s discus greats, Suzy Powell-Roos will open the clinic on Thursday at 6:00pm CST will the full treatment–a technical overview including all-important drills.

Andy Bloom and Scott Bennett will provide their take on the discus on Friday, March 19th at 7:40pm CST, as will…

…Maggie Ewen as part of her Sunday presentation “The Shot and Discus Journey of Maggie Ewen.”

That’s not enough for you? How about the most successful discus coach of all time…

…Vésteinn Hafsteinsson? On Sunday, March 21st at 10:40am CST, Vésteinn will present a comparison of the techniques of Daniel Stahl, Fedrick Dacres and Andrius Gudzius. Vésteinn will also compare the rotational shot styles of Maggie Ewen, Fanny Roos, and Anita Marton. Speaking of rotational shot, Andy and Scott will give us their version on Thursday at 7:40pm CST, and on Friday at 6:00pm CST…

…Jeff Rebholz of Illinois State University will detail his approach to converting a glider into an outstanding spinner.

Maggie will also discus rotational shot technique as part of her Sunday talk, and on Saturday, March 20th at 9:00am, she will expound on physical training (lifting etc…) for young throwers.

All of these presentations will be live, with the opportunity to submit questions throughout.


Register now!

Vésteinn Hafsteinsson to present at the 2021 Virtual Clinic

Vésteinn Hafsteinsson is the most successful discus coach in the history of the sport. Under his guidance, Gerd Kanter won gold at the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics. Daniel Ståhl became his second World Champion in Doha in 2019. Vésteinn also coached shot putter Joachim Olsen to a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, and currently trains Sweden’s Fanny Roos, the 2021 European Indoor shot put silver medalist.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the sport’s greatest coaches when he presents at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic on Sunday, March 21st at 10:40am CST.

Vésteinn will discuss technical variations among several world class putters and discus throwers as a way of illustrating sound fundamentals. Attendees of this live presentation will be able to submit questions throughout, and will have access–for a limited time–to a video replay.

The 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic will begin on Thursday, March 18th with sessions by Suzy Powell-Roos, Andy Bloom and Scott Bennett. Friday’s sessions will feature Jeff Rebholz of Illinois State University and a second presentation by Andy and Scott.

The weekend speakers will be Maggie Ewen, Rene Sack, and Vésteinn.

We hope you join us next week for one of the best throws lineups ever put together!

Suzy Powell-Roos to present at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic

Suzy Powell is one of the most decorated female discus throwers in American history.  She is a 3x Olympian and former American record-holder with a PR of 69.44m/227’9.”  A product of the great UCLA throwing program, Suzy has been ranked among the top 10 discus throwers in the world numerous times.  Currently she coaches throws at Modesto Junior College in Modesto California.

Suzy will present at this year’s ITCCCA Virtual Clinic on Thursday, March 18th at 6:00pm CST. Suzy’s talk is titled, “Throw Like a Girl—A systematic approach to learning and coaching the discus throw.”

Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout this live presentation and will also–for a limited time–have access to a video replay via Coachtube.

Don’t miss what promises to be a great session with one of the best discus throwers this country has produced!

Andy Bloom and Scott Bennett to Present at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic

That man is jacked up, and you will be too when you check out the lineup at this year’s ITCCCA Virtual Clinic.

Olympian (and one of the greatest shot/disc combo throwers in history) Andy Bloom will join the man who coached him to throwing greatness, Scott Bennett, for two sessions at this year’s clinic.

On Thursday, March 18th at 7:40pm CST, Andy and Scott will reveal their insights into rotational shot putting.

They will return on Friday, March 19th, also at 7:40pm CST to discuss discus technique.

Each session will feature substantial use of video to illustrate drills and technical points. Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout these live presentations and will also–for a limited time–enjoy access to a video replay via Coachtube.

Register now!

Illinois State University throws coach Jeff Rebholz to present at the 2021 ITCCCA virtual clinic

Jeff Rebholz, the outstanding throws coach at Illinois State University, will present at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Throws Clinic. Jeff’s session will take place on Friday, March 19th at 6:00pm CST.

Jeff will speak on rotational shot putting technique. His primary focus will be explaining the methods he uses to to transition a putter from the glide to rotational technique.

Jeff’s session will provide valuable insight for coaches at any level who want to teach sound technique to an athlete new to the rotational style.

Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout this live presentation, and will be given access–for a limited time–to a video replay on Coachtube.

Register now!

Maggie Ewen to present at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic

Maggie Ewen, arguably the greatest thrower in NCAA history (she won, over the course of her career, the shot, disc, and hammer) and fresh off a PB shot put toss of 19.54m, will present at this year’s ITCCCA Virtual Clinic.

On Saturday, March 20th at 9:00am CST, Maggie will discuss “Physical Preparation for the Throws.” In that talk, Maggie will describe the methods she used in high school and beyond to build the power output necessary to make an implement go far.

On Sunday, March 21st, also at 9:00am, Maggie will present on her “Shot Put and Discus Journey.” In this session, she will examine her technique development over the years in each event.

Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout these live presentations, and will also–for a limited time–have access to a replay on Coachtube.

Register now!

René Sack to present on Glide Shot put Technique at the 2021 ITCCCA Virtual Clinic

The glide shot put lives! At last week’s European Indoor Championships, four of the top six finishers were gliders, including Germany’s Sara Gambetta. This year’s virtual ITCCCA clinic will feature Sara’s coach, René Sack, himself a former world class glider.

Nobody knows glide shot putting like the Germans, and this is a unique opportunity to learn from a coach who knows the German approach to the glide inside and out.

René will present on Saturday, March 20th at 10:40am CST. Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout this live production, and will also have access to a recorded version on Coachtube for a limited time.

Speaking of Coachtube, you can currently purchase a talk the René gave last summer on the discus. That presentation may be found here.

Three Presentations Available on Coachtube

Presentations by three of the best throws coaches in the world are now available for purchase on Coachtube.

In one, René Sack, German women’s national discus coach, breaks down the form of multiple Euro Champs medalist Shanice Craft and multiple World Champs medalist Nadine Müller. René is fantastic coach, and this is a rare chance to hear his insights into the art of discus throwing.

You will find René’s presentation here.

Next up, we have Mike Barber, coach of javelin World Champ Kelsey-Lee Barber. Using video and still images, Mike examines Kelsey’s technique and discusses various aspects of training a javelin thrower.

Mike’s presentation is here.

Finally, we have a special presentation by German men’s national discus coach Torsten Lönnfors titled, “Youth Discus Training in the German Athletics Federation.”

In this lecture, Torsten, the coach of 2016 Olympic champ Chris Harting, explains the process used by the German federation to produce an unparalleled string of successful discus throwers. You may find Torsten’s presentation here.

René Sack Discus webinar now on Coachtube

René Sack, the German national women’s discus coach, recently appeared on a webinar to share some thoughts on the fine art of discus throwing. René broke down video of two of his top throwers, World Championship medalist Nadine Müller and European Championship medalist Shanice Craft, and answered questions about technique and training.

That webinar is now available on Coachtube.

The Germans do the discus better than anybody, and coaches at all levels will find René’s insights to be very useful. Don’t miss this chance to improve your understanding of the event!

by Dan McQuaid & friends