Category Archives: Webinar

An Interview With Vésteinn Hafsteinsson. Part 1: From Athlete to coach

On Thursday, April 30th , Vésteinn Hafsteinsson, one of the most accomplished throws coaches in the world, examined the technique of World Champion discus thrower Daniel Ståhl in a webinar. In advance of his appearance on the webinar, Vésteinn was gracious enough to sit for an interview about his experiences as a coach at the highest level of the sport. This is the first of four posts based on that interview.

It is impossible these days to follow college football without being exposed each fall to the sight and sound of thousands of red clad drunks fervently chanting “Roll Tide Roll” as their gridiron heroes do just that, but I honestly never thought I’d hear those words uttered by a proud son of Iceland who lives in Sweden and has coached an Estonian to an Olympic discus title.

And yet, two minutes into my conversation with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson–coach of discus greats Gerd Kanter and Daniel Ståhl along with many other world class throwers–there it was. “Roll Tide Roll!”

He had no choice, really. I’d done some research on Vésteinn prior to our call, and when I discovered that he had attended the University of Alabama during the 1980’s I alerted my wife. She’d spent a year at ‘Bama around the same time, and you don’t run into many Crimson Tide fans in the suburbs of Chicago where we live, so as soon as Vésteinn’s face popped up on my screen she leaned in and began bonding with him over their shared admiration of Paul “Bear” Bryant.

As a lifelong Notre Dame fan, I felt more than a little vexed by this, but I recovered quickly as Vésteinn began graciously sharing his experiences as one of the most successful throws coaches ever.

It turns out that there were a dozen Icelanders on the Alabama track team in the early 1980’s, including Vésteinn’s older brother. The first to make the move to Tuscaloosa was Hreinn Halldórsson, a twenty-one-meter shot putter who Vésteinn remembers as a “thirty-two-year-old freshmen.” 

“He is the reason they changed the rules about age in the NCAA,” recalled Vésteinn, who has fond memories of his ‘Bama days. “It was a culture shock,” he says now, “but we had a little Icelandic colony and it was a great school, a great campus.”

Vésteinn met his wife–a Swedish citizen–while at Alabama, and they settled in Sweden in 1986 as he embarked on a ten-year career as professional discus thrower. 

Vésteinn describes himself as an “okay” discus thrower who competed in many Grand Prix 1 and Grand Prix 2 meets as well as four Olympics and five World Championships. He estimates that he averaged around 59.50m-61.50m throwing in stadiums. 

Vésteinn regularly competed against the likes of Jürgen Schult, Wolfgang Schmidt, and Lars Reidel, and treasures the memory of facing–and defeating–Al Oerter twice. 

He often struggled, though, to throw his best in the biggest meets and though he surpassed the sixty-five-meter mark many times during his career with a PB of 67.64m in 1989, his best finish in an Olympics or World Championships was eleventh in the Barcelona Games.

“I was a good thrower when it came to throwing far,” he says now, “but I was not a very good performer at the most important competitions.”

That eleventh-place finish in Barcelona still rankles him, as Cuba’s Roberto Moya took the bronze medal with a rather pedestrian 64.12m. Anything close to his PB would have put him in contention for a medal, but Vésteinn’s best throw in the final was 60.06m.

Looking back, Vésteinn attributes his difficulties at the Olympics and Worlds to a lack of confidence. “I came from a very small country with no tradition of winning any medals. People in Iceland never really expect to win anything. In America, winning is everything. You don’t celebrate a silver or bronze medal. It was different in Iceland. I trained hard and I was pretty good, but I never believed I would get a medal.”

After competing at the 1996 Olympics, Vésteinn decided that it was time to move on to a new career. Inspired by the memory of two youth coaches who’d had a huge impact on him (“They were my idols,” he says) and determined to pursue the Olympic success that eluded him as an athlete, he found work as a personal trainer and began coaching a young Icelandic discus thrower named Magnús Hallgrímsson. 

Under Vésteinn’s tutelage, Hallgrímsson achieved a PB of 63.09m and qualified for the 2000 Olympics, but his career was derailed by injuries. “I did a lot of mistakes with him,” Vésteinn says looking back. “He should have broken my Icelandic record, but I coached him way too hard.”

Vowing not to repeat those mistakes, Vésteinn hoped that Fate would bring him an athlete he could mold into an Olympic medal contender.

Fate complied on November 1st, 2000, when out of the blue he received a phone call from an Estonian sports journalist named Raul Rebane. 

“You don’t know who I am,” Raul told him, “but I think I have someone for you. A young man with big hands!”

The young man’s name was Gerd Kanter, and meeting him would change the course of Vésteinn’s life.

Next: Vésteinn and Gerd Kanter conquer the discus world.

Vésteinn Hafsteinsson webinar on April 30, 2020 at 12:00 CST

Vésteinn Hafsteinsson is one of the world’s great throws coaches. He guided Gerd Kanter to discus gold at the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics. He guided Daniel Ståhl to discus gold at the 2019 World Championships. His current group of throwers also includes Fanny Roos (shot put PB 19.06m) and Simon Pettersson (discus PB 66.93m).

During this free webinar, Vésteinn will break down the technique of Daniel Ståhl on a 72.95m foul he made at the Stockholm DL meeting in 2019. Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout the presentation.

As an added bonus, attendees will be given a discount towards purchasing access to Vésteinn’s Coachtube instructional videos. Info regarding those videos can be found here.

As still another bonus, a drawing will be held for one lucky attendee to receive free access to Vésteinn’s videos.

Don’t miss this remarkable opportunity to learn from an amazing coach. Register here.

Joe Frontier to Present on “Choosing a Technical Model for Your throwers” Free Webinar April 23

When I first started coaching, John Godina was the best shot putter in the world, so I assumed my job was to get my athletes to throw like him. Technically, I mean. The way he set up at the back. The timing of his right leg sweep. The narrow power position.

Then Adam Nelson came along with a technique that looked nothing like Godina’s.

Nelson was followed by Reese Hoffa, who turned out of the back on his left heel. Then came Christian Cantwell, who seemed unable to bend his knees.

Each of these gents threw twenty-two meters and won major championships with very different technique.

And remember the old saying “many roads lead to Rome”? The same could be said last summer of the medal stand in Doha which Joe Kovacs, Ryan Crouser and Tom Walsh each ascended by putting their own unique spin on the spin technique.

So, what is a coach to make of this? How, when watching all these throwers launch bombs in a variety of ways, do we decide which of their technical quirks are worth emulating?

On Thursday, April 23rd at 7:00pm CST, Joe Frontier, the outstanding throws coach at Madison (WI) Memorial High School and the Madison Throws Club, will help us sort this matter out when he appears on the next webinar.

Joe’s presentation will be titled “Choosing a Technical Model for Your Throwers.” In it, he will show us how to differentiate between the sound fundamentals exhibited by world class throwers–fundamentals that we should encourage our athletes to imitate–and the idiosyncrasies that only a human of truly freakish ability could get away with.

Joe is one of the most successful throws coaches in the country today, and I encourage you to take the opportunity to learn from him. Attendees may submit questions throughout his presentation. Register here.

In his spare time, Joe also hosts a throws podcast featuring interviews with some of the best throwers and throws coaches in the world. Check them out at Throw Big Throw

Mike Gattone webinar “Teaching the Full Olympic Lifts” now available on Youtube

If you missed USA Weightlifting Director of Sports Performance and Coaching Education Mike Gattone’s recent webinar, you can now view it on Youtube.

Titled “Teaching the full Olympic lifts: How to do it and why you should,” this webinar features Mike making the case for going beyond just using power clean and power snatch for your athletes and teaching them the full movements.

Mike talks about how the Olympic lifts can be used to help athletes increase their power output, and how the full version of the lifts can accentuate those gains.

He also provides a simple progression for advancing your athletes beyond power cleans and snatches towards the full lifts.

This webinar is loaded with insights drawn from the decades Mike has spent training athletes from a great variety of sports. Any coach interested in helping their athletes build explosive power will find it useful.

CSCCa Credit available for Thursday’s Mike Gattone webinar on Teaching the Full Olympic lifts

On Thursday, April 16th at 7:00pm CST, USA Weightlifting Director of Sports Performance and Coaching Education will be the featured presenter at a free webinar on “Teaching Athletes the Full Olympic Lifts.”

Mike has extensive experience in the field of sports performance. A hammer thrower in college, he has trained athletes from many different sports, including professional basketball players during a stint working under Al Vermeil with the Chicago Bulls.

In his current role at USAW, Mike has played a big part in transforming the US into a budding powerhouse in the sport of Olympic weightlifting.

His presentation is meant for any coach trying to help athletes maximize their explosive power. Mike will argue that the full Olympic lifts (as opposed to partial movements such as power cleans or power snatches) offer the best chance for an athlete to enhance their explosivenss.

During this presentation, attendees will be allowed to submit questions through the Q & A function, so this is a rare opportunity to pick the brain of one of the world’s best lifting coaches.

The Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association is offering .75 CEUs for this event.

Register here.

Discus Technique Webinar with Iowa throws coach Eric Werskey now on Youtube

Last night, Iowa throws coach Eric Werskey broke down the NCAA Championship discus technique of Laulauga Tausaga in a live webinar. That presentation is now on Youtube.

If you coach the discus, you’ll want to check it out, as Eric provided some very interesting insights on technique, training, and the art of coaching.

You can find the video of that webinar here.

Also, check out the @iowa_throws instagram page, as after the webinar Eric posted some additional vids of Lagi’s throws.

Also, check out this post in which Coach Werskey breaks down Lagi’s technique in written form.

Also, if for some strange reason you seem to have a lot of extra time on your hands, check out the vids of these previous webinars:

Teaching Olympic Lifts to Throwers: Helpful Hints for Throws Coaches who Double as Strength Coaches” by Mary Theisen-Lappen the throws coach at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and a world class Olympic lifter herself.

Approximately 3 Essential Discus Drills” by Kip Gasper and Cody Foerch, the outstanding throws coaches at Deerfield (IL) High School.

The Rotational Shot Technique of Danniel Thomas Dodd” by Kent State throws coach Nathan Fanger.

Coaching High School Throwers” by another fantastic high school throws coach working in the Chicago suburbs, Jim Aikens.

Building a Great High School Throws Program” by Sean Folkes who is now coaching at Rochester University.

Discus Technique” by still another fine throws coach from suburban Chicago, Roger Einbecker.

Rotational Shot Put Technique” with Jeff Rebholz, who gave this presentation when he was coaching at Towson, but has recently built an outstanding throws program at Illinois State University.

Glide Shot Putting” with me, Dan McQuaid.

We also have a course on Coachtube called “Youth Discus Training in the German Athletics Federation” by German men’s national discus coach Torsten  Lönnfors.

I hope that will help keep everyone busy!

Free Webinar April 16 with Mike gattone of USA Weightlifting: “Teaching your athletes the full Olympic lifts–how to do it and why you should”

Mike Gattone is one of the best weightlifting coaches in the world. He trained gold medalist Tara Nott, studied the art of sports performance under the auspices of the great Al Vermeil, and in 2017 teamed with all-time great lifter Pyrros Dimas (that’s them in the photo) to lead an American renaissance in the sport of Olympic lifting.

More importantly, he threw the hammer in college.

This combination of experiences has made him uniquely qualified to weigh in on some of life’s great questions. Should throwers rack their cleans? Should they snatch? Should they do full, Olympic-style cleans and snatches?

Mike has some strong, evidence-based opinions on these matters that he will share in a free webinar on Thursday, April 16th at 7:00pm CST. It will be titled “Teaching the full Olympic lifts–how to do it and why you should.”

Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout. Don’t miss this chance to learn from a fantastic coach.

Register here.

Free Webinar “Coach Eric Werskey breaks down the NCAA Championship Winning discus form of Laulauga Tausaga” coming Thursday, April 9

As a thrower, Eric Werskey trained under the auspices of two of America’s greatest coaches–Jerry Clayton and Art Venegas. As a coach, he has followed in their footsteps by mentoring outstanding throwers, first at Cal State Northridge then at the University of Iowa where he guided Laulauga Tausaga to the 2019 NCAA title in the discus.

In this webinar, Coach Werskey will break down Laulauga’s winning throw, and in the process reveal his approach to building championship caliber discus technique.

This presentation is free, and attendees will be able to submit questions throughout. It will take place on Thursday, April 9th at 7:00pm CST.

Register here!

Coach Mary Theisen-Lappen webinar “Teaching Olympic Lifts to Throwers” now on Youtube

In this webinar, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh throws coach and world class Olympic lifter Mary Theisen-Lappen details her system for teaching the Olympic lifts to her throwers. She has developed a step-by-step approach that can be applied by coaches of any sport who would like to include these lifts in their athletes’ program.

Mary is a fantastic lifter and coach. If you are interested in improving your approach to coaching the platform lifts, this vid is definitely worth a look.

free Webinar with Mary Theisen-Lappen: “Teaching Olympic Lifts to throwers” coming April 2nd at 7:00pm CST

Register here to be part of a free webinar with University of Wisconsin Oshkosh throws coach and world class Olympic lifter Mary Theisen-Lappen.

Mary’s presentation will be titled “Teaching Olympic Lifts to Throwers – Helpful Hints for Throws Coaches that Double as Strength Coaches.”

If you are a throws coach who is also tasked with training your athletes in the weight room, you’ll find this session invaluable.

It will take place Thursday, April 2nd at 7:00pm CST. Attendees will be able to submit questions throughout.