The Shot Put/Discus Progress Killer

The Shot Put/Discus Throw Progress Killer, and how to fix it now!

As the 2014 Track Season is fast approaching, about 90% of our Shot Put & Discus throwers are ready to open up next month with big PR’s. Here at Arete, our throwers have been working for months, many since last June. And typically our throwers open the season with huge personal bests.

And they should or I’m not doing my job as a private throws coach.


Arete Throws Nation. Rocky Fenton opened last season with a huge 27 foot PR in the Discus and added 11 more feet before the season was over.

But perhaps the biggest challenge that faces young throwers (and the coaches working with them) is the throwers beating themselves.

At this time there always seems to be a few kids that are  progressing slower than they should and its not due to the coaching, the program, the effort, but rather due to the throwers BEATING THEMSELVES.

Young throwers are typically eager to train but the concept of patience is a challenge. They want it NOW! which is part of our culture. Think about it, instant internet access. instant hot food from microwaves ( very bad by the way), and fast food ( terrible for athletes)!. I WANT IT NOW is the attitude that plagues a good training program… its easy to get low quality on demand, tough to get good quality right away… Good quality throwing takes time.. It DOESN’T happen instantly.

So as the season approaches,  coaches and throwers need to set-up the mind-set of success. Many of my athletes and throwers come to mind (the good and the struggling).

The Shot Put and Discus are Unnatural!

Many young shot putters and discus throwers have to learn that the Shot Put and Discus are unnatural movements, therefore, throwing becoming a good shot put and discus thrower is a process that requires patience and consistency.

“You are literally learning how to transform your body into a throwing machine” this was a very astute statement by my lovely wife Jennifer. And its was spot on.

You are not designed to put the shot or throw the discus, you must learn how to put your body into positions to throw these over weighted objects, a specific, way to throw them as far as possible.

How long does it take to make something unnatural become natural?

According to science, about 1000 times correctly to learn a new movement pattern. And when you realize there are  6 major parts of the throw, you need to realize that you will need to get in 6000 movements correctly to program your nervous system to throw technically correct. This takes time, and why many kids will never achieve their potential as throwers. Simply will never get in the right number of reps.

So as a coach or a young shot putter/ discus thrower, you have to understand the throwing process or YOU WILL KILL YOUR PROGRESS as a thrower.

This is the biggest challenge that plagues young throwers; they want it NOW!

when they have an off day, they get mad, and if they have a difficult few weeks where they don’t seem to be getting better, they get frustrated, and that is the Shot Put and Discus progress killer.  Frustration interferes with your ability to learn. Years ago, my good friend and mentor, renowned throws coach, Tony Ciarelli , taught me the zen story of “empty your cup”  when i was training with him back in 96 & 1997. I was thinking about too much.  the summary essentially goes like this.

“Like This Cup You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How Can I show You Zen unless you first empty your cup? Zen Story

Replace Zen with Shot Put/Discus Technique and you will see the same lesson applies.  Essentially, if your head (the cup) is filled with all the stuff you think you know and need to do, there is no more room in your head for the new information you need to move forward. I see this with coaches too.

In most cases young throwers and college throwers start to fill their cup too fast.  They don’t understand when to empty it. Its typically filled with, ” I just did what you told me , Why am i not throwing farther?” Answer– Because you are NOT doing what I told you; you are doing what you THINK i told you,  otherwise it would go farther. Doing it right requires focus on one thing, and only one thing at a time.. repeatedly.

Typically struggling throwers get stuck in this state of the overflowing brain due to the fact they think they should be throwing farther RIGHT NOW especially when they’ve been devoting a lot of time to training.  The cup starts overflowing with all sorts of things.

When every throws that isn’t up to the distance expectation they have, every throw is a failure in their eyes. The focus switches from “what was i doing in the ring?” to “how Far it didn’t go?”. This is especially frustrating because often technically better throws may not go farther at first, because the athlete has finally slowed down to throw more correctly, but since its not as far, its viewed as bad. THE PROGRESS KILLER IN ACTION! getting stuck on the wrong things vs what matters. And with some throwers its take longer to empty the cup. The standouts, empty it regularly and accelerate faster, but they too get their cup overflowing.

Filling your head with too much info leads to frustration and impatience which takes over and kills progress.

There are no short cuts. But there are techniques to create faster results, but they have to be learned and applied.

We cover this and a whole lot more in our Arete Throws Nation Online Membership program, in our up coming Certified Throws Coach Course, and every week here at Arete Throws headquarters in Orange County.

So if you’re throwing and feel like you’re stuck or that you should be throwing farther, step back, Regroup, and Empty your cup.

1) Learn to understand the process.

2) Take lots of reps at 80% of your maximum.

3) Know that some days will be off days, but when you  focus on one thing, and let go of what you think you know and just make room for new information or just less information, you are now doing what it takes to become a great thrower.

This is when i see my throwers make the next jump technically and in distance.  The thrower who literally focuses on one thing at a time. They realize that the position was better even when it doesn’t go far. They are concerned with the technique… Nothing else. If you do that the big throws come much faster and you conquer the very things that kill your potential for Big Throws.

Achieve Arete,

Coach Johnson

P.S. Let me know how this helps and what you think. Please comment below.

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