Aikens on throws: Preparing for the season

ITCCCA Coaching Blogs, Illinois HS Track & Field, Shot Put 1 Comment

by Jim Aikens, (Burlington) Central High School

My name is Jim Aikens and this is my first year coaching the throws (shot put & discus) at Central High School in Burlington, IL. Even though this is my first year coaching throws at Central HS it is not my first year coaching throws. I was the head track coach and a throws coach at Fremd HS. In Palatine, IL. I was honored to have some great athletes come out for the track team at Fremd and as a result I had some pretty good throwers, 4 state champions and 16 other state medalists.

This is not my first year coaching, but it is my first time writing a blog and my first time coaching at a brand new school with no established throws program. I was talking to some of my coaching buddies and they suggested that maybe I should chronicle my trials and tribulations of starting a throws program at a new school. So, here I am. I am going to attempt to write a blog recapping the week’s trials and tribulations. I have two friends who write blogs, Tony Holler from Plainfield North High School and Dan McQuaid from Wheaton North High School. They write these excellent blogs with great wit and good humor; unfortunately, you probably won’t find much of that here. But, I think you will find some interesting things in this blog. I plan on sharing everything that I do and go through, such as workouts, videos, drills, charts not to mention a few of my views on throwing and coaching.

So, what do you do first? I think I need to establish an Identity. These throwers have had a number of different coaches over the years and no real identity or sense of history. So, to help them with an identity I purchased some T-Shirts for my throwers. Nothing fancy, just something to call their own.

I also started a twitter account @BCThrows to give them an online presence, which seems like the thing to do these days. In order for me to more easily communicate with my throws group I started a “Remind” throws group. For those of you who don’t know what Remind is, it is a texting app that you can use to communicate with a large number of people all at once and it’s free (https://www.remind.com/). Finally, to help develop some sense of history I am currently developing a list of the top 15 performances in school history for both shot and discus for the indoor and outdoor seasons. As a result, I volunteered to do the same thing for all the events. This is going to take me awhile but I’ve got the time.

So, I think all the above mentioned things will help to start a solid program, but I think one of the biggest things will be to develop a rapport with the kids. The way you motivate athletes is individually–take time to get to know them. I have always tried to make a connection with all my athletes. I also need to develop a solid technical model for both the shot and discus throws and to be consistent in the teaching of these models. Finally, I wanted to develop a consistent practice plan so that the athletes know that there is a thought process and a plan that goes into practice and that every day is important. So, I came up with my basic weekly practice plan that appears below. This plan serves as the foundation for all of my future practices.

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
ACTIVE WARMUP

@ 2 x 20 meters

1. High Knees

2. Lunges/ arm up twist

3. Pickup papers

4. Carioca

5. Skipping arm swings

6. Backward run

7. Bear runs

8. Sprints

ACTIVE WARMUP

Hurdles 2 X’s

1. Over & Under’s

2. Lead Legs

3. Trail Legs

4. Walk Overs

5. Walk Over extends

6. Backward Walkovers

7. Straight Leg Over’s

 

ACTIVE WARMUP

@ 2 x 20 meters

1. High Knees

2. Lunges/ arm up twist

3. Pickup papers

4. Carioca

5. Skipping arm swings

6. Backward run

7. Bear runs

8. Sprints

ACTIVE WARMUP

Hurdles 2 X’s

1. Over & Under’s

2. Lead Legs

3. Trail Legs

4. Walk Overs

5. Walk Over extends

6. Backward Walkovers

7. Straight Leg Over’s

 

ACTIVE WARMUP

@ 2 x 20 meters

1. High Knees

2. Lunges/ arm up twist

3. Pickup papers

4. Carioca

5. Skipping arm swings

6. Backward run

7. Bear runs

8. Sprints

ACTIVE WARMUP

Hurdles 2 X’s

1. Over & Under’s

2. Lead Legs

3. Trail Legs

4. Walk Overs

5. Walk Over extends

6. Backward Walkovers

7. Straight Leg Over’s

 

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. Unit turns

90/180/270/360

2. Wheels

3. 360 Wheels

4. Wall Pivots

5. Riedel Pivots

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. Blk. Heel / Pwr. Heel

2. Blk. Heel / Pwr. Heel Hip Pop

3. 1, 2, 3, 4’s Powers

4. Kneel & Arm Strike

5. Stand & Arm Strike

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. HOH Hip Pop

2. MB Hip Pop 2 hand

3. MB Hip Pop step back

4. 1-2’s F & B

5. Bunge Discus F & B

 

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. Unit turns

90/180/270/360

2. Wheels

3. 360 Wheels

4. Wall Pivots

5. Riedel Pivots

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. Blk. Heel / Pwr. Heel

2. Blk. Heel / Pwr. Heel Hip Pop

3. 1, 2, 3, 4’s Powers

4. Kneel & Arm Strike

5. Stand & Arm Strike

EVERYDAY DRILLS X 10

1. HOH Hip Pop

2. MB Hip Pop 2 hand

3. MB Hip Pop step back

4. 1-2’s F & B

5. Bunge Discus F & B

 

PLYOMETRICS

1. Jump Rope 2 X 60 sec

2. Single Leg Hops 30

3. Box Drops 10

PLYOMETRICS

1. Mini hurdle hops 20

2. Stair Bounding 4 flights

3. Leg Switches 10

PLYOMETRICS

1. Jump Rope 2 X 60 sec

2. Single Leg Hops 30

3. Box Drops 10

PLYOMETRICS

1. Mini hurdle hops 20

2. Stair Bounding 4 flights

3. Leg Switches 10

PLYOMETRICS

1. Jump Rope 2 X 60 sec

2. Single Leg Hops 30

3. Box Drops 10

PLYOMETRICS

1. Mini hurdle hops 20

2. Stair Bounding 4 flights

3. Leg Switches 10

TECHNIQUE WORK GLIDE

Drills & Throwing

TECHNIQUE WORK

Drills & Throwing

TECHNIQUE WORK

Drills & Throwing

TECHNIQUE WORK

Drills & Throwing

TECHNIQUE WORK

Drills & Throwing

TECHNIQUE WORK

Drills & Throwing

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Root hogs

2. Front Planks

3. Side Planks

4. Twisted Sit ups

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Statue Squats

2. Fingertip Pushups

3. Single leg Deadlifts

4. Back Extensions

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Root hogs

2. Front Planks

3. Side Planks

4. Twisted Sit ups

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Statue Squats

2. Fingertip Pushups

3. Single leg Deadlifts

4. Back Extensions

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Root hogs

2. Front Planks

3. Side Planks

4. Twisted Sit ups

STRENGTH WORK 30 S

1. Statue Squats

2. Fingertip Pushups

3. Single leg Deadlifts

4. Back Extensions

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. Overhead Pass

2. Chest Pass

3. Hammer Toss

4. Granny Toss Height

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. Over back Toss

2. Granny Toss Front

3. Discus Toss

4. Shot Press

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. MB Floor Slams

2. ½ kneel Rot. Throws

3. Squat & Press

4. Wood Choppers L & R

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. Overhead Pass

2. Chest Pass

3. Hammer Toss

4. Granny Toss Height

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. Over back Toss

2. Granny Toss Front

3. Discus Toss

4. Shot Press

MED BALL DRILLS X 10

1. MB Floor Slams

2. ½ kneel Rot. Throws

3. Squat & Press

4. Wood Choppers L & R

WEIGHTS

Bench, Squats, Push Press

WEIGHTS

Cleans, Snatches

FUN STUFF WEIGHTS

Bench, Squats, Push Press

WEIGHTS

Cleans, Snatches

FUN STUFF
FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Arm & Trunk Rotation

2. Pectoral Stretch

3. Seated Torso Stretch

4. Lying Leg Cross-over

5. Hamstring Stretch

6. Leg Swings

FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Calf Stretch

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

3. T-Spine Rotation

4. Seated Scap. Slide

5. Quadruped Shoulder Circles

FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Arm & Trunk Rotation

2. Pectoral Stretch

3. Seated Torso Stretch

4. Lying Leg Cross-over

5. Hamstring Stretch

6. Leg Swings

FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Calf Stretch

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

3. T-Spine Rotation

4. Seated Scap. Slide

5. Quadruped Shoulder Circles

FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Arm & Trunk Rotation

2. Pectoral Stretch

3. Seated Torso Stretch

4. Lying Leg Cross-over

5. Hamstring Stretch

6. Leg Swings

FLEXABILITY 30 SEC

1. Calf Stretch

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

3. T-Spine Rotation

4. Seated Scap. Slide

5. Quadruped Shoulder Circles

 

The Active Warm Up: I feel this is an important part of the workout. The athletes have been sitting in class all day absorbing massive amounts of knowledge. I am sure by the time they get to me many of their muscles (glutes, quads, psoas and other important muscle stabilizers and drivers) have shut down. I want to get their muscles activated and ready to do some work. I use two types of active warm ups. The 2 X 20 meters is to help develop sprint mechanics and develop athleticism. The Hurdles 2 x’s is to help develop hip mobility and hip strength. Both of these warm ups will also help to develop athleticism.

Everyday Drills: These drills are key to developing the foundation for the techniques the athletes will be using to throw the Shot Put and Discus. These drills help to develop the balance needed in the back of the ring and train the proper positions used in the throws. I go over three different sets of drills with each set performed twice a week. By performing these drills over multiple weeks the athletes will hopefully develop the skills necessary in the ring.

Plyometrics: This phase of the workout tries to develop the final explosive reaction of the athletes. Most of the time I am dealing with really large athletes, so I try not to have them drop down and land from anything over 12 inches. I know some coaches have athletes dropping from much higher, but I feel that is an accident waiting to happen.

Technique work: This is the time when kids will begin to develop their technique through drills and actual throws. (This is one of the most important parts of practice)

Strength Work: I use this part of the practice to develop overall body strength and core stability. I also use this portion to develop specific areas of body strength, such as wrist, fingers, core and forearms.

Medicine Ball Drills: Early in the season I will use heavier med balls to help develop specific throwing strength. When I get more into the competition phase, I will then use lighter weight to help the athletes develop speed.

Weights: This is the area of training I know the least about. I have been blessed in the past to work with another coach who handled the weight room duties for me, but this year it’s all on me. Essentially, I will be lifting weights 4 days a week employing the main lifts of squats, bench, cleans and snatch. We will lift each sequence twice a week, and I am focusing early on developing strength over power.

Flexibility: This is an often overlooked area of practices. The flexibility section helps to get some of the waste products out your blood stream and aid in your recovery for the next day’s workout. Also, stretching helps to increase range of motion, reduce injury, and improve athletic mobility.

 

In closing, I have some general thoughts about coaching the throws I would like to share with you.

  1. Drills should be performed with both your dominant and non dominant sides. This will assure that you don’t overdevelop one side, creating an imbalance. This also helps the learning process since you are forced to learn a skill with your non dominant side.
  2. If you want to get good at throwing you need to throw–a lot!
  3. If you are blessed to have a lot of throwers use the more experienced athletes to work with the younger athletes (divide them up in groups). I have found this to be the best method to work with large groups. It teaches leadership and forces the group leaders to really understand the technique.
  4. If you do not have leaders and have a lot of throwers, below are two ways I have also worked with larger groups.
    • Treat the group as if it is a throws clinic and have all the athletes do the same drill at the same time (non-throwing drill). Throw the implements in waves, 4-5 at a time. (throwing drill)
    • Have the group perform a circuit of drills (for safety us med balls)
  5. Do not coach your own insecurities. At a competition, most of the time what you say will give the athlete more to think about and mess them up. Do your coaching in practice not at the meet (unless you are using the meet more as a practice).
  6. Be positive! Positive coaching is a powerful thing in life and on the field. I like how Coach Torsten Schmidt Lonnfors from Germany says it: “There are no mistakes, just potential”.
  7. When working technical improvement of the throw, only focus on one technical aspect at a time. Do not confuse athletes with multiple technical aspects at one time. You as a coach will see many things during the throw that need correction, but if you focus on more than one technical aspect you will confuse and frustrate your athlete.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Both in your long term coaching (that’s how I learned) or in your day-to-day coaching. I often bring other coaches on the staff over to hear their opinion on my athlete’s technique. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.

 

Well, thanks for reading my first blog. I hope you got something out of it.

Jim Aikens

 

 

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