by Jim Aikens, (Burlington) Central High School
Monday 2/19: The athletes had the day off today. I was in Dallas visiting my daughter. Funny, when I told them on Friday that they would have Saturday and Monday off I expected them to be upset that they weren’t practicing. Ha Ha!
Tuesday 2/20 & Wednesday 2/21: We really focused on doing the Unit turn drills sequence and the wheels. I had the athletes hold pvc poles right below their glutes. This was to keep the athletes from bending at the waist like they were starting to do. If they hold the poles right below their glutes they will not be able to bend over and they will be able to keep their back stacked better. I would have them alternate with putting the poles on their shoulders to help simulate the discus movements. This will help reinforce what we are going to do on Saturday, when we will be focusing on the discus. We then went through the glide sequence and had the athletes actually start gliding. As always, some really took to it with no problem while others struggled. We repeated the same workout on Wednesday that we did on Tuesday.
Thursday 2/22: Today we had a throw-off for the third position at the Huntley Invite meet. I still haven’t had anyone really separate from anyone else, so I think a throw-off is the only fair way to figure out who will throw at Huntley. It was a good opportunity to go over the warm up I wanted the athletes to do before they throw. I feel the warmup before a competition is vital. The physical portion is important, but even more so I think the mental focus it provides before a meet is even more important. If the athlete has a consistent warmup they perform before a meet it helps the athlete to mentally relax and be prepared for the competition. Some of the kids performed with PR’s and others did not, but everyone had the opportunity to compete and enjoyed themselves. Afterwards we had a rousing game of dodgeball. Man, do they like dodgeball.
Friday 2/23: We finally had a meet. We competed at the 14-team boys invitational at Huntley High School on Friday 2/23. It was a great competition with some excellent throws teams and some great throwers like Brad Warman from Barrington (57’ 5.5”), Matt Bilek from Fremd (55’ 5.25”), Will Rezny from Rolling Meadows (55’ 4.5”) and many others. It was a great learning experience for my throwers. I wanted them to see what it takes to be really good. I was really pleased with my throwers as I noticed that they were taking everything in and really watching the good throwers and the good teams to see what it takes to be great. Needless to say, we didn’t rock anybody’s world, but it was our first meet and we need to start somewhere. I want my athletes to understand what it takes to be great. I loved the comments of one of my throwers after the competition. “Coach I know you talk about these guys all the time and we see them on film, but until I saw the shot go that far I realized I really had no idea!” Some coaches might think that it would be demoralizing for the athletes to go to a meet like that. But, we had a good talk beforehand, and I made sure there were no Illusions by them on where they would finish and I was pretty close on that prediction. I talked to my throwers about how it is a process and how they will be the ones to start building the legacy of the Burlington Central Throws Program! As one of my throwers said, “Coach, at least we weren’t the absolute last throwers!” Overall it was a positive experience; the kids left excited and ready to work to get better.
Saturday 2/24: We had a discus practice today where we were throwing discs into the tarp that folds down in the wrestling shelf. I always like to start in the early season with bowling discs and just working on releases by performing the skimming drill. We then worked on trying to initiate the throw with the pivot of the right knee and hip and feeling the pull of the discus created by that separation. I call them partial powers. It is a power where you simply don’t wind back all the way, just a partial wind and then focus on the hip going first. The discus is more of a rhythmic motion, and is hard to start from a stationary position. We have done a couple of days with throwing mini med balls where it is much easier to start from a stationary position. I have them hold the med ball back so they look like the statue of discobolus. From that position they must initiate the throw with the pivot of the right foot and knee. After a few of those we give them a discus and wind it back up and high, like discobolus, and as soon as it reaches that position they initiate the throw with pivoting of the right foot and knee. This is all in one motion. I then had them do wheels. First, just holding the discus in their hand with the discus behind their hip. Wind the discus back, then perform the wheel to the power position. After a few reps of those, I had them wheel and throw. Finally, we went through the entire spin in six steps.
1st step: Wind over your right side so that your right hip and shoulder are in alignment.
2nd step: Wind over right and then shift weight to the left while keeping your left arm over your left knee.
3rd step: Wind and then shift and unwind to 90 degrees.
4th step: Wind and shift left and unwind to 180 degrees.
5th step: Wind and shift left and unwind 270 degrees. When you unwind to the 270 degrees finish with your weight on your right leg and your upper body and left arm pointing to the direction of the throw. Also, the right foot should be turned and on the ball of your right foot.
6th step: Wind and shift to the left, unwind 270 degrees and then perform a wheel and land in the power position. When performing the wheel the athlete needs to keep the right knee flexed and not raise their body up. Also during the wheel the athlete must keep their weight on the right leg and not let too much weight shift to their left leg.
7th step: After performing the 6th step the athlete would then throw a mini med ball.
By no means do I feel the athletes now know the discus throw. I feel this taught the athletes a good basic model of the discus spin. Now I feel the athletes have a decent frame of reference to build upon to develop their discus throw. Also, today the athletes realized why they have been doing all of those unit turns and wheels for the past three weeks.
Overall it was a pretty good week. Sorry I didn’t get this out sooner but stuff got in the way.