Aikens on Throws Week 8: The End of Indoor Season

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by Jim Aikens, (Burlington) Central High School

NOTE: No blog coming April 1, 2018 due to Spring Break

 

Monday 3/12: Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you the story about the med balls and putting the black marks on the wall? week six blog link.  Today we spent the first part of practice cleaning the walls that we marked up that day.  I felt it was important to teach the athletes a little life lesson. I wanted to show them that it is okay if you make mistakes, the important thing is, is that you are responsible for rectifying your mistakes to the best of your ability.  I went out and bought a couple of spray bottles of Goo-Gone and scrub brushes with that and some rags and water, and I had the kids clean up all the marks.  This took about a forty minutes of practice time so, we didn’t get a complete workout in but it was decent enough.

This week I want to get back to focusing on a good power position and a solid stand throw.  After watching videos of my kids, almost all of them are getting into what I determine to be a proper power position and performing a good stand throw.  Keep in mind even if you have a good glide technique, 80 to 85 percent of your throw is determined by your power position and stand throw so it makes sense to work on the stand throw a large portion of your practice.  So, this week we are working the basics of the stand throw and the glide.  In the stand throw, I am having the athletes focus on the proper footwork, pivot, and push of the power leg as well as proper upper body mechanics. In the glide, I had them focus on proper set up in the back of the ring, forceful leg drives and hitting a proper power position with the power foot being in proper position and reactive. My plan is to repeat the same drill sequence every day this week. I need to continue to drill it so that the athletes will be able to perform these same techniques when they actually throw in competition. I know that will be a while.

 

Tuesday 3/13: Yesterday was a lower body weights day. The athletes’ form is getting better in the weight room. Today was an upper body focus in the weight room. While the athletes were lifting, I pulled them aside individually to go over the huddle technique video analysis with them in person. I wanted to make sure they knew exactly why we are working on the things we are in practice and how it will help their deficiencies in the competition throws.

For technique practice, we worked hard today. I drilled the crap out of the kids–I had them doing foot drills, 1-2 drills, power position stand throws focusing on driving and pivoting the power foot, proper release of the shot put, and proper hip action. We drilled for 45 minutes straight on these things. I gave them a short break and then we worked another 45 minutes on glide technique with back of the ring drills, “A” drills, Wall drills, glide, check, power drills and full glides. We had a tough weight workout yesterday, and today and I could tell the kids were really feeling it in their legs and everywhere else. They will sleep well tonight, that is for sure.

 

Wednesday 3/14:  I am really beating on the kids this week. We only have a meet on Saturday and then one next Thursday and then spring break. On both meets that we have I can only take the top four throwers out of the twelve that we have.  I plan on working hard up through spring break right through the remaining meets.  Next week, I plan on hitting discus hard with all the kids before we have spring break.

Today was much like Monday and Tuesday, except we went through the drills a little faster and spent more time working on complete glides and trying to fit it all together.  Below is the technique workout we have been doing for the last three days.

POWER POSITION & STAND THROW:

  1. 1. Check on Grip and proper alignment of shot and shoulders in Power Position.
  2. 2. Front facing torqued puts (shot elbow up, good release & good block arm action) https://youtu.be/QJzZG6Ba9B0
  3. 3. Blk. Heel down and Pwr. Heel up high. https://youtu.be/MnEfzKMTxTk
  4. 4. Blk. Heel down and Pwr. Heel up with grab side Hip Pop. https://youtu.be/k5z-arU-ogw
  5. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4’s Powers (feel the separation of lower and upper body on 4) https://youtu.be/na35lYXGwmM
  6. 1-2’s (2 x10 no shot with partner) (2 x 8 with light shot and partner) partner holds shot back
  7. a. On “1” leave head looking back, right heel up high and slight pivot, left arm out to the side. Should feel tension in the right side.
  8. b. On “2” Drive bring right hip around and drive from right foot. Bring left arm around and in for blocking action https://youtu.be/TZaXROQ9EB8
  9. 7. Slow motion powers with no throw, focus on getting right hip around and proper arm actions.
  10. 12 powers–go slow enough so you can perform a non-stopping 1-2

GLIDE MOVEMENT:

  1. “T” position into Gather Drill KEEP HIPS OVER RIGHT FOOT! https://youtu.be/oB4ojFALoaY
  2. “T” position into Gather Drill into left leg kick (attempt to keep stomach on thigh). https://youtu.be/_T4RG10HYQI
  3. From “A” position drill, pull right leg under with heel up. Do not raise up! https://youtu.be/hoZuxhUjqq0
  4. With Med Ball, from “A” position drill, pull right leg under with heel up.  Put the med ball.
  5. Full glide to perfect power position. (Finish looking back with right heel up) then perform a 1-2.
  6. Step Back powers w/med ball (focus on staying on right side and right heel staying up and pivoting)
  7. Full Glides w/med ball toss (focus on staying on right side and right heel staying up and pivoting)
  8. Full Glides w/shot toss (focus on staying on right side and right heel staying up & pivoting)

 

 

Thursday 3/15:  The weather was fairly nice today, high 40’s to low 50’s with not much wind, which is uncommon for Burlington Central–it’s always windy there.   Since it was so nice, we went outside and had a discus day.  It was still a bit chilly, so I bundled up a bit. It always amazes me how the athletes don’t dress for the weather. I told them yesterday that we would more than likely be going outside, so bring sweats and hats, etc…Of course, most of them didn’t bring appropriate clothes, but they handled outside just fine.  My main focus was to have the athletes get used to holding and releasing a discus correctly.  We had worked on powers with mini med balls and throwing the indoor discus into the net, but it always seems different when they actually throw the discus outside.  I went through the drill process that I like to use on the first day outside with the discus. Below is what we worked on today.

  1. Grip: to make sure they are holding correctly.
  2. Bowling: to work on developing the proper release. A proper release is vital for discus throwing so we worked on it a lot today.
  3. Toss in Air: again, to make sure the discus is being released off of the index finger and also to get them to see what it looks like when it is rotating correctly.
  4. Skimming: this is the final drill in the release series. The athletes left side (right handed thrower) is facing the throws area. They then work on tossing the discus lightly with trying to create a smooth release. These are not thrown very far.
  5. Pre-Block Powers: same as skims but now the athlete tries to work the hip drive into the throw.
  6. Powers to Stand Throw: I try to get the kids to swing the discus up and back before they begin the right foot turn and hip drive. I tell them to try to imagine the Greek statue of discobolus.

The final thing we did was a little competition. I had the athletes each throw one power for distance.  I stood out in the field and eyeballed the farthest throw. I had a marker and kept moving it if one throw was farther than another. As I said in earlier blogs, I feel little competitions like that are fun for the kids.  The winner of the competition was awarded a bag of skittles.  After working on discus I took the guys into the weight room and we had an upper body workout day.

Friday 3/16: Today was a split group work day. The girls had a meet, so I only had the guys. We have a meet tomorrow for four of our throwers, so they worked on shot put and the rest of the throwers worked on discus.  We were up on the shelf, so I had the shot putters throwing against the wall and the discus throwers throwing into the screen that separates the shelf from the gym. I had the discus throwers doing the same throws workout that they did on Thursday.  Their last couple of throws, I had them wheeling into a power throw. I used the I-pad with the delayed video app and let them video themselves and go back and look at how they threw. It was nice for them to have that immediate feedback.

While the guys were throwing discus, I mostly worked with the throwers who were competing on Saturday. We pretty much went through a shortened version of what we did on Monday-Wednesday.  We have had a great week of practices, and the entire group has been working hard.  We have drilled the same thing all week, and I think my kids are ready to throw some good PR’s tomorrow. It is our last indoor meet (I found out next Thursday’s meet is relays only) so I am hoping they can finish with a good meet so they can gain some good momentum for the outdoor season! I stopped at Sam’s Warehouse on the way to practice and bought some Protein Bars to share with the kids before practice as a little gift for their hard work.

 

Saturday 3/17: Today we had the Huntley last chance meet. It is a fun meet designed to give the kids one last opportunity to make a qualifying time for the Top Times Meet or just one last chance to compete before the end of the indoor season. I don’t have any throwers who can qualify for the Indoor State meet so for us it was one last opportunity to get a PR before the end of the indoor season. As I said earlier, I felt the kids were ready to throw far. Their technique is really coming along and their strength levels are improving.  Well, that is not exactly what happened. Only one of my four throwers got a PR, so that was disappointing. I really thought they were ready to light it up, but maybe that was only wishful thinking on my part. What I realized is that my kids are at the stage where they are able to do some pretty good technique things in practice, but when you get into the actual competition their technique doesn’t hold up. The only thing to do is to keep plugging away at it and eventually get to the point where their technique is drilled in enough that it will hold up in the heat of competition.  I had one athlete who got a PR by almost two feet. He is a freshman and put the shot 38’ 5” and this is only his third week throwing. I think he is going to be a pretty good one. Time will tell if he is willing to make the commitment it takes to be really good.

Well, it’s the end of the indoor season. Hard to believe it has been eight weeks.  I know before the season it seems like it is so long, but it goes so darn fast.  I think we have come a long way and have made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas in our throws program and with our throwers even if our distances aren’t as high as I was hoping for when the indoor season started. I feel we have laid the groundwork necessary to become a good throws program.  I have two juniors who have developed into outstanding leaders. I really believe for any program to be successful there has to be good leadership.  If no leaders develop from the athletes then the coach has to be the leader. The program can work with the coach as leader but it is never as good as when leaders develop from the athletes.  We have also developed a consistent lifting program with expectations and accountability.  We have also developed a solid foundational technique in the glide style of throwing. The kids will often talk to me about other throwers, who are good throwers, and technique questions, so I also feel the kids now have a sense of identity and pride in their program and that they want to be good.  We didn’t score a point in the indoor season, but the kids know that they are getting better and we will continue to improve and score some points in the outdoor season.

I will not be doing a blog next week. We have Spring Break coming up and I won’t have the entire throws squad around. Enjoy your Spring Break and we will see you in the outdoor season. I hope you have enjoyed the blogs so far.

 

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