While watching video of the European Indoor Championships on Macthrow I had some more thoughts regarding the left arm at the back of the ring in the rotational shotput.
In my last post, I praised the technical excellence of Dan Block for the way he controlled his left side when setting up to run the ring. While watching the Euros I noticed that, unlike Dan, Alena Kopets of Belarus totally yanked her left side out of the back and still put 18.85m to snag the bronze. Let’s take a look.
Here is Kopets beginning to unwind. She is more upright than Dan at this point, but her left arm is long and aligned over her left leg, so let’s reserve judgement.
Here’s where the trouble begins. Kopets has yanked her left arm, thus pulling her head and shoulders ahead of her lower body (notice how far past her right hip the shot is at this point) and, were she one of my throwers, dooming herself to a weak, probably-out-of-bounds-to-the-right-but-not-worth-saving-anyway throw. Once the average young thrower hits this postion (left arm high and past the plane of the left leg, shoulders and head facing down the right foul line while the right foot remains on the ground) it is game over.
Here’s where Kopets begins to show us the difference between a world class athlete and a normal human being. Notice that her left knee has dropped in the direction of the right foul line and her left arm is still visible on–from our perpective–the right side of her body. She has successfully halted the rotation of her left side and given her right leg a chance to move ahead and lead her into the throw.
By this frame, Kopets has completely righted the ship. She has attained perfect balance with her weight sitting on her left knee and hip, her wide right leg is sweeping ahead to lift her out of the back of the ring and the shot is behind her right hip.
Skipping ahead to her finish, one can see that this turned out to be quite a successful throw. She has hammered her right hip against a strong left side block, and is tall, strong, and balanced right in the middle of the toeboard. There is no way she could have finished in this postition had she not regained her balance coming out of the back.
Here’s the thing, though. If you coach young putters, you can’t afford to be fooled by Kopets’ ability to salvage a great throw from a lousy start because it is highly unlikely that your athletes will be able to emulate her. I’m going through this right now with a couple of my rotational guys. I was not strict enough with them early in the season about controlling their left side out of the back, and it has been very difficult to get them to stop yanking their left side now that the habit has become ingrained.
Hopefully we can iron that out and set ourselves up for a successful outdoor campaign!
Here’s the vid of Kopets.
Let’s hope for some nice weather soon.