We have all been taught as throwers to embrace the “block leg.” The verbiage has been consistent, throwers know what the block leg refers to and they know where the block leg is achieved. The non-dominant leg is grounded and then it “blocks.” But here-in lies the problem.
What is the “block” leg doing? What is it blocking? Is that a good way to view the actual mechanism that we want to be accomplished? Do we want to block on the finish of the throw? Does “blocking” lead to greater distances and better overall feeling?!?! Let’s find out.
What is it?!?!
To clarify further, the non-dominant leg on the FINISH of the glide, the discus rotation, and the shot put rotational technique is referred to as the block leg. The purpose of the movement is to focus on rapid acceleration throughout the circle, get to the front of the circle, and then hit a strong BLOCK. This will aid us in the finish and improve our distances...or so we have been told.
Many beginner and intermediate throwers have very difficult times describing the actual functionality behind the term “block leg.” This is an issue, in and of itself, because it’s very important for young athletes to have a comprehensive understanding of terminology and what the terms mean and how they apply to the overall movement. If a movement term is not clear, throwers may execute the movement poorly, solely because they don’t actually understand what needs to be accomplished!
1. Non-Dynamic Movement
The biggest issue is that the term “block” creates a non-dynamic movement in the athlete’s thought process. This is FALSE! Every part of the throw MUST be dynamic. The finish must be dynamic and when we think about the block, we think about the left leg just sitting there and doing virtually nothing and this could not be further from the facts!
2. Locked Front Leg
Many coaches even relate the non-dominant leg to the leg in the javelin throw. They inform their athletes that the front leg should be locked out. It should be stiff and a means of enabling the right side to blow past the left as it is locked out. Many like to use an analogy of hitting the brakes on a fast car, the car comes to a stop and the individual driving it will fly through the windshield. This is an ok analogy BUT the leg is not locked out, instead, it is semi-bent!
3. A lot of athletes ACTUALLY think they should be blocked off.
When athletes are blocked off, they are not able to transfer efficiently into the throw, they are unable to allow their weight and energy to get into the implement and this creates a hard fall off on the finish. By using the term block, we see a non-dynamic, blocked off position that is failing throwers throughout the world!
What should it be called?!?!
It should be referred to as the TRANSFER LEG! This is a term that can help rotational throwers tremendously. First, the thrower will TRANSFER their weight AROUND the left out of the back of the circle. This will set up an effective movement into the middle of the circle. Then on the finish, the weight and energy will transfer FORWARD into the transfer leg as the thrower finishes their throw. This semi-stiff leg will let energy transfer forward while they continue to hold double support.
The left leg is dynamic, it has enabled energy to transfer forward and it does NOT block off the thrower which also leads to a greater stretched position across the trunk! This leads to much greater feeling and much greater throws! The entire goal is to move energy OUT into the sector. The left leg should now be described as the transfer leg.
The term “block leg” is outdated and causes massive amounts of confusion when describing the functionality of the non-dominant leg. A better term that describes the MOVEMENT and principles behind the side/side based throwing technical model is the term “transfer leg.” This gives the athlete the idea of how energy must transfer around the leg and then transfer FORWARD into the sector on the finish.
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- Dane and Trevor