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How I Broke the 17 Meter Barrier

I finally broke the 17-meter barrier in the shot at Penn State this past weekend. This was a huge accomplishment, as the shot put is not my priority. In this blog, I want to reflect on the competition and discuss the stratergies that went into accomplishing this huge feat.

Penn State National Open

I decided to join the GS Shot Putters again as they headed down to Penn State for their second competition. Fellow glider Luke Warning was the main reason I decided to compete again, as he wanted to run it back to see who was the best GS glider. I love a challenge, so I couldn't decline his request.

I didn't train for the shot put during the week of the competition. Actually, the only time I touched a shot was on the day before the competition, and I only took about nine stand throws. Even though I knew I had a bet with Luke, my motivation for the competition was low. But I didn't let that affect my training. That same week, I hit three big lifts. I snatched 122kg/269lbs (PR), behind the neck jerked 182kg/400lbs, and cleaned 152kg/335lbs.

I believe hitting it hard in the weight room primed my body to compete, physically and mentally. Now, I never advise athletes not to throw heading into a competition. I believe that is a stupid idea, especially if that is your main event, but I know I could hold my own into this meet because I was in such a good place physically and mentally.

First Flight Hero

For the second meet in a row, I was put into the first flight. I didn't let it bother me because I was throwing alongside Mason Woods, another GS thrower, but I knew I could and would toss something to get me into finals. My first toss was 16.61m. That toss led all of the first round. My second toss was a foul. My third toss was 17.00m on the dot. Heading into the circle, all I could hear was Luke scream, "Hold the shoulders back." I instantly knew what to do as soon as I heard him say that, and I went into that third attempt on a mission. As soon as I released the shot, I knew I had a big toss. Hearing the official read out the mark, saying "seventeen zero zero," all I could think was, "I DID IT."

That 17m toss was the best toss of that first flight and the fourth best against the second flight, allowing me to advance into finals. I competed in the finals, fouling on my fourth attempt and hitting 16.52m and 16.30m on the fifth and sixth attempts. At that point, I couldn't be bothered with the results in the finals because I had accomplished the goal I had set out before the indoor season started.

Reflecting On My Goals

Saying I had zero plan heading into that competition would be far from the truth. Before the first Penn State meet, I created a goal sheet that gave me a plan for breaking the 17-meter barrier. If you are interested in my process of goal setting, check out Goal Setting! The Roadmap to Success.

The three goals I set out to help me break the 17-meter barrier were:

  • Process: Unseat my hips out the back & Get the left foot to the toeboard

  • Performance: Make my first three attempts count

  • Outcome: Throw 17 meters

Establishing these three goals gave me a sense of direction while competing. Having a process goal gave me something to focus on outside of the outcome, but having a performance and outcome goal gave me that fire I needed to compete.

One might say, didn't you say you knew what to do after hearing Luke say to keep your shoulders back? I would agree with you, but knowing the task at hand to get me to that point was unseating the hips and getting the left to the toeboard. Without the two tasks, keeping my shoulders back would not have taken me so far.

Where to Go from Here?

Now that I've accomplished my goal, I've shifted my focus back to discus. With this year being an Olympic year, I'm doing everything in my power to earn a spot for the Olympic Trials in June! Getting these competitions in was a good experience for me, as it showed me that these processes heading into a competition actually work.

Jobs not finished, FIREMEUP - Sam Weeks

"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."

- Dane, Trevor, and Sam

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