Going to practice without a purpose. You head out to the circle, you just want to throw and throw and throw. After 2.5 hours of ripping bombs, you are fatigued and start to question yourself. How many throws did I just take? After some simple math, you come up with the notion that you just pushed out over 65 throws in a session. This sparks the question, “Is this really optimal for my training?”
How many throws should I be taking in a session?
Understand the Situation
When it comes to throwing, every thrower and their coach need to take a step back and realize their individual situation. Throws per session can be a complicated topic, especially when an athlete can dominate two or three different events. As the planning period is established, there needs to be a priority event that is backed up by a secondary event. When these events are laid out in advance, there becomes an easier way to analyze and establish throws per session!
Reps Upon Reps
Throwers love getting lost in their training. They go outside and the sun is beaming down on them, they play mental games, visualizing their last throw at the Olympics, dreaming of the emotions that champions like Michelle Carter felt when tossing that big bomb on her sixth throw. But there comes a point of diminishing returns. There is a point when too many throws can have a negative impact on performance and overall general feeling.
To comprehend the number of reps needed during a session, the athlete and coach should establish technical goals and analyze how well the athlete does with technical cues vs. simple reps. Do they take time to establish a rhythm and a feeling or can they get into the groove almost immediately? These are questions that need to be answered!
Situation #1: One Primary Event
If a thrower has one DOMINANT primary event and still competes in a secondary event, the situation regarding throws becomes much easier to understand. For instance, if there is a female shot putter that throws well over 45 feet in high school in the shot put but only throws about 125 feet in the discus, they are clearly a dominant shot putter. Their primary event is the shot put and their distant secondary event is the discus.
This becomes a fairly simple problem to solve. This thrower should focus on the shot put every single day in training. In an ideal scenario, they would throw 24-30 full throws for the shot put every single day that they just throw the shot. As they improve, their discus will slowly start to improve as well. Their discus training should be done 2-3 days a week. When they throw both the discus and shot on the same day, their training should start with the shot put and they should take 20-24 throws, followed by 18-24 throws in the discus. It’s important to recognize when fatigue sets in and when they start to lose feeling in their performance!
Situation #2: One Primary Event and Close Secondary Event
This situation can be very difficult to manage. This is something we have had to manage frequently with some of our top-end throwers. Take Sarah Marvin and Payden Montana for example. Both of these women are stud throwers with impressive marks behind their names. Sarah has thrown 51’2" in the shot put as a junior and 156’ in the discus. Payden threw 51’ in high school in the shot put while also smashing 165’ in the discus. This begs us the question, how often should they train both?
It’s important to grasp the concept of transfer of training. The next step is to analyze their mechanics and height and finally ask the throwers which implement they prefer training the most. This can be a challenge, fortunately, in our case with Sarah and Payden, they both enjoy shot put a bit more than discus and their build resembles a shot putter more so than a discus thrower.
The concept of transfer of training comes into play. In this instance, the shot putter should be utilizing the rotational technique. Their discus technique should closely mimic their shot put technique. It won’t be exact BUT it should have a close resemblance. This will enable proper transfer of shot put reps to the discus. This is how we have laid out their weeks of training, based around the concept that their rotational shot put movement can improve their discus throw.
Situation #3: Two Primary Events
This situation can be quite difficult to navigate but in most cases, the athletes are very special individuals who can handle volume and technical work. An athlete like Alyssa Wilson, one of the greatest high school throwers of all time, if not the greatest, had THREE primary events. She could launch the hammer, shot put, and discus. So how can a coach manage to hit their necessary goals?
This scenario becomes a dynamic situation. In most cases, it is still recommended to throw shot put prior to discus. From our experience, the size of the circle can come into play. It is much easier to transition from the smaller circle into the bigger circle than vice versa. One of the quicker ways to manage this scenario is to focus on shot put and discus on the same day while alternating the third event. Now, if the thrower just has two primary events, it can be a bit easier to manage. Their week can be laid out with one day of purely focusing on one event while having multiple other days focusing on both events. This can be challenging but if the discussion and expectations are clear, it can be relatively easy to manage!
The chart below is a simple way to manage a thrower who focuses on both the shot put and discus!
Analyzing ability is key to determining how “primary” an event might be for specific athletes. In our Ultimate Throwers Assessment, we help the thrower realize where their potential might be. It’s important to recognize and engage with both throws on a regular basis but ultimately it comes down to how much an individual enjoys specific movements. If they are more of a shot putter, focus on the shot put and if they are more of a discus thrower, focus more on the discus! This takes time to figure out and must be communicated and discussed with the athlete on a regular basis!
"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 and Trevor