It's the first day of practice, you can't wait to start off the season right getting strong and tossing huge throws, but then Coach walks up and says that today everyone is going to run to get back in shape for throwing. Your heart sinks into your stomach, this isn't what you signed up for! You're a hard worker and don't often complain so you bite your tongue, but after the first week of running, sprints, endless drilling, and even a pool workout, you still haven't picked up an implement!
What is wrong with this picture? What does getting in shape really mean and how is it applied to throwing? We've had tons of throwers come to us with a similar story questioning why they have to run to be better at throwing. It turns out we have the same question. Read on for our answer!
A Product of Track and Field
I'm not going to dance around the issue. Throwers should not be running long distances (800m+), and really should not be running much at all, especially if it interferes with the critical aspects of throws training. But why do so many throws coaches and head coaches insist on having their throwers run?
One theory is that throwing is apart of track and field, and in the name of team unity and lack of specialization, coaches simply transfer the standard practice and ideals that align with the majority of events to the throws. Simply said, if it's good for a sprinter it's good for a thrower. They are both power athletes, right? The truth is that if throwing was a completely separate sport, the average throws program training would look very different since coaches would not be looking at the throws through the veil of the other events. How many Olympic Weightlifters do you see going for 2-mile runs to get in shape for the snatch and clean and jerk? If we are to develop the best possible training for throwers, their training must be approached from a fresh and unbiased perspective to be crafted specifically for their needs.
So you're not a sprints coach training the throwers... Here are a couple of other reasons for running we have heard and our responses:
Statement: "Throwers need to be fit"
We don't disagree with this statement, but what is your definition of fit? Throwers need to be strong and powerful (muscular) and able to move quickly in the circle (strong in relation to their body weight). If a thrower is too heavy that they cannot move fast in the circle and have poor mobility, their distances will suffer and their weight should be addressed (read on to find out how). However, not every thrower needs to have a six-pack and be able to run a 5-minute mile. They need to be able to throw far, and measures of fitness or endurance should be drawn from their ability to handle throws volume and last through high volume strength workouts, not their ability to run a 5k.
All you need to do is take a look at the best throwers in the world. Would you tell Reese Hoffa or Daniel Stahl that they would throw further if got more fit and lost a little more weight? Their ability to bench and clean over 200k is a good indication of their fitness for throwing.