Dude is warming up with HUGE bombs in warm-ups. The discus is bombing, it’s going deep and the throw looks phenomenal. The thrower is taking SWEET South African throws that are going DEEP! This dude is going to be pushing the competition.
A few throws later, they switch to a full throw. The first throw is a little off balance but hey, they were dropping bombs with the South African drill, just wait a few throws for them to get their feeling back. Their mental frustration continues, will they be able to find that feeling of the South African? Is the South African an effective throwing drill?
Understanding the South African
It’s important to understand how the movement is being executed (right-handed thrower). The left leg is placed where it would be while exiting the back of the circle. The right leg will step forward into the center to initiate the movement. The right leg will ground and the left leg will move around the center portion of the throw and ground at the front. When the left leg grounds, it will be in the power position and the finish will commence
Some coaches will want the discus thrower to push off the left, others will want a slight pull off the left while the right steps forward. This can be the “sprint” portion of the movement as many coaches refer to it, leading to a high-speed movement through the throw.
Why DON’T We Use South African’s at ThrowsU...
For starters, let’s be clear that we actually do use the movement while holding bands or DB’s. This is a positional method used to enhance strength and feeling with various forms of accommodating resistance. By holding a band, the athlete might feel tension and positions through the ground that they may otherwise struggle to feel. This is an aspect of special strength that we try to cultivate.
1. Linear Step
Many coaches discuss the idea of a “linear drive” out of the back of the circle. One issue we have with this concept is based on physics. Rotational movement requires rotational energy to move in a linear fashion. The linear movement is the body moving forward but the energy is created from rotational movement. During the execution of a South African, the right leg does not SWEEP forward from a rotational position but instead, it steps forward in a linear fashion. This linear step can have a negative impact on the rest of the rotational aspects of the throw.
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2. Leads to a Higher Front Leg
The linear step out of the back of the circle in the South African triggers the response of a high front leg. This is OK for some throwers that use a technical model around a higher front leg BUT it can be very detrimental to throwers that utilize a lower left leg. Think about Alekna/Stahl/Harting/Perkovic, these throwers all use the lower left leg sweep which would be thrown off by executing a true South African.
2. Opposes the Technical System
The ThrowsU technical system is a SIDE/SIDE rotational system. The South African technical model opposes our system of technique. At ThrowsU, we coach the right leg going AROUND the left leg out of the back, then when the right grounds in the middle, the left leg goes around the right leg, and on the finish, the right side moves around the left leg. This linear movement opposes our technical model and can lead to a severe disruption in progress.
The South African can be a solid movement to use for strength gains to a point. However, it can lead to linear movement, a higher left leg to the front and it can oppose the entire technical system developed for progressive impact on the thrower. These are key attributes to effective technique and should not be scoffed at. Understanding effective movement is key to long term progress and viewing the South African with a critical eye is imperative for long term development.
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