The 2-hour High School Practice

There are so many topics I could get into regarding High School practices and the excessive amount of time that is usually wasted doing unnecessary things, however I will try to stick to just structuring a practice here. The foremost, undisputed, most critical part of a throws practice is that the throwers take full throws! Nothing takes a higher precedence over actually throwing. It takes thousands if not tens of thousands of full throws for someone to be comfortable in their technique. More than anything else, having good technique and being comfortable in your throw is the most important component to throwing far.

With that being said, the first question a coach needs to figure out is if the typical 30 minute running based team warm-up is something the throwers have to be apart of. If I had my wish, I would have the throwers report straight to the circle, do a 5-10 minute thrower specific warm-up and starting throwing as soon as possible. After all, taking light throws can be an adequate warm-up for a throwing session itself. If this is not possible, in the team warm-up make running less of a priority for throwers, and mobility exercises more of a priority.

The second question considers the amount of throwers and the number of circles available. Can each thrower take 20-25 throws in an hour? If they can that’s great, and means your school has adequate facilities for the size of the team. Typically this is possible if you have 8 or less throwers per circle, but you will need to make sure the circle is always full. After the first hour of throwing, you can use the extra time to either work on another event, special strength exercises, or go to the weight room. The average 3-month per year high school thrower should get 2-3 days in the weight room per week, while spending the rest of the time focusing on throws. (I’ll touch on more committed throwers in a bit).

If your throwers cannot get 20-25 throws in during an hour long session, you will have to get much more creative in your practice set up if a 3-hour long practice is out of the question. Although you should try to convince your athletic director to make another circle. The solution is to bring the strength training to the circle. Have boxes, light dumbbells, single barbells, and medicine balls right at the circle. Most likely the average 3-month thrower will lack any significant strength development and will be fine with light weight or body weight exercises. The exception is usually football players, but they often have separate spring lifting sessions. One method of carrying out the strength training is to break the throwers into two groups, having the first group do strength exercises while the second group throws, and then after 45 minutes or so switch. The other option is to build exercises into the rotation of throws in the circle like a circuit. For example have them take a throw, then do some goblet squats, box jumps, and dumbbell throws before being ready to enter the circle again.

There is always the tough question of how to work in the throwers that are very committed to the sport and who need extra throws, coaching attention, and adequate lifting to achieve their goals. The best answer is that they will have to stay after practice or find another time or place to get the throws and lift in. DO NOT deny them extra work if they want to put it in! Coaching large groups is not easy and requires creativity, planning, and focus to carry out effectively. Remember that first and foremost, throwers need to throw!

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