One fairly common training tool used in the throwing world is overweight implements. I have my athletes use heavy shots and discs all of the time, and I thought it would be beneficial for me to outline why I use them with my athletes, and what to consider if you are thinking about using them with yours. For your reference, when I talk about heavy implements, I generally use these weights for each implement (men’s weights followed by women’s weights):
7K, 17lb, 18lb, 19lb, 20lb, 21lb, 10K
4.5K, 5K, 5.5K, 6K, 6.7K
2.25K, 2.5K, 2.75K, 3K
1.25K, 1.6K, 1.75K
The first benefit of using heavy implements is they can make technical corrections easier to accomplish. This happens for several reasons. The weight of the implement itself can slow down the throw initially, giving the athlete a better feeling for the motion. Overweight implements also give the athlete more neurological feedback as a result of their weight relative to the competition weights. As the athlete is moving through space, this neurological feedback is important for feeling the shot or disc all the way through the throw. Finally, and pretty simply, heavy implements can help a thrower catch the implement further back in the power position, which can achieve two things. Obviously, it is good for a thrower to establish the feeling of catching the implement further back in the power position. Also, if a thrower is lacking in their power position due to mobility, the pull of the overweight implement can assist the athlete in improving their specific mobility in this position, better allowing them to achieve a deeper catch.
The improved feeling of the implement through the throw can also help a thrower’s finish. Not only will the simple act of throwing a heavier implement strengthen the finish, but these implements really force throwers to finish longer. The heavy weights will show much more quickly than the competition weights if a thrower is not grounded long enough in the finish of the throw. There is no cheating these implements!
One common thought in the world of throws is that heavy implements make you stronger, and light implements make you faster. I feel as though this is not always true. Heavy implements can increase an athlete’s speed in the circle if they are used properly. In order to account for the increased weight of the implement, the thrower should learn to get off their non-dominant leg faster out of the back and be more rotational through the throw. This combination of events can really increase an athlete’s speed through the throw.
I really like to use overweight implements as benchmark tools with my throwers. I feel strongly that elite throwers have certain marks they should be hitting with heavy shots and discs before they can expect to hit the numbers they want with the competition weights. This may seem extreme, but I think that there are some points in a thrower’s career where they should almost exclusively throw the heavy implements until they hit those marks and then resume working the competition weights. There is just so much benefit to heavy implements and they are very often underutilized.