You hear the term “block” used frequently but the premise and idea is abstract. What does “block” mean? What does it refer to? Is it in reference to the arm? The leg? This is an area of consistent confusion, not only amongst throwers but even amongst throws coaches!
Through various discussions and research, the term “block” was used to describe the weak side leg and arm when working through a discus spin or glide in the shot put. The original usage of the word was to describe a holding position or a stopping position as the dominant side would shift past the stopping position.
The greatest discus thrower ever, Al Oerter, described it as “sticking” the left leg at the front while the shoulders would square up to the sector and the right shoulder would rip across in the finish. This sticking action was done through a flat left foot.
The question becomes, how does the block leg get there?
Action of Block Leg
(ThrowsU will create a better term...any ideas?)
For the purpose of this article, the block side will refer entirely to the left leg of a right-handed thrower. This will make it easier for understanding and over 85% of throwers are right-handed (sorry Lincoln and Noah and Jacob Lemmon).
We will be referring specifically to the movement of the left leg during the SPIN in the shot put.
Out of the Back
As a shot putter winds in their spin, they will load the left leg and then shift their energy to the right side, generating a sense of tension and stretching. The thrower will push their chest over their left leg after the winding period, they will rotate the left side, then sweep with the right leg.
When the right leg passes the left knee or block leg, the left knee will be facing the center or left of the sector and will drop toward the front. At this point, the right leg will sweep to the center and the thrower will “pull” off the left leg by having an ACTIVE left ANKLE joint but a passive left knee!
This is THE hardest point of the throw. Many throwers in the spin feel the need to extend their left knee to get off of the left out the back. Instead, keep the knee slightly bent while the ankle flexes forward!