Throwing is full of people who at the first meet of the season say they want to throw 2 meters further and ask what they have to do to get there. Unfortunately for them, the answer is jump in a time machine, go back 8 months, and start training with the urgency of March. The best part of throwing is that it is hands down the least discriminatory school sport out there when it comes to raw talent. I don’t care who you are, if you train hard, you will improve, and usually by a lot. One of the worst parts about throwing, especially in college, is the amount of turnover in coaching. I am going to explain how I overcame the worst part of throwing by using the best part of throwing.
The short story of my collegiate career is that I went to a Division III school, Messiah College, lost my coach after my Sophomore year, but still increased my shot put from 16m to 18m by my senior year accumulating three All-Americans without a coach. I would bet 80% of NCAA throwers have had a coaching change at some point during their career. Part of this problem, I believe, is that the demand is higher than the supply for throwing coaches, and most of them are very poorly paid if at all, so young coaches with flexible lives are drawn to those positions. Once those coaches either aren’t as flexible, or realize they need to make money, they are pulled away. The other side is coaches who are making a good living coaching the throws at bigger schools, but still jump on the coaching carousel in search of a little higher wage or better location. I have to admit that I have contributed to this problem and have left two coaching positions. My excuse is that I am young and still don’t know what I want to do with my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still forced the athletes I left to deal with a coaching transition. Whether you are waiting for that coaching position to be filled, or if you simply aren’t going to get a coach and are completely on your own, here are some ways to make it work.
Find your Motivation
The great thing about an individual sport like throwing is that you don’t work hard because your coach is going to ream you out if you don’t, or because you would be letting down your teammates, but because you want to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. The absence of a coach shouldn’t change the fact that you want to be good. If you are a driven individual and have a goal that you want to accomplish, you will find a way to get there. I had two motivations my Junior year. First, I wanted to be an All-American. Secondly, I wanted to do it while training in ways I knew none of my competition was doing. It was kind of like the Rocky mentality or feeling of training. Going down to the circles by myself, putting on my shoes, and tossing while people are walking by wondering why I was yelling so loudly. Or trudging outside in 20 degree weather, shoveling out the circle and trying to take throws while not slipping on the ice. I also had this idea that I was going to take a video of myself from the same position every day I threw and make a video through the seasons. It was just a goofy idea like that which helped get me down to the circle some days. Odd as these things were, that sense of overcoming all obstacles and doing things that other people weren’t willing to do is something that motivated me to train hard and consistently.
Throws on Throws
“I don’t want to throw without a coach because I will create bad habits.” I hear this all the time, but it is one of the biggest disservices to yourself that you can make. First off, your technique is never going perfect, and whether you have a coach or not you will still have habits in your throw you will probably wish weren’t there. Secondly, there are tons of resources out there nowadays *cough*, like Throws U, where you can learn good technique and coach yourself. Thirdly, even if your technique isn't 100%, getting more feeling in the throw, and building strength through repetition of the movement is far superior to waiting in order to start off on the theoretical right foot. As a shot putter, you should be getting in at the very least 100 full throws a week, if not 150-200. Add 50 to that for discus throwers. The movement of throwing is unlike any other sport, and is very hard to recreate in the weight room. Taking lots of throws will help build strength specific to the rotational movement, help you gain familiarity with the movement, circle, and release, and force yourself to make your own technical corrections.
Still worried about whether your technique is perfect during throwing? Whether you are or not, getting stronger is going to help you come the season no matter what. If you are at the circle for an hour a day, get into the weightroom for an hour a day. Break up your week into 2 days of upper body and 2 days of lower body. If nothing else do 5 sets of 5 bench, incline, front squat, and back squat on each of those days. You can also find an old program from a previous coach or even ask the football of wrestling coach for their programs. The key is that you are doing at least something in the weightroom. I had the advantage of knowing Dane Miller back in college you gave me my lifting programs. Make sure to also do mobility and stretching everyday as well, even days you don’t lift. If you want to follow a structured program, we provide great options for any thrower without a coach.
Losing a coach sucks, but in throwing you can get away with it and still be successful if you are motivated, train hard and consistently, and make the best use of the tools that are at your disposal.
If you don’t have a coach and are looking for a training plan to get you through the off-season, check out our programs here!