Not every high school thrower has the luxury of throwing indoors in a nice, warm, gymnasium. In fact, most high school throwers struggle to get their reps done during the winter season. Maybe it’s too cold, the circle is covered in snow, complacency settles in and just like that, the winter season has passed and most throwers only average one session a week of indoor drills.
How important is throwing outside while it is cold? Is it a make or break for big gains? Does it really tip the scales toward the motivated thrower? How does it transfer to competition?
1. Throwing outside is brutal...but rewarding.
No one ever said throwing outside in 15 degree Fahrenheit weather is overly enjoyable. However, it is something that will mold your athletic personality. It will make you “tough.” It will develop the intangibles to conquer your dreams and when you look back in May and June and you are dropping monster PR’s, the throws sessions in the cold will define who you have become! Don’t worry, there is always a positive effect that makes you feel like Rocky, training outdoors while your opponents are inside napping by the fire.
2. Best way to train for the discus during the winter time...spin outside!
Over the years I have worked with dozens upon dozens of elite discus throwers. One story in particular always comes to mind in regard to discus training. That is the story of Evan Arnott. Evan was the first REAL DEAL discus thrower I coached. He went 195’10 and was skinny and weak! BUT, he knew how to work. During his senior season, the weather was atrocious. It was cold and snowy FOREVER and we were not able to get more than three discus sessions in during the winter. Fortunately for us, Evan was a spinner and we worked on his spin in the shot over and over again. He added 9 feet to his shot put PR just by staying focused on it throughout the winter. But that’s not the only thing, Evan PR’d his discus by 22 feet at his first outdoor meet his senior season...JUST from throwing the shot put throughout the winter. He visualized and worked on his discus movement, training for the even wasn’t optimal but the hard style of work is what defined his senior season.
3. Prepare for the cold and ingrain positive habits to prepare more consistently later in the season.
A quick lesson behind cold based training is the amount of preparation, both physically and mentally that goes into the training sessions. There is the technical preparation. What are the precise cues to focus on while warming up for the session. The warm up becomes more intense, it is ideal to get a sweat going before heading outside. That means there is more focus AND more technical thought during the warm up. On top of that, some athletes will bring hot water, hot chocolate or steamy coffee to the circle to ensure extra warmth during training. Preparation through clothing also becomes a factor. Throwers who train outdoors will check the weather more, they’ll prepare for the conditions, purchase rubber insulated gloves and this will carry over to the spring season when it’s cold and rainy!
4. Become a master of conquering distractions.
When it’s cold, it’s easy to get distracted by cold feet, cold hands, cold ears, a frozen shot, snow in your face, you name it, it is very easy to allow distractions ruin your session. But over time, this skill gets developed and throwers learn how to handle the annoying side of track and field. They learn how to handle training when no one is watching, they learn how to handle bad weather and they learn how to shut off the fact that they can barely feel their hands! This leads us directly into the next point….
5. Does it really transfer to competition?
ABSOLUTELY! If you can master distraction training and improve preparation all while getting a bit “tougher,”the odds are high that you will be able to compete at a higher level. Last year Rachel Fatherly spent most of her sessions throwing in the snow or cold. RARELY would she have throwing sessions with distances over 17 meters. Did that bother her? NOPE. She went to Indoor US Nationals and got 5th in the entire country, dropping 17.95 at the biggest indoor meet of the year. The process of cold training had paid off, she worked through any issues and was well prepared to have a breakout season.
Cold training is more than just making you feel tough. It’s about the big picture. It’s about more focused training, it’s about valuing your time in the circle, it’s about valuing technical preparation and participating in nutritional preparation as well. If you want more content similar to this, sign up for our email newsletter. Feel free to send us a direct email asking questions about cold training! Like and share this content on Facebook or Instagram below.