Many throwers have engaged with the glide or the spin in their shot put careers. Some individuals may be better suited to spin, other athletes might be better suited to glide. Those that choose the path of the glide need to recognize many of the key parts behind the glide. One of those key spots is based around exiting the back of the circle.
The smoother a glider can get out of the back of the circle, the faster they typically will be through the transition in the middle. The transition is the point in the throw where the glider MUST continue to accelerate and develop even greater speed to carry over into a massive finish. This is one of the key problem areas and it needs to be addressed in training. But HOW can we enhance the transition position?!?!?!
Drills...Are they effective?
Initially, it’s important to discuss whether or not drills are actually effective. If we can define a drill as a movement that emulates the competitive movement through a slow, controlled, precise execution to improve general awareness in the competitive process, we can see there should be some semblance of transfer. By executing drills in conjunction with full speed throwing, the problem area will generally improve over time through countless reps in the circle.
This point should be taken seriously, especially when discussing a problem area of a throw like the transition or middle portion of the throw in the glide. As a coach, it is important to troubleshoot and identify where problem areas may arise with specific throws and have a plan to improve and address those areas for long term development. Within the glide specifically, there is one drill that targets THREE major areas in improving the technical movement.
What is the drill?!?!
The specific drill that improves the transition through the middle of the circle is the “A” Drill! What is the A Drill?!!?! Most gliders will start in a dynamic position in the back of the circle. They will rise up on their toe and then drop their hips as they slowly drop from a plantar flexed ankle to a flat/dorsiflexed ankle. As the glider drops to a flat foot and shoots their left leg to the toeboard, they will focus on holding the left foot low to the circle to expedite the process of achieving double support.
When the glider hits the split position, they will drive hard from their right heel. The drive from the right heel will bring the right foot to the middle of the circle while they hold their shoulders facing the back of the circle. The point of this is to focus on the rapid movement of the hips dropping, the level of the left leg getting to the front of the circle, and the speed that can be attained by driving from the right foot.
How does it transfer?
1. Dropping of the hips.
One of the major keys behind a rapid glide is based around how well the thrower will drop their hips. If the thrower drops their hips well out of the back of the circle, they will carry a nice stretch-shortening cycle that will lead to rapid movement. If the glider DOES NOT drop their hips, their left leg will likely shoot high and they will have a delayed achievement of the power position. This means their throw will be slower and they will not throw as far! Lower hips create more momentum and the thrower in turn will have a faster right leg that is active through the middle.
2. Low left/kick foot.
Recognizing that a lower left leg or kick foot to the front of the circle will also reinforce excellent speed across the circle. The A Drill does a tremendous job of teaching the glider how to feel a low left foot to the front. This lower left leg will generate more speed while also keeping the throw more linear. More linear energy to the front of the circle will in turn make it easier to accelerate at a higher speed!
3. Driving from the heel!
Many beginner throwers also struggle to understand or recognize which muscles should be used at what point in a throw. By establishing a good feeling for the drop out of the back with a lower left leg and lower hips, the final component needs to come into play. That is the action of the right leg. The thrower will be forced to come off of their HEEL instead of their toe, something that causes a lot of struggle with many beginner throwers.
By coming off the heel, the quad becomes the prime mover due to knee extension and in turn, is the motor behind the acceleration. The quad will also trigger the action of the groin to contribute to the movement of the right side through the middle. This leads to a focus on plantar flexion as well! Now the entire process of having the hips drop, having the lower left foot, and learning how to drive from the heel unites into a strong transition!
Use the A-Drill as a warm up or even as a means of teaching proper technical movement. When the A-Drill is developed and hammered into the glider, their rate of acceleration will increase, and ultimately so will their distance. The education of the right movements can be CHUNKED throughout the learning process which will make it easier to understand and simpler to execute at high speeds.
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- Dane and Trevor