We need a system much like we have now for the shot puts and discus in the high schools, but this will never happen in our “politically correct” school systems. There is just too much liability, too many lawyers, and too much money to build the cages and throwing fields for many school districts. The NCAA system, then, is our minor league for this event. The best talent ends up in the NCAA system in the throws and it is up to the college coaches to identify good shot and discus athletes who might end up being better hammer throwers.
The problem with this event is we won’t be successful taking the European 10–15 year approach. Our athletes have to be throwing 70m–75m coming out of college to have a chance to continue. Hammer is great cross training for the discus and the rotational shot and benefits both those events. The more guys we can expose to this event in college the better chance we have of finding a guy with 80m talent. Lance is a good example of this. Excellent discus thrower, good shot putter and world class hammer thrower after he left college.
We do not have the time to start a thrower on a light implement and throw it 75–80m and then the next year hand them a slightly heavier implement and take a year to match the distance from the year before. Also, throwing a light ball far at the young ages is no guarantee that the same athlete will throw the international weight far. Europe is full of athletes who throw fantastic at young ages that never make it with the bigger implements. From what I see, we need to train this event 65%-70% overweight, and 65%–70% speed during the college years to accelerant the progress of the event. Some aspects of the event will be neglected, but we don’t have a choice the way our system is set up.
Much has been written and discussed about the Bondarchuk Methods of training the hammer. His system is awesome and all based on competition length hammers that are heavy down to light. The heavy hammers are the main work of the system and the light lifting is used as the stimulus to drive the heavy hammer work. This stuff works without a doubt but takes many years to build and especially for the masses. Now back to the 65%–70% overweight, 65%–70% speed. In order to make up for the years of concentrating on making light implements go far, the hammer has a unique aspect to it by allowing coaches to change wire lengths to affect speed. This allows a heavy implement to become a speed implement at the same time.
Hammer training with the use of different length implements can be tweaked to find recipes that will build the specific strength and the speed at the same time by using weights, ½ wire, ¾ wire, or whatever lengths you can put in your hammer training toolbox. Even extra-long implements have a place in the training for addressing certain problems. I have athletes that thrive off of short wires as the main tool of their training, some that thrive off of weights and long hammers, some that thrive off of extra-long hammers and ½ wires… etc.
Every thrower has what I call their implement recipe to get the desired results. We make the hammer too difficult in this country. This event is all about time and reps. It takes years to build distance with normal length hammers for training. This event is all about 10′ per pound. If you can throw an…
18 lb ball = 60m . . . and the 14 lb ball = 72m . . . then your 16 lb ball = around 66m.
The light implement is just as important as the heavy to the total outcome of the competition implement. This is simply what the Soviets were doing.
Yuriy Sedykh threw the 10 kg ball 70m, the 5 kg ball 100M (according to Bondarchuk’s book) and the middle ground of that is 85m. If the athlete is a good technician and has speed he will exceed that number by 1%–2% and if he is not he will be down by 1-2 per cent. This is the game of hammer throwing. Finding the recipe to make light and heavy implements go far. If you throw a lot of light only you will get stuck, and if you throw heavy only you will get stuck. In hammer training I have seen time and time again that the heavy ball moves first, then the light ball will move second and then the middle will move. Sometimes the heavy will go far and the light will go far and you won’t see the middle move for 9-12 months and then boom! a 5m jump with the competition weight.
Hammer progress is being made as long as something in the throwing is getting better. However, the lifting to hold up to this type of training has to be more intense and certain hammer workouts have to be put on certain days to maintain progress. There are hammer workouts that go very well the day a heavy lift, two days after a heavy lift, and three days after heavy lift and this is all due to how the central nervous sytem is recovering and muscular system of the body is recovering. They both recover at different rates.
Now, to end this paper I would like to say that we hurt ourselves as well. The hammer is an event where recruiting foreign throwers is a great advantage for a college. An athlete entering college with ten years of hammer experience is no match for the junior with three years of experience. The money spent on these athletes does little to develop the event in the USA. I have heard for 30 years now how having foreign hammer throwers will help American hammer throwing, but the numbers are not there to support this. What it really does is just limit the pool of US athletes that can receive support for the event. Every NCAA coach in this country is needed to develop this event so we can find that guy with the 80m talent.