Soviet Hammer Strength
In Part 1 I was not specific enough about the 1000’s of hammer throwers. I was referring to the former Soviet system that dominated hammer throwing for a few decades. The secret to their success was numbers, many good coaches, tracking of the training data from all these throwers and lots of throwing over a long period of time. The European model I refer to is when athletes are starting at a young age with good instruction from the beginning.
These are the athletes we see entering the NCAA with 10+ years throwing experience. This equals easy points at the NCAA Championships for head coaches.
By the Numbers
Since 1984, USA hammer throwers in the Olympic Finals:
– Bill Green (5th 1984)
– Lance Deal (7th 1992)
– Lance Deal (silver 1996)
– Kibwe Johnson (9th 2012)
Since 2000, the first Olympic competition:
– Dawn Ellebe (7th 2000)
– Amy Palmer (8th 2000)
USA hammer throwers in the World Championships (beginning 1983):
– Lance Deal (9th 1993)
– Lance Deal (5th 1995)in 1995,
– Ken Flax (7th 1991)
The Women in World championships have fared better:
– Dawn Ellerbe (10th 1999 )
– Mellissa Price (12th 2001)
– Anna Mahon (7th 2003)
– Erin Gilreath (10th 2005)
– Jessica Cosby (7th 2009)
– Amber Campbell (11th 2009)
– Jessica Cosby (11th 2011)
– Jeneva McCall (9th 2013)
– Amanda Bingston (10th 2013)
The throwers in this group if almost all or not all were born in the collegiate system. I am not saying that the youth movement will not produce hammer throwers in the future it just has not until this point. I am simply stating and showing that the top talent has come from converted shot and discus throwers turned into hammer throwers because it takes talent to get from the high schools to the college ranks.
The best talent for hammer throwing is playing linebacker, running back or end in college and professional football. The youth hammer in this country has yet to produce a World Finalist. However, we are also full of youth discus throwers on the men’s side (101 200’+ throwers in the last 15 years) that has done little also on the world level. (This is what really has to be looked at.)
U20 Women Hammer Throwers
The junior women throwing 54m more than any other country is an interesting stat. However, it only takes nine months or less to produce a female 54m 4k hammer thrower. I have done this many times with walk-on women. The more talented girls throw 55m-59m in less than nine months. The game in this country is to get to 70m while in college. Jeneva McCall 74.77m, Gwen Berry 73.89m, Amanda Bingston 75.74m have all reached those marks in less than five years. Amanda got there through a Bondarchuk style training schedule and the other two by the use of different length hammers and heavy and light implement recipes.
Cory Martin threw 75m in five years in the same system with Jerry Clayton, but turned to being a world class shot putter. Lance Deal threw the weight as part of his hammer training for years. I am not saying it is the way it should be done, but simply another way that results can be produced in the hammer. The ten year approach does work; and is ideal if you can do it, but in The USA way is not set-up that way, if you are not throwing far quickly then your road is a hard one when the gravy train stops that last day your last scholarship check comes. If you are not throwing far the USOC, USATF does not care and you are cut loose.
Time on Task for the Hammer
The hammer is built on a foundation of time and repetitions. Meaning it takes lots of throwing over a long period of time to build up the specific strength and movement needed to throw the hammer far. 1,000s of repetitions using a good mix of different implements can accelerate the process of ten years into ten years and then a thrower in the USA has a fighting chance to continue on. It takes a very talented athlete to throw the hammer 80m (male) and 77m (female). The women are approaching that very quickly right now and the men have to start thinking 75m by the end of college to make that move to 80m after school. However, I do believe in strength and don’t apologize for it.
A hammer thrower that becomes stronger in the weight room can handle heavier hammers better much more quickly as long as the thrower has the light end constantly moving outward as well at all times. Hammer conversions come down to about 10’ per pound. If the 10kg is moving 180’ then your 16 lb should be around 240’ as long a 6kg is 265’-270’ feet. If not you have to get better at the light end, if you are throwing 6k 265-270 and the 16lb is going 220 then you have to get better at the heavy end. Hammer is simply this: time and reps and figuring out ways to move the different weight implements numbers. However, you have to coach hammer athletes from the ground up to gain these experiences.