Saturday, April 17, 2010

Snatch the Best?

My Buddy Roguethrower sent me this e-mail. I was so impressed with it that I had to post it. I'm sorry about being out of the game with posts, the working life makes writing a post very difficult. I promise to get more content!

Hey, I was recently analyzing my strength areas, and my thoughts hearkened back to your post about snatch.  I thought I'd present my opinion and see what you thought about it.

I'm starting to agree that- despite the fact that strength is required in multiple areas- the snatch is the most important lift.  Not necessarily being able to do a good snatch (learning snatch technique for discus is like learning chess to play Final Fantasy) so much as capability of producing raw power.  My rationale is quite different from yours- in your blog post you mentioned positions, and I respectfully disagree, although the result is the same- we both believe in the snatch.
My belief is that the detorquing of the core is the most critical in the discus.  I was looking at my videos of standing 2k vs 1k and noticed that my arm speed increase was only marginal, and my legs moved just as well in the 2k as 1k.  The reason my 1k is 50 feet further is because my middle uncoiled far faster, leading me to understand that my weakness was my middle- abs and back.  I looked at overhead views of Schult and Riedel in slow motion and found that Schult's arm doesn't even get ahead of his shoulders until after release, debunking the notion of bench press (although you still need at least some).
Anyways, the abs and the back unwinding, with a point so close to the fulcrum (spine) in a 3rd-class lever (force between load and fulcrum), require great force to move a longer lever- spine to hand.  Thus, the deadlift, clean, and snatch are prime for this in that they use back strength.  The clean has an advantage over the deadlift in that ab strength is required to get under the bar.  I believe the snatch has an advantage over both the clean and the deadlift in that the catch requires not only getting under the bar, but stopping the weight from going back.  The clean doesn't have this as much.  The aspect that pushes the snatch over the edge is the fact that it is faster than the clean.  Moving 150 kg faster vs 190 kg slower... the 150 has a tiny bit less force production in most cases- in the snatch due to position the pull is marginally more powerful than the clean, but because it's faster, it more resembles the discus movement.  I'm pretty sure there are people who can clean massive weights due to raw strength from being able to deadlift 750 lbs, but their snatch is drastically decreased from their clean.
There you have it- the snatch is best among standard lifts because it utilizes just as much back but more abs than the others, and the back is moved at the closest time/speed to that of an actual throw.  That's my take at least.

Don't wanna draw workout conclusions here.  For people who don't train with the snatch, the snatch will test who has the best tools.  But someone who snatches more due to fantastic technique isn't necessarily going to be better.  Thus a study by Tom "discusdoc" Fahey of 7 Olympic medallists or something- can give you the info if you'd like- showed that the strongest correlation was bench press, and second-strongest was deadlift, because deadlift uses back, whereas while clean and snatch use the back and abs more applicably, their technique is very dependent on practice.

That's my thoughts, wanna see what you think.

Take care,
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Too Much Snow
Virginia should change its zip code to that of the most Northern tip of Alaska. I am fed up of the non stop 20 plus inch blizzards! I apologize for my lack of updates as of late. The truth is that I have recently changed jobs and training got the best of me. I had barely any time to lift, and next to none throwing. I was intending on getting back on the horse this past weekend but the 40 inches of snow makes it very difficult to find my car, and impossible to go anywhere or do much of anything but hope the house doesn't get consumed. Also, my blogger account has been acting funny because my Ads and site statistics aren't coming through properly. I have to resolve these problems soon. Apart from that, I hope everyone competing indoors is doing well and kicking some tail. Feel free to let me know you progressions and I will post them up!
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hit the Wall
Have you ever felt as though you have come to your mental and physical limits? Have you ever felt that one more step or one more thought would consume your soul in agony? If you responded yes to either of these two questions you are have encountered something coined as "hitting the wall." As humans we have the in instinctual defense of quitting when we have done all we mentally, physically and emotionally can. Therefore it takes superhuman abilities to continue. There have been times as of late when I feel the urge to just throw in the towel and continue on without realizing the dream because of stress from work, family dilemmas and life in general. Sometimes it feels as though if I do one more heavy squat my knees will blow out, or if I take one more throw my shoulder will explode. Sometimes it seems every step I take forward is two steps back, but then I think back on the great times in the past and the ones I will have in the future. I think about how far I have come and how hard I have worked to get here. Upon looking back, it is those times when I thought I had reached my limits that my superhuman ability to continue kicked in, leading me to achieve success where others around me failed. The road to your goals will be lonely because, even those you love will doubt you at times. Do not let the negativity of life stop you from reaching your goals. Be superhuman.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Contrarian Approach to Discus Throwing

I have been looking for this article for a very long time and I finally found the ebook today. I really enjoyed this article when I was learning how to throw in high school because it taught me that doing what everyone else is doing is going to get you the same results. Rather you have to be contrarian. This is a short excerpt that I enjoyed. The rest is located at

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Lesson One  
80 Percent of the Throw 
By: Dan John
The single hardest thing to teach young throwers is that they have, without doing a thing, the secret to success as discus thrower. Simply, tell them to stand tall, stick their chest out like they are on the beach, and raise the arms slightly to the sides…        That’s it. The key, of course, is having the footwork, balance, and confidence to hold this basic position throughout the throw.   If the athletes can learn to stay upright with their chests proud and lower back locked in, so the “body can be one piece,” the discus will go a long, long ways.
 Fine. How do we teach this?  Muscle Beach The very first drill, the very first day, I have all the young throwers stand in a line. I tell the boys, “You are on a beach. A cute girl walks by…” Immediately, all the boys inflate their chests, pull their shoulders back and lock in their lower backs. The funny thing is, the girls all laugh, then imitate the position perfectly.   Stretch!!! This “Muscle Beach” position is given the name “Stretch.” When teaching the shot, we “Stretch” with an imaginary bar held across the back, with the discus, we simply hold the arms “out” towards the sides. The key, the key, the key to throwing is to “HOLD THE STRETCH!!!” John Powell is demonstrating the finish of the throw, but note the “big chest,” tight lower back, and long stretch of the throwing arm.
The Lessons so far… 1. Stand up with a big chest…  A little disappointing. What’s the big deal?  Well, it is the single most important point for success in sports!!!  A little anatomy lesson…often misunderstood!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Great Discus Throw Debate - Fixed Foot Or Active Release?

Two distinct discus throw release styles that have sparked debate for many years. Fixed foot throwing where both feet remain on the ground and a jump release where both feet are off the ground.
Is there a version that is better? This debate is an important one as biomechanical studies have shown that between 62 to 73% of the final release velocity is achieved in this phase of the throw.
Its impossible to say which style of delivery is most effective as many athletes have been successful using both styles. Jurgen Schult set current mens discus world record in 1986 with a jump delivery but reverted to a fixed foot style of throwing later in his career. Although he never threw as far again he did become a very consistent major games competitor throwing with fixed feet.
Gender Differences
There is a tendency amongst women to throw fixed feet. The pattern in men is more variable but the majority of world class men release with a jump release.
Women likely remain fixed feet as they can have as much as 60 to 70% of a world class males strength levels while only handling an implement that is 50% of the weight. The trend in womens discus throwing is to make maximum use of range in the power position to throw long and therefore a fixed foot action suits this purpose.
Developing a Fixed Foot Release
The fixing of both feet to the ground in delivery has mechanical advantages. It allows for a long unwinding from the power position against a braced left side with the axis of rotation running through the left shoulder. This occurs in top level throwers allowing the athlete to create maximal radius in delivery.
To have efficient transmission of the rotational force generated from the hip and right leg the left leg must act in a bracing manner. In order to transfer energy maximally and to allow the hip to pivot it is critical that the athlete have a straight left leg as this provides the rigid lever for these two requirements
Therefore in coaching this technique it is important that athletes have a fully extended braced left leg as a technical requirement. In addition the coach must also ensure that the athlete is conditioned to tolerate the higher and higher braking forces that will be transmitted into the left leg as the athlete throws further.
The Jump Release Thrower
This is very different for the jump release thrower. Here the emphasis is on the vertical component of the athletes delivery. It could be said that unlike the fixed foot thrower the discus thrower who jump releases lifts and then rotates.
Although the radius of the discus delivery is smaller the increase in angular velocity is greater and this then becomes the release velocity when it leaves the throwers hand. So this delivery style can achieve exactly the same velocity as a fixed foot delivery even through the radius of the discus path is less.
An Individual Approach
Whichever style an athlete uses or a coach suggests is really down to the make up of that individual. The fixed foot thrower tends to be more tall and rangy. Coaches with athletes who do throw fixed feet should consider flexibility specific to trunk and shoulder rotation to be an important part of training.
They should also be very vigilant to make sure that the rotational muscles of the trunk, the obliques, are very strong along with the upper chest and shoulders to deal with the force applied through them for a long period of time during delivery.
For the jump release athlete can sometimes be shorter as this methods also affords the athlete a greater height of release.
These athletes as they emphasise a strong vertical component in their delivery tend not to be as concerned with range in the power position although they must still be conditioned rotationally their major focus must be on very strong but also explosive leg musculature.
Therefore reactive training such as plyometrics may play a greater role in the development of an athlete in this style of throwing than one that is fixed foot.
Ultimately there is no one style that fits all athletes. Discus coaches and discus throwers together need to decide which style suits them best and apply the technical and conditioning suggestions presented to improve their discus technique and ultimately their distance.
For additional coaching tips, drills and resources for discus throwing please visit Coaching Track and Field Athletics

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sorrow in Haiti

A woman is helped from the rubble.
Haiti was hit with an earthquake that killed thousands instantly. I lost a friend in the disaster and I feel nothing but sorrow for her loved ones. Do not leave anything you want to say to a loved one unsaid because you never know when their time to go home will be. Be glad that all you have to worry about is nowhere next to what the hundreds of thousands in Haitians have to deal with. Enjoy your moments and always spend them doing something you love. Show your support in any way you can and donate or volunteer to help.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Motivation is different for each individual but at the end of the day whatever motivates us makes it all worth the effort regardless of the outcome. What is your motivation my fellow disc heads? What makes you want to drive two hour to practice and two hours back? What makes you excited to wake up at 5 am to be the first person in the weight room? What keeps you going in a competition where you are in last place going into the last round of throws? What makes it all worth the time, effort and emotional sacrifice? I would be glad to know yours but mine is simple and it has to do with my faith in God.
For some of you motivation comes in the way of a good coach, a strong mental mindset, or even a goal. I will be upfront with you all and express that I am in no way trying to preach to any of you about my religious views but rather, I am just trying to let you know what my true motivator has been my whole career.
Of course I set goals, have a strong mindset and of course had a great coach but above all these things was my faith. It is my joy, guide and sanctuary through all the ups and downs this life brings. Without my strong faith, I would have lost the ability to push myself through all those hard times. Without it, I would have quit. In a sense, the whole aspect of competing became more of an action of servitude to my creator, rather than something done just for self or outside gratification. I could have cared less about it all because I knew that at the end of the day I had made the most of the gifts that God had given me.
Whatever religion or belief your practice, do it as if you are doing it as a service and the joy that will accompany you in your athletic journey will actually help you achieve greatness because you are offering a service to an entity that is larger than yourself. You have all be blessed with talents and it is your responsibility to use it in servitude to your God or your fellow man. Doing either is a waste.

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