Since the indoor throws season is beginning, and the outdoor season is fast approaching, it’s time to shift gears from the off-season—drill/lifting dominate focus—to the pre-season, with a throwing/competition readiness focus.

This past Saturday, the first half of my practice was good, but the second half got sloppy…

… and when your throws group begins to grow to more than 12 athletes, this can happen if you don’t stay structured & organized!

Just focusing on the little things really help to make practice efficient and productive…

… and since Saturday’s practice had a moment of disarray, I have come to the conclusion that EVERYTHING is a Chain Reaction 😉

Set up structured & organized practice and everything goes smoothly. Don’t stay structured, and it all breaks & falls apart.

Currently, we have about 16 throwers in our AZ group, and we will likely be at 20+ come track season. That’s a large group!

I tend to divide my group by the speed in which they train: newer athletes in one group and my more advanced together….

On the days where I train my athletes, I will have about a 30min overlap between groups, and on a rare occasion the transition from one group to another do not go smoothly…

Sometimes you’ll just have a day when things just get off track, like what I had happen to me when the second group of athletes showed up for practice last Saturday.

My first group of about 6 kids were my newer throwers and we had a great training session. We worked on some new drills that address some common mechanical mistakes.

Then my more advanced throwers showed up, and they move and conduct their practice time in half the time it takes my new throwers…

…So we started getting a throwing traffic jam in the ring.

I had to stop everything for safety reasons, and restructure the practice so things went smoother.

On this note, I bring you Throws Coaching Tips 1-5, to keep in mind when you begin structuring your practice.

 I had to remind myself of these tips and implement them myself—they saved the day!

10 Tips for Improving Practice: (Part 1)

1.) TEACH NEW THROWERS HOW TO PRACTICE: TIME & TEMPO

(This is easy to overlook.)

Often new throwers will tend to approach throwing slow, even sitting between reps. They will throw one implement and generally move a bit slower than my more advanced guys who are practically entering the ring right as the last guy is releasing the implement.

Use your more experienced and advanced throwers to set the tempo and timing of the practice. This helps teach the newer throwers how each practice is conducted.

Sure, they’ll eventually figure it out, but life is much easier when practice is much more efficient, and you are coaching your team in a more controllable pace.

2.) SET THE REP TARGET

Throwers should know the target number of reps they need to hit in any given training session

FOR EXAMPLE: 35 throws in 1 hour, or 60 throws in 90 min, etc

Young throwers don’t often understand how to execute a practice, so it’s important to give them the targets to hit at the beginning so they keep track and keep things moving.

In the TCR™ progression for rotational, my throwers start with…

Pre-Blocks > Move to Stands > Modified Wheels > South African > Pillar 2 starts > Wind-up 1 starts > then Full throws.

Let’s just say they do 5 of each; that’s 35 throws.

This keeps them focus and engaged, and allows you to track total reps easier.

3.) THE MORE IMPLEMENTS THE MERRIER

Nothing is less efficient than only throwing 1 Disc or 1 Shot at a time. Generally I believe every discus thrower needs a minimum of 3-4 discs …. 6 is really ideal and 8 is butta’ baby!

So, if you have 10 kids, 30 discs would be good. If each thrower has 4 implements, then you’re getting in a ton more reps at every practice!

There are some great programs out there with dedicated accomplished coaches that have been building dominant programs using these tips, like Mark Harsha in Portage Indiana, and Coach Harsha, who is an Alpha level ATN member and has produced throwers for a long time.

He’s got a pile of implements and that means he can get in a lot more throws.

More throws, means faster path to success!

No coincidence he’s been crushing for a long time.… You need lots of implements.

4.) FOCUS ON ONE EVENT AT LEAST 2X A WEEK

If my throwers throw 4 or 5 days a week, we will typically spend 2 days on each event where we only throw shot, or only throw disc.

The reason for this is because we can get more technical work done when we try not to split our time with 2 events…

… as the season comes closer, we will start doing more practices where we throw both to get the athletes ready for competing in meets since that is the only time they will be throwing both.

5.) BREAK UP THROWERS INTO COMPATIBLE GROUPS & STAGGER

This is pretty obvious, but again it takes a little planning time to set up practices. I tend to split throwers into 2 groups.

Group 1 – Beginners/Intermediate

Group 2 – Upper Intermediate/ Advanced

I will typically split these 2 groups into groups of 6. I do this so we can get in a lot of quality time.

** If you have 40 athletes… like some of our ATN members do across the country… even a couple in South Africa, you’ll certainly have at least a few assistant coaches to help you achieve this structure….

Staggering is simply Group 1 will throw at 3pm, and Group 2 will throw at 4pm … with about 30 minutes of overlap.

So each group gets about 90 minutes—just kinda how I run our system.

So there you have it, your first 5 throws coaching tips.

Focusing on technique is always priority #1, but in order to do that efficiently you need to have an efficient practice and training structure.

It’s inevitable that you’ll have an “off day” and practice will go off the rails, but go back to these 5 tips and you’ll be able to get your practice back on track…

… ok, enough train metaphors.

‘Tis the Season for Developing A Winning Throws Program,

– Coach Johnson