LSTJ: What technical points do you stress to throwers?

Tony Ciarelli: Balance is the key. Body awareness is imperative. When teaching technique, I work from the back to the front. Teaching throwing, I work from the front to the back. The first thing is getting out of the back of the ring, so we spend most of our time on that, balance, and getting on the left for a rotational thrower. If you are not balanced, the rest of the throw will not matter. We do left foot pivot drills until they can do multiple 360 degree turns, then we add a 10 or 15 pound bar on the shoulders. Then they hold the bar out in front of them. When they can turn and load the left with balance with the weight, we will move forward. After we have an understanding of the back of the ring and its importance, then we will discuss the middle of the ring. The emphasis for me is staying on and working the right leg, so we take a lot of non-reversal throws so they can feel their feet on the ground when they throw. We also do many right pivots with the bar on their back; once again balance is the key. We do right foot pivots and press in the weight room with barbells and kettle bells to re-emphasize the muscle memorization. Then we get to the front of the ring and the throw and release. That brings me back to the teaching the throwing. While we are learning how to get out of the back, we are at the same time learning how to throw, starting with standing non-reversals. Once we can control our body and flight of the discus, we will add the reverse.

The next step we will take is right foot pivot non-reverse, then right foot pivot with reverse. We will go right to fulls with no reverse after that. I don?t use the South African drill much because I don?t feel it duplicates the positions coming out of the back and the throwers use it as a crutch because it is easier than fulls. Once a thrower has mastered a full throw, we will cut out the standing throws in the discus altogether and take very little in the shot. We will start with drills every year, but with the older throwers we will get to full throws as soon as possible: reps, reps, reps.

In the glide shot, I will do the same: teach technique and balance from the back and throw from the front. My emphasis with the glide is balance on the right with a quick left. I teach ?kick the left and pull the right.? You should kick the left with violence and stretch for the toe board when you reach full extension of both right and left legs. Then the right comes off the heel and should be pulled up under the hips with the right foot turned as close to 90 degrees as possible. At that point the right side should elevate up through the ankle, knee, hip, chest and shoulder; at the same time the left arm should be pulling itself open to expose the hips, chest and chin to the landing area; then the left side should stop and not keep pulling. This will speed up the right side, drive the hip, chest, and shoulder through the shot, extend the arm and stretch to the finish. This is when you should reverse, landing on a flat right foot at this point. I teach to (1) see the shot come out of the hand, then (2) turn to 90 degrees and (3) then kick the left foot up in the middle of the ring, and (4) reach back with the right hand. All of this while trying to stay as tall as possible. We work on this also. I have the throwers lean over the toe board on their right foot as far as they can and as they are about to fall out of the ring, they kick the left foot and reach back with the right hand, working on saving the throw.