I receive a lot of emails from young throwers asking for technical advice or strength programs. Every now and then I get a question about competitions. Usually it's the question asks: How do you prepare mentally for a competition? or What do you do during a competition?

While the answers to these questions will change over time, here are some basic rules of thumb:


1) 100 percent mental excitement at 90 percent effort: My college coach used to say "Go 110% at 90% effort." It seems natural to get fired up before you throw, but all that extra excitement usually messes with your timing. To compensate for the extra excitement, don't try to throw the shot put as hard.

 

It's kind of funny how this injury has helped my technique advance. It's reminded me of how important it is to start slow and finish fast and to work the ground rather than the upper body.

What do I mean? Well, technically you're supposed accelerate across the circle. That's pretty difficult if you start at full speed from the back of the circle. This injury has force me to lead with my feet out of the back which requires a lot more patience. Good news: leading with the feet sets you up perfectly for the throw.

When you lead with feet, you let your feet drive throw. Think about it from the ground up as if your body is rubber band. If my feet start the throw, they lead the shoulders the entire time. Ever heard of hip/shoulder separation. News flash: START SETTING UP THE SEPARATION IN THE BACK OF THE CIRCLE! It's amazing how much easier and how much farther the throws are.

 

Shot putters tend to think that you have "muscle up" the shot put. Don't get me wrong. I like to get fired up, but it's an act. All that excitement in my pre-throw routine allows me to relax in the ring. There's a difference between being mentally relaxed and physically relaxed. I'm talking about the latter. You need to relax the muscle just enough so that they don't pull you out of position. This is for gliders as much as rotational throwers (but particularly with rotation).

The bottom-line: Get mentally fired up and physically relax (or you might settle for mildly excited).