The Rotational Shot Put

 

 

Technique and Drills

 

By Jayne Beatty Co-Director, Big Throw Clinics, Six-time All-American, Slippery Rock University Hall of Fame, edited by Fred Willman

 

 THE ROTATIONAL SHOT PUT: Technique and Drills

 

 

STARTING POSITION:

 

1. Begin by straddling the midline of the circle (a more advanced thrower may want to start with their left foot at midline) at least shoulder width apart, facing the opposite direction of the throw (facing 12:00), as in Figure 1. 2. The knees are bent and the upper body is erect. 3. The shoulders are square to the back of the circle (12:00). Place the right arm so that it maintains a 90 degree angle between the arm and the trunk (a plate of spaghetti should be able to sit on it). The left arm is also at shoulder level. It is outstretched or bent at the elbow and is in from of the body.

 

THE SPIN:

 

1. From the starting position, backswing slightly with the shot. Keep the right foot stationary while the left foot pivots toward the right side. Rotate the shoulders and body slightly to the right (the amount of backswing depends upon the individual. The athlete has to find what is comfortable). At this point the center of gravity is between the legs (in the center). There is no shifting of weight toward the right side. 2. To begin the rotation, pivot with both feet shifting the center of gravity over the left foot (in order to move the center of gravity over the left foot the right foot must push off). Keep the knees bent-- be sure not to lift as the weight is transferred to the left leg). 3. As the center of gravity is moving over the left side, the left arm may be somewhat extended (the extended left arm increases the radius of rotation therefore slowing the upper body), but it stays in line with the left knee. The left arm must NEVER pass the left knee. This keeps the shot behind the right hip. 4. Continue to pivot over the left foot (the center of gravity should be over the left foot). While pivoting on the left, pick up the right foot but keep it wide (as if there is a pole between the knees- "ride the horse!" ). Continue to pivot on the left foot until it faces between 9:00 and 6:00 (DO NOT PIVOT THE LEFT FOOT PAST 6:00 OR ALL TORQUE WILL BE LOST). At this point, push off the left leg and drive the right leg to the center; pushing off the left also moves the hips ahead of the arm, thus generating the torque (stretch) necessary for a successful throw. Remember, as the right leg drives to the center the shoulders must be level and back (9:00). The left arm stays in line with the left knee and NEVER passes it. 5. As the right leg drives to the center, the shoulders are kept back. The head is always kept in the middle of the chest. The right foot is "cocked" (the ankle turns toward 3:00) as the right leg drives to the center of the circle. Cocking the foot enables the thrower to pivot the foot in the direction of the throw as soon as it lands in the center. This maintains torque. 6. As the right foot lands in the center of the circle, it must continue to pivot. You must land on a bent right leg. Do not reach for the center of the circle-- let the ground come up to you. The weight at this point should be entirely over a bent right leg. In order to pivot, stay on the balls of the feet. The pivot keeps the hips ahead of the arm. As the right foot lands and pivots, the head will continue to move. Again the head must be kept in the center of the chest. If the head remains looking in the direction of the throw (6:00), the weight shifts prematurely and causes a loss of balance. 7. Once the left leg pushes out of the back of the circle, it is driven through to the toe -board. Keep in mind, at this time you are in the air, and subsequently landing with the right foot in the center. The right foot lands before the left, but they hit in close succession. Be sure to land on a bent right leg. In order to get the left leg quickly to the toeboard think of "kicking your butt". This action not only helps get the left leg through quickly, but it also helps to keep the right foot turning. Getting the left leg through quickly is important in maintaining torque. If the left leg swings "around the world" it is too slow and "in the bucket". This causes the shoulders to open prematurely and the shot moves ahead of the hips. Therefore, you end up pushing the shot rather than having a stretch and release.

 

POWER POSITION:

 

As the right leg lands in the middle and continues to pivot, the left leg drives aggressively toward the toeboard ("kick your butt"). Remember, in the correct power position, the weight is almost completely over a bent right leg. The shoulders are facing the back of the circle (12:00) and the left leg is extending toward the toeboard.

 

THE PUT

 

1. To initiate the throw from the power position, pivot on the ball of the right foot and snap the left heel down. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT OF A SUCCESSFUL THROW. This rotates the hip forward ahead of the implement. Keep the shoulders back and the head in the center of the chest. Remember the body follows the head. If the head is thrown prematurely, it causes a shift of weight too early. Keeping the head and shoulders back maintains the hips ahead of the arm. A stretch in the lower back is felt if the hips are ahead. Remember, a prestretched muscle reacts more quickly and strongly.

 

2. Continue to pivot on the right foot (it is the drive leg and needs to be aggressive) as the weight moves over a straightened left leg.

 

3. As the weight moves over the straightened left leg, it causes the trunk and chest to lift. At this point the belly button is over the left foot and the hips are square to the front of the circle. This guarantees a complete transfer of weight. This is also how to get height on the throw. Height is not acquired by adjusting the arm. HEIGHT COMES FROM THE LEGS!

 

4. It is important that the shot is delivered over a straightened left leg. The left leg is the "BLOCK". Just remember, as the left side blocks, the right side accelerates. This speed at delivery is what gives distance to the throw. This is something that takes time to master. It requires a lot of drilling. Timing is everything. If the left side block occurs too soon, the shot will head toward the right sector. If the left side block occurs too late, it will head toward the left sector. Remember, don't block the left side too early, or too late, but just right!

 

5. Remember the left arm is also important in getting a strong block. As the pivot occurs on the right foot, the hips rotate and the left arm or free arm sweeps across the body shortening its radius. The left elbow points upward in the direction of the throw, and then blocks down to the side of the chest ("PUNCH THE GIANT, ELBOW THE DWARF"). The left arm and left leg block happen simultaneously which is important in immobilizing the left side and getting a solid block. Remember, the hips must always stay ahead of the throwing arm.

 

6. Now go crazy! As the left side (entire left side) blocks, the right side is delivering the shot. Keep the chin and chest up. The head naturally turns away as the shot leaves the neck. The shot can be seen out of the corner of the eye. The elbow remains high. The strong follow through ("flick") occurs as the thumb points down. High five God! Remember a strong flick of the wrist is necessary to complete the throw. Also, at this point the weight is over the left side. Falling back in the circle means there is not a complete transfer of weight. Make sure the bellybutton is over the left foot!

 

7. The final part of the throw is the reverse or follow through. This is not something to concentrate on teaching, especially with a young thrower. What must be realized is that the reverse is a reaction, not an action. It occurs naturally as a result of following through. Too often young throwers try to reverse, and as a result, they never get a good block. They end up switching their feet without stopping the left side which in turn limits the distance they can achieve. So, emphasize working on a good block and follow through and let the reverse just happen.

 

Certain drills and techniques can ensure a proper reverse when the time comes. When it does, the right foot replaces the left and the head and eyes look toward the back of the circle. DO NOT WATCH THE SHOT. Remember the body follows the head. If the eyes watch the shot, the head carries the body out of the circle and causes a foul. Don't watch. The coach will know if it is a world record.


 

DRILLS:

 

360-DEGREE TURNS This drill helps the thrower work on balance. The drill begins in the normal starting position. The athlete slightly backswings as if beginning a throw. Next, instead of driving to the center of the circle, the athlete does a complete 360-degree turn, ending in the original position. KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER: KEEP THE SHOULDERS LEVEL KEEP THE KNEES APART (RIDE THE HORSE) Stay on the balls of the feet Keep the head in the center of the chest Low and slow- the slower the better

 

PIVOT & SHOOT (WHEEL) DRILL This drill helps keep the weight over the right leg and gets the foot shooting toward the toe board. Start in the power position facing 6:00. Pivot the right foot. Think of "kicking your butt". This action not only helps get the left leg through quickly, but it also helps to keep the right foot turning. Tuck the left foot under the body as if you are kicking your butt. Quickly plant it by shooting it toward the toeboard. You are now in the power position facing 12:00. It is important while doing this drill that the shoulders remain square to 6:00, then 12:00. Use focal points to help keep the head and shoulders back. Remember the weight must stay over the right leg and the head should stay in the center of the chest. There should be an imaginary straight line from the head through the left leg.

 

HALF TURN (SOUTH AFRICAN) Start with the left foot just inside the circle facing between 9:00 and 6:00. The right foot is outside the circle. Shoulders are kept back at the 9:00 position. Push off the left foot and drive the right leg (soccer style kick) to the center of the circle. Remember, as the right leg drives to the center, the shoulders must be level and back (9:00). The left arm stays in line with the left knee and NEVER passes it. As the right foot lands in the center of the circle, kick your butt and drive it through to the toeboard. Once the power position is reached, pivot and throw.


 

PROGRESSION DRILLS:

 

1 Begin by straddling the midline of the circle (more advanced throwers may want to start with their left foot at the midline) with the feet at least shoulder width apart, facing the opposite direction of the throw (facing 12:00).

2 From the starting position, backswing slightly with the shot. Keep the right foot stationary while the left foot pivots toward the right side. Rotate shoulder and body slightly to the right. The amount of backswing depends upon the individual. The athlete has to find what is comfortable. At this point the center of gravity is between the legs (in the center). There is no shifting of weight toward the right side.

3 To begin rotation, pivot with both feet, shifting the center of gravity over the left foot. In order to move the center of gravity over the left foot, the right foot must push off. Keep the knees bent. Be sure not to lift as the weight is transferred to the left leg.

4 As the center of gravity is moving over the left side, the left arm may be somewhat extended, but it stays in line with the left knee. The left arm must NEVER pass the left knee. This keeps the shot behind the right hip.

5 Continue to pivot over the left foot (center of gravity should be over the left foot). While pivoting on the left, pick up the right foot but keep it wide. Continue to pivot on the left foot until it faces between 10:00 and 9:00. Place your right foot at Position #1.

6 Continue to pivot over the left foot until it faces approximately 8:00 (no more than 6:00). Place your right foot at Position #2.

7 Step straight ahead with the right foot placing it in the center of the circle (Position #3). The right foot is facing 3:00. The knees are bent and the weight is primarily on the right leg. The shoulders are back and square to the direction of the throw. Keep in mind, at this time you are in the air.

8 Now pivot on the right foot, kick your butt with the left and shoot it through to the toeboard. Again, keep the shoulders back. This is the power position.

9 Put the shot.

 

These progression drills should be done first at a walking speed. As time goes by the various positions can be eliminated. For example, once comfortable with going from the backswing to Position #1 and Position #2, Position #1 can be eliminated. In other words, you do not need to put your right foot on the ground. Progress by eliminating the various ground positions until the complete turn is mastered.