Timmerman on heavier shots

Ulf Timmerman On Use Of Heavy Shots:
I speak only for shot putt glide I donít know spin you must put your own knowledge to use.

Heavy shot for elite performer is a must.

Heavy shot for sub elite is a must.

Heavy shot for beginner is a must.

You must first establish basic technique then go ahead, only during use of heavy shot will you see how to move from basic to advance technique.

Dave Caster On Light/Heavy Formula:
Excellent question. Obviously you are familiar with the formula. We use that formula to give us a rough idea as to what needs work. If the light shot ratios are not as wide as they should be, indicating a bit of lack of overall speed, we take a look at what she has been doing, overall, and determine 1.) if speed is really needed at that time, and 2.) if it is, if we have some sort of training shortfall. Usually, if she is doing anatomical adaptation work or hypertrophy work, and we pull a shot test on her, the gaps between all the shots are not so big. So we expect that-we tend to compare tests of the past during different training segments to like segments being dealt with at the time. If we do a test during a strength phase, the gaps
are big between the heavy shots but not so with the light ones. Usually when she is switching from strength to power, right then there are the biggest gaps between all the shots (this is during offseason).

Curiously, we have found that when the light shots are not so good, that is usually when we have not done so much heavy shot work. For my daughter in particular, heavy shot work stimulates almost everything because she is weak and they jump her strength up pretty fast. I know, for her, that the biggest jump in light shot performance comes off using heavier ones in training (as a training tool, not a test). We have not been able to draw so close of a lifting correlation at all, except for noticing that behind-back push presses with the left leg forward really help her left leg block, and her release is very quick comparatively speaking when she has been doing timed benches (using 50% for 10 reps as fast as it will go).
The trick is to figure out what the different shots are telling you. Of course, unless you film the test session, you may not be able to discern if the performance is attributable to capacities or technique (specifically flaws).

Dave Caster On Why To Use Heavy Shots:
. . . otherwise, your summary on my assumptions regarding heavy shots is quite good.

1.) I believe in heavy shots year-round, but favor a higher percentage of the use the comp ones closer to comp times (in actuality, our practice in the past has been to use comp and light shots during main comp times, and this ended up yielding earlier season PRs and less power later on when it was needed the most). This is necessary for timing purposes. Example-for a female, maybe 16-14-12-10 is appropriate at this point in the year; as one peaks for indoor, perhaps the wisest way would be 11-10-8.8. Then, back to the heavies in March, working the way back down to the 11-10-8.8 (4k) once again for outdoor.

2.) We feel that the tolerance to heavy shot work can only be built up through heavy shot work in and of itself, hence the use of 16's and 14's for, say, a teen girl. This is why we believe in starting young with it. The body undergoes much less stress putting a 16lb shot a few meters than it does in trying to put it many meters (also, it is hard to put something this heavy with poor form, or it will simply go nowhere). It is over the course of time and regular use of the heavy shots that this tolerance is built, much like the slow build-up of sedimentary rock.

Your belief that you need an athlete that can tolerate it without breaking down is absolutely correct.

That's the trick. At least in my small mind. And I do not think it is for everyone. I think it becomes important to introduce at a young age so it can be used at an older age. Just like any other mechanical thing.

Now, we have engaged in an experiment with my 15 year old to see what would happen if we went about this sort of thing LEFT handed! I have espoused the various and sundry wonderful attributes of heavy shot work to the point where we really want to see if the coordinative benefits of such a protocol (which are claimed due to the necessary slower movements allowing ingraining of generally better motor patterns-which are sped up by simply lightening the shot) are true. So we took the 14lb, 12lb, 10lb and 4k shots and got to work. To date, we have gotten her to the point where she can execute a left-handed standing throw with 80% of her right-handed 4k meet best . . . the experiment is going so well, we are contemplating contesting the indoor season left handed. The real proof of the pudding will come when she starts gliding left-handed. The coordinative aspects, sure enough, are much easier to train with the heavier shots; last year, her form left-handed was shaky and very hit-and-miss from a power position with a 3k (we used a 6lb and 3k last year for left-handed puts). Now she just looks like a mirror image of her right side power position throws, with both reverse and non-reverse being taught. Interestingly, her best 14 lb throw with the left hand is only 74% of her best from the right side with the same shot; her best lefty 12 pounder is 76% of her best righty (with the 12), and her best lefty 10 pounder is 78% of her best righty (with the 10). So the decrements have less of a coordinative aspect now and more of a strength aspect-just like when training the right side with the heavies. When we started this, we had her throw just the 12lb, 10lb,
and 4k; then we introduced the 14 and the gains accelerated. We will introduce the 16 soon and see what happens. The slow addition of weight (and volume) has to do with the stress on the hand and wrist.

I don't know if this proves jack squat, but it's pretty fun. And I cannot help but think that this will contribute a muscle-balancing function as well.

John Smith On Varying Shots:
The key is to use the right weights for the right strength levels. I am a believer in throwing light and heavy, based around where the athletes strength levels are at that time.

To answer your questions based on 18 years of training women and men, this is what my records show.

Question #1-Yes but you have to figure what weights are overweight. A female throwing 60 feet with the 4k can take throws with a 5k-12lb. A girl throwing 30 feet, the 4k is like the 60 foot girl throwing a 16lb. The old 70 foot females of the past threw a 16lb for training but could throw it 17-18 meters. The stronger better thrower can step up the ladder based on ability. I personally felt anything over 12lb was counter productive for Connie. A 4.5K-5K yield the best results for her strength levels.

2.) Yes, for all throwers, but again you have to select the right weights for the athlete.

3.) I feel that underweight shots prepare the body for the freshness of competition and lets the body know what it feels like to throw at the next level. I feel that they benefit coordination and timing.

4.) The older the athlete the volume of throws have to decrease for recovery. Connie used to be able to throw 4 times a week shot and discus 40-50 throws per practice per event and just kept getting better. Now at 38 she throws hard 2 times a week for 25-40 throws, with one session just working on her glide. Throwing light still has its place as well as throwing heavy.

Dave Caster On Heavy Shots:
Hi Coach. I know we do not agree on the shot weight protocol, and yet I greatly appreciate your sense of humor.

But now I must get very serious. I am afraid that if I were to donate our light shots to others who might (egad!) USE them, it would be tantamount to a reformed crack addict going out and handing his stash over to the neighborhood children rather than flushing it down the drain.

Here is an interesting tidbit. We, as you know, like heavy shots. So much, in fact, that my daughter had PRs with shots all the way up to 16lbs as early as 9/97, when she was 12. She started using the 18, as well, in 1998. We have been scolded and warned and chastised and admonished on this hellish practice from just about every noteworthy coach we have ever come in contact with. Yet, these heavier shots have always seemed to produce steady results, so we are not inclined to stop. We originally started using them in the same vein that Westsiders use heavy partial movements for certain exercises; they were, and are, a special max effort exercise. Louie has long been a proponent of "pushing up," or increasing, the results in such special exercises.

Enough of Louie, let's go one step further. Since they have always worked, we continued with them. And we have always found a very direct correlation with progress with the 18,16, 14, 12 and 10 lb. shots resulting with progress with the 4k and 6lb. We know that building up these shots results in overall performance build-up, even when the weight room numbers do not go up. Imagine my surprise when a certain noteworthy glider shared with me his first PR with the 12kg (26.4lb) shot was 3.03m . . . .AT THE AGE OF 11!

Now I cannot speak to the spin contingent. A certain spinner has told me that he has never seen benefit from the heavy shot usage because of the definite timing difficulties incurred. He should know what he is talking about as well, he is the person who supplanted the glider's WR. His explanation was the most well-thought-out yet simple analysis I have ever read regarding the role of the heavy shots and the spin. It is always pleasing to learn from great performers who actually understand how it is that they reached the levels that they did.

We should all take note of the fact that there are definite ways to increase shotput performance, yet to look at the problem of heavy shots, you have to look through the lens of your elected performance style/technique. We like heavy shots because we like glide.


My own thoughts on heavy shots

For a glider, I feel heavy shots are definitely needed. I've used the 16lber 3 times now (I'm still in school) and will start with them regularly now this winter. Their importance to me can be summed up with the following.

1) Heavy shots identify flaws in the technique. It is often easy to "dominate" a shot you are comfortable with. However, many throwers become pushed around by a heavy shot, their form ends up changing dramatically. That alone should tell one that their are flaws in the technique which need to be sorted out. I understand many throwers are not strong enough to handle a heavier shot and therefore cannot throw it like they would a lighter implement, however the technique with the heavier should be exactly the same as the technique with the lighter shot, just slower. Which leads to the next point...

2) Shot specific strength. Using a heavier implement works the throwing muscles harder, it builds a strength that is not gained in the gym. A glider can develop a much better standing throw by throwing a heavier implement. That alone would be a good reason to throw the heavier shot. ALSO a heavier shot as mentioned above, could show weaknesses in the power position. Heavy shots are brilliant for this.

There are instances however where the heavy shot should not be thrown. I came across an internet forum where a thrower my age was having trouble with his shot. He had this odd practice of throwing an 18lb (!) shot for 30-40 throws once weekly. He would then throw the 12lb a few days later and struggle to throw the 12lber past 43. I asked him to cut out the 18lb and see what happened in training, he increased to 47 feet the following week, around his competition PB. Then I told him to throw a womenís shot, expecting him to gain around 10 feet with it. He came back and said he had thrown 47 with the 12 and only 51 with the 8lb shot. Clearly this was either a technical issue or a pure "speed" issue. Next I got him to throw a 16lber and he was throwing it barely 5 feet less than his 12lber distance. So we had a kid who threw the 16 to 42, the 12 to 47 and the 8 to 51. I would gain around 8 feet from the 11lb to the 8.8lber, so I knew it was a speed issue. That type of thrower would be better off not throwing the heavier shot for a while. I gained distance by throwing a 14lber more often, my stand increased around 2 feet in a month. So basically by taking a measurement of underweight/competition weight/ overweight implements, one would be able to decide if the heavier shot is needed or not. In most cases for the glider, I would say it would be a good idea to throw a heavier shot.