COACHING SHOT PUT FOR BEGINNER
By: Don Babbitt
Georgia, Athens, GA
teaching progressions can be used to lead the beginning thrower
through the various aspects of shot-put technique, from how to hold
the shot to a full throw using the rotational or glide technique.
Teaching progressions can be an effective way to introduce a highly
technical event like the shot put, which demands coordination of
the legs, trunk and arms, in order to have a successful performance.
It is important that each step of a teaching progression focuses
on a single aspect of technique and that only one
new technical element is introduced with each successive step. By
teaching the shot put in such a progressive manner, the beginning
shot-putter is allowed to learn one step at a time and will not
be overloaded by having to concentrate on many things at the same
TO HOLD THE SHOT
All descriptions in this
article will be for the right-handed thrower. When introducing the
shot put to the beginner, the instructor should teach the student
to balance the shot in his hand so it is resting at the point where
the fingers are connected to the palm of the hand. Many beginners
tend to wrap their fingers around the shot and grab on to it like
holding softball. Throwers should also be instructed to keep their
fingers together and allow their thumb to gently rest against the
side of the shot that opposes the other four fingers. Once the proper
grip has been established, the thrower is ready to learn how to
place the shot in a position to be thrown.
The shot should be placed
underneath the jaw, roughly one inch in front of the ear. The hand
should be pressing the shot against the neck to support it in this
position. It is very important that the throwing hand is behind
the shot and not underneath it. Having the throwing hand behind
the shot allows the thrower to release the implement away from the
chest in the same manner one would push a weighted bar away from
the chest while bench pressing. Many beginners tend to put their
throwing hand underneath the shot in an effort to
support and control it. This should be discouraged since it will
either cause the thrower to push the shot in an upward manner upon
release, causing the release angle to be too high, or the thrower
will "drop" his elbow upon release, resulting in a great loss of
Once the beginning shot-putter
is able to demonstrate that he can hold the shot properly, he is
ready to begin a five-step progression that will teach him the basic
elements of the throw in a step-by-step fashion. In the final step
of this progression, the beginner throws from a stand throw
position, which can be used as a technique for competition.
In the first step, the
thrower stands in the shot ring with his whole body facing the throwing
sector and his toes touching the inside of the toe board. The shot
is positioned under the jaw, as described earlier, with the intent
to throw straight away from the chest. From this position, the thrower
will push the shot away from the chest using only the throwing arm.
This first step will isolate the throwing action of the arm
so that the proper mechanics of this motion can be emphasized. The
coach should be careful to note that the thrower is keeping the
upper arm behind the forearm as he pushes on the shot and that the
arm is at roughly a 90-degree angle upon release. The thrower should
also be releasing the shot off the end of the middle three fingers
so the shot will snap off the throwing hand. A proper release will
cause the shot to spin very little and it is not desirable to have
a lot of rotation on the shot upon release. Once these steps have
been mastered, the thrower is ready to advance to the second step
of the progression.
In the second step, the
thrower starts from the same position as in Step One, but with one
modification: to rotate the trunk 90 degrees so that his chest is
facing the side of the shot ring. From this position, the thrower
rotates his trunk back to the original starting position to give
a little momentum to the shot before beginning the throw with his
arm. This step isolates the trunk rotation and the
throwing action of the arm so that the proper mechanics
of these two actions can be emphasized. The proper execution of
this drill will result in the thrower coordinating the movements
of the trunk and arm to realize at least a five-foot gain in distance
from the first step in this teaching progression.
In the third step of
this progression, the thrower starts from the same position as in
Step Two, but with one modification: to bend his legs into a quarter
squat position while putting all his weight on the balls of both
feet. From this position, the thrower initiates the throw in the
same manner as in Step Two, while extending his legs up out of the
quarter squat position. This step introduces the action of
the legs into the throw, while coordinating the extension
of the legs with the trunk rotation and throwing action of the arm.
Proper coordination of the legs, trunk and arm should result in
another five-foot increase in distance from the technique used in
In the fourth step, the
thrower performs exactly the same movements as in Step Three, except
that this step is performed at near maximal effort.
The coach may allow the athlete to explode out of the starting position
to such an extent that they "blow out" of the shot ring. This may
be allowed to teach the athlete to be aggressive in throwing the
implement. Step four is the first time that the beginning thrower
focuses more on the quickness of execution and the
explosive elements of shot putting. The first three
steps focused on the coordination of body segments
and proper throwing positions. It is crucial for the
coach to make sure that the thrower is executing all elements of
the throwing technique correctly, because each step of this progression
builds on the previous step.
The final step of this
five-step progression leads the thrower into the stand throw.
The athlete begins in the same position as in Step One. From this
position the thrower steps back in toward the center of the ring
with his right foot to make a "base" that is a little wider than
shoulder width. The width of this base may vary depending on the
dimensions of the thrower and what feels comfortable to him. There
is no steadfast rule as to exactly how far apart the feet should
be. The thrower's feet should also exhibit heel-toe alignment,
meaning that the right heel should be lined up with the left toe
along the line that extends down the center of the ring from front
to back. This alignment is critical, because it allows the hips
to "square up" when the shot is thrown, and allows full trunk rotation
for maximal involvement of the back and leg muscles.
After the thrower has
established a base with his feet, he should bend his right knee
and allow almost all of his weight to be balanced over the ball
of the right foot. One way to check if the weight is over the right
foot is to have the thrower lift his leg completely off the ground
and balance himself on the ball of the right foot. The thrower should
then turn his trunk so that his shoulders are squared up to the
back of the shot ring. At this point, the thrower is in the basic
position to perform a stand throw.
Other technical details
the coach should look for in the stand throw position is:
- The head is looking
out the back of the ring with the eyes focused on a spot that
is roughly 15 feet behind the back of the ring.
- The left arm is relaxed
and gently reaching downward toward the back of the ring.
- The right foot is
facing out the side of the shot ring with the weight balanced
on the ball of the foot. The heel should not be touching the ground.
- The back of the thrower
should be facing the throwing sector.
- The left leg is relaxed
and slightly flexed in anticipation of bracing for a shift of
weight from the right leg to the left leg. The heel should not
be touching the ground.
The legs, followed by
the trunk and then the throwing shoulder, should initiate the stand
throw. The first movement will cause an upward extension of the
right leg (also known as the drive leg), while the right leg and
right hip rotate around to square up the right hip. This will result
in a corkscrew movement of the right leg and hip.
Once the legs and hips are in motion, the upper body will start
to rotate around to square up the chest toward the throwing sector.
As this is happening, the left arm will gradually extend out from
the body and reach out down the right sector line of the throwing
sector. At this point, the final rotation of the hips and shoulders,
along with the complete extension of the legs will result in the
release of the shot (just as in Step Three). As the shot is being
put with the right hand, the left elbow will be pulled back toward
the left hip to further help with the squaring up of the shoulders
to the throwing sector.
As the right leg is finishing
its extension and the hips are squaring up to the throwing sector,
the left leg (also known as the block leg, or post leg) will lock
out and "post up." By firming up the left side of the body in this
way, the right side can be accelerated even further as the shot
is released. This action is known as "blocking" and is critical
to realize the best possible throw. Other technical details the
coach should look for during the execution of the stand throw are:
- The thrower's head
should always face straight out from the chest. It should not
be thrown to the side. Upon release, the head may be thrown straight
back to allow the chest to rise up so the shot may be lifted.
- The thrower should
start off throwing from a "non-reverse" position, i.e., his feet,
hips, chest, and head face the throw after releasing the shot.
This is to insure that the thrower is fully extending his arms
and legs completely before release so he can "push" on the shot
as long as possible. The longer the push on the shot, the more
the shot will be accelerated.
- At the completion
of the throw, both toes should be facing the throwing sector.
Once the stand throw
with a non-reverse finish has been mastered, the thrower can advance
to the reverse technique. The reverse allows the thrower to follow
through and "chase after" the shot a little more than the non-reverse.
The reverse will see the thrower turn his body 180 degrees as the
follow through on his throw so he is facing out the left side of
the ring after his throw. The reverse is performed by kicking the
block leg out the left side of the ring while replacing it with
the right leg. This simultaneous action will cause the thrower to
rotate 180 degrees as he follows through on his release of the shot
into the reverse position. It is important that the thrower does
not watch the shot as it is released, since it will cause his center
of mass to move forward out the front of the ring. This will result
in the thrower fouling by falling out the front of the ring. Many
long throws have been lost because of this technical error.
Many beginning throwers
tend to reverse too soon when they attempt to reverse for the first
time. Therefore, it is recommended that beginning throwers start
by non-reversing and only graduate to the reverse when they show
that they can consistently reach full extension of the arms, hips
and legs on their non-reverse throws. For throwers who are not able
to reverse all the way, the simple drill of having them jump (with
their hands on their hips) and turn 180 degrees at a time may give
them the feel for the reverse.
Once the beginning thrower
is able to complete a full stand throw under control, he is ready
to begin drills to learn the glide and/or rotational techniques.
Many throwers throw much farther in warm-ups with their stand throw
than their full technique and then go on to use their full technique
in the meet! It is okay for throwers to stand throw in meets and
it doesn't make sense to have a thrower rush to the glide or rotational
technique before he is ready.