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Discus Throwing Drills

Learn the discus throw by performing basic drills

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Robert Harting spins into action during the 2012 Olympic discus throw competition.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Watching the combined speed, grace and power of an accomplished discus thrower may be intimidating to a beginner hoping to learn the event. Rather than trying to emulate the entire motion, however, young throwers should begin by performing fairly simple drills that focus on different parts of the discus throw. If the athlete learns the component parts well enough, he or she can eventually put them all together into a smooth throwing motion. The following drills were recommended by veteran high school coach Jim Aikens, during a presentation at the 2014 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association’s annual coaches’ clinic.

Release drill: To get used to the basic discus grip and the correct release, stand up straight with your arms at your sides, grip the discus and let it roll off the index finger. Squeeze the pinkie just a little bit and let the discus fall on the ground.

Spin-arounds: Hold the discus with your arm outstretched, roughly parallel with the ground, and spin in a circle. This drill demonstrates that the discus won’t fall out of your hand when you start the throw. Instead, centrifugal force keeps the discus in your throwing hand.

Bowling drill: Roll the discus along a track or the floor. Try to release the discuss smoothly so it rolls straight. If it wobbles, then you didn’t release it properly, with your hand flat on the discus. You can also aim for cones or try to knock down objects, such as empty water bottles, or have a competition among your teammates to see who can hit the most cones and knock down the most bottles.

Swinging drill: Hold a rubber discus in your hand as you stand up straight. Swing the discus diagonally from your right hip (if you’re a right-handed thrower) and catch it in the opposite hand by the left shoulder.

Vertical toss: Hold the discus with your arm straight and hanging at your side, swing your arm back a bit, then toss the discus straight up. Catch the discus while remaining in the same spot. You must release it correctly to avoid having to move your feet to make the catch.

Skimming drill: Kneel on the ground, rotate your torso and take the discus back, away from the target, with your throwing arm outstretched. Rotate toward the target and release the discus, trying to skim it along the ground, just as you’d try to skim a flat stone on the water.  The discus should come out of your hand, fly and land flat. You can do the same drill while you’re standing.

Standing drill: Imagine the throwing ring is a clock face, with the target at 12 o’clock. Set yourself in the ring with your left foot at 11 o’clock and your right foot at 5 o’clock. Perform the longest windup you can, moving the discus clockwise, while your feet remain in position. Reverse your movement and throw the discus. If you’re turning properly you’ll be balanced on the inside of the ball of your right foot at release. If you throw off the outside of the right foot, you’re not balanced correctly and the throw will probably fade to the right.

Kick the can standing drill: Perform the “standing drill,” as described above, but first place an empty water bottle next to your right instep. If you pivot correctly you should knock the bottle over as you throw.

Separation drill: To learn to keep your weight back early in the throw– so you can shift your weight forward at the proper moment – hold the discus in the normal starting position with your back to the target. Keep your weight on your right foot. Step toward the target with your left foot, keeping your weight on the right foot, then turn and throw.

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