In the middle section of the shot put, the thrower advances in the ring and supports him or herself on one leg. There are many moving parts in this portion of the spin technique that must flow smoothly so the thrower can reach the power position correctly. The following advice is adapted from a lecture by John Godina at the 2012 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association track and field clinic. Godina, a four-time World shot put champion and two-time Olympic medalist, is currently an owner and coach at the World Throws Center
First single support position:
So now we’ve pushed off and we’ve got our right leg up in the air (for right-handed throwers). Turn with a long left arm. Why do we want a long left arm? It slows the rotation. We want to keep the rotation long and powerful and then be able to bring it in when we want it to accelerate. We don’t need acceleration out of the back of the ring. We need to create power. We need to keep things big, so we can make things small and speed everything up later.
Shoulders and hips are level with the hips low. I always tell my throwers, ‘If you have a problem, you’re probably too tall in the ring.’ Bend your knees and get your butt down. Two things that happen down at the bottom. Number one is, you can create more power from down there, which is good. And number two, it takes all the balance and puts it on your quads and your glutes, which are much more capable of balancing the athlete, then just the foot muscles. So we want to get as much of the large leg muscles involved as we possibly can.
The right leg sweeps wide. We want that thing as wide as possible, but in the shot especially we need it as low as possible. If they can get an inch from the ground – perfect. Because we’re going to have to rise into the middle of the ring. If we have the right leg too high, it drives us down into the middle and blows it straight out of the ring. So we have to have it low as it comes around the back of the ring.
The single support phase has two parts to it – the sweep, which is essentially where you turn around, and then the drive, which is where you go in a straight line into the throw. Obviously the athletes don’t need to know it’s two parts, but coaches must know it’s two parts.
The left leg drives the hips forward and up. I didn’t say anything about driving across the ring. In the spin shot all you’ve got to do is move your hips. And we’re going to take those hips, as I’m driving across, and we drive them forward and up. We don’t have to think about getting across the ring because the ring’s only 7 feet. In discus sometimes we have to make some variations with knee drop and things like that on the back to create more power across, to use the whole ring and maximize everything. In shot, all we’re doing is pushing everything through and re-positioning the body. We call it, ‘Setting the axis.’ So we land in the right position at the front so we can just turn and corkscrew up.
The right knee drives into the ring and up; the right knee lifts. The angles in what we’re doing here are a lot steeper than the distance. They have to be. Two reasons. Number one is, we need a steeper angle of attack just for pivots, to make the ball go its farthest. Number two, we’re in a tiny, little ring and we have to be able to have a super steep axis so when we land we can take everything vertical, otherwise we’d blow out of the ring. If you come in with a shallow axis and you’re upright rather than laid back, then you’re going to be in trouble because you can’t stop your momentum.
During this drive phase, the left side of the body, its only job is to push the hips through. It’s not to turn. Push the hips through, stop the rotation, create separation. Separation is, if I’m throwing and I land in the power position, we want to have a separation of hips and shoulders. As the thrower stops his left side, his right side turns, now we’ve got hip and shoulder separation. Then he rides that out to the landing.
Left leg extension:
A lot of times people are very reluctant to get full leg extension off that left side, because they’re worried they’re going to blow out of the ring. If they’re going to blow out of the ring, it’s because the hips aren’t getting far enough in front of the shoulders. The thrower should be able to create full extension, full power output and lay back. When we do our drive phase out of the back it is solely to lift the body and create new positions, meaning, shift everything – we’re just re-situating the axis as we go. If you don’t extend the leg fully, things start piling up. So, say you don’t extend that leg all the way. Number one, you’re not going to get the axis you want. And number two, you’re not going to get as much power as you want. So now we’ve lost a bunch of power and our hips aren’t in front of us enough, so when we land we can’t convert vertically. So now, what happens? Because even though the brain’s not consciously thinking it, the brain subconsciously knows, ‘I can’t drive my leg right now or I’m going to blow out of the ring.’ So now the legs shut down in front, too. In order to drive at the front, you actually have to drive as hard as you can out of the back to position yourself to drive to the front, or your brain will just shut it all off.
Rotational Shot Put: Coaching Advice
Rotational Shot Put: Stance and Start
Rotational Shot Put: Spinning Toward the Power Position
Rotational Shot Put: Power Position and Finish