How to throw the hammer (Technique)

Originally published by Dave Smith 

Although you will see top class throwers attaining all sorts of positions, the faults listed below are to correct novice to medium throwers. It is based on my understanding of a basic and effective model for throwing. 
I work on a basic clock principal where 12 o’clock is normally between the feet at the back of the circle. 6 o’clock is the center point between the sector at the front of the circle

Hammer Throw Club
Hammer Throw Club

1. Athlete throwing with both arms bent.

Check position of grip, if the handle is held too far up the fingers the athlete has the ability and a tendency to pull in the arms. Move the position of the handle to the second pad from the end of the fingers after the first finger joint and allow the tips of the fingers of the right hand to wrap around the second knuckle of the left.

The athlete will then find it very difficult to throw with bent arms, this will also give another 2-3cm of radius. 

Tense shoulders can also contribute to bending the arms. Allow the athlete to walk the hammer around taking small steps, while the hammer is rotating get them to pull in and then reach (relax) the shoulders to gain the to feelings of tension and relaxation 

2. Athlete entering over a straight left leg (heel turn)

Ensure the swings include range over the left-hand side. Do not “chop” the swings short and bob under the wire.

In the swings take the hammer through the front and keep the arms straight until the hands pass in line with the left shoulder and keeps the hips central and under the shoulders (Very Important!).

This ensures that in the second swing the weight has transferred enough to turn around a bent left.

Ensure that the hammer runs around to the 6 o’clock position and the right shoulder is brought around with it, during turning drills try and transfer the body weight to the ball of the left foot avoid turning on the side of the foot also avoid pulling away the left side during turning practice. (get the feeling of time at the back)

Although maybe an old fashioned point of view, swing/turns can be an effective way of correcting/avoiding faults. 

3. Athlete landing heavy on the right / falling to the right in delivery

Usually derived from pulling with the left side- leading with the left knee, left shoulder or the head.

Follow 2 above. Try “pushing” the right hand side instead of “pulling” the left. Let the hammer run around the left. Keep your head and shoulders in a neutral position in the triangle formed by the arms and shoulders.

Avoid bending the left arm. Ensure you enter with an “active” right side.

During slow turning drills pick a focal point at the back (lamp post , tree etc) try and see this point as you go through 6 o’clock. (avoid “spotting”- anticipating or leaving your head on the focal point. Potential problem with young girls if ever they have taken dancing/ballet lessons). Take the right hip to the back. 

4. Lifting shoulders during entry with toe turn.

Try turning on the ball of the left foot not on the toes (take the left knee over the left foot.)

Keep the left heel close to the floor and an active right foot on the entry. Think about taking the right hip around to 6 o’clock. 

5. Right foot placement is landing late 

Turning inside – dragging the left or “knees tied together” (see fault 6).
Ensure the right hip is taken to the back avoid piking – keep the hips forward during the swings, avoid letting the shoulders drop through on the entry.

During turning drills attempt to put the right foot down at 3 o’clock. Keep the thinking of the feet parallel during your slow drills and ensure the right foot is active as soon as it lands pushing the right hand side.

When you land at three with the right, ensure the left heel has come into line with the right foot (do not leave the left heel behind), both feet should be at three and parallel.

Avoid “splitting” (leaving the hammer behind when the right foot lands) to much as this leads to the right-hand side going ahead of the hammer and either “turning inside” or pulling the left side on entry into the next turn. 

6. Knees Tied together

When you watch the thrower the turns may look tight and compact but the athlete generates very little power due the lack of independence between the legs when conducting the turns.

During slow turning drills get the athlete to step over from the 6 o’clock position. The athlete should make a positive step over. If a sliding sound can be heard when the right foot lands at three, the athlete is not making a positive step.

Place an object (a small medicine ball 20cm diameter or hold a shoe) adjacent the left toe when the athlete is in the 6 o’clock position. Get the athlete to step over the ball ensure the left heel follows and the left foot is parallel to the right when landing at 3 o’clock.

The step should be generated by the right knee lifting through and not the right foot lifting with the knees tied by an imaginary piece of string. Keep the flat of the foot parallel with the ground as it is taken over the ball.

7. Hammer plane becomes very steep after landing on the first turn

Athlete looking at the floor causing them to lift the hammer as they enter the second turn.

Work the hammer with the right side – take the right side around to the back (6 o’clock).

Keep the head in a neutral position and keep the hips through as the athlete turns through the low point, around 12 o’clock. Get the athlete to look out at the back (check for the focal point) and keep their chin up through the front.

Original author: Dave Smith 

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