THE HAMMER

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In the hammer throw, as with all other throwing events, there is a sequencing of events. To get a maximum effort, this sequencing must be accomplished by activating the larger, slower muscles and levers first and then follow with smaller, weaker but faster muscle groups.

The rotation must start by leading with the hips. The hips, thighs and trunk get the hammer moving. The arm, wrist and hand muscles fire to give it a final impulse at release.

GETTING IT STARTED

The Static Start: The athlete has to first decide where to place the hammer in the ring. A good position is to place it about three feet behind the right foot (for a right handed thrower). The athlete should be standing in the back of the ring and facing rearward. The feet should be comfortably placed about shoulder width apart. The body should be well balanced, with the shoulders level and the head up. The eyes should be focused outside of the ring and slightly to the right. Movement should be as a system, keeping the knees, hips, hands, head and the hammer consistently aligned with one another. The arms should be fully extended and the torso should be erect. When the hammer is in front of the thrower, the eyes should be focused on the ball or slightly behind it.

The Pendulum Start: An experienced thrower may want to get started by using a preliminary movement to generate some momentum. A pendulum movement can be initiated by placing the ball next to the left leg and start by swinging from the left hip to the front. An alternate position is to place the ball in directly in front of the thrower. The intent is to get the hammer into motion before the wind is initiated.

Gymboss Timers

The Dynamic or Step-in Start: Rather than having the feet evenly spaced in alignment, the left foot is located about one foot farther back (toward the front of the ring) than the right foot. This position is maintained during the first wind and the left foot is moved into an evenly aligned position on the second wind. This start will aid in the establishment of a rhythm at the start.

THE WINDS

The athlete will usually perform two "winds" (complete revolutions of the hammer head) prior to starting to turn. The rhythm of the winds should be the same as used in the turns. The position of the low point is critical, so a proper set of winds is a key element to a good throw. As the head rotates during the winds, the athlete should be shifting their COM (center of mass) in the opposite direction from the head. This allows one to maintain balance and stability.

The opposing force between the hammer and the throwers weight generates the force in the winds. The low point is near or slightly to the right of the center of the first wind. The opposing forces should be nearly equal, producing symmetrical winds.On the second wind, the body movements become more exaggerated. This is caused by the increase in force caused by the speed of the hammer. It is critical that the right foot be kept straight and never allowed to become "open".

The second wind will be faster than the first. The angle of the upward path of the hammer should be increased slightly. The swing's low point will be slightly left of center.

THE TRANSITION TO THE TURNS

The body will be come a rotating axis for the hammer as the hammer begins the descent from the second wind. As the hammer reaches its low point on the second wind, the turn is started as soon as the the hammer passes the left leg. The thrower should start a pivot on the heel of the left foot while pushing with the right toe. Care should be exercised in keeping the center of mass of the body centered above the legs and not disproportionally over one leg.

THE TURNS

As the right foot is pulled from the ground by the pull of the hammer, the athlete initiates the turn. The right leg is the driven around the bent left leg and replanted. The left leg is locked and the trunk is erect. The plane of the hammer is relatively flat on the first rotation. The feet, the knees, the hips, the torso, the arms and the legs must move as a unit in the first turn.

During the rotation, all of the action takes place in the main/large muscle groups with the hands, arms, shoulders and head remaining relatively passive. In each turn, the athlete will assume the bent left leg position to facilitate getting the right foot placed back on the ground as quickly as possible. There should be no feeling of rhythm disruption or breaks in the flow of the motion.

It is critical that the movement of the hammer is through pushing with the right hand/arm and not from a pulling action on the left side. In each succeeding turn, the length from the back of the head to end of the hammer should increase as the upper body counters the increasing pull of the hammer. The arms must be maintained in a long, straight and relaxed position.

THE RELEASE

At the beginning of the last turn, the thrower must start to concentrate on the one last effort. As the right foot starts to hit the ground, a final explosive counter and pull must be initiated. The body is extended and the head is thrown backwards. With the arms kept straight, the hammer is propelled up and over the left shoulder. The release angle should be as close to 42 degrees as possible.

TRACKING

HEAD POSITION TRACKING: The easiest way to evaluate the effectiveness of a hammer thrower's technique is to track the movement of the head. When watching the throw motion from the front (far in front so that you don't get hit), track the movement of the head to a fixed reference point in line with and behind the head. The amount of side to side movement should increase with each turn, especially in the last two turns. No increase in movement indicates that there is no increase of speed/force on successive turns.

HIP MOVEMENT TRACKING: The up/down movement of the hips during the turns is another good indicator of technique. This movement should again be tracked relative to a fixed object in the background, but 90 degrees to the side rather than from the front. A relatively flat motion of the hips indicates that the thrower is not dropping to the bent left leg position and that the right hip/leg is not assuming the power position required to push the hammer around.

LINK TO THROWS MAIN PAGE

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