Last time we discussed “out the back.” We went through the initial starting stance, the first movement, the right leg circumscribing the arc and then the right leg beginning its arc around the pivot point of the left leg.
The next phase I call “Slowly I turned, step by step.” Actually it’s step-pivot step. This is the drive phase. Sometimes it’s called the horizontal pathway where momentum is added to the pivoting start position.
Remember we started the whole thing by shifting weight to the ball of the left foot and using the right foot to circumscribe an arc around the pivoting of the left foot. This is for right-handed throwers. The left foot will pivot 180 degrees. The left foot will then be the anchor for the beginning of the sprint phase.
The right foot is pre-turned to give it a head start on the 360 degree pivot which starts in the center of the circle. When the right foot touches down it should be pre-turned slightly counter-clockwise. The upper arms are kept parallel to the ground and the knees should almost touch. If the right leg is kept too wide, it will cause over-rotation at the front of the circle and power will be lost. Your left shoulder will drop and the right arm will try to find balance.
It is important that the center of gravity stays low and constant and the footwork is done close to the ground. No lifting of the foot up, no heel kicking during the single leg support. These are signs that you are not low enough.
Stay low, lower and lowest.
The momentum starts at the feet and spirals up through the power position (separation/torque is re-asserted at this point). Remember not to duck your head as this will eliminate your pulling power. If you duck your head, you end up pushing the shot and risk fouling.
The top high school performer of all time, Michael Carter, who was a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics and played guard for the 49’ers, said he wanted to have the drive and lift that I had, but he forgot about torque. He didn’t turn his right foot to six o’clock and he got stuck in the middle of the circle. Instead of sprinting with his right foot, he sort of dragged it. His standing throw was 65 feet, and he only added six feet. With a turn of the right foot and the running momentum it can generate, I could add 10 feet and more.
It is a very small detail in the whole rotation technique, but it goes to show you how important even the smallest detail can be. Carter was a great thrower, a powerful thrower, but he could have added another two or three feet with just a very small modification.
The next phase is the Nirvana phase. I named this concept after the Hindu concept that says when nirvana is reached, there is an extinction of the individual existence. So, in throwing, it is the moment when you become one with the throw, grasshopper.
This seldom mentioned and often misunderstood position is the most significant to the outcome of the throw and the recovery following the throw because it combines all the energies going into the pivot, gains power and directs the momentum up through the release. I’ll explain more in the next blog.
A drill for you:
Put a Frisbee on top of your head, get into the starting position, and keep it on your head as you go from the starting position into the rotation. Our throwing camp record for this drill is 137 rotations without the Frisbee falling off. That student got a full ride to the University of Pittsburgh. A young female thrower invented this drill. Her name was Esparza. She got a scholarship to Amherst.
Try this drill just walking on a track. See if you can go 10 yards and keep it on your head.Let me know.
By Brian Oldfield with George Houde
(this blog was originally posted on 4/19/2012)