This new theory about the speed of light is disturbing. We have been used to thinking of the speed of light as Einstein defined it — nothing goes faster than 186,000 miles per second, give or take a few parsecs.
If the new theory proves true, they will have to re-think and re-calculate a lot of things: the relationship of time and space; how light works; how time flies; how the universe works; how long you must cook a frozen pizza.
It seems impossible that something can go faster than the speed of light, a velocity which we cannot really imagine. But it could happen. I came close to the speed of light a few times running out of certain bedrooms and bars, but I could never quite get to that level.
What does this have to do with throwing? Everything. For instance, it seems impossible that somebody will throw 80 feet, but it could happen. I’ve done close to it in warm-ups. Sometime in the near future, a thrower will get everything aligned, the axis will be just right, the conditions will be perfect, the rotation will provide acceleration, the trajectory perfect. The cannonball will be launched into orbit.
The whole light speed theory just proves my point that just when you think you’ve reached your best, there is still a way to throw farther, run faster, jump higher. We can be faster than we think we can. We can throw farther than we think we can. We can achieve what we think we can’t.
I challenge you to test this theory. You’ll need a few things.
One, develop your sixth sense. That’s the sense of knowing. Knowing what? Knowing you can achieve what you thought you couldn’t. Knowing yourself. Knowing your weaknesses. Knowing where you are vulnerable to flaws.
Weaknesses are not just a matter of strength. The five senses are involved. Watching the world championships this year, I noticed that some of the throwers close their eyes at the release. You never want to close your eyes at any point in your throw. It is difficult to find out exactly where you are in such an explosive and instantaneous event as the shot-put, and closing the eyes does not help.
You must watch the shot leave your hand. This is commonly known as hand-eye coordination and throwers must have it in order to place the shot through the designated attack point, or the AP. This is the imaginary point in the sky that throwers must try to attack with the shot for optimum effect. It varies from thrower to thrower, depending on size, strength, speed and whether he or she spent the previous night at the bar lifting pints.
You have to find your own AP and make an imaginary map of it to keep tucked somewhere inside your thrower’s brain.
You have to know where you are going to release — where your trajectory will start – and attack that point. The more you keep your eyes open, the more information you will receive. The more information you receive, the more accurate you will be.
You have to study the things you don’t know. You look in the shadows, in the corners, in the slight movement. One of the most important things I ever did was watch the shot leave my hand. One time in Portland, I was in first place and my arch-rival Randy Matson was in second.
Matson was throwing off his chest and I told him throw it over his eyes so he could watch it leave his hand. And he did. He watched his hand go up and the shot leaving his hand. He sawed me off and I thought, “Oldfield, you just talk too much.”
Watch with both eyes, so your head doesn’t turn away. Your left side has to be firm, and you have to keep your chin forward. Don’t flinch or crib away from the throw.
And I will say it here again and not for the last time. Running is important. There is nothing that can’t be enhanced by running faster. Running and breathing put us in touch with the universe. Then we can consider the Big Bang theory and all of its implications. I don’t mean jogging 9 minute miles for an hour. Sprinting is more important. Power running for form. Because in the ring, you have to get from point A to point B as fast as you can, at something approaching the speed of light. We need to feel fast. And we need to feel light on our feet.
There are two kinds of people – those who think they can’t and those who think they can. And they’re both right.
And about that Big Bang Theory, it was in Dallas and, well, I think the theory held up pretty well.
One last thing. All you disciples out there, write me. I need help to get to Valhalla in a Viking ship. I’ll take my time, so we’ll just forget about the speed of light.
By Brian Oldfield with George Houde
(this blog was originally posted on 10/30/2011)