Tips To Get Young Throwers On The Front Foot
Some young athletes lean backwards when they are trying to throw a shot or a discus.
At the extreme, some athletes will even take a step or “walk” back away from the front of the circle as they throw.
Obviously, moving backwards while trying to throw an object forwards is not very effective.
What Causes An Athlete To Lean Or Move Backwards?
Leaning back in the shot or discus can be caused by:
A loss of balance
Often, a loss of balance can stem from a poor block.
“Blocking” or “bracing” refers to the point at which the thrower is in their delivery stance and the non-throwing side of the body comes to a halt and is locked in place.
An athlete who is unbalanced, falling away, over-rotating or lifting their back foot as they throw is usually not achieving a good block.
To learn more about blocking, click HERE.
Poor Weight Transference
A poor transference of the athlete’s weight from the back to the front foot in the throws can commonly be attributed to:
- An athlete fearing that they will fall forwards out of the circle and record a failed throw.
- An athlete trying to get some height on the release of the implement – but doing it the wrong way. The athlete tips their body back rather than lift with the legs.
Solving The Problem
To solve the problem of an athlete leaning back, they need to taught:
- To block
- To transfer their weight forward as they deliver an implement.
- To use their legs.
This is best done away from any throwing circles and without using shots and discuses, so that there is no preoccupation with staying inside the ring or managing the implement.
Medicine balls are brilliant to use when teaching general throwing skills. Throw for distance, accuracy, from various stances and a range of starting positions. Use chest passes, overhead soccer-like throws and two-handed slings to teach the block, the use of the legs, transferring the weight forward and following through in the direction of the throw.
A broad exposure to throwing skills will often see good throwing fundamentals developed, including a basic block and follow-through, without the need for a lot of direct instruction.
These crucial fundamental skills are often missed in the rush to progress to sport-specific skills.
Do this stuff with kids before trying to teach them the technical intricacies of sport-specific throwing or at least include it as part of the warm up.
To encourage the kids to get their weight forward when throwing a medicine ball, cue them to step towards, and/or follow through towards a partner, an object, a target or a marker placed on the ground in front of them. The use of external cues are more likely to help them better learn and retain the skill.
When teaching an athlete to follow through in the direction of the throw it is important that their delivery position is “locked in”. i.e They achieve a block. If not, experiment with a variety of cues, activities, constraints (features of a task or the environment that can be manipulated by the coach to influence an athlete’s movements) and regressions to assist them achieve the desired positions and timing.
These fundamental skills of blocking and weight transference will then hopefully transfer to the sport-specific skills of shot and discus throwing.
Get hold of some medicine balls and start including some fundamental general throws in your throwing sessions, especially with novices or kids that are experiencing a lack of control or balance when throwing. Experiment with games and challenges and a range of coaching cues. I would love to hear how it goes. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details below.
E-Books by Coaching Young Athletes:
How To Teach Shot Put To Young Athletes E-Book (plus bonus cheat sheet)
How To Teach Discus To Young Athletes E-Book (plus bonus cheat sheet)
How To Introduce Javelin to Young Athletes (plus bonus cheat sheet)
What Is A Block In The Throws And How Do I Teach It?
Awesome Medicine Ball Ideas For Coaches of Young Athletes
The Fundamentals Are Never Too Basic To Teach
How to Use Coaching Cues Most Effectively
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.