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Shot Put – Teaching the Rotational Technique

Many throws coaches shy away from teaching the rotational shot put technique to beginners, thinking that rotation is too advanced for beginner throwers. I believe the rotational shot put can be just as easy, and in some cases easier to teach beginners than the glide technique.

The goal for beginners should be to dynamically get into and move through the power position successfully while staying in the circle. The glide technique requires single leg strength, and other sport specific strength and explosiveness that many young throwers do not have yet. This results in a poor glide, putting the athlete in a bad power position which is very difficult to successfully throw out of.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with teaching the rotational shot put to beginner throwers instead of the glide. While many think the rotation is more complicated and harder to learn than the glide, it can actually be quite simple. In a basic form, the rotation allows the athlete more time in a double support phase which results in the athlete landing in a better power position.

The teaching progression I have been using to teach the rotational shot put to beginners is as follows:

  1. Power Position: The thrower stands in a heel-toe relationship with feet perpendicular to the throwing direction. The athlete twists back so that the shoulders are opposite the throwing direction. The shot is held into the neck with the throwing thumb down. The blocking arm is held out 180 degrees relative to the throwing arm with the thumb pointing down as well. The blocking leg is relatively straight creating a line from the heel to the crown of the head. The majority of the athlete’s weight is on the power/back leg with the knee down over the outside of the foot. The athlete initiates the movement by driving the power knee into the direction of the throw until the hips are turned into the throwing direction, then deliver the shot put with the upper body.
  2. Get the athlete turning: Get the athletes used to turning through the circle by using a medicine ball or basketball held overhead. The athlete stands at the back of the throwing circle opposite the throwing direction with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly flared out. Press the knees down so that they are over the toes. Now pivot on the left foot and step to 180 degrees with the right foot/power foot landing in the center of the circle. Then step to the toeboard with the left foot, squeezing the knees together while in single support phase. Turn the hips into the direction of the throw and feel the exaggerated backward C position that the overhead ball creates
  3. Wheels with shot put: The athlete gets into the wheel position/half turn, with the power foot in the middle of the circle and left foot at the back of the circle. The athlete is facing the throwing direction. The right knee is down over the toe. The thrower pivots on the outside of the right foot, while bringing the left foot to the front of the circle landing in the power position, then delivering the shot.
  4. Pivot-pivot-throw: The athlete is now moving through the circle with a basic rotational movement, pivoting on the left foot out of the back of the circle, and the right foot in the middle of the circle and landing in a proper power position at the front of the circle to deliver the shot put.

By teaching the rotation to beginning throwers, I believe they develop a better sense of using their feet/hips in the throw, as opposed to the glide, where so many throwers land with their right toe still facing the back of the circle in the power position, shift to the front foot too soon and end up just throwing the shot put with the shoulder instead of creating a summation of forces.