Hammer Throw Coaching

The hammer is a ball with a swivel connected by a wire with a handle. The hammer is 7.26 kilos (16 pounds) for men and 4 kilos (8 pounds 9 ounces) for women. In the United States, the boys throw 5.44 kilos (12 pounds), the women's hammer is 4 kilos. At the international level, many countries throw lighter hammers as young throwers develop technique.

The hammer throw is part of the long tradition of objects being hurled for distance going back thousands of years.

The basic concept is similar to other modern track and field events, throw for distance within a given sector and remain within the confines of the throwing area. In the hammer throw, the circle is 7 feet.

Safety

Proper safety precautions with the hammer throw are always the first concern of any coach. A certified cage with a landing area clear on all sides with markings that restrict access is needed. The hammer doors should always be in the correct settings during training.

Circle Degrees

When teaching the hammer, the 360 degrees of the circle are used as reference points. 0/360 degrees in the back of the circle, going counter-clock wise, the front of the circle is 180.

Now, it is time for the first lesson in hammer throwing, learning how to turn properly.

Teaching the Hammer Throw

Starting Position
The thrower and hammer will work as one unit, turning together: the thrower-hammer system will always stay aligned for beginning hammer throwers.

Start on the track with the hammer thrower holding a hurdle board or golf club. The thrower will set up with both feet flat, shoulder width apart, and knees bent in a quarter squat position.

The bodyweight is either 50/50 or slightly more weight on the left leg.

The left hand grips on the hammer on the last groove of the digits.

Throwers either uses a left handed glove with open fingers or tape. The right hand is placed on top of the left loosely to secure the hammer in place.

When first teaching the hammer throw, use a golf club or top of the hurdle, or some other type of implement that is about 3'-4' long and light (under 3 pounds).

The thrower will hold the implement straight out from the center of the chest with the shoulders level. The throwers eyes will be up, looking down the end of the hammer head.

Teaching the Hammer Throw Turns

Turn to 90

The hammer thrower initiates the movement by turning to the left 90 degrees. The bodyweight will shift from flat feet to the left heel and right toe.

Remember, the thrower-hammer system will move together, the hammer head and both feet will face 90 degrees. The hammer head and the eyes of the thrower will also be at 90 degrees.

Both legs will stay bent during the turn to 90 degrees.

The hammer thrower can turn back to the right to 0 degrees slowly and repeat the drill.

Turn to 90, turn to 180

The hammer throwers starts at 0 degrees, the turns to 90 degrees (similar to the previous drill) then pause for two seconds.

Next, the hammer turns on the left heel and right toe to 180 degrees, the hammer head and both feet should be at 180 degrees.

The left foot starts on the heel, as the thrower turns to 180 degrees the left foot moves from the heel to the side of the foot then onto the left toe. The focus should be on the heel to toe action with little emphasis on the side of the foot for beginning hammer throwers.

The hammer throw teaching progression for the 180 to 270 drill:

  • With a pause at 180
  • Slow continuous turns
  • Slow to 180 with a quick right foot to 270

The 180 to 270 to 0 drill is performed with a long implement, such as a hurdle board or golf club.

After the hammer thrower can turn multiple times continuously, we can start the process of turning with the hammer.

Turns with the Hammer

When teaching the drills with the hammer, start with the hammer gripped with the left hand and fingers wrapped around the handle for safety. This is not a standard hammer grip, since the drills are completed outside the cage, the hammer must be gripped tighter.

Turns On The Ground

The hammer starts on the ground behind the thrower, the thrower pushes the ball to 0, then turns with the hammer on the ground until the ball and the thrower reach 180, then the hammer thrower picks up the right foot and plants 270 then turns with the ball, waiting for the ball to hit 0, then turns again.

Turns On The Ground and To The Air

After the hammer thrower can turn with the ball on the ground slowly with multiple turns, then after two turns on the ground, the thrower can raise the hammer up and turn with the ball in the air. Think of the two on the ground turns as the wind and the three hammer turns in the air as real turns with the hammer.

Hammer Throw Coaching Points 

  • The hammer and the thrower stay together (especially from 0 to 180)
  • Gradually bring the hammer head up to the knees
  • Turn flat (no orbit) then slowly speed up each turn

The Hammer Throw Grip

The hammer thrower can use tape to cover the fingers for protection or the thrower can use a throwing glove, right handed throwers use a left handed glove.

The fingers of the left hand curl in and the right hand is placed over the left hand.The hammer is placed between the first and second ridge of the left hand.

Hammer Throw Winding

The hammer thrower sets up in back of the circle with both feet flat and the hammer behind the right foot with the left arm straight, the shoulders will twist slightly. The hammer is brought up and pushed toward 0 degrees, next, the arms curl up and go over the right ear. Push-curl-reach are good cues for this winding action.

Coach Larry Judge uses the terms 'Sweep-Curl-Form the Window-Twist' when coaching the hammer throw. Coach Judge uses the phrase "Sweep hammer across the front, looking slightly right of the ball. Do not let hands pass the midline of the body. As the ball passes in front of the body, curl the left arm and form a window in front of the body. Legs are fairly rigid during winds with bodyweight shifting opposite the ball."

 Starting with a golf club or hurdle board, teach the basic movement of the hammer winding action.
 
After the hammer thrower is comfortable winding, move on to the actual hammer.

Winding and Turning

Now, the hammer thrower is ready to wind and turn with the hammer. We start with two easy winds followed by 3-5 turns in a row.

The hammer thrower can wind and turn with a basic three turn throwing technique.

After the hammer thrower can wind and turn multiple times on the track, then it is time to try throwing in the ring.

Without any instruction on how to release the hammer, I have the hammer thrower take two winds and three turns and let the ball go...that is it.

After a few days of drills (broken down below), the hammer thrower throws 6-8 throws in the ring with a light hammer. I recommend a 3 kilo hammer for women and a 4 kilo hammer for high school boys (or younger). For college men, starting with the 5 kilo hammer is heavy enough.

The hammer thrower should start with flat orbits and work on developing smooth controlled turns. After several days of throwing, the orbit is developed, mainly by telling the hammer thrower to throw the ball high at the release. If that coaching cue is ineffective, review video with the hammer thrower and watch the orbit and how it changes with each turn with top level throwers to help the novice thrower understand the event better. Then go back to the circle and coach slowly raising the high point on each turn gradually. Many other methods are effective, however most throwers that have good body awareness can develop a basic orbit early on.

Here is the practice breakdown for week one of hammer throwing:

Hammer Throw Day 1

Drills with the Golf Club

  • Turn to 90
  • Turn to 90, turn to 180
  • Turn to 180
  • Turn to 180, step to 270
  • Turn to 180, step to 270, turn to 0
  • Turn to 180, step to 270, turn to 0, turn to 180 (repeat up to 4 times in a row)
  • Turn to 180, step to 270 (continuous turns x5-10)

Hammer Throw Day 2

Review turning sequence

  • Turn to 180, step to 270, turn to 0, turn to 180 ( x5-10 repetitions)
  • Turn to 180, step to 270 (5 continuous turns x5 repetitions)

Turns with the hammer

  • Turn with hammer on the ground x4-5 turns (5-10 sets)
  • Turn with hammer on the ground x2 turns plus 3 turns in the air (5-10 sets)

Hammer Throw Day 3

Repeat turning and drills from Day 2

Review turning sequence

  • Turn to 180, step to 270, turn to 0, turn to 180 ( x5 repetitions)
  • Turn to 180, step to 270 (5 continuous turns x5 repetitions)

Turns with the hammer

  • Turn with hammer on the ground x4-5 turns (5 sets)
  • Turn with hammer on the ground x2 turns plus 3 turns in the air (5 sets)
  • Learn how to wind and turn with the hammer (10 sets x2 winds and 3 turns)

Hammer Throw Day 4

Review turning and drills from previous days

  • Turn with hammer on the ground x4-5 turns (5 sets)
  • Turn with hammer on the ground x2 turns plus 3 turns in the air (5 sets)
  • Wind with a golf club (5 sets  x3-5 winds)
  • Wind with the  hammer (5 sets  x3-5 winds)
  • Wind and turn with the  hammer ( 5 sets 2 winds and 3 turns)

Hammer throw with light hammer (8 throws- 2 winds and 3 turns)

Hammer Throw Day 5

  • Turn with hammer on the ground x4-5 turns (3 sets)
  • Turn with hammer on the ground x2 turns plus 3 turns in the air (5 sets)
  • Learn how to wind with a golf club (3 sets  x3-5 winds)
  • Learn how to wind with the  hammer (3 sets  x3-5 winds)
  • Learn how to wind and turn with the  hammer ( 5 sets 2 winds and 3 turns)

Hammer throw with light hammer (12 throws- 2 winds and 3 turns)

After several practices with the actual hammer, introduce medicine ball throws that simulate the hammer release and turning action, the video demonstrates several drills for the hammer throw that can be incorporated into specific training days and help develop proper technique.

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