I think we can all agree, you want chalk, tacky, tape, wraps, cleats, etc. at every practice. But, what about the things that set you apart and can really influence the effectiveness of your practices?
If you're like me, practice time is precious and all too limited, so you need to maximize that time. Here are three things I now take to every practice. I wish I could say I've been doing this since I started, but hopefully I can save you a few thousand throws here or there.
1. Tripod - Sometimes, the best coach is yourself, and you'll need footage to analyze yourself. I bring a tripod to every practice - not because I want "sweet slo-mo footage" for social media, but because I analyze my throws. Many times, what you're working on in your head isn't exactly how it turns out on film. Whether it's your low point in the hammer, the entry on your light weight or release point of a stone, take the time to film a lot of throws and coach yourself right there on the spot.
2. Toe Board - Does this need to be a full trig board? No. Does it need to anchored down? No. Take a scrap piece of wood from your garage or even a pallet at work and lay it down in front of your during practice. I used to drag my feet in the grass and call it good, but it's simply not the same. I'm also not a big fan of using a hammer or other implement as your trig - if you land on that hammer or the handle, you won't be either. Minimize your risk of injury and throw a piece of wood down.
3. All Hammers, All Weights, All Stones, All Shoes, etc. - Bring your gear, as you never know what will happen. Maybe you show up to the field and there's some baseball or soccer going on, which ends your plans for a light hammer practice. Maybe you blow up a handle on your first throw - no worries! I guess it's a weight or stone practice night! I'm also a big proponent of throwing on "feel." I have times where I plan for one event, but for some reason I'm not feeling it, and many times I won't know that until I hit the field. Sometimes that's the product of a sore oblique from a previous hammer practice, achy knee from squats earlier, a "stuck" elbow from playing catch with the boys, etc. You can have a plan, but if you're not planning for anything, then you may just miss out on a precious practice session.