Highland Games Basics: "1,2 Drill"

Highland Games Basics: "1,2 Drill"

Highland Games Basics: 1-2 Drill

When I was a freshman in college I had a great throws coach who quickly identified a few problems in my shot put approach; like most all 18 year olds, I had bad habits as well as things I did naturally that needed work. I think that’s an important aspect of throwing we often overlook – what we call “bad habits” may just be natural dispositions toward throwing that event. Some of us are made to be big putters while others are made to chuck massive hammer craters. To me, that’s the beauty of the heavy events – you don’t need to be, neither should you be, a gold medalist in only one event.

So, now that I’ve bored you with some random soapbox rant about the complexity of the heavy events, let’s roll right into this “1-2 Drill” for the Open Stone.

The “1-2 Drill” is something my coach, Shylo Eaton, used to have me drill over and over again. It serves a few purposes, but for me, it largely helped me finish my push into the shot (stone). I have always struggled with throwing the stone out to the extreme right side. For me, I have to do this drill each and every time I practice the stone. So, let me break it down for you:

  1. Put your feet wider than shoulder width (how wide that is, is up to you, but you don’t want a narrow base).
  2. Your left foot (right foot if you’re left handed) should be slightly behind your right foot. Hear me out, as I know this can seem confusing. If you were to put a yard stick (um, a meter stick if you use the metric system?), your left foot would be out of line of the right foot. Think of it this way – your left foot toes should be closely in line with your right heel.
  3. With the stone on your neck, lean over your right leg and foot. Keep your left arm nice a loose, as it will hang down.
  4. Be sure and keep your weight over your right foot, while keeping your right heel off the ground. That’s right - your heel off the ground. Don’t worry, this will be tough.
  5. With your upper body still facing back, your left arm down and loose, your right heel off the ground, turn your right foot toward the landing area. This is “1.” Audible cues help me, so this is that audible “1” that Shylo used to bark out to me all the time.
  6. Here’s the kicker; now that you’re in that position. Hold yet. Yep. Hold it. It will take a few times for you to get the balance, but force yourself to stay in it. Target a solid three second hold.
  7. After “1,” comes … “2!” Great guess! Your elementary teachers would be so proud (or, Mom, for your homeschoolers). “2” is the throw. This throw isn’t going to be far. Trust me. The key here is to finish the push on the stone, throwing it to the left-center of the landing area (sector). DO NOT REVERSE YOUR FEET. This is a mistake that many throwers make. The reverse should largely be a product of the throw; that if you don’t reverse your feet you’ll foul your throw. On this drill, you’re focusing on a hard right foot turn, a long and strong push on the stone all the way through it and to the left side and a powerful left side block (without a reverse)!

And, because I know we would much rather watch videos than read, I posted a video about this drill a while back. For some of my fellow Cliff Notes aficionados, you’ll enjoy this.


  • Ben Edwards

    Thanks for the detailed video and write-up, Dan! I met you at Thom Van Vleck’s 2010 Kirksville Highland Games and you were very helpful, which meant a lot because I was a complete beginner.

  • Rodney Dodson

    Thanks my stone are really bad .it feel like .i am either. Throwing. Short or strait up . I am older and just my 2 year to compete so just trying to get competeive. Bramar 27 open 29 so no real skill .every little bit of help is great

  • Jonathan

    Thanks Dan! Always looking for help with the stones. This helps give me a chunk to work on as it’s all of it. Focusing on a portion helps me target the mind. Again, thanks!

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