I structure my throws sessions like below, as I’ve found this to work for me. That’s key — find what works for you. This is an “ideal” week, but with a full-time job and five kids, “ideal” is many times tough. I don’t need to tell you that; you have your hands full with life, as well.
**DISCLAIMER** I always know how far I’m throwing. I put marks out to hit and surpass every practice. What you don’t see below is the 18 months+ of throwing almost every day of the week that I did when I first started (got injured, too) and the years of other throwing. I’ve been doing this for 10+ years, now, and looking back, this is how I would structure it for Daniel McKim 2005 and thereafter:
Day One — Stone and Caber
One-two drills — no wrist wrap, get the wrist, hips, back, elbow, shoulder warm. This helps me line up my throws (early in the year, I’ll just walk back and forth across the field throwing these … lots of times)
Stand Throws (braemar) — no reverse
Stand Throws (braemar) — reverse
South African — no reverse (stick the finish, keep turning and driving the hip)
South African — full throws (I always put a mark out there to hit. Let’s say, it’s 54 feet with my 15.5 lb. stone. I’ll take my throws, work on the things I always have to work on, then take six final throws. I’ll either set it up like a comp where I have to hit it to “win,” then take three extras, or I’ll put it out there that I have to have four of the final six make it there and further.
Lay the caber down and do some mock carry and pulls (just like I do at a games).
Throw caber … run fast, pull hard. Do it again … and again … and again … you get the idea.
Day Two — Heavy weight, light hammer, Sheaf
One turns — I wish I had done these years ago, as they’ve really helped me line things up. Do lots until I can feel the sprint and finish (and my thumb is warmed up and stretched out). *If you’re starting out the sooner you start hook-gripping, the better.
Two turns — Just like full stone throws, I’ll finish up with a mark to hit on my final six or so. Compete with yourself. *Also, the sooner you move to two turns the better off you’ll be. Use one-turns as a drill not a competitive throw.
Light hammer — blades, if possible, from day one
Winds — lots of them. Put your feet in the ground, wind it up to three, then slam it into the ground just to your right. A lot of your hammer work should be done here. I’m also a believer in putting a massive hole in the round just off your right foot — you don’t let off and pull your blades out of the ground in a throw, so don’t get the in practice of it during your winds, but this is just my opinion.
Full throws — see above for final marks and hit. Again, get or make blades. You are ready for blades from day one. Hammer with blades and without are two completely different throws, so get in blades from the get-go.
Nothing earth-shattering here — slow, cautious pulls to get warmed up. Then, I draw a line in the grass with my foot, then measure out my steps like I’m throwing over a bar at a comp. If possible, depending on where I’m throwing, I’ll sometimes throw at a branch, as well, but I really like stepping out from the line and throwing. You can tell by where it lands if you had the right pull or not, if it was in or out, etc.
Day Three — Light weight, heavy hammer, WOB
Same as HWFD
I do the same here as I do for the light hammer, but I’ll warm up with the light hammer first, as it helps remind me of the speed and acceleration I want for the heavy. I throw the light and heavy differently (long story — ask me why at a comp sometime for the long, nerdy explanation and philosophy).
Just like the sheaf, I mark the ground and measure my steps out. I also have a homemade WOB upright, too.
I believe I over-threw in high school, college and the first six years of Highland Games. I like this structure, but again, what you don’t see here is the foundation and endurance built through 10 years of track and field and six years of throwingheavy events too much. Once I switched to this type of routine, my throws improved. Notice I split up my weights and hammers. I first changed this because they were my weakest events for too many years, so by splitting them I get more work on the events I needed. Weights are still very tough for me, but I’m working on it, and this structure helps. Focus on your weak events and optimize your time to improve on them.
All that’s left now is for you to hit the field and throw!
Thanks Dan, this is great information and I truly appreciate how much you share with us schlubs in the sport. Do you make changes to this based on the time of year? For example, are you hitting more drills in terms of volume early in the year versus more throws volume in-season or towards the end of the year or do you keep it steady all year through?
Definitely. Thank you!
Andrew! I’m glad it’s helpful, man. Thank you!
Good question. It does vary, and there are different times for different volumes. I do like to drill and work on things; remember, as long as technique doesn’t suffer, there are days where you just need to get a good volume of throws in. Yet, when you’re gearing up for a comp, make it more comp-like; put a mark out there and throw past it. I know this answer is vague, but only you can judge how many throws are “enough” at each session. I’d rather you do fewer throws with more sessions than more throws and fewer sessions … if that makes sense!
Thanks for writing these articles, they are super helpful.
What type of throwing volume are you shooting for? I’m sure this varies based on experience, where you are at in the season, etc, so I’m just wondering about a general range. For example, in the competition series of 6 throws you describe in the stone portion, how many full throws are you taking prior to your “final” six? Is it a prescribed number or just until you get things feeling right?