"You throw like a...girl!" My comment to that...THANK GOD! This blog was created to help those that have questions about throwing (highland games/track and field). I may not know EVERYTHING about throwing but I know a thing or two.
I am sorry to bust your bubble if you were getting all excited about MC Hammer...I am talking about about the Hammer! Or I guess I should specify the Scottish Hammer.
There are 2 different weights of Hammers in the HG for women; the 12lb and the 16lb (much heavier for men). The HG Hammers are usually made from PVC pipe (unlike its relative the "Olympic" Hammer that has wire and a handle) and a metal head. The hammer may not exceed 50" in length.
In HG you are not allowed to spin while throwing hammer. You stand behind a "trig" which is a wooden toe board and have a small amount (if any) of metal fencing around to protect spectators and other throwers. You may wear boots that have "blades" that comes out from the toe to dig into the ground so you are able to keep the feet in a fixed position. The thrower then winds the hammer around their head and throws out over their shoulder (your back is to the throwing area). Your feet may not leave the ground and you are not allowed to step/or fall over the trig or the throw will not count. Kinda the same concept as the "Olympic" Hammer.
Okay so now you kind of get the idea of what the Scottish Hammer is...
1- BEND YOUR KNEES! When you are going to throw the hammer, doesn't matter if it is regular or scottish BEND YOUR KNEES. I have watched my fair share of throwers and they do not bend their knees. Why you bend you ask? First off, it helps you stay balanced. Meaning you wont fall down and foul a throw. **This will also help if you do not use blades (like myself). Second, it helps add a little umph to your throw.
2- BLOCK AT THE HIPS. When you go to release the hammer act like there is a huge cement wall that only goes up to your belly button/hips. An exercise that will help with this in the gym is grab a bar (doesn't matter if its 25, 35, or 45) put it up behind your neck, stand with your feet shoulder width, then turn only the top part of your body. Do NOT move at the hips, you shouldn't feel any movement in your lower body. You should feel it in your abs and lower back. Okay so now you have a hammer...wind, wind, (wind), going to release but block those hips...watch the hammer fly...
3- TIGHTEN YOUR ABS/SQUEEZE YOUR BUTT- This also can go with the block but it is very important to tighten your abs while you go to block or release the hammer. When you squeeze your cheeks together it makes your hips stop. Go ahead and try it...you know you were anyway.
4- NO GATOR ARMS! Okay you are not a gator so make sure you don't look like one when you are winding around your head. You want to keep your arms as long and straight as possible. The reason: the longer your are the better you'll throw. At first this is going to be HARD! You will need to strengthen your core and your back along with build up your shoulders to help keep long. (I may not look like I have a strong core but underneith all that fluff I have some abs...somewhere!)
5- SLOW, MEDIUM, FAST- When you are winding the hammer don't try and go 0-100 miles an hour. If you have tried this then you probably found yourself on the ground and your hammer somewhere in the crowd because you released to soon (or late). Most people do about 2 winds, I do 3. I am not saying that 3 is better then 2 or that you should do 3 but for me personally I like to do the "slow, medium, fast" winding. You want to build up your speed for a smooth ride. If you start out fast you really are throwing everything out of whack and are forcing it to much.
Okay, I hope that the above tips will help you out. I just want to point out that I am NOT an expert at this event because I am still new to the games and one can never learn enough but I have been throwing "hammer" for about 10 years now.
I will use an example that doens't include myself of how all of the above tips can help your throw: My friend Cassie just started in the games this past month, she has never thrown a hammer before. She had 1 practice with me and it was a short practice at that. She went to her first games exactly 1 month ago, she threw the hammer about 60-70 feet...which is VERY impressive for never throwing it before. She went to her 2nd game and was even better. She followed these guidelines from above and ta-da...she is already throwing with the best of them after 2 GAMES!
Now that we have covered some tips, how bout a couple things that can help in the gym.
1- Bar twists: I explained earlier.
2- Plate twists: Hold a plate, doesnt matter if it is 5lbs or 45lbs (do what is comfortable to you), slightly bend your elbows (no gators allowed!). Only move upper body. Keep lower body locked it. Go side to side really working on flexability. Do about 3x10 each side. Work your way up in weight when it gets really easy.
3- Plate twists with winds: Mimic the pattern of the hammer. Arms straight, find your low point, bend knees, find high point, bending back so you can feel it in your abs, find low point again. Girls I suggest you use about a 5-10lb plate at first. 3x10 each side...everyday.
Alrighty people, I hope that this has helped! Another tip that I have is that when you go to warm up for the hammer get the men's hammer which is about 22lbs and drag it around. It sure makes the 16lb and 12lb feel really light. It's all in your head...lol!
The Highland Games originated from Scotland. The games are some of the oldest in the world, they say that the Highland Games influenced the Olympic Games!
There are 9 throwing events in the Highland Games: Braemar Stone (13-18lb), Open Stone (8-10lb), Caber, Sheaf (10-12lb), Light Hammer (12lb), Heavy Hammer (16lb), Weight Over Bar (28lb), Light Weight for Distance (14lb) and Heavy Weight for Distance (28lb). (Men throw heavier impliments) Eventually I will break down all of these very exciting events.
All while throwing, an athlete must wear some really cool gear. The kilt is a knee-length "skirt" with deep pleats that is usually made of a tartan wool. My kilt is called Black Watch, when I first started throwing in the games I wasn't sure which clan I belonged to so I choose Black Watch because it wasn't linked to any clan. I later found out that I could be a part of three different clans...but that is another story! Along with a kilt an athlete must wear kilt hose which are tall socks that cover the legs to the knee with garter flashes. These are elasticated straps worn inside the cuff of the hose to hold them in place. The flashes are short strips of fabric that match the color of your kilt.
Hope that this has provided you with a little bit of a background on HG...
I wanted to start up my own blog but I needed a little help on the subject title. So I went to my friend Brittney asking what I should blog about. She told me that I should create a blog that I could answer questions about throwing along with providing information too. I LOVED THE IDEA!
Here is a little background so you don't think I am a poser.
Thrown shot-put and discus since 4th grade (18 years)! I beat the 5th and 6th graders so my coach made me throw!
Gage High School School Record in Shot-put and Discus
Competed in 3 Oklahoma High School Track Competitions in Shot Put and Discus
Bethany College (Kansas) School Record in 20 # Weight Throw and Hammer
Competed in 5 National Track and Field Competitions in WT and HAM
Named Bethany College Female Athlete of the Year
Recieved the NAIA Sportmanship Award
Coached 6 Athletes to Nationals in 12 Throwing Events
Coached 3 All-Americans in 4 Throwing Events
Ranked 4th in the United States in Women's Highland Games (2010)
Hold the Highest Women's Sheaf Toss in the US at 30'1" (2010)
Okay now that that's all said...I love throwing! I love being strong! I praise God everyday that I am not ordinary!