Hammer Throw Competition Prep: 2023 Edition
BY BEN HAWKES
With the competition season in full swing, it's about time we start to think about how best to prepare for our competitions, both inside and outside of training.
To start, we'll look to dive deeper into a topic in one of our blogs from last year around planning our in-season training, the taper.
WHAT IS TAPERING FOR A THROWS ATHLETE?
Tapering for competition is often overcomplicated and can lead to an athlete being ‘undercooked’ going into competitions.
I know I've done this myself, and it took me a long time to learn how to do things properly in this domain. I found it helpful to separate the taper from the broader ebbs and flows of in-season training and reduce it to a 7-14 day lead-in to meet day, depending on how highly you value the given competition.
In this period, I look to reduce the variety of hammers I use daily, narrowing my bandwidth from maybe 6.5-7.75kg to 7.00-7.26kg. This allows me more consistency in my throwing, and I can really dial in the first few throws - like on comp day - as I'm not spending time getting used to a new ball each day. I would also look to make sure you're using the same length hammer to really give yourself the best chance of connecting with the ball.
HOW DO THROWS ATHLETES MENTALLY PREPARE?
Regarding psychological preparation, I like to know that I've done everything possible to give myself the best chance of throwing well. Whether that's through being extra-prepared with food, clearing my schedule to allow better recovery, or making an effort to arrive in plenty of time to each session to practice some mindfulness or visualisation before starting the session. Little things such as this can add up to give you quite a substantial benefit when it comes to comp day.
Again, these processes ramp up around 7-14 days before a competition. Obviously, we strive for excellence year-round, but I find that time-related things like calendar clearing and extra warmup time are only possible for so long when balanced with work or education commitments. It's almost blocking out a few weeks by tipping the scale over to "selfish" with your time to give you the best chance of performing on the day.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE A HAMMER THROW COMPETITION?
When it comes to the last 2-3 days prior to competition, we look to plan travel and pre-meet sessions as best we can to allow normality to continue for as long as possible.
For example, with a domestic competition landing on a Sunday, I might take Friday as a rest day, travel up Saturday morning and then have a pre-meet shakeout at the competition venue in the afternoon. Some people might prefer to swap those, and you can find out which works best for you through trial and error. Sometimes you might travel two days before, but I do try to avoid travelling on the same day.
The pre-meet routine should be short and sweet; for throwers, I'd say around 30-45 minutes maximum. Get in, warm up, take ~3 throws (or ~3 true efforts, if your routine doesn't involve throwing), and get out. I've found this to work well for me in the past as it's enough to get me going, not enough to tire me out, and always leaves me wanting more ready for meet day.
PERFORMING AT YOUR BEST FOR YOUR HAMMER THROW COMPETITION
On competition day itself, I would always leave 2-3 hours before your start time to register, get familiar with the venue, relax and chat with friends before starting warmup. This might vary depending on call room times and other factors, but 2-3 hours is usually a good enough margin.
WHAT SHOULD AN ATHLETE EAT AND DRINK DURING COMPETITION?
In terms of nutrition, I like to make sure I have enough carbs in the system to give me energy, and I caffeinate using either drinks or gums. My warmup is pretty sharp and not too dissimilar to a key throwing session - mobilising hips, getting my trunk prepped and feeling springy in the legs. Then I return to that visualisation and mentally prepare myself as I go into the call, have a final chat with my coach and get ready to go.
TO SUM UP...
What I have spoken about in this blog is how I usually prepare for my hammer throw competitions. I hope my routine inspires you to think about your own and to make additions where necessary if you believe this will help you in the long run.
Thanks for reading!
ABOUT BEN HAWKES
Ben is a hammer thrower who competes internationally for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is also a sport massage therapist and strength and conditioning coach.
He has been writing content and producing videos for us for over a year, and his content focuses on hammer throwing tips and strength & conditioning guides for your athletic training!