I wrote this for our freshmen throwers at CSU. I decided to post it.
I was one of those athletes who was not a natural born competitor in the throws. I had to teach myself to compete. Here are some things that helped me.
1.) Keep a journal – a journal helps you keep your focus on practices and competitions and also record your sequence of throws rather than your best throw for that competition.
a. In practice –
i. I used to write down what I was working on and what I was thinking about when I was working on it. It helped me focus on what I wanted to do at my next practice before I showed up.
b. Before competition –
i. Your goals should be written in your journal. Not just your season goals, but goals for each meet.
c. In competition –
i. I used to set my goals and watch myself work toward that goal by recording my progression of throws. Not only did it help me keep things in perspective without getting too worked up, but I could see if I was becoming more consistent. Maybe I didn’t get a new PR, but I had my best series of throws, that showed me that I was getting better because I was becoming more consistent.
ii. Keeping a journal also helped me to get into a routine. I would throw, write down my throw, go talk to coach, and then go prepare for the next throw. When they would call my name “in the hole” I’d approach the throwing area, ready to go.
2.) Keep track of your personal records. You should always know what your best is, both in feet and in meters. It’s easy to know this if you have it written down.
3.) Be a student of the competition – What will warm up time be like? What flight are you in? How many people are in each flight? This isn’t your coach’s job to figure out, it’s yours. The more you know the better prepared you are. This should help your confidence.
4.) Warm up until you feel “almost ready” especially if you are one of those people who has a habit of hitting a bigger throw in warm-ups than you do in competition. Trust your training. Trust your coaches. Trust yourself.
5.) Learn to use nervous energy to help you throw farther, not crumble under pressure. My first few years of competition I was the person who would be deathly nervous and instead of using it to my advantage, I would shut it off and compete flat. I read a quote that I could compete 15% better or 15% worse when I was nervous. I started using nervousness to tell me I was ready to throw big. It took practice but I was able to PR a number of times at the conference meet based on this philosophy. When I didn’t use it things didn’t turn out so well.
6.) FOCUS ON YOURSELF. You should want your teammates to do well, but they are still your competition. Don’t forget this. I always supported my teammates, but my first priority was me. As a throws team, we had the understanding that we wanted to beat our competition at their best. I (and I know my teammates, many of whom were All-Americans) wanted to beat each other’s PR’s. We knew this would help make each other better, and it did. Go after the top ten list. Chances are that if you get yourself on this list, you’ll be an All-American. Go after the school record. Why shouldn’t you have it?
7.) Don’t ignore your weaknesses. Coach Bedard says this often. Make your weaknesses your strengths. Look at your competitive style. What needs help? You know. Work on it. In both practice and competition. Think about it at night before you go to bed.
8.) Big meets = Big Risks = Big Rewards.
a. Don’t wait for the competition to throw big and respond. Set the stage.
b. Set a goal for your first throw. Get a solid mark to work from.
c. Focus on the task, not the outcome.
d. Carry yourself like a champion.
e. Use Positive self-talk, focal points, and routines
i. I used quotes to aid myself talk. One I liked “The man at the top of the hill didn’t fall there.” Or, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
9.) Stop caring about what others think.
a. Athletes have to get a little selfish. Do what is right for you to do what is right for you. This may include telling friends, “no.” and speaking up for yourself. If you are a shy person this can be hard. Do it anyway. (remember that necessary and easy often don’t coincide)
b. It’s nice to look good, but it’s nicer to throw far. The best way to get attention is to throw far.
10.) Use your resources.
a. People: There are no less than three athletes who have competed at the Olympic trials that are around our track on a consistent basis. Two former rams are Olympians. IN TWO DIFFERENT EVENTS. Don’t use this as information of our tradition, you already know this. I point this out because you should be using it to your advantage. Learn from some of the best. How do they conduct their practices? How do they compete? What sets them apart? How can you incorporate what you learn from them into your throwing? Not only are these people phenomenal but they have all been where you are now (LITERALLY) and are willing to talk to you about how to improve.
b. Facilities/coaching/gear Here is the crazy thing. These Olympians that we have running around at CSU? They have all been where you are now with LESS than you have now. You can be phenomenal with very little perks. It’s a matter of will. Get tough, go outside in the cold. Get tough, do extra drills. The tougher you are the more confidence you will have. The hard about this sport is what makes it great and worthwhile. NOT EVERYONE CAN DO THIS AND THAT IS WHAT SET YOU APART.
11.) Be fanatical. You aren’t owed anything except for what you owe yourself. Coach Bedard talked to me once about analyzing my life to find the extra inches. Where are they? Sleeping patterns? Diet? How committed are you to finding inches? There are inches to gain in your throwing by getting your life straight. How much does it mean to you? Chances are your going to have to get tough with yourself. Do it. You’ll be a better thrower.