The most dazzling human achievements are, in fact, the aggregate of countless of individual elements, each of which is, in a sense, ordinary. ~ Daniel Chambliss
With the emergence of social media over the past decade, throwers from around the world have been able to instantly post videos to Facebook. Most recently, with the explosion of popularity with Twitter and Instagram, anyone in the world can post just about anything, receive feedback, and apply that feedback to their throws. The "throwing secrets", if there ever really were any, have mostly been let out of the bag. What separates the very best from their competitors doesn't always lie in strength, style, or technique. The difference can be found in the mundane.
Here in the United States, the Division II and Division III Outdoor National Track & Field Championships came to a close last weekend. With the range of distances so close in most of the qualifying events, a meter difference in the hammer is relatively small. Anyone within the top 15, with a meter or two difference between 1 and 15, has a realistic chance and opportunity to win. Similar in the shot-put. A 25cm or 50cm difference can be overcome. That is the focus of this series. After we take out all of the physical traits, all that remain are the mental. What is it about throwers that separates them, especially at major competitions like the Collegiate Nationals or USA Indoor and Outdoor Nationals.
They may have similar training programs, throwing volume, and access to similar coaches. The difference between the best and their competitors can be found in the mundane. It is in the mundane where you see greatness rise. The best do the little things every day. They do a lot of mundane things a little better than the rest. They take the time and energy to focus on the small activities and actions needed to achieve greatness. They don’t just do the ordinary things when they feel like it. They do the ordinary simple things every day, without fail. The key is to deliberately practice and get a little bit better every day. Over time little improvements each week lead to big results next month and next year.
Earlier this season at an indoor track meet a coach approached me and said that he had read one of my blog posts about meeting Dan Chambliss last year. We were speaking about training and throwing, and this coach asked me what throwing activities I thought were mundane or boring.
To be perfectly honest, I believe most throwing and weightlifting activities are mundane, but not necessarily boring. The boring part is what you make of the activities, your attitude, and the environment you are training in. In essence, your training sessions are what you make them out to be. Yes, I will agree that some of our training sessions at Nazareth College border on boring. However, I'm willing to sacrifice the fun and excitement all the time in order for our athletes to reach their throwing goals. Our 2015-16 season was rather boring. We focused a lot of our time on minor technical cues, and worked on them for weeks at a time. Mundane, yes. Boring, most of the time. Our results, life altering.
The mundanity comes from the day after week after month after year completion of those activities. Each individual throwing session can by itself be mundane. If you are simply going through the motions, you may not be getting a quality session in. If you are deliberate in your training session, focus on a specific aspect of your throw, receive feedback, and implement that feedback you will notice that over time, your throwing sessions and distances will begin to improve. Just going through the motions and taking throw after throw without putting much mental effort into it won’t necessarily result in longer throws in the future.
Mundanity comes from completing simple and ordinary tasks to your best of your ability, with focused and deliberate efforts, over the course of weeks, months, and years. That is where you will see throwers separate themselves for their peers. For some throwers, their seasons ended last week at Nationals. They may not begin training again until August or September when they return to campus. For others, the 2018-19 season began after they got home from Nationals. That is where you will see greatness rise.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.