Quick show of hands, how many of you have your own unique routines and rituals? I’m willing to guess most people raised their hands. Whether we have daily routines about the time we get up every morning, workout, go for a walk, or go to bed, we may have never thought about them.
Last week during our weight throw session, we had a short break in which I was asked about ways to relax during competition. One of my athletes said that she gets nervous in meets when people watch her throw. I thought that was a bit odd because as throwers we are called to enter a circle in which we are not able to step out of until our implement lands in a sector. Then we are able to exit the back half of the circle. At a typical meet, there may be two or three people watching your feet to ensure you follow the specified rules.
I asked her what she thought about before she entered the circle. She said that she thought about a specific number/distance she wanted to throw. We started the next round of throws, and I noticed that she entered the circle differently each time. I stopped her before we started the third round of throws. I told she that she entered differently each time, and that she didn’t take the time to cue herself.
When I work with my collegiate athletes, we spend time during the season discussing ways in which to better relax and feel more comfortable in the circle. One of the elements we discuss are the routines we can put in place to assist our minds when getting ready to throw. I suggest to my athletes that they have two or three cue words they throw; one as they enter the circle, another when they set their bodies, and one before they initiate their throw. Each athlete is different. Each athlete will have different cues based on what will make them feel more comfortable in the circle.
Getting back to my high school athlete, I stopped practice for a couple of minutes to discuss the purpose of routines, cue words, and how they are to be implemented. Much like we practice the art of throwing, we must also practice the art of routine building. I encouraged both athletes to begin to focus on their routine during their normal high school practices. I strongly suggested that they should begin to develop their own routines and how to best come up with cue words that would make them feel most confident as they enter the circle to compete.
Next week at practice I will spend more time working with my high school athletes about routines and rituals. It is difficult to cram a lot of throwing and teachable moments into two hours of practice time. With my college athletes, I am able to take the time to focus on other elements besides just throwing. I have more control over their environments. They know what to expect from me, as I know what to expect from them.
What are some of your throwing routines? What makes you feel most comfortable in the circle? How did you develop those throwing rituals?
As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
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.