Hey Forza Faithful, long time no chit chat. Been a while, you look great, did you cut your hair?
Something, I'm going to start bringing to this blog is the world of product reviews. Being the gear whore that I am, plus I've got 10 + years in this sport, I've tried a lot of different products and I have a better than average idea if they are quality products for what we need as throwers. This also a good time for you, my legions of Forza Faithful, to become more active in this blogging endeavor. (I mean if like 4 or 5 of you is considered "legions") Send your ideas for products you'd like to see reviewed by commenting on any of the product review blogs, using the Forza Contact page here on the site, or reaching out to me on the various social media outlets. @MattHandThrows links below
Tossin' Sauce Review
So two weeks ago, I reached out to Aaron George, if you don't know him he is a top Am A thrower out of the Carolinas, and will be the 2018 Team South Captain at the prestigious Central Florida Highland Games. I had heard he was making tacky now, and i wanted to get a order. Little did I know, the product was in beta test mode yet, and he wanted me to try the tacky and give him my thoughts. Aaron...you big flirt...
So I've had a few chances to throw with it, twice in practice and once in competition at the Ohio Scottish Games. I have a pretty damn good idea about it at this point.
Let me preface my point for the big finish (that's what she said?) My go to tacky for years has been Zeus Juice, and I've been trying to ween out using spray tacky all together unless its cooler outside. I love Zeus Juice, its been one of the best products on the market for years. This is the one down fall of Zeus Juice, you can't just get it when ever you want, Especially of you're in the US. (Harvey Barkauskas makes Zeus Juice, and is one of the legendary Canadian Throwers in this sport) It can be difficult to get your hands on it, unless you see Harvey on the regular.
As the weather has been heating up and getting more humid, i tend to sweat like Rick Ross poppin' molley's at an all night Zumba Class. So spray tacky may as well be Crisco. I need tacky! So this is where we reach out to the Mr. George.
So let's be honest, I was just gonna do this review, give Aaron and Mike a decent review because we're friends and move on with my life. But I was blown away with this tacky. In my opinion this is now the top tacky on the market. It has great grip, you can get a good number of throws out of one dab, and it comes off pretty easy compared to other tacky's. I believe it is on par or even slightly better than the legendary Zeus Juice. Where it separates itself, is being readily available and attainable to order and have it in a couple days. I will be using this product for a long time. I'm a big fan. The only criticism I have of the sauce is the tin container. I haven't been closing the lid on the can all the way, I'm afraid that with the residue of the tacky that it could be a real pain in the ass to get the lid off if you close it all the way. So I keep it lightly closed and keep the can in a tupper ware container.
Tossin' Sauce is available at Throwbros.com for 10.99 for a 4oz tin. I highly recommend this product. 4.8 out of 5
Ok Forza Faithful, thanks for reading. Comment below with your thoughts and potential products you'd like to see reviwed. And as always follow @MattHandThrows on twitter and instagram
Hey Forza Faithful!!! How the hell have you been?! Fighting the good fight, letting your arrows fly true, walking with the sun on your back, other cliches? Awesome! Guess what followers? Its the time of year to let the inspirational quotes that mildly reflect what you train for apply to you. Time to hit the meat of the highland games season here in the Northeast!!!
Coming up this weekend, one of my favorite Highland Games, the Finger Lakes Celtic Festival. The guy who runs this one Ben Beavers does a hell of a job considering he puts it on his backyard and on his own dime! Out in Farmington, NY just a short jaunt from the ROC (that's Rochester, NY for you people not cool enough to know, and obviously this guy knows cool)
I've always thrown well at this games, good time of year, only 1.5 hours away, good equipment, and I love Rochester, and they love me. That's where I went to college, had my first job, apartment etc. If you've never visited you should check it out, its a cool ass city.
See I've been in the Democrat and Chronicle... so you could say things are getting serious....
Anyway I'm in mid-season training and just about to mid-season form. Practices are going really well, hitting good numbers there, hopefully soon they will start transferring to games where the marks count. I've cut my lifting back to 2-3 days a week, and increased practice to 3-4 times a week. This balance is seeming to work for me so far. Trying to take some of the advice i gathered from my previous article, cutting back on lifts during the season. Being precise with them, getting the work in with them early in the week and having a few days to fully recover come game Saturdays!!!
One thing I've decided to bring back into the fold for me is #MockMeetFridays. Back in my Brockport days, on weeks where we had a meet. Fridays were always reserved for this mock competition. You warm up as if you're going to throw in competition, take the same number of throws you take in comp, and put it all away. That's practice, good or bad that's your practice. I like it, gets me into the right mindset, I move a little bit before the comp, and you aren't burning yourself out with a ton a throws less than 24 hours before a games. Obviously the highland games isn't track and field. You might only take 3 throws at a track meet, at a games your comp throws could be in the 30's or 40's with 9 events, two of them for height, and depending on number of cabers. So you aren't taking comp throws in all the events...but I like to take 1 event type do the heavy and the light and call it a day.
For example, today 5/19 I went to the practice field warmed up for the hammers, just as I would for a comp. Took 4 heavy hammer throws, and 4 light hammer throws... put it all back in the car and came home. I feel good about tomorrow, moved a little bit, got in the right mindset, and tomorrow its time to light that field up with bombs like test area out in Nevada!!!
Operation: Cattle Prod
So after having several conversations with competitors and fellow gym goers, and by conversation I mean they yell at me "how do you throw so far/ lift so much with such little calves". Most of us know that calves are mostly genetic, which a bitter truth that most of us with small calves have had to face. That no matter how much you lift/ train them they are still gonna be small. They might get a little bigger and way more toned...but every that reads this page has seen someone with giant calves that can't do a damn thing, and guys with little calves that blow your mind how they can do so much with such lil baby calves.
So after having a good talk with my gym owner, Emily Water, I came up with this experiment called Operation: Cattle Prod. 1... before any of you internet scientists get on me for it not being a real experiment, I'm fully aware of the holes in this from beginning. No real control group other than my previous lifts and throws, and 1 guy does not make a reasonable sample size. And there is no real way to monitor the progress I make and claim that it was increased calf strength was the cause. I'm going to lay out the pieces of this test, and hope that there is a marginal increase in explosive lifts and my throws. And if there is a marginal increase, i'll turn this over to someone with the resources to make this a real experiment. Hopefully there is a reasonable hypothesis after this.
So I'll be sharing the progress on here. I'll share my spreadsheet on here in a few days. My thoughts on this are I have nothing to lose. In my mind either I'll get a little better or nothing will happen other than some more toned calves. Im starting out from the base number of 15.75" inches on left and right calves. Don't bother measuring that...its small lol.
So keep in touch Forza Faithful. Check out Dr. Charles' blog and thank you for reading. Leave comments and calf sizes below if you want to make me feel bad about myself. Follow on twitter and the grams @MattHandThrows
Hey Faithful, how the hell are you? Hope you're doing well. My mind has wandered a lot lately, been trying to ignore the fact that I'm turning 30 this year...eeeek.... Part of that really freaks me out, but part of it makes me reflect on my throwing career. I've been throwing since I was 14, that's more than half my life (Lol you think i'd be better... aww sad face...) I know we all do this, what would we have done differently had we known better when we first started out. For me, a lot of that goes back to the weight room, either bad habits or no habits at all. I never really touched a weight room until my Sophomore year of college. Part of that was poor access to facilities and poor coaching to that point, but I should have sought out the knowledge and the weight room before that, just as much my own fault. After my freshman year, and getting a little taste of success throwing the hammer, but then fouling out at NJCAA nationals, my fire was fueled for the next year. When i returned to school in the fall, I approached our assistant coach Mike Caba about hitting the weights hard before the Track season started. We must have talked for 2 hours about my goals, concepts and writing a program. Alfred State at the time was not well known for super strong athletes or a superior weight room. So Coach Caba also being the assistant football coach, made me an abridged version of the offensive lineman lifting program. And from that moment on, I fell in love with the gym. Thanks Coach.
So I had passion, and the testosterone fueled pride of a 19 year old, but the gym wasn't taken seriously at this college, so proper technique, and weight room coaching in the weight room itself wasn't available. Which led to loading up the bar to way past what i could actually handle, which led to...you guessed it... injury!!! An injury that ruined two runs at indoor nationals and the bulk of my Senior season, and I still deal with to this day. Again, I blame no one but myself.
Sorry, I'm rambling, I'm practically a senior citizen now...Let's bring this back around.
So as we're getting into the meat of the Highland Games Season or as Track is getting ready to wrap it up for the year. I would like to discuss weight room concepts specific to throwers, but some of this will apply to all strength athletes. I definitely don't consider myself an expert in this field. So I'm only going to share a few of my thoughts with you. What I am an expert in, is finding good information from people who do have the knowledge. So for you ones of readers out there, I've reached out to some people who I have nothing but respect for, and their word is as solid as anyone's on this particular subject. So hopefully of the 3 of you reading this, one of you will get some solid info out of it.
Just like the Weight over Bar, this one for me is the simplest concept, but is still incredibly hard to do.
Just do you boo boo!!! (see..patience paid off, I finally brought it back around...I'm like Tarantino up in this B*tch) Most of us lift in gyms with other lifters. Box gyms, strongman gyms, cross fit gyms, etc etc... It is hard to ignore what other lifters are doing. Especially if you're in a gym with other strength athletes, it's easy to try and hypothetically whip it out and pull out the measuring tape.
Follow your program. I've never benched 500 pounds, but I've hit 50ft multiple times in open stone. I've made a career of out throwing guys who are way stronger than me. If your program calls for you to move weight fast ( it does) then move weight fast. The weight room is a tool to help you throw farther. But just like any tool if you don't use it right it's not going to work. Do your program the best you can, not someone else's program. That's just pride messing with you.
This is something I am guilty of as much as anyone, and I'm trying to be better about it by only showing lifts that are throwing related, but still my hubris gets me sometimes with this one. Lifting for the Grams!!!
It's fun to show progress, and show what you've been working on. Just like we said before, lift your program don't add extra weight and work a bunch of heavy singles if your program doesn't call for it. You're not going to be an Instagram star!!! Unless you're a hot girl that squats in booty shorts, it ain't gonna happen bruh.
Quick PSA. Instagram lifter chicks, you do a wonderful service for society, never change. I swear I only follow for the comments and inspiring messages.
Lifting for the grams, was discussed in great detail on the Blood and Iron podcast that Justin Blatnik hosts. The episode with Jeff Milliron, he discusses his wrestling between lifting the program and lifting for instagram. Great podcast those guys run.
So I could drone on...but lets give our experts their time. To these people I posed this simple question.
What are the biggest mistakes you see throwers making in the gym?
Here is what they had to say. Enjoy.
Charles Infurna- Founder and CEO of Forza Athletics, Throws Coach at Nazareth College.
I see a lack of focus and mindfulness, similar to deliberate practice. To further explain, I don't think some, maybe closer to most throwers, have a plan when they walk into the gym to train. It's probably not their fault either. However, just doing something to do something is not the better than doing nothing at all. Luis and I have a plan through USATF Outdoor Nationals. We are flexible in our training, but have a plan-stretch goals.
Ed Jaskulski- Head S&C Coach and Throws Coach for the College at Brockport
(Also Ed was my first ever throws coach and taught me so much about throwing my Junior and Senior years of college. Ed is one of the biggest influences in my life, a lot to do with who I am as an athlete and a person. )
-not taking the time to learn form and improving technique before attempting big weights. It opens the door for injury which takes them out of throwing, and will hinder their over all training.
- Not learning how to move things fast. Simply trying to muscle their way through movements and adding weight before understanding how to actually be putting the maximal effort into the bar with a lighter weight. Everyone mistakes powerlifting or maximal attempts as slow moving, grinding attempts. It may appear as such, but the person under that bar is moving that weight with the quickest intent. You see throwers also displaying this in their throwing, with the poor understanding of summation of forces and just trying to muscle their way through throws. Instead of getting connected and allowing the body to work as one unit with multiple firing sequences.
- I see most athletes in general not paying enough attention to trunk work. On all planes, be it abs and obliques, the spinal erectors, the glutes and hips, standing, laying, hanging, rotationally etc. Athletes want them "look good" abs, but neglect the actual strength and functionality of the trunk and how it works from the inside out and effects multiple other functions of the lower extremities and to hitting proper posture through the throwing events to produce the longest and most efficient throws.
- Not being a student of what they're involved in. Read a book, that's right a book, not google. Learn the actual training philosophies, the techniques, the equipment. I see an overall lack of fully submersing into the training much like the throwing. I see this same problem in the actual throwing. Kids just show up and expect results, all the while neglecting the work. Put the time into your craft. Especially NCAA athletes, it's the fastest closing window of your life. And very few are fortunate enough to continue on to a bigger stage. Maximize your time that you have.
Adriane Wilson- 9037 time Highland Games World Champion (give or take a few), 7 time NCAA national champion at Ashland University, 3 time Olympic trials competitor.
I would say one of the biggest mistakes throwers make in the gym is not resting and allowing recovery. Some days it's okay if you feel like crap and go home. Of course if this continues to an everyday issue then you may need to focus in on your motivation. I am spending soooo much more time on recovery methods because I'm highly motivated to throw. I can't throw if I'm broken.
Sam Grammer- One of the Top Pro Highland Game Throwers and Pro Strongman ( Sam has always given me good info if you ever get a chance to pick his brain you should, His answers was short and "sweet" on this subject then he tried to sell me his wife, hahaha I do love the Highland Games)
Lifting Too Heavy...Too Slow...Power Lifters Make Sh*tty Throwers...haha...Biggest mistake throwers make is they take this sh*t too seriously...Even training. Check the ego and relax.
Kevin Becker- 2 time NCAA National Champion, Professor of Kinesiology at Texas Woman's University, Competed at US Olympic Trials #VanBandForLife
The two biggest areas I see where a lot of throwers could improve in the weight room is cutting the in season volume, and focusing less on max strength. With volume, we need to remember that throwing reps count toward our volume too. When we start throwing more in season, it's easy to add in a lot more throwing sessions, but not really cut back volume in the weight room.
The other thing I would say about volume is that you have to consider what you are doing outside of training. Professional athletes that don't work at all outside of the sport can handle a lot more volume than someone putting in 8-10 hour days at work. Even if you have a desk job, mental fatigue contributes to how much stress your body can handle. The other thing I see a lot is a major emphasis on max strength. This has been written about a lot in other venues (e.g., anyone following Bondarchuk's training methods), but we have to remember that our goal at the end of the day is to move an implement fast. I've had my best gains in throwing when I'm lifting lighter weights and focusing on speed. For me personally, max strength sessions seem to zap my nervous system and leave me having mediocre throwing for a couple days. With dynamic sessions, I can have great throwing sessions the same day or the day following a lifting workout and have fewer issues with nagging injuries. I still struggle with wanting to go heavy when my body feels good because lifting heavy stuff is awesome, but when I can keep my ego in check and stick to the plan I see greater gains in throwing. Using a tendo unit, push band, etc. is also helpful because you can chase a speed number instead of a weight number.
Daniel Mckim- 4 time Highland Games World Champion, holds the world records for the Light and Heavy Hammer, and silly internet video champion.
Chasing numbers in lifts they have had a high history of injuries in during their throwing career. Big one
I love Lt. Gainz
I saved the best for last, we were able to get some Legend Status for this article. You need to know this guy if you are either a highland gamer or a track and field thrower. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister Ryan Vierra.
Ryan Vierra- 5 time Highland Games World Champion, IHGF figure head, and Throws Coach at CSU Stanislaus. ( and like probably a bunch of other stuff, research is hard-ish sometimes)
Not knowing when to get out and focus more on the technique and feeling throwing
Many people don't know but I would go from maybe dec to April 1st of lifting to moderate throwing to no lifting at all to lots of throwing 4 to 6 days a week somewhere from 4 to 6 hours a day. As the season progresses like around June I would cut that back by half. No lifting at all from April 1st to mid-dec or even Jan 1st depending how long my season ran. Throwing is lifting when it comes to the HG Specific throwing strength was my primary focus and it was a major factor in my longevity.
Thank you so much for reading. As always share this article and comment below, I'd love to hear your feed back, and maybe some of the mistakes you've made or seen in the gym. Please follow me on the tweets and grams @MattHandThrows Now go out there and get after it!!! We got rocks to throw homey!!!
As a little prelude to my upcoming article on Throwers Training like Throwers. I've been thinking about some of the dumb mistakes I've made in the gym, and I'd like to hear what you guys have done. Maybe just to make me feel a little bit better, hahaha. I'll share the best ones.
Hey Forza Faithful, I hope this blog post finds you well. This one might not be as focused as previous posts with a clear intention. ( Ha ha ok let's be serious I have the zen like focus of Squirrel with ADD, but its fun to pretend that these had focus) I've been staring at this empty blog post for the last couple days, it was supposed to be an Arnold recap. I wanted to talk about how well the GLSAA crushed the highland games in front of so many patrons on the biggest platform in strength sports. I wanted to say how amazing it was to throw for that crowd, watch the tidal wave of talent that is Spencer Tyler, and getting the chance to meet Arnold, and it was so incredible. But the screen remained blank, because this week it all seemed very trivial.
By this point most of you know of the passing of this gentle giant. I feel like the term "larger than life" and "hero" get thrown around in our society without any real thought to its meaning. We are prone to hyperbole and lose the meaning to such terms. Gerard Benderoth embodied those terms. A friend, mentor and idol to so many people, and the closest thing this world has ever seen to a real life super hero that showed his true colors during the 9/11 tragedy.We were so fortunate to have him on this earth.
I'm not here to talk about the situation about his death or what he meant to the strength community during his life, there are people far more qualified to have that discussion. What I've been thinking about since his passing is what he meant to me personally as an idol and an inspiration in strength sports. How we don't really appreciate someone until they're gone, but also in this society of social access that we don't really appreciate that we have access to and interaction with the legends of our sports, via face to face, twitter, Facebook, IG etc. Sometimes it's ok to fanboy out and let some these guys and gals know how much we really appreciate them. I want to take a moment and appreciate the people that inspire me to get in the gym, train, and break my body down to create something greater. These are some of the people that I've learned from to become the thrower that I am. I like to think I take a little bit of them with me to create this athlete that I am. After this article I encourage you to do the same, because sometimes we forget that because we have access to them that they aren't Giants among mortals in their sport....but they are.
LOL actual Giant...
Steve Pulcinella.... ( also this article might get a little awkward because I do see some these guys on a regular basis) Anyway... Steve Pulcinella is living legend and has transcended strength sports into the pop art of our time the internet meme. There were so many Do You Even Lift Bro memes. If you're one of 8 or 9 people reading this you probably have your favorite one.
Steve... Pro Power Lifter, Pro Strongman, Pro Highland Games athlete, and one of the OG EliteFTS guys. Incredible strength athlete and great gym owner and trainer which is shown by the small army of world class athletes that come out of Iron Sport Gym. I got to meet Steve a couple years ago at a Highland Games outside of Philly, and it took everything I could not to totally nerd out in front of him. (Dom Gonzalez did totally nerd out, like one of those fainting girls from the Beatles concerts, lol sorry bro) Steve is just one of those guys that embodies the mindset of the Old School F U lifter. If you ever get the chance to meet the guy, you'll get it immediately.
...Quick aside...Before I get totally up his junk... Steve is huge A**Hole, but I've learned a lot from the guy, and we all love him for it.
Now that I'm going to be dodging a Thunderpunch to the old wedding tackle from Pulcinella, let's talk about Matt Vincent while I search Amazon for cups...
We've all seen him at this point. He's the Allen Iverson of the Scottish Highland Games. The tattoo life, so incredibly talented, willing to give all the videos for training, the Q & A's and you can't go to a highland games anywhere in this country and not see someone rocking a HVIII Brand Goods product. Matty V is the face of the Scottish Highland Games. He's got the swagger, he's got the skill, and now he has the brand name that is starting to transcend out of the highland games into other sports... and soon it wouldnt shock me to see HVIII brand goods as line of products that makes it into the main stream. I think we could do way worse for a figure head.
I've had the chance to have several conversations with the dude, and I find it always helps bring me back to center. He is so accessible and is really good about spreading the knowledge.
But if you've never met him you don't realize how small he really is, and that makes him all the more amazing for what he's accomplished. Now let's be real, by normal person standards, he's a huge dude, but by Highland Games Pro standards... let's just say you wouldn't bet on him to win if we were just looking at body size. But He Does!!! and like all the time!!! The guy is so driven, so technically sound, and has the explosion of small warhead and he beats great throwers that he gives 6 inches and 50 plus pounds to.
The "downside" of him being so accessible is I don't think people really appreciate how dominant and good he is for the Highland Games as a sport. I don't lose appreciation for the amount of stuff he has helped me as a thrower and as a person.
two dudes on the right (the corning guys)... Came to one of my clinics last year, having never stepped on the field before,
head to toe HVIII Brand Goods clothes at their first games ever... I roasted these dudes all...damn...day...
And now they train with me on the regular lol.
Not as well known outside of the Highland Games, but in the sport itself the man is legendary. The guy has cleared 18ft in the weight over bar, more time than there are guys that have cleared 18ft. Incredible Caber thrower and has has world class numbers in all of the other throws. Not to mention, that he is rolling into his 20th year of doing this kilted nonsense that we all love. I don't think we have a lifetime achievement honor, but the guy deserves one. But all that isn't really why he finds himself in this article. Mike is the best Highland Games professional I have ever met. I don't mean that as the best thrower, but the most professional. The way he works a crowd is amazing, the little traditions that get the blood pumping he's got them nailed #LightUpTheQuads He has a ton of respect for the traditions of the highland games, never forgetting that this a cultural event as well as a sporting event. The professionalism and showmanship he brings to the games is matched by none in this sport, in my eyes.
Also this always blows my mind every game i've had a chance to throw with Mike... Women swoon over this dude more than any guy I've ever met. It should be LL Cool Z...Ladies Love Cool Zolkiewicz. A lot of times I like watching the women in the crowd when he's throwing WOB more than him throwing, blows my mind!!!
Also he is happily engaged to a smoking hot woman...so back off sluts....lol. Check below he is heavily featured in the Rogue video about the highland games from the Arnold 2017. Quick note. Rogue was the most amazing sponsors of a games I've ever seen. They are the truth. Buy all of their stuff forever. #RogueFitness
This last person of note for me that use as inspiration has more street cred than any highland games athlete that has walked this earth. Multiple World Championships, Multiple All Americans, collegiate and world records, and if it wasn't for the worst luck in the history of ever, would have represented the United States in the Olympics.
Sorry Jeff Kaste it wasn't you...but i do love you lol
In my humble-ish opinion Adriane Wilson is the most and should be the most respected person in the Highland Games. You have never met a person in this sport that has a bad thing to say about her, and if you do you have my permission to kick them in the shin.
She has so many accolades, I could go forever on them. That's not why I'm writing about her now. From my point of view, without Adriane, there is no real Women's class in the Highland Games. She is the trailblazer of that class. She has laid the groundwork for all these current ladies to come out and drop bombs in this sport. Seriously the crowd for the women at the Arnold might have been the biggest crowd of the classes.
I don't mean to discredit some of the other long standing ladies in the sport, but she is the Jordan of that class. She is still the top of the women's class and has been for a long time ( it's amazing all those records and championships and she's still 29!) I have never met someone that just crushes her field and is also the sweetest person I've ever met in the games. She acts like she's going to give you a hug and a slice of pie at any point in time.
( Seriously though Adriane... I want a slice of pie...something apple-ly)
She is proof that you don't have to be mean mugging and intimidating to the other athletes to be great. The world would be a far better place if we took a few pages out of her book.
( I was gonna say "if we all had a little Adriane in us" but that sounded dirty, and I don't need Joe Wilson teaming up with Steve Pulcinella to ThunderPunch me in the d**k as well...lol)
There is so much negativity in this world, if you get a chance to tell the people you look up to that you appreciate them, DO IT. I could have gone with dozens of athletes from other sports, but when I talk about this subject it's usually these 4 that come to mind every time.
I bragged about knowing Gerard and used him as an example of raw power so many times, I just wish I could have told him that. My lasting impression of Gerard that just really summed him up to me. I was lucky enough to announce WOB for him at Hunter Mountain Celtic last year. He threw that 42 like most people throw footballs man, just nothing to him. I got to be the hype man for him for a little bit, and it was awesome. After it was done he came over shook my hand and gave me a hug ( where in my mind i'm saying please don't squeeze i'll die). Even at that point in his career he was still so humble and grateful that I got the crowd going for him. That will always be my impression of the man, his humility even with all his accomplishments. Real Life Super Hero. Rest easy G
Take the the time to talk the people you look up to, buy them a beer, shake their hand, let them know you appreciate them. It goes a long ways to the right people. Thanks for reading, more jokes next time I promise. As always follow me @MattHandThrows on Instagram and Twitter, and comment below and share.
As I spent an hour and a half looking for my a specific shirt for the Arnold Sports Festival this weekend, and I have dryer full of games shirts, stupidly bright Under Armour compression shorts, and my "Kick Today in the Dick" socks... #HVIIBRANDGOODS I've had a lot of time to think about what it really means to compete at event like the Arnold. I've been doing this sport for 12 years, and in reality this impromptu competition will be this biggest venue myself or most of these throwers will ever be part of.
There a lot of Highland Games that have a lot more prestige and history, but the pure number of the people that attend the Arnold over the weekend is staggering. Represented by dozens and dozens of countries competing in all these different sports as well as just the waves of patrons, this is closest that most of us will ever get to being in an Olympic Experience. Which brings me to the point of this article....
YOU ARE NOT AN ATHLETE!
At least not first and foremost. The first thing you are is a representative of the festival that is providing the space to compete. You are a salesman and the product you are trying to sell.
(Quick side note, sometimes when I'm competing and my nerves are a little tight, when I'm in the trig I'll whisper to myself "There is no spoon"... I feel half of you thinking that's funny, and the other half yelling NERRRRDDDD!!!)
A couple things that specifically highland games athletes need to realize, and when you do, it's going to help you get into more games. The only reason we are able to throw at a lot of these festivals, is because we are entertainment for the people that are paying to attend the festival. And we are able to come back when the festival is profitable. If the festival is in the red, they are going to start cutting certain things in their budget, and POOF! no more highland games at that festival.
The insurance to have a competition is often the biggest expense for a lot of these festivals depending on their situation. From a business stand point, we as throwers need to justify that expense by putting on a great performance for the paying customers. Many of us hate Caber, or phone in the effort, because once you've flipped a 12:00 on NASGA you're done for the year, you can't score any more points in that event. Here is the thing though, like it or not, it is the crowd favorite and most recognizable event in our sport.
" Oh is that thing where you throw telephones or something?"
When the festival organizers see the entire athletic field surrounded completely and several people deep on all sides because we are putting on a bomb ass caber show...guess what... you just justified that money and the athletes are coming back for years to come.
Sorry that was a lot of actual serious talk.... here's some cute shit...
So what does all this mean for you as an athlete, how does that info and mindset help you? It is a factor that is going to help you get into more games. There aren't that many games during the year that the invites are based only on performance. For the most part those are only your top level games, all the rest of them throwing far is just part of it.
Talk to all the athletic directors that you know for the highland games, they all have turned down a request or not sent an invite to someone because the athlete in question was a D**khead. This is where athletes coming in from other sports sometimes have a problem initially. The power dynamic between AD and Athlete... is almost 100% in favor of the AD. Athletic Directors do not owe you an invite, or Trophies, gift bags, or special little medals that say you were there. The only thing the AD owes you is safe conditions, legal equipment, and measuring your throws. As an athlete you need to justify your presence on the field every time you walk onto it. That means, throwing to the best of your ability, following the rules of the field/association, being nice to or talking to the patrons. This part is simple but eludes some people.
Alright let's bring this home!!!
For those of you that don't know, The GLSAA was able to get us a spot at the Arnold very last minute. And like the studs that they are, within a couple weeks they were able to put a championship caliber field of Men's A, Masters, and Female athletes, and a crazy deep wait list to go with it. Props to them for getting this put together on the shortest notice possible and making it awesome.
The 30 or so of us that will be competing this weekend need to take this to heart, that we aren't just athletes
or representatives of the Arnold Sports Festival, but this time we are representing the Highland Games as a sport to all the other Strength Sports and fans attending this colossus of an event. When you think about it like that compared to the level of athletes that are representing their sports at this, one its a huge honor, but two this is our
opportunity to justify having a permanent place at the premier strength festival in the world. This isn't a
competition, its a two day sales pitch to the planning board of the Arnold. We have a chance to make this a permanent staple and grow our sport in both numbers and recognition.
Do yourself and myself and himself and herself all a favor. Think about this the next time you step on a field. Are you justifying your presence and are you helping the festival by giving the paying patrons their money's worth?
Thanks for reading #ForzaFaithful, as always please comment and share. As well as follow me on the Tweets and the Grams @MattHandThrows... AND COME SEE ME i'll be hall A in the convention center pretty much all of Friday and Saturday, and I'll be posting where I am through out the weekend. Get a Selfie with me and use the hashtag #ForzaAthletics and be entered to win a sweet forza shirt... They're nice too its like being hugged by that panda. Check out the shirt below. LOOK OUT COLUMBUS.
Hey Forza Faithful!!! My name is Matt Hand and I'm here to blow your mind on the Scottish Highland Games while you avoid doing work at the office. Quick change the screen back to Excel!!! Whew that was close, that crazy cat lady from accounting almost saw you watching the Humpty Dance. Ugh can't stand her...Mind Yo Business Susan!!!
( If you're expecting this to get better.... it doesn't)
A little about myself, I'm a former NJCAA and NCAA DIII track and field athlete, and I've converted that knowledge and passion into now a 12 year career in the Scottish Highland Games. I am not a formidable looking athlete blessed with extra height, or strength, or explosion. I have had to work my ass off for years to become one of the top rated Amateur throwers for several years. Because I don't have a lot of the natural gifts that would help an athlete, I've had to focus a lot of my effort on working hard on strength and technique. One of my passions is to pass off the knowledge I've gained to help people get better at this awesome sport, and aspirations of their own.
For some of you, you know I've done this before with my previous website, StrongandFar.com. Strong and Far was my baby that I started with my former team mate and current helium weight power lifter Dom Gonzalez. Super glad that we did that project, and proud of a lot of the work we did. For me it became too much management of people, and frankly I ran out of things to say, I needed to go experience more things that this sport had to offer. But now I'm back!!! I can't wait to add some new topics and expand on some old ones.
So what are you in for as a reader? I'm sure all 7 of you are bursting at the seams waiting to find out. With my blog I like to share certain things.
1. My training and competitions. Straight forward ( I mean as straight forward as a blog full of Rap Videos from the 90's, Power Rangers memes and jokes that are so forced I literally use a shoe horn to get them in. ) My personal journey of getting stronger, faster, more explosive, and if I can get a little sexier in the process why not (aka.The Eddie Brown effect). I'll share drills that I've come up with, use, or have picked up from better throwers.
2. Articles on the topics concerning our sport(s). Coaching, related social issues, mindset, running highland games. Many of my articles and much of my advice is aimed at helping new and inexperienced throwers. I like to help these people get a strong base, and have all the info I wish I had when I started.
3. Q&A and reader topics with the 6 of you still reading (we lost someone when I mentioned the Power Rangers) Use my social media handle to ask or suggest topics. @MattHandThrows IG and Twitter.
4. Vlogs will be a big part of this page as well. Not only myself but some interviews with other throwers and coaches as we cross paths across the country.
Ok, now there's 5 of you left, and Charles Infurna is I'm assuming shaking his head in disapproval. (I'm gonna keep grinding this out until its only my Mom and the Corning, NY guys reading this.) I do this blogging, not for monetary gain and not for publicity, but I do it for me, this is fun and a creative release so my brain doesn't explode. The other reason is to grow the sport of the Highland Games. In my opinion, once you reach a certain level, it your responsibility to grow the sport, bring new people in, and help the people getting started to get better. That is the duty of the veteran thrower.
I think that's probably enough for the first post. Let's do this nonsense!!! The 4 of you that made it to the end comment below and follow me on Twitter and IG @MattHandThrows #ForzaFaithful
Former Track and Field athlete and coach turned Highland Games Athlete. Follow along for advice mostly through trial and error, and maybe a few laughs along the way. My mom says i'm funny and handsome, and obviously she's right. LOL