High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: mac wilkins

Mac Wilkins: Tips for state meet week

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
12:16
PM ET
(Note: Mac Wilkins competed in the throws for 23 years, he made four Olympic teams and broke the world record in the discus four times. He also won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal).

State Meet Week.

The hardest thing is not working too much. What will you do with all that extra energy? Go home and study! Save it for the competition since it will be the toughest of the year. Don’t hang out at the track just because you are used to being there for two hours.

Don’t take a hundred throws every day because it doesn’t feel right or it isn’t close to your PR or something is wrong with your technique. Limit yourself to a certain number of throws, usually less than last week, and stop when you reach that number whether you are throwing great or not. Hey, its kind of like that in the competition. You only get a finite number (six) of throws. Make each one count!

Warming up for the big event. Adrenaline will be high so go easy. Focus on the technique and the feelings, not the distance. All young throwers throw BIG PRs in warm ups and then drop well below their best once they start measuring the throws. Save the energy for when it counts. Back way down on the warm up throws effort. Limit yourself to no more than two to four full throws before the competition.

Make your first throw a 70 percent effort. Bill Bowerman, the famous discus coach at Oregon, always used to say this. Ha! NOT! He was a distance coach not a discus coach, but he really did say that. Many times the adrenaline takes you out of the zone where you can comfortably perform. Backing off the effort on the first throw can often put you right back in the zone of optimal performance. This leads to many PRs or best of meet throws on the first try.

Have fun. Take time to enjoy what you are doing and your friends that you are competing with. NOT against. With. You share the same challenge of self-mastery.
Mac Wilkins competed in the throws for 23 years, he made four Olympic teams and broke the world record in the discus four times. He also won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. It's no wonder he is in the USATF Hall of Fame.

He has been no less influential as a coach, instructing all levels and all ages of throwers in the Northwest. He is the throws coach at Portland's Concordia University, an NAIA school, and has built one of the strongest programs in the country. He also spearheaded the development and construction of the Concordia Throws Center, a world-class training and competition venue that is home to two U.S. high school records (Cousins Sam and Ryan Crouser hit their best marks there).

Check out his insightful interview with Portland radio host John Canzano (May 1) here.

In Mac Wilkins' own words, a new tip for throwers ...

One Good Turn Creates Another… Look to the start to correct your delivery errors.

I spent a recent Friday watching 7.5 hours of discus at the Mt SAC Relays in the 90 degree sun. A curious thing struck me while seeing throwers and their coaches communicating to each other from the stands and the infield with arm, hand and body gyrations and a few short words. Usually they were showing how the left shoulder was pulling down and away during delivery. Sometimes the coach’s upper body would jack knife forward indicating an upper body throw. Then they would stop and push their right hip ahead of the shoulder indicating the correct delivery. Occasionally the thrower would indicate a scooping motion with the arm.

But … They were all focused on the delivery of the discus. No one focused on the start at the back of the circle! Wow! This is where the errors are generated. Fix the back and the delivery will be correct.

Pulling away on delivery is the result of being off balance to the left at the back of the circle, NOT fighting too hard at the front with the left arm. It’s a natural consequence and you can’t avoid it. If you are ON BALANCE at the back it will be very difficult if not impossible to pull down and away at the front of the circle. If you are OFF balance at the back it will be very difficult if not impossible to NOT pull down and away with your left shoulder on delivery.

Eliminate the root cause of the Problem which is at the back of the circle.

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