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Olympic hammer throwing: Technique correction for a female hammer thrower

Research Institute for Olympic Sports, Finland

Athlete's profile

M, a 25 year old female hammer thrower. Personal best of 62.07 (1999). Gold (1996, 1999) and silver (1994, 1997, 1998) medals in national championships.

Error analysis

Today we had a special session to discuss the technical problems that emerge only during competition and very seldom in training. Here is a summary of the additional error analysis.

What would we like to change?

  1. She starts her first turn by turning her head to the left too early so that the left shoulder leads the movement.
  2. Her weight is on her right foot.
  3. A triangle formed by shoulders - outstretched arms - hammer is distorted and hammer's trajectory is narrowed and not as wide as it should be.
  4. Her right knee is raised too early and is landed too late.
  5. Her right foot is "sailing", i.e., dancing and turning the toe to the right instead of to the left.
  6. She works with her upper body, instead of with the legs, feet and pelvis.>
  7. She is not sitting and leans forward trying to compensate.

What should she be doing?

  1. Her weight should be on the left foot.
  2. She should look straight ahead, at her hands and the hammer.
  3. She should make a wider swing with the hammer.
  4. She should keep a 90 degree angle between her hands, hammer and head.
  5. The angle between her hands/arms and body should also be 90 degrees.
  6. The starting movement is not wide enough.

Based on this error analysis an Old Way/New Way® protocol was prepared and a special session was organized.


Again the experiment was successful. Detailed transcripts from this athlete describe how gradually, from one throw to another throw, her awareness of the wrong technique improved and how she could control her movements better.

The session with M was very successful both from the point of view of the outcomes (corrected error) and the documentation. Specifically, her non-stop talk taped after each throw produced about 10 pages of transcripts.

During the session we had to change a few things. For instance, school children came to have their PE lesson at the field so M could not throw. Awareness and discrimination steps were done on the sand, doing 4 turns pre-throw performance and keeping balance.

Then getting back to the ring required some adjustments. The throws were performed from the ring using the NEW way.

She was really tired (exhausted) due to a considerable mental and physical load, having done 40 throws and 4 turn attempts.

Case summary and discussion

This case illustrates many of the important outcomes of Old Way/New Way® that have been demonstrated experimentally and in field trials in non-sport learning settings.

These outcomes concern skill development, performance improvement, cognitive and affective change and the desire to continue using Old Way/New Way® for technique development.

Part of this case study was to test if the shift from ineffective emotional to optimal emotional performance state was possible. Using the same approach but not as strictly structured, the athlete did it herself after getting instructions over the phone.

Briefly described, the problem was that this athlete was that she felt she achieved her optimal states and performed to the best of her abilities mainly during training. However, in competition she felt a lot of anxiety, merging close to panic attacks. Using Old Way/New Way®, she was able to shift to a more optimal state and felt much better.

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