Reese Hoffa On Warming Up And Entering The Shot Put Ring

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Hear what Olympic bronze medalist and two-time world gold medalist Reese Hoffa has to say about preparing to throw the shot. This transcription is taken from a series of interviews FloTrack conducted with Hoffa back in 2011. 

Push Drill And Warmup Technique

"I really emphasize that it's a push. A lot of kids go out there thinking that you drop the elbow . . . what you should really be thinking about is pushing the ball. I like to start a lot of the younger athletes instead of putting it up here like they are holding a shot (Hoffer is resting the medicine ball against his shoulder) I tell them to keep it about chest level here, and as they're coming through (to) push. Just push the ball straight out but also continue that the long way through."

So you're more of a what?

"I'm more of a push. It's the same thing -- the sling, as you get better with it, you start incorporating, as where like slinging the ball. I also think as you continue to get better with the stand throw, think about, I want to try to make this ball as far away from this hip as possible. So I'm here I turn that hip though (and) try and keep that ball back so you push it further so you have that longer pull onto that ball."

What about your footwork? 

"You know of course the first thing I like to see is that heel-toe alignment. When you put a stick in [the shot put ring] you put one foot here -- (toe touching the stick) -- and one foot here -- (heel touching the other side of the stick) -- it just kind of helps you make sure this hip never gets blocked out by your left foot. So when you're here you're kind of going in this motion -- (makes a twisting motion).

"Just to overemphasize is have a stick in[the shot put ring] go heal-toe and say, 'Ok do your stand throw.' Heal toe alignment, just to overemphasize it when you're first learning how to throw. That's pretty much what I teach. Also you know you're starting it low, so I don't really want them to start going super high working on that high push. What people will usually do they'll say, 'Ok, push the ball high now,' drop the elbow and go like that. We don't want that. We want, ok if you make the ball go high, you've got to kind of raise the cannon if you will. So maintain your heel-toe, throw the ball high. So what they should do is hip through start raising that chest to push the ball through and up like that. That's where you get the height from."

So on this warmup for these standing throws, how many do you normally do? 

"Seven to eight -- around there."

Are you just focusing on what we learned in the drill? Not too worried about having your foot come out?

"No not at all. I'm just worried about pushing the ball warming up my hand before we start to really get into the serious throws."

Entering The Competition Ring 

"So if this were a competition, this is kind of what I would do. With me, it's all about consistency, so I always enter the ring the same way every single time. I come into the ring not always if it's a practice but in a competition situation I put my foot [at the top of the circle by the toe board], and it kind of sets me in terms of this is where the toe board is, in relation to the back of the ring. So I can come to the back of the ring and what I'm thinking is stay balanced, but also be quick so I'm coming out of the back, nice long quick sweep leg with that right foot, snapping in bring this around, but the difference will be when I get to the front of the ring when I'm about to finish it instead of following it just all the way straight out I just rotate through the finish. And that's what allows me to stay in the ring ever single time, at least of the most part." 

So can we look at the footwork again, how you stay in there?  

"Most of the time my feet are right about here when I reverse in a competition. I'm coming here, I'm coming all the way through, I normally like to give myself about this much room in the ring (about an inch between his foot and the toe board) so my foot can stop and I can miss the toe board as I sweep around. That's it!"