There are many skills needed to throw the discus at one's best. One of the most significant of these is the ability of the thrower to pivot.
Pivoting is defined as the central point on which a mechanism turns or oscillates. In the discus, pivoting is executed on the ball of the foot, with the heel elevated above the ground. Without the ability to smoothly pivot on the feet with balance, any thrower will struggle to rotate or spin across the ring.
PIVOT POINTS IN THE THROW:
There are four main phases where the discus thrower uses a pivot foot.
- During the wind-up at the back of the ring
- During entry into the first turn (turning the corner)
- In the middle of the ring upon touch-down
- During the delivery phase at the front of the ring (release)
Assuming a right-handed thrower, winding up is where the discus is withdrawn back to the right in a clockwise motion. During the wind-up, both feet are on the ground, with the right foot flat and the left foot pivoting in place as the discus is wound back. The wind-up is a counter movement setting up the movement to the left afterward.
ENTRY INTO THE TURN (TURNING THE CORNER)
Since a right-handed thrower will rotate counter-clockwise across the ring, at the conclusion of the wind-up, the left foot reverses its pivot direction and starts to pivot in a counter-clockwise motion (toward the thrower's left).
During the first half of this movement, both feet are on the ground and the body's left side turns, pivoting on the left foot as far as possible before moving the right foot from the ground.
Once the right foot moves, the thrower is now pivoting on only one foot--the left--as the right leg (free leg) swings around and is cast into the middle of the ring. See figure 1. At the conclusion of the first turn, the thrower will temporarily leave the ground.
LANDING IN THE MIDDLE
THE DELIVERY PHASE
Once the thrower is on both feet (double support) the left foot (or block foot) stays down, while the right foot continues to pivot as the thrower pulls the discus around and through the release. This ongoing pivot of the right foot is important because it allows the right side of the body to turn into the release without cutting hip movement short. See figure 3.
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Robert Marchetti, a former NCAA Division I track coach at Rider University and Columbia University, is a private track and field coach located in Hamilton, New Jersey. This story was first written in 2017. For more information, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit his website at www.coachup.com/coaches/robertm-4