There is a huge challenge in high school track and field to try and create an environment for female throwers. Usually a coach will do so if the athlete has more size, height and strength (and the athlete is genuinely interested, which is far and few) or if the coach doesn’t know where else to place the athlete. One in doubt, let them throw. This can also create some discouragement if the athlete isn’t receiving the proper coaching they need to be successful within the throws.
My goal is to highlight how to create an exciting and strong female throws crew. There are four key points that I would like to highlight to create that environment and a successful throws crew and recruitment for new female throwers:
- The coach must be somewhat competent and knowledgeable with all of the throws events, indoor and outdoor.
- What to look for in an athlete to recruit throwers.
- The coach must know how to train female athletes and train them properly to succeed in the throws and optimize performance.
- A coach must create a culture and flow to have a successful team and optimize performance.
Knowledge of the Throwing Events
It is essential as a coach you know the history of the throwing events, especially for women. It wasn’t until the 1900s that women were allowed to participate in the throwing events. However, before the 1800’s, women were competing in the pentathlon, which included throwing events, such as javelin and discus. You must also know the history of your high school, the records held by the team, the individual events, and what your athlete is capable of in comparison to; set standards.
How do the track and field meet operate? It is essential your girls know this. For example, leaving the shot put or discus circle, they must exit the back of the circle, or it is a foul. What throwing events are you allowed to coach and host at your school? What is the layout like? Are you able to throw the hammer, javelin? Do you have the right circle for shot-put/discus? Is there a runway for javelin and space to even throw it? What is in your school budget? Are you able to get new equipment and training tools?
What to Look For
Ask the team if anyone wants to throw, explain what they will be doing, how the training program will be, and honestly how fun it can be! Our girls LOVE to lift and be strong. That creates incentive already, makes my job enjoyable, and just to see them happy and genuinely enjoy the sport and event themselves is beautiful to witness. Not only that, it creates inner confidence in the girls that you can’t take away, and to see them grow, learn and want to be better is just incredible. I have noticed that the best throwers I have personally been able to work with were multi sport athletes such as: lacrosse players, soccer players, and softball players. Next, we will discuss the training plan and what to measure to find these potential throwers.
Training Youth Female Throwers
When you scout out your potential throwers during the winter season, it is VERY rare to get girls genuinely interested in throwing on their own. You must create a fun and minimally intimidating environment for them. We like to get the whole team together beginning of the winter season and do some testing and measurements to see the capabilities of the athletes.
- Broad jump
- Single-Leg Hops (linear and lateral)
- Overhead Medball Toss
- Backward Medball Toss
- 10m sprint
You will notice right away who has the strength and power to succeed in the throws or has the potential to get the technique down. Once your lady throwers have been chosen, now you must create a specific training plan for them.
Example of Training Program:
- Warmup: Mobility/Activation/Dynamic Drills
- 2x- 3x’s per week speed & plyometric training
- 2x’s per week functional strength training
- 3x’s/ week technical throws work (depends on which throws you are concentrating on)
We have the males and females training and throwing together. This creates a great culture and learning environment.
Create Culture and Flow
The best place to start is to show the girls examples of successful and strong female throwers. Ones who have maybe set the high school record and gone onto college to compete may be professional track and field athletes. Create incentives. Every week we have something called “Athlete of the Week.” When our athletes get this title, they know they deserved it due to their hard work, determination, and leadership skills. Celebrate when the girls hit personal records in the weight room or the throws events! They are elated when this happens, their hard work has come to fruition, and they continue to work hard and maybe even consider throwing in college. As a coach, you must teach them, educate them and guide them to not only be the best throwers and athletes they can be but strong, successful, positive, hard-working young ladies.
When you combine all of these foundations, your throwing program and overall track and field team will flourish. Remember, as a coach, you are influencing these young ladies. What you do, say, and show can affect them in the long run. Be the coach that creates strong, happy, and confident young ladies. They will thank you.