Rotational Shot Put: Coaching Advice

Don’t count John Godina among the many who believe shot put competitors must begin by learning the glide. Godina says that most throwers can learn the rotational shot put technique as easily as the glide, and that rotational shot putters will typically out-perform gliders. Godina learned both techniques in his throwing career but used the spin method in competition. He earned four World championships – three outdoor and one indoor – plus one silver and one bronze medal in the Olympics.

He won three outdoor and four indoor United States shot put championships, plus two U.S. discus throw titles. Godina currently coaches throwers at his World Throws Center. See Godina’s website for more information.

The following advice from Godina was adapted from his presentation at the 2012 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association track and field clinic.

Should young shot put competitors glide or spin?:

“When you talk about the shot put, this is the inevitable question: ‘Which one do you do, spin or glide?’ I tell people this all the time – try everybody in the spin first. And I have reasons for that. First of all, almost anybody can do it. It’s not as hard as it seems. The hard part is, is that the coach has to know how to teach it – that’s your job. But if we can teach them to spin, there’s going to be a massive advantage. The reason I know this is, I glided in high school, switched to the spin my freshman year in college, but I continued to glide in training because I liked some of the things that it added to the throw in the front of the ring.

So in 1990 I switched to the spin. I kept gliding all the way through 1997. In 1997 in training I had my best glide ever at 66 feet, and that was the same time I was throwing 72 feet in the spin.

“So if you have a person that can spin, but you don’t know it because you haven’t tried it out on them and tried to teach it to them, you’re doing them a disservice because they can throw farther with (the spin).

It just works better if they can spin. And I’ll tell you, four out of five guys can pretty much spin. We do have athletes we start on the spin and eight weeks later we go, ‘God you’re awful. We’re going to glide now.’ That’s the harsh realities in life. It’s a skill. Being athletically inclined rotationally is not guaranteed to everybody. And if that’s the way it is, that’s the way it is. But you’ve got to try ‘em in the first place.

“When we do an overview of this and people say, ‘You can’t teach spin, you’ve got to start them with glide,’ I guarantee you, you’re not going to find anybody that looks pretty when they’re gliding their first day. You can teach the spin, and you can teach it fast. You just have to learn the systems to do it. It’s all about getting out there and doing your job to educate yourself.”

Gripping the shot:

“Everybody asks where you put the shot. The base of the fingers. Power is generated by the middle three fingers. … Elbow high, side of the neck, hand behind the shot, not under it. That last one is very important. … (Young throwers) just don’t trust that it’s going to be OK to put their hand behind it. Just make them do it.”

Performing drills properly:

Godina advises coaches to stop their throwers during drills when the thrower makes a mistake, then have the thrower begin again.

“Details are everything. First of all, it’s teaching them good positioning, and secondly, it’s teaching them body awareness. If you just let them float, and move from drill to drill – ‘Oh, it’s just good enough,’ they’re not learning where their body is, how to move it. We have to force it into them or they will not do it.”

Using a simple approach:

“A lot of what we do (when Godina is coaching) is based around the principles of taking out all the pieces and parts you don’t need. (Rotational shot put should) look like one movement. It’s not, sweeping the chest around, doing weird stuff. Point – done. There's not a lot to it. When you do things right it doesn’t look like much.

“The biggest reason why things get simple like that is because they’re on balance. Our order of teaching is: balance, spin positions, then movement between positions, and finally speed.

Balance starts everything.”

See also:
Rotational Shot Put: Stance and Start
Rotational Shot Put: Driving Through the Ring
Rotational Shot Put: Spinning Toward the Power Position
Rotational Shot Put: Power Position and Finish