The hammer is one of the most dangerous and arguably the most technical of the throwing events. The athlete spins seemingly out of control only to launch a round metal ball across the field—and while the shot putter and the javelin thrower will yet out a yell, the hammer thrower is known to let out a full fledged scream.
Hammer Throwing Technique
The hammer is a large metal ball attached to a wire. You must be able to control the speed of your rotations along with the pull of the implement to release the hammer with the right amount of momentum and precision.
This event is very dangerous, so please do not try unless under the supervision of a coach. The technique breakdown below is for a right-handed thrower.
Use the Proper Starting Position
To begin, start with your back turned toward the field. Grip the handle in your left hand and place the right hand over the left crossing your thumbs. Your left thumb should be on top. Slightly bend your knees, which will help you as you begin to generate momentum for the throw.
Before starting the throw, you can establish a rhythm and momentum a number of different ways:
- Place the ball in the circle just off to the right and behind the left leg. Grip the handle with both hands. You will then pull the ball in front of you and up towards your left shoulder.
- Place the hammer between the legs and behind you inside the circle. Swing the ball forward and back before moving it in front of you.
- Place the hammer outside the circle directly in front of you. Swing the ball back to the right and then across the front of your body.
Though the way you position your body should be pretty close to the description above, feel free to adjust your grip to make it more comfortable.
Use the Winds to Start Your Momentum
Two winds are usually made before the turns. The purpose of the winds is to make sure your body’s weight is opposite of the hammer. This means if your body weight is on the right, the hammer is on the left and vice-versa. This opposition maintains the balance between the two.
When you're ready, use your left shoulder to initiate the movement of the hammer to swing it in front of you. Look straight ahead and keep your head high as you rotate to the left. Be sure to keep your left shoulder low going into each wind.
The Transition into the Throw
At the end of the second wind, you will begin the turns. A three-turn rotation is used by beginner, intermediate, high school, and collegiate-level throwers. Four turns or more are used by advanced throwers.
To start the transition into the throw, begin with the hammer on the right of your body, your body weight on the left side, and the left shoulder slightly lower than the right. The hammer will reach its lowest point at the end of the second wind. The low point of the ball should be directly in front of you. At that point, pivot on the heel of your left foot and swing your right leg around.
Keep your arms extended in front of you. Your weight will shift left to right. Lock the left side of the body when your weight is on your right leg. Lean forward a little bit. Each turn should be faster and more powerful than the first.
The final motion is a powerful and explosive combination of your back, arm and leg muscles. After your last turn, hold on and use a sweeping action with your right side. Get on the toes of your right foot the moment the hammer is on your right side. As the ball comes back in front of you, use your legs as you are standing up to force the hammer into a wide arc upwards and behind you. Your arms will complete the throw out of the ring.
Let It Fly
Again, the key is balancing the momentum of the hammer with the counterbalancing effect of your body as it spins. As you practice throwing the hammer, make subtle adjustments to each of the steps listed above, and in no time you'll be throwing it with the best of them!