Hammer throw How to throw the hammer to achieve your optimum distance begins with core control involving strength, balance, and projection. The hammer event requires that the athlete is in command of their whole body. It is important to feel the position of your hands, feet, arms, and head while keeping your knees slightly bent at the same time spinning to gain momentum. This event takes a matter of seconds to complete but takes many hours of training to master. As in other throwing events, the size/weight of the competition implement will differ with gender and age group. The hammer models the weight changes coinciding with the shotput changes in age group and gender. High school males throw a 12lb hammer, while the collegiate hammer for males weighs 16 lbs. (7.26 kg) and is 3 ft. 11 ¾ inches (121.3cm) in length. The hammer for females in high school and college weighs 8.82 lbs. (4kg) and is 3 ft. 11 inches (119.4 cm) in length.
Depending on your level of training age (years of experience), starting out with a training tool or an implement that is lighter than the competition weight is optimal for learning the technique without risk of injury. Optimal training can involve implementing weight (heavier/lighter) and length (longer/shorter) changes in order to maximize body control and event-specific strength training.
ThrowsLab has a variety of hammers and hammer accessories to choose from. Visit ThrowsLab’s updated online store, and let us help you select the best hammer for you to get your farthest throw.

The mechanics/dynamics of a hammer throw

The hammer throw has a sequence of steps/turns that a thrower has to transition through seamlessly to achieve their optimum velocity and ground power development. Core strength, balance, and proper timing are essential elements to help in the support of a proper projection of the hammer. Hammer is the only throwing event that doesn’t rely on separation of the lower body and hip girdle.
Before you begin, remember safety first. Always throw the hammer from the hammer cage, which is a semi-enclosed netted cage similar to a discus cage, but much taller with moveable doors. These doors secure the landing area for wild, unexpected release angles and early or late releases of the throw.
There are special throwing shoes available or find a shoe with a flat sole that allows you to spin easily and quickly. These shoes are referred to as rotational throwing shoes. If you throw shot put or discus, you can use the same shoe. It also requires a hammer glove for the non-dominant hand. For example, if you are right-handed, you will need a left-handed glove.
Hammer throw

Hammer throwing jargon

  • The Grip: Use your non-dominant hand to grip the handle for support and strength. Your dominant hand is placed over the gloved hand to provide control and to “push” or accelerate the implementation throughout the throw.
  • The Wind: The purpose of the wind is to help generate momentum and create the high/low point of the throw. The norm is usually two winds, but there is no restriction. Find what works for you. The goal is to create momentum that you can control and accelerate throughout the throw.
  • The Entry: This is known as the “push” phase. This phase allows you to begin the initial technical movements of the throw.
    Body positions considerations:
    • Shoulders should be relaxed, this maximizes the length of the hammer
    • Movement of the head should stay in line with the spine
    • Keep hips and knees together as a unit
    • Feet should remain in contact with the circle until moving into the “catch” or work phase
  • The Turns: The turns are used to increase the speed of the hammer. Generally, an athlete will do 3 to 4 turns, (a beginner may do 2 to 3 turns prior to release). You want to make sure the body is balanced with both feet strongly gripping the ground. We recommend being able to complete 10 turns correctly and consecutively before trying to complete the throw with a full release. A turn is a heel/toe combination on the non-dominant/block side foot, while a toe turn is performed on the dominant/power foot side. The movement goes from 0 degrees to 180 degrees from heel to toe, once the heel turn gets to 180 degrees the dominant side foot will “catch” by moving across the middle of the non-dominant foot (across the shoelaces) and attack the ground with the ball of the dominant foot. Both feet will then perform and toe turn returning to 0 degrees. Zero degrees is at the back of the circle or the starting point of the base.
  • The Finish: When the hammer is released out of the hands over the non-dominant side shoulder. Essentially it is released just prior to the “High Point” of the orbit created throughout the throw.
As you turn, the hammer will move in an elliptical motion creating an orbit. The thrower will release the hammer as it is approaching the highest point of the orbit for optimum distance. The thrower’s hips are facing the back of the ring while the torso is continuing the motion to create a summation of forces prior to release.
Your distance of the hammer depends on:
  • The angle at which the hammer is being released
  • The height at which is released
  • The speed at which it has been thrown (most important)

The Hammer Parts:

Understanding the hammer parts helps you choose the right hammer. The make-up of a hammer is divided into three parts. The hammer contains a ball, a wire, and a handle. Each part is replaceable allowing the athlete to maintain their throw equipment easily.

The Hammer Head

The hammer ball is a solid round made of stainless steel or turned iron and are lead filled. The ball is similar in size to a shot put. It contains a strong and easy turning swivel mechanism. This allows the Hammer Wire to attach to the head of the hammer. The smallest diameter ball is the most beneficial due to aerodynamics.

The Hammer Wire

The hammer wire is made of steel or aluminum that the athlete will twist together to provide a loop at one end to the designated length. It is made of steel because it will hold its length and will not stretch out. It comes in a variety of lengths from 37 ½ inches up to 40 ¾ inches. The diameter of the ball will determine the length of wire required for proper weigh-in measurements. The hammer wire is the middle part that attaches to the ball and the handle.

The Hammer Handle

The hammer handle can come in a straight or curved design. Either design works well. It just depends on the athlete’s hand size and what they feel comfortable with. Although all hammers come with a handle and a wire, sometimes throwers need a replacement handle, or simply prefer the feel of another handle.
Remember to be “legal” at meets the athlete’s needs to measure the length from the bottom of the ball to the inside grip of the handle.
Once you have this all figured out, you will want to set performance goals. Training by professional coaches is the best way to help you achieve your goals. ThrowsLab’s coaching and its throwing camps are great ways to discover the science behind the throw, learn proper drill mechanics and improve your throwing technique, and get better results by fixing some common mistakes. Our camps are designed to accelerate your throwing progress. The hammer throw is one of the four throwing events in regular track and field competitions, along with the discus throw, shot put, and javelin at the collegiate level. Adding the hammer event to a throws athlete’s repertoire provides you with a cutting edge if you plan to compete at the collegiate level. The hammer event is not normally offered at the high school level.

What Makes ThrowsLab’s Hammer Throwing Camp Different?

Our hammer throwing camp features a coach-to-athlete ratio of 7:11, guaranteeing plenty of one-on-one attention for each athlete. The large number of coaches at throws camps enables them to work with every skill level equally. Our coaches are the best in the game, with the record to prove it: you’ll find ThrowsLab athletes in podium spots from USATF, Junior Olympics, and State, Section and League Championships. Our coaches have tremendous qualifications, but their results are what make our camps exceptional.

ThowsLab’s hammer throwing coaching and small group training

ThrowsLab offers private coaching for the athlete who benefits from a more individualized training approach. Our one-on-one coaching sessions include many training benefits:
  • An in-depth analysis and breakdown of your overall technique.
  • Video Analysis to get a better understanding of how you can improve.
  • Adjustments during the session that can help your technique immediately.
  • Drills and Exercises to work on at home to improve your performance
Whether you’re looking to refine your technique or break into the next level of competition, a private one-on-one session will help you hone your skills and maximize your throws. This personalized training session will help you build strength, and confidence in your technique, and rhythm, Private throws coaching sessions consist of 90 mins of instruction, video analysis, and breakdown of the athlete’s technique, along with a drill prescription for athletes to take home to improve athletic performance. ThrowsLab also offers small group training sessions with many of the same benefits as our camps or individual coaching sessions with a small group in mind.

Frequently asked questions about ThrowsLab Hammer Camps

  • What is a typical day like at a ThrowsLab hammer camp?

    A ThrowsLab camp offers a balance of drills and throwing. The order is usually drills, lunch, then throwing. We make adjustments as-needed, depending on the format and time of year.

  • Can I still come to a ThrowsLab camp if I don’t have throwing shoes or equipment?

    Yes. Not having throwing shoes isn’t ideal but still manageable to learn the technique, drills, and movements. We provide other equipment in limited quantities for ThrowsLab camps. You can also buy equipment from ThrowsLab at the camp or our online store.

  • What kind of equipment do I need to bring to a ThrowsLab camp?

    Bring a hammer, throwing shoes, water bottle, and a towel to dry off implements just in case it’s necessary.

  • Is lunch provided at a ThrowsLab camp?

    No. There are usually local places to eat lunch or you can bring food. There is an an hour for lunch each day at ThrowsLab camps.

  • How many coaches and athletes will be at a ThrowsLab camp?

    We are very committed to keeping our coach-to-athlete ratio as small as possible. Our goal is no more than a 7:1 ratio. This means every athlete gets a ton of one-on-one instruction, but we’re also able to attend to a broad range of skill levels.

About your Throws coach

Shot Put Throws CoachCoach John Fouts is the owner of ThrowsLab. He is certified by USATF as a level 2 coach, completed level 2 of Arete Throws Nation TCR™ system, and holds an NCACE Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification. He was a two-sport athlete in high school (Football & Track) and played his college football at Santa Clara University and UCLA. In 2011 he became a full-time coach and currently coaches Track at Diablo Valley College. Over the past 7 years his athletes have won 2 Junior Olympic National Titles, achieved two top 5 finishes at the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, has had 5 podium finishes at state, won 58 discus and shot put titles, broke a 42 year old NCS section record in Discus (205’ 7”), and 9 school records. John currently lives with his wife Carol (Mrs. ThrowsLab) and their children in Clayton.