Featured Thrower / Coach - John Godina
4 Time World Shot Put Champion
9 Olympic and World Championship Medals
1995 Gothenburg - 1997 Athens - 2001 Edmonton - 2001 Lisbon (Indoors)
NCAA Outdoor Shot Record Holder - 22.00M
Discus Throw - 69.91M PB
1995 World Championships Men's Shot
Questions from fans:
How did throwing enter your life?
My Dad introduced me to the discus when I was in 5th Grade. Although we didn't have a track team until 7th Grade, we still would go out and have a good time throwing together. Shot Put was more of a team thing. I started that my sophomore year in High School for the team points. I never liked the shot as much as the discus until late in my college career.
When and how did you know you would excel and reach the top of our sport?
I always knew I was pretty good at each level...youth, Junior High, High School and College. I would always win or be in the hunt, but the idea that I was going to be World Champion never occurred to me. I mean, who really thinks of that? Wanting to be that good and actually believing it are two different things. I didn't actually believe it until my senior year in College when my distances started reflecting me belonging at the top. Once I moved up in class and felt like I belonged at that next new level I was confident enough to think that I was the new King of the Mountain.
What do you see as your greatest achievement and toughest setback. Looking back, what elements of training or competition strategy would you change?
Without a doubt my greatest achievement was showing a generation of young throwers that you can compete clean and consistently win at the highest levels of our sport. When I was coming up through the ranks it could have seemed hopeless without a strong belief in right and wrong. I knew what was going on, and I chose to be one of the exceptions to the rule. What was inconceivable at the time is now commonplace. Lots of great throwers are competing clean, and I like to think I had at least a small part in showing them the way. The concept of a setback is pretty foreign to me. There were barriers that had to be worked around - injuries, new throwers, bad meets - but I never have admitted to myself that I had a setback. Everything that made things hard for me early on made things easier later. What others viewed as setbacks were merely training tools to strengthen my mind. Stressful situations broke others and I knew that. I knew that if I could just come out of every "setback" by, at worst, breaking even then I would be miles ahead of my competition. Changing things in hindsight is never something I have spent much time thinking about. I know it may sound trite, but I am completely satisfied with what I did and how I got there. I worked hard and the path was most often an uphill battle. Not every choice was right, but all of the choices viewed together as a mosaic over time were right for me.
Bench 550, Squat 760 (with suit), Dead lift 700, Snatch 120k, Clean 190k (three singles that day), Push press was not done (bad shoulders). As far as Randy and I, I can only speak for myself and what differences I see - To get an in-depth idea of Randy's approach to technique and strength training you would have to ask him. I really emphasize the maximization of leg drive and hip power both in the back of the ring and at the front. I think Randy was more rotational. My approach at the front involves abusing the ground to create huge forces both rotationally and vertically. I also think that my drive from the back to the middle (on my good years) was very sprint-like versus his high right leg in the back, which came more downward into the middle. Each method has it's advantages. Needless to say I was comfortable with what I did.
Of course I miss it! Nothing is better than making a bowling ball feel weightless. I would take about 40 throws in a session about three times a week. By my math (not counting 2 months a year of not throwing) that is about 5,000 each year - give or take. I think the most ignored aspect of recovery is RECOVERY. Really rest. Don't go out late, don't walk around an amusement park all day, don't go golfing and don't do anything that takes away from your recovery. Do your homework then lay on the couch and watch TV. If you want to maximize your recovery as a clean athlete you have to learn to be content with being boring.
My favorite was whichever I was throwing at the time. The leg action is the same with extension to create rotation, but the angle is lower and with a wider base in the discus. The wider base is beneficial in discus because if the right hip travels forward it is ok... the ring is larger than the shot put ring and the angle should be flatter to create forward momentum and a flat release. Keep in mind that as the right hip drives forward in the discus, we still want the left hip to be driving backwards to maximize power output. I really think that leg extension to create rotational power is becoming lost as more and more throwers mimic the seven-foot tall throwers who drop their right knee and left heel to the ground at the front of the ring. If that was the best way to create power then a 6'3" shot-putter like me with limited discus genetics would never have thrown almost seventy meters.
I threw heavy shots for a few weeks in the fall. That was pretty much it. Light shots made me arm it too easily. I wanted to feel the legs working not the arm. When I work with gliders we play around with different weights more since we don't have as many timing issues to worry about.
I think that the most common mistake I see coaches and athletes make is the neglect of difficult but necessary positions. Good positions force the athlete to work the legs hard but create huge power output. Too many athletes take the easy way out and keep their legs too straight, tip and fall out of the back, stay tall in the middle and shift into the left leg at the front of the ring. All of these movements put an upper-limit to power output that depends greatly on acceleration due to gravity. Gravitational acceleration is constant and therefore the same for everyone. If the athlete can learn to use the legs for acceleration properly then far more power can be captured in the throw. We know this is true because, quite simply, it is possible to jump off the ground. If gravity was the strongest accelerative force available to an athlete then we would never be able to leave the ground and jump. Knowing that the power from our legs can be more powerful than the power created from falling to the middle of the ring and shifting into the left at the front of the ring, why would we ever not use the legs to their maximum?
World class training facilities in four locations (Arizona, Texas, Los Angles and Florida).
World class support staff including performance and strength coaches, physical therapists and athletic trainers, massage therapist, nutritionists and chefs. http://www.coreperformance.com/about/team/resident-experts/
An elite level throws training group - http://worldthrowscenter.com/athletes/
Athlete sponsorship marketing assistance and career guidance - almost every athlete at the World Throws Center has a sponsor of some sort, and some athletes have their training fees completely covered by sponsors the World Throws Center has found.
Work opportunities through the World Throws Center and World Athletics Center - This is not exclusive to resident athletes. Our new partnership with Gill Athletics has opened up many new opportunities for athletes across the country to work for us on their own schedules. Athletes interested in these opportunities can contact us through our website
Discounted services through our medical partners at Arizona Sports Medicine Center (http://www.asmc.md/) and Maximum Mobility Chiropractic ( http://johnballdc.com/about/) for soft tissue work, orthopedics and general practitioners
Discounted products from Athletes' Performance's Partners - including EAS (http://eas.com/), Gatorade (http://www.gatorade.com) and Triggerpoint Therapy (http://www.tptherapy.com/)
Integrated educational opportunities for athletes of all levels through our Clinics, Camps and Speaking Engagements
Our Coaches' Mentorship Network which is:
A: Resource for the World Throws Center to staff Clinics and Camps with consistently-messaged coaching at every event.
B: A referral resource for athletes throughout the country to get World Throws Center coaching if a Mentorship Graduate is located in their vicinity.
The sign up process to become a World Throws Center athlete is quite simple. Prospective athletes can contact us directly through the contact page on our website - http://worldthrowscenter.com/contact-us/. It is a good idea to start by sending us a bio of events, personal bests and goals. Following the initial contact we will contact the athlete to begin determining what our best course of action is with the athlete. We have offerings ranging from individual training sessions to intensive training weeks to full memberships. Each athlete is different in their needs and goals, and it our job to work with them to maximize their return on investment.
The expectations for our athletes are quite simple. We want the athletes to be focused, self-motivated and above all a positive contributor to our group. I would rather have an in-sync group of mid-level athletes than a bunch of top-level people who can't work together. We are lucky in that we have a top-level group that is totally in-sync. At this point any new athletes who come in are being shown the way by our core leadership group. This keeps everything flowing, progressing and moving forward.
Our plans most definitely include satellite facilities in various locations through the country and internationally. Certain locations are very appealing for differing reasons. The Midwest is of interest due to the popularity of throws in the region. Athletes Performance has a new location in the Chicago area that could give us the opportunity to branch out to the region. However, as with any of our plans for growth, we are very careful to ensure that the proper combination of supporting criteria exist before we act. Although the World Throws Center may appear to be a simple concept - coaches and athletes getting together to train and throw far - what happens behind the curtain is very carefully orchestrated and adapted almost daily to increase our service quality and our reach. Bringing high quality, consistent coaching to athletes across the country and around the World is really an exercise in systems engineering. There is a purpose and method to our controlled growth. The goal is long term stability while continuing to systematically move forward as a company to help as many people as possible.
You have been adamant on the importance of balance in the rotational shot. What has been your approach to mastering the balance points in the ring?
Balance is the first of our four learning stages. Balance is easy when two feet are on the ground. We concentrate our development on single-support phases of the throw. We spend countless hours on 360 drills on the left leg with several variations. We also spend countless hours on wheel (half turn) drills on the right leg in the middle of the ring. We then integrate these smaller movements into more intricate combinations of movements. I can't emphasize enough that the devil is in the details. These drills have a very specific purpose and deviation from the goal delays progress. The way we do the drills does not necessarily mimic the full throw. We use the drills to over-teach the body certain movements and over-emphasize length of movement. Without the proper balance combined with the proper movement patterns through these drills, the athlete will not be capable of capturing maximum energy in the throw. Therefore we do not move forward until the drills are mastered.
During your career you were one of the few athletes in the throws to be able to compete at the world level in two events; a truly monolithic accomplishment. There are also a lot of throwers, coaches, and fans that believe you would be the world record holder if you would have focused solely on the shot put. Do you believe competing in more than one event had a negative effect on the pinnacle of your performances? What advice would you give to throwers who do compete in more than one of the throws?
I think that throwing both events had positives and negatives. I will say that fatigue was the toughest problem and that sometimes it was difficult to transition technically between the two. I think the one thing that most people do not realize is that I really was more of a natural discus thrower. Shot putting probably affected the discus performance more than the other way around simply because when I had to choose between the two in training, shot put always claimed preference. I probably trained the shot put twice as much as the discus. I wonder more about what I could have done in the discus if I had specialized than what I could have done in the shot if I specialized. That being said there is no way I would go back and try it again a different way. I am so happy with what I accomplished (and more importantly how I accomplished it) that hypothetical scenarios of single-event specialization are only fun "what-if" games...never once do I have feelings of regret or a sense of missing out on anything.
College athletes almost always do multiple events. I think this is a great development tool. It builds body awareness and some carryover occurs from event to event. Once an athlete begins their post-collegiate career most athletes know which is their best event and begin specialization. For those who choose to continue multiple events the best thing they can do is properly plan their recovery. As an athlete enters their mid-to-late twenties their body will not recover as well. To keep training two events - as well as lift, sprint and bound - a well-planned program is mandatory. Casual structure will inevitably lead to over training. Even with proper planning I was beginning to be incapable of recovery from two events by my late twenties.
I have heard that you are a believer in the importance of cross training. What type of activities do you do in your cross training and is it an off season practice only, or do you continue it during your competition phase?
Cross training is strictly off-season. The biggest factor in any training program is energy output. We can only afford the energy burn of cross training in the off-season when we are letting the body recover from the repetitive movements of throws training. It is good to let the body move in new ways, and it is good for the mind to take a bit of a holiday from the throwing. I liked racquetball, basketball, golf - pretty much anything that wasn't too risky.
What are some of your practices to get ready for competition from a mental standpoint?
Preparing for competition mentally is too often a neglected aspect of regular training. Everyone understands that if you try to prepare your body for competition but never put any strain on the body throughout the year you will not be ready to throw far when the competitions come around. Too many people deprive themselves of stress that can develop mental strength. Mental stress in training is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. I liked to invent competitions daily to force my self to perform. Art Venegas was my coach for the bulk of my career, and he was a great source of positive challenges every day. We were expected to perform daily at personal-best levels. This is not an exaggeration. Think about that. Every day we showed up to train we were expected to perform maximally. This is almost unheard of because it is so difficult to hold up to over an extended period of time. However, if you continue to push yourself to perform under adversity... fatigue, lack of concentration, general laziness, injuries, illness....you become mentally in shape to handle even the biggest track meets in the World. The reason so few athletes are good competitors is that almost no one is intellectually honest enough with themselves to prepare properly. What I mean by this is that most athletes will convince themselves that they did a good job or gave all that had each day that they train even when it is not the case.
To properly prepare mentally you need three things:
1.Competitive situations daily
2. A TRUE belief that those competitive situations matter in the larger scheme of things - This is also difficult for most athletes. It make take some time to understand and convince yourself that an overhead shot put competition in November or a standing long jump competition in February really is important to the development process. These situations should elicit the same mental focus at that moment that you would want to have at the biggest competition of the year.