A Contrarian Approach to the Discus

It all started with a cross-country skier

Back in 1985, Olympic Medalist and World Champion Bill Koch came to Salt Lake City. A local ski rental store provided a workshop for the public. I was certainly the only “strength” athlete there, but I found Koch’s discussion riveting. Why? Nobody there, save me, could listen to what he was saying. What? Oh, they could hear him, but they couldn’t listen to him.

I was with a student of mine who later skied for the University of Utah. He kept asking the same questions of Koch: “How many hours do you train? What Periodization do you use?”

Koch, an Olympic medalist and World Champ, kept answering: “I take my girls three times a week to the bunny hill at the resort…I race them to the top of the lift while they take the chairs, then we ski down as a family. I do this over and over again. It gives me the “biggest bang for the buck.””

What the other skiers wanted to hear was…well, something else. Koch wasn’t “doing things right.”

There are lots of “us” not “doing things right.”

I left that workshop a much better coach and probably a better athlete. No, I am not much of a cross country skier, but I knew Koch had a gem hidden in this workshop. Soon, I began attending football clinics looking for the same kinds of insights as Koch…people doing things “a little” different. Jimmy Johnson, later coach of the Dallas Cowboys, gave a workshop outlining the keys to football success. He kept adding: “we do things a little different.” He focused on simplicity, conditioning and winning the “sudden changes,” fumbles and interceptions. It worked.

Later, I met football coaches who got rid of snap counts, ran odd formations, only kicked onsides, or ran goal line formations all over the field. Then, I went to camp with the two great contrarians, and good fr iends…John Powell and Brian Oldfield. If you told either of them that we are going “left,” expect them to march to the right.

Listen to insanity long enough and it will sound sane

I had just finished talking at a Track and Field Clinic in California when a few hands went up. “How much do you have your throwers run? ” “Uhhhh, none.”

I should have known better. Same coach, same hand goes up: “I run ten miles every morning, so I figure these high school kids should at least be good for half.  Har har har.”

Continue reading my book on the discus, The Contrarian Approach to the Discus Throw

Back to top