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The Most Complicated Disciplines in Athletics?

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  • The Most Complicated Disciplines in Athletics?

    After watching a video on the TJ and Edwards comment about it being one of the most complicated disciplines in athletics what, in your opinion or research, is/are the most complicated disciplines?

    And I guess we could roughly define "complicated" as that which combines things like speed, power, coordination, technical aspects, etc.

  • #2
    Originally posted by proofs in the pudd'in View Post
    After watching a video on the TJ and Edwards comment about it being one of the most complicated disciplines in athletics what, in your opinion or research, is/are the most complicated disciplines?And I guess we could roughly define "complicated" as that which combines things like speed, power, coordination, technical aspects, etc.
    Nothing is close to the PV.
    The throws and TJ are hard to master, but the PV is so freakin complicated, I coached 6 athletes to 10 state championships and only one came close to mastering it, but really didn't. Every other event I've had kids who had picture-perfect technique by the time they graduated. The easiest were high hurdles and HJ, which even seems odd to me.

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    • #3
      Pole vault is clearly the answer. It's the only event that requires a specialized coach to avoid killing/maiming the athlete performing the event.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Atticus View Post
        Nothing is close to the PV.
        The throws and TJ are hard to master, but the PV is so freakin complicated, I coached 6 athletes to 10 state championships and only one came close to mastering it, but really didn't. Every other event I've had kids who had picture-perfect technique by the time they graduated. The easiest were high hurdles and HJ, which even seems odd to me.
        Makes me wonder what or how to rate these events. I would think that any hurdles event was more complicated than just the event without them - 400mH more so than the 400m. I'm no coach but I would think the HJ is not one of the easiest. In my mind I can agree that PV is probably the most complicated then the throws and TJ, then hurdles and jumping, then sprints and other track distances. But what of the Decathlon? That's got to top the list.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gm View Post
          Pole vault is clearly the answer. It's the only event that requires a specialized coach to avoid killing/maiming the athlete performing the event.
          Even many very experienced vaulters almost never compete without a coach there.

          I remember going to a World Junior (U20) Champs in Poland, where a British athlete was competing in the decathlon. His coach did not come for whatever reason. During the PV he was helped by the coach of the British PVer at the champs (himself a former international in the late '70s). He looked after himself for all the other events, despite there being specialist coaches there who could cover all, or at least the majority of, the other field events and hurdles.

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          • #6
            Hammer is up there with pole vault. You can hurt yourself pretty badly in the hammer if you don't know what you are doing.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Trickstat View Post
              Even many very experienced vaulters almost never compete without a coach there.
              And that's not even because of safety. There so many things to see on any vault:
              Approach speed (and take-off speed - not the same thing)
              Approach maks hit
              Take-off mark hit
              Angle of take-off
              Pole position at take-off
              Amt of penetration
              Feet position on swing-back
              Pole position at release.
              Body position at release
              Where in the pit landed
              Body high point vs. standards placement
              Wind effect

              that's about half of what you can see that that will make a vault great or a dud.

              The coach can also adjust
              Which pole
              Grip height
              Approach start / mid-point - take-off marks
              Standards
              Even how many steps to take - many is the time my athlete faced nh-ing and we stitched to a 5L approach on a pole the athlete know by heart. The trouble with PR attempts is you're often on the biggest stiffest pole you've got and there are lots of unknowns.

              Sometimes I felt I needed IBM's Watson out there to crunch all the data from one stinkin' jump.

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              • #8
                my HS coach, whom I consider a techniques guru (all events, and at the international level) if ever there was one, always swore that the discus was the hardest.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gh View Post
                  my HS coach, whom I consider a techniques guru (all events, and at the international level) if ever there was one, always swore that the discus was the hardest.
                  Discus is hardest for someone to master, in my coaching experience. Pole vault is the most technical.

                  I have rarely, if ever, seen a hammer thrower break his/her neck.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gh View Post
                    my HS coach, whom I consider a techniques guru (all events, and at the international level) if ever there was one, always swore that the discus was the hardest.
                    All the throws are very technical, but I see plenty of good HS DTers whose technique looks fine; they just need more body mass. I rarely see even the best HS PVers that don't have some obvious flaws.
                    You can see plenty of TERRIBLE HJers also, but they're just trying to get by on ups. But there are also 5' girl jumpers with techniques that I defy any coach to see problems.
                    My (least) favorite gHJ story is the 6'2 freshman volleyball player I recruited, basically scissored over 5' in 2 weeks (beating a decent early season field), decided she didn't need coaching, and that was that.

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                    • #11
                      My immediate thought was "decathlon" which includes PV. But that's not "a discipline."

                      In my very uninformed opinion, PV > TJ > HJ > LJ among jumps, and HT > DT > JT > SP among throws. And I have never done PV, HT, DT and JT in my life and probably never will.

                      My question to hurdlers: how do you rate 100/110H, 400H and 3000SC?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TN1965 View Post
                        HT > DT > JT > SP
                        I will tell you from personal exp in the Dec that the JT is WAAAAAY harder than it looks. Chuck a spear; how hard can that be? Very.
                        It's nothing like throwing a baseball or even a football, which we all grew up doing. I never fully mastered the whole throw-it-thru-the-point thing, though I had good form in the SP and decent form in the DT. The HT looks like it's 'just' a timing thing and with enough reps, anyone with normal strength could look like they know what they doing.
                        I had a 6'2/220 linebacker who could throw a football 60y while on one knee (not kidding!), so I brought a Jav to practice and spent a couple of days with him, and he refused to try any more, because it was so different from anything he knew.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TN1965 View Post
                          My question to hurdlers: how do you rate 100/110H, 400H and 3000SC?
                          Kids take to the 100/110H pretty readily. The 300/400H takes longer, because they have to be proficient with both legs.
                          I marvel at 3000St-ers, not because of the unforgiving barrier (it's only a 300/400H high), but because of the energy expended in the middle of an EFFIN distance run to get over the barriers. My hat's off to them!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gm View Post

                            Discus is hardest for someone to master, in my coaching experience. Pole vault is the most technical.

                            I have rarely, if ever, seen a hammer thrower break his/her neck.
                            Hah, you haven't seen me try a 3 turn let alone a 4 turn hammer. At the Oceania Maters Games 2 years ago in the Gold Coast I ended up doing an unplanned and unscripted forward roll out of the circle. I must have thought it was 1974 and I was long jumping at the Coliseum.

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                            • #15
                              Most events aren't even in the race

                              Any event that happens in a straight line is easier than one with a rotational element. That eliminates running, hurdles and horizontal jumps straight away. You will also notice that all these events can be trained cyclicly, also making it easier to practice and learn the technique.

                              This leaves us with:

                              throws, pole vault and high jump.

                              As Atticus pointed out, while HJ might look difficult initially, many athletes develop reasonable technique in flop reasonably quickly and efficiently, so it can't be that complicated. The same cannot be said for throws and pole vault.

                              Looking at the throws first, the hammer turns are cyclical, so this is the easiest of the lot. The shot put is dominated by strength/power levels, which is easy to develop. The technique is also straightforward to develop as a platform for that strength/power.

                              Between the discus and javelin, the discus is easier because of its rythmic elements and (mostly) single plane movement relative to the body. That leaves javelin as the hardest throw.

                              Ultimate showdown - PV vs JT.

                              PV has a rotational element but it is in the same plane as the run up and is a natural consequence of the run up and take off, which are relatively straightforward. This gives it a lot of similarities with with LJ and TJ where take off speed is a major contributor to the outcome. In pole vault, around 4m of a 6m jump is attributable to the take off speed (~10m/s, McGinnis, P.M.). This still leaves the vaulter with a fair bit of work to do but that work builds off a significant base.

                              JT has a run up as well (~6m/s), also in a straight line but that run up comes to a complete stop, which is harder than transferring to a take off. The run up speed, though a necessary condition for throwing, does not initiate the throw, in the same way that the PV take off initiates the body swing. The speed in JT gives you nothing unless you can initiate the throw and time the delivery and the block effectively.

                              The delivery incorporates a rotational element in the direction of the throw AND at 90 degrees to the direction of the throw. These two rotations have to be timed in order to accelerate the javelin from ~6m/s to ~30m/s (60mph) over a short distance. But that speed is still no guarantee of good distance.

                              The speed has to be channelled straight through a long unwieldy stick through its point, effectively a target circle the size of a USA dollar coin while also delivering on an angle that that is optimal for the aerodynamic requirements of the javelin.

                              Final consideration

                              All in all, the javelin has many more technical elements plus significant aerodynamic consideration, all delivered explosively in a very short time. This hands down makes it more technically difficult than PV.

                              JT for the win!

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