On 1/19/19, I had the pleasure to meet, chat with, and observe Reese Hoffa coach one of his throwing clinics. Reese (@hoffathrows on Instagram) is a former professional thrower, 3x Olympian in the shot put, and now a coach and massage therapist by trade. (More story below the picture)
I was able to get connected with Reese through one of my clients, Jimmy Buttion, who I coach in both the weightroom and in the track and field throws. Jimmy's mom helped set up throwing clinics with Reese at 2 local Charlotte high schools through the weekend where Reese coached multiple 2-hour clinics all day both days. I was able to observe one of these clinics in the morning and took so much away.
One of the first things I noticed was a passion for growing the sport. Most of the kids in attendance over the weekend do not have throws coaches for their high school teams. This leads to an abundance of bad habits that develop without kids having any general direction and coaching. Obviously, this brings an amount of frustration to Reese being a great thrower and coach, but he took it so well. His motto seemed to become "Let's see what we have to work with, and we will do the best with what we have on this day with this amount of time." He met every kid at their exact level and worked with each of them on small specific nuances of the throws that each one struggled with. I took away so many little things from the way he coached, the things he focused on, and the way he explained the importance of each little variation and how the puzzle pieces of a throw come together. And, he did all this on a cold and rainy day, making the most of the time he had with all these kids.
My throwing background has come from the same as most of these kids - trying to throw the shot and discus far without much guidance. So much so for myself, that I dropped track and field after 2 years. Now that I have gotten into the highland games, I have been able to get a lot more coaching in the heavy athletics practicing with other throwers. Combining those 2 experiences have developed a passion for coaching other throwers and holding clinics over the past couple of years. I am really going to pursue more high school thrower development in the Charlotte area soon as there just is not enough for these kids!
In the evening after the clinics were over, I had the opportunity to chat with Reese and ask him a painful amount of questions and talk about his career. He didn't hesitate to answer anything I threw at him and I could not be more grateful for his help and guidance. One of my favorite questions to talk about is "what would you do different 'back then' with what you know now?" and what was really cool about Reese's journey is that he didn't have much he would do different from HS, to college, to professional throws life. That is not a common answer that you run across with that questions. I absolutely love the thrill I get from talking to the strength sports greats that I could have done so all night, but Jim's mom had to cut me off at some point as she promised Reese some sleep. Thank you, Reese - if you ever come across this post! I hope I can implement a lot of what we have talked about and make some improvements in my coaching, business, and personal sports performance in the near future!