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Learn how USA record-holder Amanda Bingson started throwing the hammer

Like most American throwers, Amanda Bingson was exposed to the hammer throw before she began her college career. Instead, Bingson threw the discus and shot put in high school, before being introduced to the hammer after walking on to UNLV's track team. She discussed her track and field start in an interview in January 2015.

How did you start in track and field?

“My buddy, her brother did track and field and so she told me to come out and do it.

So I wanted something to do so I went out to practice on the first day, and I saw this guy, who was rather attractive, and I never left. So that’s how I got started in it. And then after the first couple weeks I picked it up kind of quickly, the discus, and then my coach kind of never let me quit. … For the record (the guy she noticed, Ben Jacobs) plays for the Panthers now, in the NFL.”

How were you introduced to hammer throwing?

“My coach did it. Greg Watson is his name. He coaches at K-State right now. He (threw the hammer) in college and he was a volunteer assistant at UNLV. We didn’t have as much time as he would like to do more events, so we only did one event – everyone at UNLV – and that was the hammer throw. Because that’s what he did in college. ... And we had never seen a hammer before, because we don’t do it in high school or any kind of younger age, other than college, unless you go into a club-type aspect, and I was never into track all that much to go into a club. But he came out one day with a hammer … and like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be our new event.’ And I was like, ‘What the hell is that thing?’ Because I’d never seen it before in my life.

And then we started doing that and I picked it up, and I wasn’t very good, at all, at the beginning. And then at (the Mountain West conference meet) our freshman year, in 2009, I kind of had a big jump and something kind of clicked. And from then on out, it’s just kind of been all uphill from there, and my coach never let me quit (hammer throwing), either.”

What clicked for you?

“I think I just figured out how to move it. Because we keep it very Crayola, very simple. Because a lot of people tend to overthink and overanalyze every aspect of the throw. But if you really think about it, it’s really quite simple, the hammer, as far as technique. Because it’s literally the same thing over and over and over again. You just have to try to do it. So our main focus was just to really put pressure and speed on the ball, and work the ball. And I think I was trying to manhandle it, if you will, because I was a little bit stronger, and it’s only 9 pounds, and I thought, ‘What the hell, it’s a 9-pound ball. It can’t be that heavy.’ So I’d just try to manhandle it. But then I finally figured out that, no, I have to let it do what it wants; the ball’s most important, no matter what I do. I think that’s what kind of made it click, was the fact that I simplified it.

Since your breakthrough, and your gradual improvement, have you made any small changes in your routine?

“We’ve always down the same thing, over and over and over again. I mean, my training, from when I first started in 2009, to now, is all the same. Technically, we’ve changed some little things and tried to focus more on where to push it, and maybe a little bit (on) body position. But as far as practice goes, weight (training) goes, and how many throws we take a day, it’s all pretty much the same. Because it’s been going well so far, and why change it?”

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