Gripping & Release Drills for the Discus
by Gary Aldrich, Carnegie Mellon University
To obtain a proper grip on the discus, place the discus in the non-throwing hand. Place the throwing hand on the discus. Your fingers should be slightly over the rim of the discus. You can have your index and middle fingers together or have all your fingers slightly separated. Your thumb should lie flat on the discus at approximately a 45-degree angle away from the rest of your fingers. The fingers should lie flat on the discus. The release is initiated with the pulling of the little finger working to the index finger. For a right-handed thrower the turning of the discus should be in a clockwise direction, for a left-handed thrower in a counter clockwise direction. The final finger touching the discus at release would be the index finger. If the thumb is separated correctly from the other fingers the thumb should slide over the diameter of the discus. The throw should be careful not to lift with the fingers. If the fingers are to far over the rim a lifting action will occur.
The first drill I like to have new throwers do is to place the discus in the non-throwing hand. Grip the discus properly. Allowing the discus to turn in the non-throwing hand initiate the turning of the discus with the little finger of the hand ending with the index finger touching the discus last and the thumb sliding over the diameter of the discus. This is more of a visualization drill. The throw will be able to see and feel the correct release. Re-grip the discus and do again over and over.
A common mistake that a thrower will do is to allow the discus to be released off the back of the hand. In other words the little finger will touch the discus last. A good drill to stop this is to have the throw hold the discus properly. Let the throwing arm hang straight down. What to look for here is a straight wrist. Many times young throwers will bend the wrist so the discus touches the wrist or forearm. This angle will hinder the release and flight of the discus. Now initiate the discus falling out of the hand by pulling with the little finger and the discus will touch the index finger last. The discus will just fall to the ground.
From this point now let the athlete bowl the discus. Stepping forward with the blocking foot (left foot for right handed throwers, right foot for left handed throwers) swing the arm in a pendulum action and bowl the discus. A cue to watch for is the thumb. Where the thumb points the discus will go. You can bowl for distance, less deviation from a straight line or combination of both. If the throw does not grip the discus correctly at release the discus will flutter a great deal. The rotation on the discus should be tight and fast.
These are a couple of drills to work on proper release and gripping of the discus. It is important to work on the release a great deal. A tight and fast rotating discus will fly much further than a wobbly and slow turning discus.