Long & Strong is pleased to bring you a conversation with nationally ranked discus thrower Kevin Fitzpatrick. ENJOY!
L&S: Kevin, can you give us a your annual progression of marks, titles, teams made?
KF: First I would like to thank you Glenn, for giving throwers a forum to express our ideas and views (My pleasure Kevin, I benefit too.- GT).
Age Year School/Club Performance Teams/Nationals/Honors
13 1983 Jr.H.S. 119'11"
14 1984 Jr.H.S. 134'10"
15 1985 H.S. 149'08" FL State Champ. 12th
16 1986 H.S. 177'06" FL State Champ. 1st
17 1987 H.S. 181'3" FL State Champ. 3rd
18 1988 H.S. 197'4" FL State Champ. 1st
*FL Class 3A State Record, Discus All-American T&F News, Golden South and Golden West Champion
19 1989 Univ. of Tenn. 186'7"
20 1990 UT 185'6"
21 1991 UT 190'3" NCAA 9th, USA 18th
NCAA Team Champions
22 1992 UT 202'5" NCAA 5th, Oly Trials 10th
NCAA Team Runner-up
23 1993 Star & Stripes 194'10" USA 9th
24 1994 SSTC 205'2" USA 4th
25 1995 SSTC 205'11" USA 5th
World University Games 5th
26 1996 SSTC 210'11" USA 7th
27 1997 SSTC 214'1" USA 6th
L&S: You are exclusively a disc thrower at this point? Why so?
KF: In my time at the University of Tennessee I did all the throwing events. I felt that it was important to do whatever it took to help the team win, that was the most important thing at that time. After college I just went with my first love and that was the discus. I never considered any of the other throwing events. It was more of a direction that I took than a decision I made. I was never the best discus thrower coming out of college. Kamy Keshmiri, John Nichols, Brent Patera were all ahead of me along with Washington, Buncic, Gravelle, Meyer, Heisler, Muse, and Blutreich. I felt I was closer to the peak of this mountian than I was in any of the other events. I just wanted to be the best discus thrower that I could be and it never entered into my mind to choose.
L&S: Can you give us some personal bests in the popular lifts? What is your general weight-training philosophy?
KF: Front Squat- 405, Hang Snatch- 297, Incline Bench- 365 for a triple, Back Squat- 520 for six, Jerk- 385, Clean- 365, Bench Pull (Flat Row)- 264 for three sets of six
L&S: Do you have a particular philosophy/plan in your weight training?
KF: Yes, what does not kill me only makes me stronger. But this only good in off-season training and has place me in trouble during the season before. I had problems creating a good base last fall because of personal issues. I think that it showed in the latter part of the season, the stamina was not there.
If you are going to compete at this level you must train year round. Taking time off only turns into to taking more time to get back to where you were and beyond. You can vary different types of workouts during the downtime to help the body recover. It can be a rehab session for the body where it heals from the heavy work of the year before and gets ready for the year ahead. I went to a program of single lim training for my 5week down time. This is where each lift is done by one arm or leg at a time including your pulls. By the time the five weeks were up and I was ready for my base training, I felt great. No time off but the body and mind was rested.
L&S: Give us some insight into your training outside the weightroom.
KF: I try to do a lot of position strength throws with weighted implements. Also hold the weighted implements in a position that is hard to hold and the start slowly from there into the throw. Really trying to feel the muscles that are used in that position. I also do a good bit of running and play golf and tennis.
L&S: You are a product of the Tennessee program. Give our visitors an idea what its like to spend four years in that program.
KF: When you go to a program like a Tennessee, the day you walk through that door you are expected to do what ever you can to help the team win a national title. Your are expected to take care of what ever is outside of track and field and not to bring it to practice nor competitions. Everything that is done by the coaches, by the athletes, and by the trainers effects the road to a conference and national team championship. This was made very clear to me before I signed to Tennessee. This ideology lead us to the 91 SEC and NCAA Championship and the 1992 Runner-up. That is something I am very proud of and will always cherish.
L&S: How do you mix career and elite level throwing?
KF: You must remember that the most important thing is love of family and friends. That you are there for them and they can be there for you. Everything else is filler throwing, career, money, and other material things. Jay Silvester and Al Oerter always said that when they were throwing their best they had all areas of their life covered. They had a family, a career, and a strong relationship with god. You will find that as you work toward those goals throwing will become easier.
L&S: What does your competition schedule look like in average year?
KF: I normally do between fourteen and eightteen meets a year. I have recently moved to the west coast and their are a lot of great places to throw here. Also, there is a lot a good competition down here every weekend. So I might do a lot more meets but train through most of them because it's just fun to compete.
L&S: Run us completely through an attempt, first complete with details, and then perhaps the one or two things you actually focus on in the circle.
KF: When the second thrower infront of me is called on deck that is when I start my preperation for a throw. This gives me the time that it takes three throws to be completed and measured. I start with mental relaxation techniques, mainly controling my breathing, this helps me to relax before the throw. As I am doing this I have an image in my head of a perfect throw with the same back ground and the same view points. While I am doing this I have my eyes open and I am moving around get my discus and some chalk or what ever. As I make my way to the ring I take my time and stand out infront. As I am standing I take two deep deep breaths, exhaling slowly, and trying one final relaxation technique. As I enter the ring I do everything the same as if I was at practice. (Remember practice does not make prefect, but perfect practice makes perfect.) I enter the ring from the back and go to the front. There I look out onto the field and one last time visuallize a perfect throw. I walk to the back and with one wind up I go.
L&S: Do you have any technique problems which are more frequent? How do you combat them? What are some of your favorite drills?
KF: I have learned that the times that I have techniqual problems is when I stop doing drills in practices. I tend to get into a habit of going out and just doing full throws. There is a time to do full throws and a time to do drills. Full 100% throws are for comps. and everything else is for practice. If you want to work on speed of a full throw in practice then us a light discus.
My favorite drill is the step-thru or otherwise know as the half turn. I find that the work from this drill helps the right side in the full throw. I even like trying to throw far with this drill and have recorded throws close to two hundred feet. I like the right foot turning in this drill and the speed throught the point of the throw.
L&S: There are multiple disci with varying rim weights. As an 210+ thrower, do you personally subscribe to using discs with greater rim weights.
I tend to use what ever I can get to spin the fastest. If the discus has excess rim weight and I can not get it to spin fast then I defeat the purpose of having a high rim weighted discus. The point being is use what ever discus that you can spin the fastest. Start at 60% and work your way up to 90%. The one that you find works the best for you, use it.
L&S: Who have you admired most technique-wise, and why?
KF: To be a student of the throw you have to study everybody. Do not settle one on thrower to watch until you have come to a logical conclusion as to why all the great throwers or the throwers that you are watching, throw far. After you know why they throw far then you will probably go out and figure the throw out by yourself. This will enable you to find what works for you while keeping the basics that you have learn from watching everybody else. After you have done this then you will probably use the videos of the geats as reference material.
Kevin, thanks for your time and contributing to LONG & STRONG!