Nick Petrucci's Diary - Discus & Improved Techniques, Injury Recovery, & The Next Season.

My season did not go near to plan, although I did take away some very good lessons: I learned how to adapt in the rain. See what I learned from competing in rain, setbacks from injury, and tips for the comeback next season. Check it out!

I finished the year on a good note, considering the injury I had back in March. I finished eight at our U.S.A. Nationals as a Finalist. I was really hoping to make the world team this year however I was chosen for a U.S.A. Team in El Salvador.

It was called the North American, Central American, Caribbean (N.A.C.A.C.) Championship. There were twenty-six countries present and I was able to achieve a GOLD medal. The conditions were very difficult because we threw in the middle of a monsoon, but I must say that I coped with it just fine. It was a great experience even though the world's best were not there.

My season did not go near to plan, although I did take away some very good lessons. I have learned how to adapt to rainy conditions. El Salvador was very wet and so were our Nationals this year in Indianapolis. I figured out what shoes work the best for traction, how to keep a good handle on the discus and some technical points that must be emphasized.

Nick Petrucci
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Nick Petrucci.

I discovered that the discus slick rubber shoes work the best in rain for me. I thought the discus shoes they make that have a little bit of texture on the bottom to slow you down would be best in rain. I was slipping all over the place with them.

I think the slick ones work better because they have more surface area contact with the ground, kind of like a rock climbing shoe. It is something thrower's should experiment with because it is different for everyone. I've seen guys throw in a shoe with extra grip and never slip either.

Maintaining a good grip on the discus is also difficult in the rain. You really must pay extra attention to make sure the implement is dry enough before attempting the throw. I will keep my discus in a towel up until I have to throw and put lots of chalk on it and my hands.

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Humidity makes it even harder to a keep a grip. Even when you dry it with a towel a slippery wet film remains on the discus and it can only be dried quickly with chalk. I put a whole lot of chalk on the discus in the humid El Salvador and had tight grip.

The most important thing I learned throwing in the rain is my technique. I had to find the perfect balance while turning on my left leg out of the back of the ring. Sometimes in normal conditions you get anxious to throw and don't spend as much time turning on the left as one should.

When you are not worried about slipping you can over-compensate by pushing hard off the left into the middle. In the rain you would slip or fall. One of the most vital parts of throwing is setting it up in the back of the ring.

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I usually go way too fast out of the back, so throwing in the rain has helped me understand how slow and controlled I need to be to find that perfect balance as I am turning on my left and so I can push off of it into the middle without slipping.

I am going to spend a lot of time practicing with this slow controlled feeling so my technique will never be altered in any condition. I spoke with Mac Wilkins (Olympic Gold Medalist '76) just last week and he told me the sensation he had on his best throws was very slow in the first turn. He spent a lot of time practicing on slick rings that forced him to feel the control on his left out of the back of the ring.

Nick Petrucci
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Nick Petrucci.

I am glad to have gained more confidence throwing in difficult conditions. I look forward to implementing the lessons I learned into training this year. For now one of my main concerns is getting my body healthy especially the groin injury I had.

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My leg will take some time before I can put an extreme load on it. When muscle is torn it takes months to regenerate and may never fire the same as before. The body has an amazing way of adapting and rebuilding itself. It constantly compensates as we break it down in training and sometime when we take it too far to injury.

I hurt my leg because I was overtrained. Too much load altogether with my work, training and coaching high school. Something had to give. I did all the usual rehab; ice, rest, etc... I eliminated drills or lifts that hurt the area and replaced them with ones that kept my strength and mobility.

I began throwing again as soon as the pain subsided and my leg wasn't so on the defensive. It took me longer to gain confidence because I actually injured myself during the throw.

I was very tentative every time I came to the same part of my technique where I hurt myself. My leg would shut down to protect itself from further injury. It took quite a while before I could do the movement without unloading the force on my leg.

The rest of the year I was trying to play catch up before our Nationals. It would just take too long to regain the explosive strength I needed to load the leg properly to throw far. Some injuries just take time to recover from which can ruin a season. The best thing an athlete can do is pay close attention to injury prevention.

Injury prevention is vital to keep the body recovered and healthy. Here is a list of activities I try to do:

  • Ice any sore area (my knees most commonly)
  • Swimming pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Sauna
  • Foam roller or massage stick
  • Stretching
  • Eat good
  • Proper supplements
  • Lots and lots of water

When possible I will get into a cold tub, have a deep tissue massage and chiropractic treatment. Since there is sometimes never someone around to massage, it is necessary to do it yourself.

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Besides the foam roller and stick, I will use a hard medicine ball to roll out tight areas especially my butt and hip muscles. If there is a sensitive area on the body then extra attention is required. This will help reduce the risk of any unwanted injuries that create setbacks.

In my case I didn't do a good enough job listening to my body and I ended up over training and hurting an area that was sending me signs that I should not push it. This happened at the most critical time before my season. The number one thing an athlete can do to prevent an injury is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! There are always signs when you should stop or alter your training.

Nick Petrucci
Click Image To Enlarge.
Nick Petrucci.

I am now taking some time off to get my body 100% healthy before I start training for the Olympic year. I will begin in September with base training. I am planning to have a lot more emphasis and repetitions with my technique. Since I didn't compete a lot this year, I would like to have more opportunities early in the season to get my confidence back so I am mentally stronger and consistent.