Interview with Esperanza throws coach, Bill Pendleton

Coach Bill Pendleton (left in above photo courtesy of Esperanza throwing site) has been a teacher and coach at Esperanza HS (Anaheim) for over 40 years. During his tenure there, Coach Pendleton has coached some of the finest throwers in California including a national champion in the shot put. His latest national level thrower is Bronson Osborn (next to Coach Pendleton) who this past Saturday established a new Orange County record in the shot put with a mighty throw of 70'0" at the Corona Relays. That mark now ranks him 4th all-time in California history trailing only Brent Noon, Fallbrook 1990 76'2", Matt Katnik, St. John Bosco 2015 72'3" and Van Mounts, Bakersfield 1997 71'10". Osborn also threw the discus a near PR of 183'11" only to be surpassed by teammate Clint Meyer and his 185'6" effort. Thank you to Coach Pendleton for taking the time to respond to us and tell us a little more about himself, his program's history and weekly training plan. If you are a thrower or a throwing enthusiast, I would highly recommend checking out Coach Pendleton's throwing site which you can access at this LINK.

1) What was your athletic experience? What sports did you participate in before, during and after high school? Proudest achievements? 
I was a 3 sport guy in high school (football, basketball, and track). I was Athlete of the Year at Gahr High School. I played football and was in track at Cerritos College in Norwalk and at Idaho State but there wasn't much time for track there. I was the Scholar Athlete of the Year at Idaho State and for the Big Sky Conference my senior year. I threw Masters track until my kids started competing. I won a national Masters championship in the shot while in my 30s.

2) Who were the coaches that had the biggest impact on you and what did you learn from them? 
My dad was a football and track coach at Cerritos College and ran the weight room when I was growing up. He was by far my biggest influence seeing how he worked with people. My high school football coach, Pete Nicklas, was also a big influence. Several coaches have been influential in my coaching especially in track. Loyd Higgens at Cerritos ran clinics and summer classes that I went to when I started coaching track. One of my best throwers threw for Art Venegas at UCLA and I watched their practices and heard his ideas. I used to work at AAF clinics and got to work with great coaches like Don Babbit, now at Georgia, and Dan Lange, now at USC. I've discussed throwing every year with extremely knowledgable high school coaches like Tony Ciarelli at Newport Harbor and Nick Garcia at Notre Dame. Track coaches are always very good about sharing ideas. When I was starting, I'd just stand by somebody like Scott Semar from Bakersfield or Bob MacKay from Modesto and just listen.

3) What led you into teaching and coaching? What subjects did you teach and what sports did you coach at Esperanza HS? 
I decided to become a coach because I had always loved sports and working with athletes. I've coached football for 40 years at Esperanza and track for 32. I've taught some History and mostly English during that time. 

4) What have been some of the biggest changes that you have seen during your career as a teacher and coach? 
In teaching, teachers have to be a lot more accountable than when I started because of all the testing which I think is a good thing. Coaches have always gotten judged on our work every game or meet. In coaching, we were doing weight lifting on an advanced level way before it became popular so that hasn't been that big of a change. The technological change has been enormous. After our weight room max testing, I used to type up sheets where the guys were ranked by lift and how much they progressed on a typewriter. If you made a mistake, you had to start over. It would take about 6 hours to complete . Now, I do it on excel in about 20 minutes. There are more innovations all the time but the core is still hard work on the basic lifts.

5) What does a typical week look like for your throwers? How many days are they throwing and how many days are they lifting? Do they throw the shot put and discus on the same days? Any running? What else do they do that you feel is equally important to throwing success? 
In Season, we start on the field at 1:55 with 10 minutes with 2 days of plyometrics like jumping over hurdles and throwing med balls and 2 days of running drills. Then we'll do 5 minutes of throwing drills rotating through 7 painted circles with a pvc stick on their back. Then, we'll throw for about 50 minutes with one implement and 30 with the other. First day we'll take about 25 throws in the shot and about 20 in the discus. The next day we'll switch the starting throw and numbers. We work cycles with throwing implements just like we have cycles in the weight room. Our first shot cycle was throwing stands with a 25 lb. kettle bell then 8 throws with a 16, then 8 with a 14, and then 8 with a 12. Next month was 14,13,12 then 13,12,11, and end with 12,11,10. With disc it would be something like a disc, a 1.8 and a 1.6 to start. Those were month cycles starting in November. In season those cycles are weekly cycles pointing for our Throwers Invitational, Arcadia, and our postseason. The better the thrower is, the later his peak is. Then we go in the weight room for 1.5 to 2 hours working the olympic lifts along with Bench and Back/front Squats. We end with core and cns work. We don't do running other than at the start 2 days a week and we don't stretch other than an occasional athlete with a special problem. I'm not giving you any clinic talk. This is exactly what we do and don't do. We start at 1:55 and get done abut 5:40 so I don't want to add anything else. I think the biggest key is quality ring time. I make sure the best throwers are getting in their throws even if they have to go to the front of the line or throw more discs. Every throw has a focus. With the best throwers half are technique cues to focus on and half are speed cues. Two key points are
1). THE AGGRAGATION OF MARGINAL GAINS I try to get them 1% better at every facet of their throw. I always did that but really got a clear explanation at the last Olympics when a British cycling coach explained that concept.
2). CREATE A NEW NORMAL THROUGH FOCUS ON SPEED GENERATING POINTS To throw far you have to throw fast. Once their technique is good and many never get to that point, we focus on being 5% faster at the end of the workout. That's the same reason you throw light implements.
There are many ways to approach the coaching but getting the throwers to work on improving not just aimless throws is a key. I had a national champion shot putter in 1991 and we had to lift first then throw because I ran the football lifting and we only threw 10 lb. shots. Neither is desirable but he threw 66'. The key was he threw 50 throws a day and they were focused throws.

6) Who are some of the top throwers that you have coached at Esperanza and what were some of their accomplishments? 
I've coached a National Champion, Mark Parlin 1991 66'8 and 194' . He was an All American at UCLA., two state champions, Parlin and my oldest son, Travis Pendleton discus 203' 5 in 2000. I've coach 17 CIF champions and 13 throwers that scored at the state meet. I've had 8 shot putters over 60' and 25 throwers over 50'. I've had 2 discus throwers over 200', 7 over 180' and 30 over 150'. I've had 2 girls over 40' in the shot and 15 girls over 120' in the discus. 

7) Bronson Osborn (above from this past Saturday thanks to Coach Pendleton) finished 3rd last year in both the shot put and discus at the CA state meet. He is off to a remarkable start including throwing 70'0" yesterday. What do you feel has led to his improvement this season? 
Bronson had a vertical fracture of his lower leg sustained the first day of football his sophomore year. He still has 7 screws and a plate in it. He was in a cast until December. If he hadn't done that, I think he would have thrown 64' or 65' last year. He started off throwing standing throws with his right knee on a chair in the ring. By February, he was able to start full throws but the right foot was weak and didn't flex much. He recorded his PR of 61' 9" at the state meet throwing on a flat right foot rotating in the middle. Part of his improvement this season is the foot getting stronger. He also threw a 1000 throws a month in July, Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. We worked all this throws around my football schedule and with just he and I, it was very focused. He went up a foot every month. Also, ever since his freshman year, he has come in before school and done 20 minutes of core and explosive work with med balls, slosh pipes, etc. This is what Dr. Bondarchuk would call SDE (Special Developmental Exercises) work. It's the same motions and body movements as in the throws like hip rotation for example. By doing it when he's fresh, he gets more out of it than adding it on after 3-4 hours of throwing and lifting. I've found the great throwers have good spatial awareness. When you talk to him about what he is doing, he can feel what you are talking about and make adjustments. I was fortunate with Bronson. He started working with a very good throws coach, Steve Bolton, when he was in junior high. When I got him he didn't have bad habits. He had a good basic slow throw that we could build on. He threw 50' with a 12 in 8th grade. He averaged about 45' but even then had big throws in him. So we've added 20' in 3 years so far.

8) As a junior already past 70 feet, I am sure many will ask about his next goals. What do you feel is within reach this season? 
Since he's thrown 70' our immediate goal is 70' 1. But season wise he was looking for 70' and to break the school record and 30 year old Orange County record. He did both last week. Becoming a County champion, CIF champion, and State Champion are season goals. I don't have a season ending number in mid because he has exceeded my expectations so many times up to this point. We just want to continue to work hard and see how far it takes him.

9) How much of an advantage do you feel it is for a shot putter to use the rotary technique compared to the glide? 
Both styles have their advantages. Generally, spinners are more likely to have a longer throw during the season than if they were gliding but most will be less consistent. I've had 4 spinners and 3 gliders score at the state meet. To be a consistent spinner, you have to put in a lot more work than a glider. A coach just has to find what works best for each athlete. A tall thrower can do either, Generally a shorter thrower will want to spin because height is less of a factor. 

10) What do you feel are the keys to performing well in the discus? 
I think the keys to performing well in the discus are the same as shot. You need a lot of quality focused ring time number 1. However, I do think Glide shot put is 50% technique and 50% being a stud. I've seen great athletes walk over and throw a shot 50+ immediately. Rotational throwing is more 75/25 or even 80/20 so you have to work at it more. No one walks over without experience and throws a disc a long ways.

11) What is your advice for a young coach just starting out in the coaching "business"? 
To any coach starting out, research your event and that has never been easier at this time. YouTube has a couple of throwing series on video that are good but ask someone who knows which ones. Secondly, talk to and observe good coaches. See what they do and try and figure out why they do it. Usually, they'll tell you if you ask. You also need to find the talent to coach. Find out where the athletes are and talk to them. For boys, that usually means football so coaching frosh football is a good idea. With girls, it's tough because they are so locked in to club oriented sports. I do try and contact athletes they have cut to try and get them out.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
I think that's enough.