Monday Bacon: Back vs. Up

I had a lot of helpers at Saturday’s Shamrock Games when it came time to throwing the Sheaf. One competitor quickly gave me the run down on terms such as purchase and block. She was incredibly helpful. Another friend I met last year loaned me his fork and gave me a few quick tips before running outside to his caber event. I was lucky enough to meet Jason Clevenger, a fork maker, and ask him for quick advice before HE went off to his first event. 

The most common advice was to just watch the other ladies throw. Awesome. But I was up first. Crap. After my initial throw, advice came from every direction. Every. Direction. Ever been coached by about 12 people in one event? It’s a bit much. Now I know people had good intentions and I am appreciative, but each person was telling me two or three different things. My head felt like it was spinning something like this…

Weird spinning

The most common piece of advice I got was to bring the fork all the way back before I tossed the sheaf. The problem was that my little bale of straw kept hooking behind me. Again, I was told to bring the sheaf back and again, I’d hook it. A few helpers were getting a little frustrated that I wasn’t following instructions and I was getting frustrated that my sheaf was hooking. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but what was it?? After I was done, my friend Rick was back from the Caber toss and introduced me to a wonderful man named Merl Lawless. He gave me a three minute coaching session and fixed the “back” for the fork to “up.” Ohhhhhhhhhh. NOW I get it.

Not Back

See, when people said to bring my right hand back…they actually meant bring it all the way up. That would produce a straight line toss instead of my arc. And there ya go. I got a few other tips and now am very excited to work this event out. But I’ll make sure to ask for more clear advice in the future. If someone says “back,” I’ll make sure to make them show me so we’re talking about the same thing. Cuz for me, this is up…


I understand up…I just need to know we’re on the same page.

Again, I do appreciate everyone’s help. The greatest single advice I got on this event was from fellow competitor Dawn. She said, “Just go throw it.” She picked up on my being a tad overwhelmed and stepped in with reason. I appreciate Dawn.

The day was tons of fun. There was a nice sized group of women from all walks of life. I was able to stick to my plan even though there were a few times I’d get sidetracked with my competitive side.  But again, small steps of improvement over the course of 5-6 competitions is what I want to do for overall gain for the year.

After struggling in the sheaf and not picking the caber, I was able to hit PR’s in lots of my throws and move up to a final position of 3rd place. I was very surprised and delighted when I was given my first Highland Games prize, an awesome sword that I’ve already sworn off limits to the Oz man. Heh.

Strive for excellence, exceed yourself, love your friend, speak the truth, practice fidelity and honor your father and mother. These principle will help you to master yourself, make you strong, give you hope and put you on the path to greatness.

Joe Weider

Training Log

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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