The International Knife Throwers Hall Of Fame (IKTHOF) World Championships is coming up in November, and the best knife throwers in the world are getting ready for the competition. Since I’m very curious about how to train for this competition and am hoping to one day compete in it, I asked competitor Jonathan Sinza La’Flesh about his training regimen, and here was his response:
I was asked by a few people to write up something about how I’m training for Blanco 2013 knife throwing championship competition. I know it’s easy enough to just go in the backyard and throw, but my mind is a little more obsessive compulsive than that.
The game is 4 sets of 15 throws, a set is 3 throws from each of the 5 distances between 2 meters and 6 meters [.5 spin, 1 spin, 1.5 spin, 2 spin and 2.5 spin]. Last year, without getting much practice, I threw a score of 141 [out of possible 300]. My goal for 2013 is as high above 200 points as I can get.
When I started training this summer it was 150 days until competition; it’s now coming upon 100 days left to train. At the moment my score average is in the 220s out of a possible 300.
The way I’m training is throwing in sets of 100 throws for each distance, that gives me a % out of 100 for sticks, misses, and bullseyes. I try to throw at least 2 sets a day along with 2 practice game throws. So with warm up throws it’s about 350 throws a day, double or triple on weekends.
I have a note book and I check off each throw as stick (anywhere in target other than bullseye), a miss, or a bullseye. On my phone I have a graph making app, I use it to plot out a chart for each of my throws showing bullseye % and overall sticking %. That’s how I know that I’m currently sticking over 85% from all distances and bullseyes are 80% [.5 spin], 50% [1 spin], 40% [1.5 spin], 30% [2 spin], 20% [2.5 spin] — scores getting lower the further back I am from target.
My goal is to get all throws into the 80%+ bullseye range.
I am finding that for me to be really consistent I must quiet the mind chatter and focus. The way I do that is I have a ‘mantra’ that I repeat to myself in my head to get ready to throw.
“Set your mind, set your throw” This is a mental call back to focus.
“Set your distance, line up your throw.”(close eyes) “Breath”, (open eyes) “Focus, Robot arm, follow down”
It’s really at the part I close my eyes and breath that I push out other thoughts and FOCUS on what I’m doing. “Robot arm’ is just a code word for me to keep my body still, keep my feet planted, and let my arm do most of the work. “Follow down” is a reminder to follow thru, pointing at the ground when done.
When I clear my mind and do the mental preparations, my throws are vastly better than when I throw on autopilot. This really makes a huge difference. It’s called being aware, being in the moment.
A new thing I’m adding to training is sports motivational videos and visualization. The motivational videos are on YouTube, many to be found. I’ve made a playlist and I use these to get pumped up and motivated to go to work on training. They are a great way to get you up and going!
Also been watching videos on sports visualization. What I’ve done is made a video from my eye level going thru the steps of setting up a throw and throwing 3 perfect bullseyes. I have this video on my phone and desk computer and I try to watch it a little bit a day going along with the video in my mind: breathing at the right times, mentally focusing, mentally throwing perfect bullseyes.
I also just bought an ear-mounted ‘spy’ camera that I will be using to record training sessions from my point of view.
On top of all that, I try to keep a positive mindset.
I CAN WIN! I CAN BE #1!
I understand that some throwers are averaging in the 270s. I have over 100 days to train and get my score up. With my score today being in the 220s and others scoring in the 270s do I think I have a chance to win?
I’m not spending all this money and training all this time for a shiny 2nd place trophy! I’m training to WIN!
I will go to Texas and fight for 1st place! But either way, win or loose, I will be AWESOME!
So, in a nutshell….I throw 100s of throws a day keeping track of how I throw and making a graph chart, so I understand where my skill level is and what needs work. That’s training the body. I watch motivational and visualization videos to help train the mind. I take notes on what I’m doing wrong and make steps to correct it. I film practice sessions and then review what I was doing and when its working perfect.
And I try to stay positive.
Jonathan Sinza La’Flesh is certified by the IKTHOF as a Master Knife Throwing Instructor and is the organization’s representative for the state of Washington (USA). Check out his crazy-wicked-awesome website: ExoticAutomatic