Strength And Power For Throwing Athletes

Posted on 29. May, 2011 by in Strength & Power

Strength and Power for Throwing Athletes

An athlete sends in a question asking about specific exercises for throwing sports.  By throwing sports we mean shot put, hammer throw and for you Highland Gamers the camber toss.

As such, we’re talking about sports that require much strength and power.

When I talk about training for sports performance I think about a pyramid, kinda like the food pyramid the FDA bandies about, but unlike that pyramid this is one you can actually use.

The base of this pyramid consists of flexibility, stability, mobility and strength.  These four attributes make up the foundation of your sports performance.  If you don’t have these covered, then there’s no point in going any further.  Everything else is based on these.

Dig around, there’s plenty of information to help you develop a program to help build these areas.  It’s beyond the scope of this article though, so I’m just gonna move on.

(Remember, even if you feel you have these attributes, you still need to keep training them.)

The peak of the pyramid is skill development.  That’s the practicing of your particular sport.  So if, you’re throwing athlete that means you throw.  Skill development is the province of your coach and so not really a part of this article either.

What is a part of this article is the meat of the pyramid.  The main central body, the area between the foundation and the peak—sports specific training.  This means training exercises aimed specifically at building those attributes essential to the development of skill development.

The primary attribute needed for throwing athletes is power.  The mathematical formula for power is:

Power = work/time

Power is an expression of strength quickly, otherwise known as explosiveness.

Plyometrics are essential training for power and explosiveness.  Train jumps of all kinds; box jumps, hurdles, single legged jumps, forwards, backwards, and sideways.

Train with bodyweight and then move to additional weight.  Use dumb bells, kettle bells, sand bags and/or weight vests.

Train exercises that involve triple extension.  That means ground based exercises that extend the ankle, knee and hip.

Olympic lifts, while complex and ideally involving a qualified coach, are ideal for this reason.

In addition to addressing power we need also deal with mobility.  Throwing sports require full extension throughout the torso and throwing arm to achieve maximum velocity and distance.

Biceps, pec minor and the lats all need to be supple to allow for full mobility.  Also pay close attention to the ankles, knees and hips and make sure that you get a smooth transition of power from the lower body into the upper body.

The internet is loaded with videos of stretches that will allow you to tackle each one of these.  Google any of the ones you can’t make sense of from the following descriptions.

Biceps and Pec Minor Stretch: Using a wall place the palm of one hand against the wall fingers pointing down.  Turn your body away from the wall until you can feel a pull in the bicep, as you rotate away you may also feel a bit of a stretch in the pec minor.

Pec Minor Stretch: Using a power rack or door frame place your forearm with the elbow bent at around 90 degrees along the upright of the rack or door frame.  Rotate away from your arm.

Lat Stretch: Again using the power rack or door frame this time place your hands along the top horizontal bar of the rack or the top of the doorframe.  Lean your body down into and through your arms as though you were stretching your arm pit area.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Lay prone on the floor.  Bring your hands to your sides as though you are about to do a push up.  While keeping your hips glued to the floor straighten your arms and arch your back.  In yoga circles this stretch is called upward facing dog or sometimes cobra, in physical therapy circles it’s called a McKenzie Press Up.  I don’t care what you call it, but I do recommend you do it.

Also use a foam roller or massage stick to work all of these areas.  Overly tight muscles don’t transmit power very well.

In throwing sports as well as all other sports the basics of mobility, flexibility, stability and strength are vital.

Beyond these skills lies power development which is best done through plyometrics and lifts that involve triple extension.

After that lies skill development and perfecting your form and technique.

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