Improving Throwing Velocity – Part II, the exercises

About 6 years ago I was in Florida with some friends on the beach.  Much to the excited of us (guys in their early 20’s), we were standing next to one of those punching bag machines.  Yes I said machine, not simple a punching bag, but rather an arcade game version of the speed bag where the bag falls down from the top of the machine and you let loose with a hay-maker.  There was absolutely no question that we had to try our hand at punching, I mean after all, nothing says manliness like trying to knock a punching bag completely off it’s rocker.  As the onslaught of quarters were flying (50 cents a punch I might add, when you’re a broke college student this adds up) we realized two things: 1) Clearly the person with the biggest bench didn’t have the best punch (*cough* – yours truly) and 2) There is more to this movement than barbells or dumbbells.  My friend who I shall call “TJ” ended up with the highest score amongst us, and  a near high score for the entire game (he was 3 or 4 points from it)!

So what does any of this have to do with throwing velocity?  Well, had I known then, what I know now, I can confidently (maybe?) say that you’d be looking at the champion of arcade game punching, and that this punching “power” has everything to do with creating rotational power and thus improving throwing velocity.  If you haven’t read my post (Part I) on some recent research with regards to improving throwing velocity, but do so now, but if you have already-read on to see the exercises!

Here are 3 simple throwing drills that you can use to improve your rotational power (ie throwing a baseball, shooting in lacrosse, etc.).  Whether you are looking to throw a 90mph fastball, or simply trying to set a record on an arcade game, these movements will be your best friends.  To be completely honest, these drills will even help athletes in kicking sports where rotational force is still transmitted from the lower body through the upper body (ie soccer, football kicker, MMA fighter).

Movement 1: Ball Balance – Traditional “stability” exercises usually have you standing on your head on a bosu while juggling Indian clubs and think that you’ll have great balance and stability because you can do that.  Wrong.  What people really need are more specific drills, exercises, and movements which target muscles and positions which the athlete will be in.  These stability drills do:

Movement 2: Single Arm Bench Press – While I love the traditional bench press (and many of my athletes still seem to think that the way to solve the country’s debt problem is with bench press and curls super sets), it leaves a lot to be desired for true “functional” translation to sports.  With the single arm dumbbell version, you not only take out some of the risk of having the shoulders and elbows on a more fixed path (the straight bar doesn’t move ergonomically), you also get a great deal of shoulder stability, core stability, and strength work at the same time.  If you’ve never done a single arm dumbbell bench press before try it today.  It will be much harder than you think, and to be honest, it will be much more productive on the field than you probably ever thought possible.  Like many single limb movements, you should feel your core work hard to prevent you from falling off the bench (embarrassing) and then it should continue to engage to help you start your drive back up to the press.  Enjoy!

Movement 3: Single Arm Split Stance Medicine Ball Throw – I love medicine balls.  Well I don’t program a ton of them for athletes, we do a fair amount of them especially when it comes to upper body and rotational power.  I have athletes do a wide variety of throws, but here is one of my favorite early drills to enhance arm velocity:

These movements can be arranged in a variety of ways; one simple way to program it is to warm-up, then do your medicine ball throws and your shoulder balance paired together.  And then work to your single arm bench press maybe supersetted with a core movement.

Do You Want to Feel 10 Years Younger In As Little As 10 Minutes A Day?