It is widely accepted that medicine ball throws are a great way to improve rotational power. They blend strength and power gained in the weight room into a movement pattern more similar to what the athlete will do during competition.
One of the fundamental ideas at FIP is creating exercises and techniques that translate to the field, course, or court. Our athletes don’t come to us to improve their bench or deadlift. They train with us so that they can throw faster, hit the ball farther, prevent injuries, and improve stamina.
One example that has helped our athletes is placing more emphasis on the technique of medicine ball throws. We customize the focus of the throw to help the athlete get the “feel” he or she needs during the sport specific move. For example, our pitchers do not look like our golfers while doing a Med Ball Shot Put Throw.
As you can see from the left video, we want the hips of the pitcher to move towards the target while the head stays over the back foot (lateral hip distraction). Eventually the head also drifts towards the target. The shoulders stay close to level, with the back shoulder coming “over the top” slightly as the body rotates through.
For golfers, we do want some lateral hip distraction as the athlete pushes off the back foot to initiate the hip movement. But the head should not move nearly as much as a pitcher until after contact is made. Also, the shoulders should replace each other; meaning that as the athlete goes into their backswing, the lead shoulder should be lower than the back shoulder and as the athlete comes through the swing the back shoulder should be lower than the lead shoulder.
Here is an excellent example from our athlete Blayne Barber. You can see in the left picture how he loads the hip with the lead shoulder low on the back swing.
The right picture is just after contact. Blayne has pushed off his back leg, causing slight lateral hip distraction and rotation of the hips. Notice how his belt buckle is facing the target. The lead shoulder is now higher than the back shoulder and his head stays over the ball.
The same goes for hitters. You can see the similarities in the lateral power throw and baseball swing.
Load into the back leg and replace the shoulders. It’s as simple as that.
There are instances where we want the athlete to throw the ball as hard as they can. For example, with a younger population, we are less worried about sport specific movements and more concerned with overall athletic development. Again, it goes back to individualizing the intent of the throw to each athlete.
There’s a fine line between trying to teach a movement pattern and being too technical with the throw. We try to work on one “feel” at a time so the athlete doesn’t lose their athleticism. So make sure not to confuse athlete with multiple verbal cues.