The 3 Most Important Areas for Improving Performance
Overhead athletes seek training to improve velocity, whether it’s throwing velocity during sports like baseball and softball, water polo, quarterbacks in football, and lacrosse OR hitting velocity in sports like volleyball and tennis…all are looking to transfer as much force from their bodies and release it through a ball towards a target as fast as possible.
So, how do you increase this type of velocity? This is a complex question that when approached in the context of strength and conditioning, I believe, begins with 3 main areas of emphasis; leg power, core power, and the complex issue of shoulder stability and mobility.
Biomechanical science showed us long ago that force production begins at the bottom from the feet, is transferred up through the legs and hips, through the trunk or core, and finishes out through the limbs. This series of force production is often termed the kinetic chain and when the timing and sequencing of all of this is combined with appropriate amounts of leg power, core power and shoulder stability and mobility, you have a dynamic athlete who can perform impressive overhead movements.
So, how do you increase leg power? There is a long list here, but assuming the athlete has the appropriate base of leg strength, the more common power movements would be many variations of squats, dead lifts, power cleans, different types of jumps and sprints.
Common core-power movements would be medicine ball throws, explosive rotational band and cable machine work and certain explosive sit-up variations.
The shoulder is much more complex in that it’s range of motion has more options and you’re dealing with the eccentric movement (or the slowing down of the arm), which is very traumatic on the soft tissues of the joint or the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The major focus here should be stabilizing the joint by strengthening the muscles around it all while keeping the appropriate mobility needed. Common exercises for shoulder stability would be variations of planks and moving planks, certain pulling movements like rows and pull ups or downs, and rotational stabilizers for the rotator cuff and posterior shoulder. The mobility needed would come from active range of motion movements and stretching to keep the humeral head correctly placed and the joint free of impingements. The sleeper stretch, lat stretches and triceps stretches are beneficial for this. Soft tissue work like rolling or manual therapy is also extremely important to keep the health of the shoulder complex in optimal shape.
That just scratched the surface of improving velocity in overhead athletes; hopefully you take a bit of these major areas of emphasis and use it for yourself to enhance throwing harder.
Thanks for checking in.