Distance Throwing Isolation Drills

We do two distance learning drills here at PVybe designed to isolate portions of the body that are moving in concert on big back hand throws.

The Backhand throw, especially when thrown for distance, is one of the most complex throws you can attempt. The whole body is moving: hands, arms, feet, legs, hips, torso, shoulders, and everything in between. These pieces of your body work in concert, and in order to work in concert, they must also function solo.

Isolating the upper and lower body in these foundational distance throwing drills can really develop the performance of these parts of your body. The near impossible challenge faced when trying to assemble all of the pieces at once drops becomes much easier when each individual part is muscle memory.

Hips are Power

In nearly every sport, the hips are the power source. Isolating and developing the power source is a good idea if the goal is to increase and harness power.

Throwing discs can be approached much like a baseball swing, in fact, the drill featured in the video is a modified baseball drill. In baseball the object is to really pop the hips quick and strong to free up the bat before it started moving. It is the aggressive and proper hip pop, not those big muscular arms, that is driving the power in a baseball swing.

Hips Rotate – Weight Back

Keeping the hips in one place in this drill is absolutely imperative, it’s what this drill is all about.

The tendency for many people who struggle with distance is to roll forward and to finish with the weight on the front foot. This sliding forward of the hips robs you of distance. The hips don’t rotate the way they should to free up the arm; they can’t they’re too busy sliding forward, and then the hips get stuck supporting all of the weight on top of the front leg – it’s really hard for the hips to rotate if that’s going on.

Instead of sliding forward, think of leaning back. That’s why we use a “Cha” concept instead of “Step”. All of the weight remains on the rear foot on a Cha and the hips remain stationary, they don’t float forward. On the last Cha, the Cha-Turn, rotate the hips as aggressively as possible — pop them! Your weight should be about 2/3 on the rear foot and 1/3 on the front foot.

Laura here had a bit of floating forward going on in this hip isolation drill. I probably should have adjusted it, but everything else was working so well, I figured it would be better to wait for another session. It is important to note that throwing distance is not a single day lesson. It takes several sessions to learn the techniques and several more to apply them. It’s great over the course of a 3 or 4 day camp, but it definitely is important to choose your battles while learning and teaching it.

Arm as Vehicle

The arm is really just a vehicle on this throw. The big muscles, the hips and the core of the torso do almost all the work here. The arm is just along for the ride, for the most part. After a long distance session, if you wind up sore, the soreness should be in the hips, obliques (outside stomach muscles), and perhaps the throwing hand knee. If there is soreness in the shoulder and tricep,  then the arm is doing to much work. It doesn’t help. Good strong, fast arm movement is a key portion of the technique, so it’s not totally without effort, it is just that the focus of effort should not be placed there – too much arm is a problem.

Leverage the Stick

Here we are using a lever in place of the disc, it will allow a thrower to feel how an object in the hand acts throughout this backhand throwing motion. Somewhere around the half circle path that the arm follows on a throw, the object in your hand will kind of flop a bit. Ideally this happens is when the object in your hand hits maximum speed — that bottom out point — and then starts to slow down. For most people who struggle with distance, this flop point (you’ll feel it with the stick) happens far too early to apply useful force towards the target. It normally happens somewhere around the back foot. You will feel it but it’s easier to hear. Once you start to hear it, you should start to feel it.

Whoosh to Target

Once you hear and feel the woosh or flop, then start to make that happen towards the target. The woosh is the bottom out point of the throw. It’s where the disc is going to start to tear out of the hand. Once you’ve found it with the stick, and moved it so it’s whooshing to the target, you’re well on your way.

High to Low to High

This arm movement needs to go from high to low to high. It should go from around the shoulder or head, to somewhere around the naval or belt line, and should finish high. Laura is a bit too flat here for real powerful throwing. It’s OK we’ll fix it later. Focus on the good stuff! She felt the whoosh and moved it out front. Mission Accomplished.