“Coach, can I hit up some special strength exercises for my glide”
“Some special strength exercises to help me drop some monster PR’s in the glide!”
“What are special strength exercises?”
Not sure what special strength exercises are? Unsure on how they could piece into the development of specific throwing patterns? Curious to see if they actually work? Let’s dig deeper into this topic!
Special Strength Exercises
Let’s start right off with where the term stems from. In 2007-2008, I was fortunate enough to train under one of the greatest throws coaches of all time, Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk. Dr. B used the ideas and principles of special strength, every single day in training. He pioneered this area and experimented OVER and OVER again in training to find unique methods to enhance throwing results!
The secret of special strength is a concept that can dramatically improve throwers movement capacity and ultimately the distance on their throws.
Definition: It is a strength movement that emulates the competitive movement! This is anything that resembles the actual competitive throw while utilizing various forms of resistance.
The main goal is to take the weight room strength being developed and UNITE that strength with the actual competitive exercise.
Special strength works by enhancing Rate of Coordination! The ultimate goal behind throwing is to recruit and coordinate the muscular system to fire as rapidly as possible. The thrower that coordinates the fastest and the most precise, is the thrower that will likely throw the farthest!
Science shows us that the rate of coordination has a tremendous carryover to competitive athletics. Take the bench press for example. The bench press might be done around 1 meter per second. The snatch can be executed around 2 meters per second or slightly higher. The actual competitive shot put is done around 13 meters per second. This leaves a rather large disparity between coordination patterns in speed of meters per second. In comes special strength. If a bench press is done at 1 meter per second, a full shot put throw is executed at 13 meters per second BUT a half turn with a heavy dumbbell can be done at 10 meters per second...NOW we can find the bridge to unite these two worlds of physiology.
With a faster level of coordination, the twitch force becomes more potent and this is an aspect that is DIFFICULT and must be trained. By teaching the body the rapid means of recruitment, the thrower learns how to move more effectively while improving the speed of coordination.
Comprehending the Glide: What Happens?
It’s important to focus on the key technical aspects of the glide.
Be patient out of the back of the circle while the hips drop by staying on a flat right foot.
Let the hips drop and lead with a low left foot to the front of the circle.
Extend the right knee while driving off the right heel, all while keeping the shoulders square and level.
Right before the left foot grounds, open the left arm rapidly to cue the upper body to fire rapidly.
Finish forward into the sector and OVER the toeboard for a monster finish!
Gliders need unilateral strength, a high rate of coordination and they also need a ton of technical positions to contribute to an even bigger throw.
Special Strength Exercise #3: DB Shuffle Throw
The DB shuffle throw is an incredible movement for young throwers, all the way to post-collegiate/professional throwers. By learning how to properly move weight forward and apply force rapidly into an object, gliders will learn how to utilize that monster linear finish!
For male throwers in college or post-collegiate, we recommend a 30-35lb DB. For female collegiate or post-collegiate throwers, we recommend a 20-25lb dumbbell. For men in high school, throw a 20lb DB while women in high school can use a 15lb dumbbell.
Some of the incredible things that DB shuffle throws show us is a lack of transferability. Many inexperienced throwers will fall backwards while executing the finish on the shuffle. The big positive side behind the shuffle throws is also the ability to train for muscular endurance through rapid coordination that directly leads to longer output in training of the throws! This can help increase overall volume and overall technical execution.
Special Strength Exercise #2: Banded A-Drill
The glide has a very short period that requires a very high rate of coordination for overall development. One of the major benefits behind the banded A-Drill is how it educates the prime mover of the right leg to move as rapidly as possible. When the right leg grounds, it also teaches the thrower how to dig their right knee down to hold tension on the right side to prevent the band from moving the leg backward. This can improve ground reaction forces which leads to a greater response in the throw!
Special Strength Exercise #1: The Banded Glide
This exercise is phenomenal for improving positions out of the back of the circle while also leading to greater ground reaction forces in the middle of the throw. When the glider exits the back of the circle, they must be aware of the positions they need to hit and hold. The band should be wrapped around the hips and the glider should STICK the power position landing. Over long periods of time, the glider can increase the tension of the band around the hips, leading to even greater strength. A great facet of this movement is how simple it becomes to repeat this movement. The repeatability means more reps can be executed in a shorter period of time with greater precision.
When the banded glides are connected with the DB Shuffle throws, the athlete starts to really connect HUGE technical a-ha moments. They feel better and faster out of the back of the circle and then finish FORWARD because of the improvements they find from the DB shuffle throws. When these movements are paired properly, the PR’s start to drop rapidly.
Utilize special strength movements properly inside your training program to lead to improvements in strength and technique. When the movements are executed properly, technique will improve and overall awareness will be enhanced. By hammering these three movements, gliders will begin to have greater comprehension of their movement in a shorter period of time!
"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."
- Dane and Trevor