Throwing for Speed- Off the Wall Part 2

This is an installment of the Off the Wall series, detailing training methods for improving your speed climbing without consistent access to a speed wall.

In the testing article a few weeks ago, I wrote about using the between the legs forward and over the head backwards tests to gauge power development. To recap: they are simple, easy to measure, and correlate highly with speed and power.

For today’s article, lets take a look at a few different throws and how to incorporate them into your training to assist with your speed and power development.


Basic medicine ball throws have a place in your training during any phase of training. These simple to learn exercises develop high levels of power and are also useful for testing purposes.

There are multiple places in a training session where these can fit in well. Below are some places as well as some general volume guidelines.
  1. At the end of your warm up in order to prime your body to be explosive. 
    1. ex: 2-4 sets total with each set consisting of 2-3 throws
  2. As an auxiliary exercise after your main work out. Since they are less complex than speed climbing, sprinting, and plyometrics, they are a great way to add high quality volume to your session or training cycle when coordination begins to suffer due to fatigue that has accumulated during the session/cycle.
    1. ex 4-6 sets of 3-5 throws each
  3. As a replacement for Olympic lifts. Not everyone wants to Olympic lift (although I would argue it is one of the best lifts you can do as a speed/power athlete). You may also feel like you have inadequate coaching available to teach yourself the lifts. Heavy medicine ball throws can be a great substitute in order to build power through triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips. 
    1. ex: 6-8 sets of 3-4 throws. OHB or BLF only (to mimic the triple extension of the Olympic lift).I typically aim for 6 sets of Olympic lifts per session. As the medicine ball is less intense, I adjust upward depending on quality. If throw speed/distance drops, stop the session.
  4. As a "recombobulator".  A what? It puts your body back together and in sync. Heavy lifting (greater than 85% of 1 rep maximum) can cause some dis-coordination. Ending your lifting session with 3-4 sets of medicine ball throws can help reestablish that coordination and facilitate your recovery before your next session. This was originally taught to me during one of my more in depth speed specialist certifications for track and field. While I'm not sure of any studies that have been done on this effect, anecdotally I have seen its value with myself and my athletes.
    1. 2-4 sets of 2-4 throws. Volume isn't the goal. The goal is to give the body a firing pattern to end on that more closely resembles the sport.
  5. During injury rehabilitation. The goal of rehab is to gradually return intensities to those seen in the sport. Medball throws are a great and safe way to start adding high intensity to a workout when rehab has reached the appropriate place to reintroduce high intensity.
    1. This will vary as it may only be a piece of a workout, or depending on the injury it may be the entire workout.

The Basic Throws

Over The Head Backwards

Between The Legs Forward

Step Forward Chest Pass

Front Slams


Advanced throws add intensity to the throws in order to further adaptation. In some cases this is done by adding a hop or a drop from elevation prior to the throw. This hop or drop adds eccentric loading to the throw, increasing the amount of force that need to be used to overcome the inertia of the medicine ball. These would typically as an auxiliary exercise after the main workout with the same volume as you push deeper into your season and need a new stimulus to further adaptation.

In the case of the descending medicine ball throws, you are playing around with your nervous system by starting with a heavy medicine ball and using subsequently lighter balls with each throw. These can be incorporated as a finish to your warm up or as an auxiliary exercise.

Single Hop OHB

This is identical to the over the head backwards throw, however you begin the movement with a hop in order to create a larger eccentric load at the beginning of the throw.

Single Hop BLF

This is also identical to the BLF, except with a hop in order to add more loading.

Descending Ladder Throws

Descending ladder throws are one of my favorites in order to keep power output high. For these, you will line up multiple medballs of different weights. You will start your set with the heaviest ball and use a smaller one for each additional throw in your set. As your body begins to fatigue, the lighter load will allow you to maintain the speed of your throw.

These are my favorite throws to assist in building speed and power. Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Post a Comment