Volume Builds Overhead Ball Throwing Speed

Want to throw that soccer ball faster? New research suggests a certain volume of weighted medicine ball throws can help you build that ball speed.

Even if you haven’t thrown a soccer ball since you were a kid, you remember how important, and challenging, that overhead throw was in the game. A new study investigated the effect of medicine ball training workload on throwing speed in a two hand overhead throwing movement.The study also examined the effect of training with the 3kg medicine ball on throwing speed with lighter ball weights.

The study consisted of 22 males and 18 females who were between 14-16 years old. None of the subjects had much experience with medicine ball training prior to the study. To test if the amount of workload had a positive influence on ball speed after a six week training period, the throwing speeds for the 0.35kg ball handball, 0.45kg soccer ball, 1kg medicine ball, and 3kg medicine ball were tested before and after the six week training period.1

The subjects were instructed to throw the ball as far and as fast as possible with both hands over their head. Overhead throwing with both hands was used instead of a regular overhand throwing motion, due to the fact this method had more constraints on technique, such as no rotation of the trunk and internal rotation of the shoulder. Three attempts were made with each ball, with one-minute rest periods between throws. The speed of the balls was determined using a radar gun, and only the highest speed with each ball was used for analysis.2

The subjects were then divided into three groups:3

  • The first group was a control group and did not train any throwing program regimen.
  • The other two groups trained overhead throwing with a single or double training workload for six weeks.
  • The single training workload group performed 3 series of 6 throws with a 3kg medicine ball, while the double training workload group performed 6 series of 6 throws with a 3kg medicine ball. These groups trained twice weekly.

After comparison, the study revealed that only the double workload training group significantly increased the ball speed with the handball (10.6%), and the 1kg (3.6%) and 3kg (10.7%) medicine balls, while the single workload training group only significantly increased ball speed with the 1kg medicine ball (8.5%). The control group did not experience any change in ball speed, and no significant increase was found in the ball speed of the soccer ball for any group.4

This study indicates that training workload is important for enhancement of ball throwing performance, and can be helpful in designing training programs. Throwing with adequate training volume with a 3kg medicine ball can also increase ball speed with lighter balls. When it comes to soccer and other sports that involve the two hand overhead throw, knowing how much volume will elicit change is essential to preserving athlete’s time and energy for sport-specific skills.

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