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Balance Exercises to Help With the Discus & Shot Put

By Kay Tang

Discus and shot put throwers require triple flexion, or flexion of the hip, knee and ankle, and they must rotate their bodies in relation to that. They need superior balance to maintain their center of mass while spinning. When it comes to controlling and stabilizing the forces they need to throw an object, a thrower’s balance is also linked to rhythm. Perform exercises to work not only on balance but also throwing technique.

Practicing Power Pivots

Work on balance while pivoting over your right leg in the middle of the ring in a 180-degree drill, which is also called "wheels" or "power pivots," according to “The Complete Book of Throws” by Jay Silvester. Begin in a standing throw position, placing your right foot in the center of the circle. Position your body so you’re facing 180 degrees in the opposite direction of a standing throw. Lift your left foot and simultaneously pivot on the ball of your right foot. Keep your shoulders and hips in the same position on the pivot as if your body is a swinging gate. When you’ve reached the standing throw position, put your left foot down. You can finish the maneuver with a standing throw or continue to perform multiple 180-degree pivots. When you land in the power position after a pivot, take pause on occasion to evaluate your stance.

Checking Balance

You can perform drills to check your technique for balance problems. For example, in the stop drill, begin by driving out of the rear of the circle. Once you land in the power position, freeze in the standing throw position and hold it, suggests Silvester. If balance problems are causing you to stop or hesitate in the center of the ring, this simple drill will shed light on that problem. Do a stop drill first with your coach so he can help you identify any flaws in your form. Once you’ve pinpointed balance problems and have mastered the exercise, you can practice the stop drill on your own. Bear in mind that if you tend to stop in the middle of throws, this drill could cement a bad habit.

Developing Balance on the Spin

One of the most effective throwing-specific exercises is the 360 drill, which enables you to practice transitioning from “rotational movement to linear movement” while maintaining balance, according to Silvester. Begin at the rear of the circle with your weight evenly distributed between your legs. Keep your knees soft. To prepare and pick up momentum for a spin, rotate your shoulders slightly to the right. Shift your weight to the ball of your left foot and simultaneously lift your right foot to perform a 360-degree turn. Keep your hips and shoulders at the same height as you did throughout the 180-degree pivot. Avoid using your upper body to twist and lead the maneuver. Think of your body and extremities as a turnstile in which all of these moving parts remain on the same vertical plane. If the spin is too difficult, break the exercise down into 90-, 180- and 270-degree pivots before you try a 360-degree spin.

Training for Balance

While you can work on your balance in technique drills, you can also work on your overall balance by using various tools, such as balance beams, Swiss balls and inflatable balance trainers. For example, perform walks across a balance beam, practicing a forward gait and then a side step. Add resistance to a balance beam walk by carrying a weight plate above your head or carrying a pair of kettlebells on either side of your body. Practice standing with one foot on an inflatable balance trainer while holding a weight plate.

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