Whether you do baseball, basketball, or any number of field events, shoulder plyometrics are a must-do for any of you throwers out there.
They’ll help you throw WAY further, and also build the type of strength needed in your shoulder to avoid injuries from constantly whipping your arm as hard as you can.
In this article, we’ll check out what plyometrics are, why you should take them seriously, how they’ll turn your shoulder into an absolute cannon, and go over some of my top exercises to become an explosive thrower!
What Are Plyometrics & Why Do They Matter For Throwing?
Plyometrics are movements where you’re trying to access as much of your strength as possible, in the shortest amount of time possible.
That’s extremely important if you want to throw a ball over the moon – you can bench press all the weight in the world, but you won’t throw very far if you can’t access that strength very quickly.
It’s all about explosive power.
In fact, it’s a simple math equation: power is described as strength x speed (maybe we all should’ve payed more attention in math class after all…).
The more strength you can create with a higher speed rating, the more power you’ll produce and the further you’ll chuck whatever object you’re throwing.
That’s where plyometrics come in…
Plyometrics train you to access your strength as fast as possible.
You still want to build strength in the gym with exercises like heavy bench press or overhead presses, but we have to add the other side of the coin in the form of plyometrics.
They’re generally done as quick, highly explosive movements that focus on perfect form with minimal fatigue, rather than trying to make the muscle as tired as possible (like in a lot of strength training).
Building that speed through plyometrics will also help you become more efficient – you can still get some crazy power by being less strong but with ridiculous speed!
So, here are 7 plyometrics that will be a game-changer for you and your throwing (in no particular order):
1. Loaded Med Ball Chest Pass
This is a good one – just make sure you have a solid wall for it.
The loaded med ball chest pass is great for developing explosiveness in front of your body – great for you basketball players – with the added bonus of teaching you how to use leg drive to create more power in your shoulders.
Stay on the lighter side of med ball here – about 6-12 lbs – and start holding it at your chest while loaded up on one leg in front of you.
Push forward on your loaded leg, and “press” the ball away from you as hard as you can at the same time, slamming it into the wall in front of you.
Reset by switching legs every time, and shoot for 3-8 sets of 6-12 explosive reps.
2. Explosive Pushups
Explosive pushups are extremely underrated when it comes to building power not just in the shoulders, but the upper body as a whole.
These are also great because you have to catch and control yourself on the way down – otherwise say hello to a broken nose.
Start in the pushup position, but with your belly touching the ground.
Drive through your hands and push your body up as fast as you can – you want your hands to leave the ground if possible.
You can add in a clap while in the air to make it a bit harder – or if you want a real challenge, have your hands up on something a little higher to add some more range to the movement.
Always reset to belly-on-the-ground to take all momentum away, and shoot for 3-6 sets of 5-15 reps.
3. Explosive Landmine Press
Explosive landmine presses (no pun intended) will really blow up your shoulders (pun intended).
These are an awesome way to build unilateral (single-armed) explosiveness, which is obviously important for throwing.
It’ll also uncover any weaknesses in either arm, making it easier to deal with them.
There are a couple good ways to do this:
- Feet Beside Each Other – Stand with your feet spread apart in an “athletic” stance. Bring the bar down nice and controlled, then explode it off your shoulder.
- Split Stance – Same as feet together, but your feet are split apart as if you’re taking a step. Have the opposite leg of whatever arm you’re holding the bar forward.
- Kneeling – Kneel down in a lunge position, with your opposite leg forwards again. This takes away most of the leg drive, making your shoulder work a little more.
Now, we can get into 100 more variations for this one, but those are the 3 that I recommend – try switching them out every couple weeks to work on slightly different movement patterns.
3-6 sets of 4-8 reps each side are going to get you some nice explosive gains.
4. Med Ball Thrusters
It’s time to test your ceiling’s integrity.
Med ball thrusters are an awesome plyometric for shoulders – it’s like an overhead press, but you’re throwing something.
Something really great about these is that you start from a very low shoulder position – your arms are almost by your sides before you explode up and flex your shoulders to their full range!
Throwing takes your shoulder through a large range-of-motion, so these relate nicely.
Keep the med ball light, around 8-10 lbs, and focus on driving your legs up and pushing the ball with your shoulders as hard as you can – put a hole in the ceiling!
About 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps is great here.
5. Single Arm Banded Chest Press
I love using bands for plyometrics because we can change where the tension is, making it easier or harder at certain points in the exercise.
The single arm banded chest press creates the most tension at the end of the movement, complimenting a lot of these other exercises that have the toughest part at the beginning of the exercise.
It also works on rotational power, which is really important in throwing.
Try to push straight out in front of you, controlling your arm so it doesn’t move up or down.
Try 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps each side.
6. Banded Shoulder Presses
These are awesome for the shoulder stabilizers that you need in throwing.
The banded shoulder press is like a normal overhead press with a barbell, but is done way faster and requires more stability.
Try to explode up straight above you, making each rep look similar – you don’t want your arms going all over the place!
3-5 sets of 8-15 reps is great here.
7. Shot Put
This one may be very specific for some of you athletes, or brings you back to the good ol’ track and field days at school.
Your goal is to get the med ball into the hole in the ceiling you just created with the thrusters.
You generally want to do this with a smaller med ball, otherwise balancing the big ones gets a little tricky.
You could do it with a band too – just loop one end around your foot and treat the other end like you would a ball!
The shot put is great because it’s very similar to throwing in that you get rotational movement, and is an easy way to see progress by tracking how far you can throw.
Try 3-8 sets of 5 reps for each arm.
Now that we’ve put a ton of holes into our walls and made our neighbors mad, you can at least show off with some awesome explosive power!
These 7 plyometric shoulder exercises will get you throwing bombs and help protect your shoulder from the beatings it takes when throwing heat.
You do need to build strength too for the best throwing power, but these plyometrics will ensure that you can access that strength in the blink of an eye!
And remember, getting sport-specific is one of the best ways to improve as well, so combine these with a little extra throwing practice for your sport.
Play around with which ones you like the most, and enjoy the extra throwing power!
Plyometrics For Shoulders FAQ
Here I’ll answer some of your more commonly asked questions regarding upper body/shoulder plyometrics.
Are plyometrics better than weight training for throwing?
Your best bet is combining weight training and plyometrics to build strength and speed for power, but plyometrics will probably be the best bang-for-your buck when it comes to throwing.