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Muscles Used in Throwing a Football – Lower Body More Important Than Upper Body
There is a myth in football training, especially among young athletes, regarding the origin of power when kicking a football. Many mistakenly believe that the upper body muscles, those in the shoulders and arms, are the main muscles used to perform a deep, powerful and accurate throw. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as the most powerful quarterbacks in the NFL and college football use their lower bodies to get stronger when throwing.
The first muscle group that young players need to know is their thigh muscles. These include the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, and abductors, among many others. The calves should not be ignored either, but the upper thigh muscles are the most important. These muscles are used to plant the foot in the ground and establish a solid base of support for the throw. Force is usually put into the ground to generate a throw, and the leg muscles are what put that force into the ground to begin with. Without strong leg muscles, this force cannot be generated.
Once the front foot is planted, the next muscle group involved is the hips. The glutes, primarily the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, are used to generate the twisting motion that creates the power to throw the soccer ball. The hips are the densest muscular area of the body and can generate enormous amounts of force, as can easily be seen in world-class sprinters who have extremely developed hip muscles. Football quarterbacks also need this development to throw hard and long.
The final area of musculature that young soccer players need to consider is the abdominals. The abdominal muscles consist mainly of the rectus abdominis, located at the front of the body; the obliques, which are located on the sides of the torso; and the transversus abdominis, which run diagonally across the torso. These muscles serve not so much to generate force as to transfer it, and most often transfer it diagonally. This can be seen when a quarterback puts his left foot forward before throwing with his right hand. The legs and hips generate the force, which is transferred through the abdomen and into the chest, shoulder and arm.
It is the abdominals that complete the chain from lower to upper body and allow for a powerful throwing of the soccer ball. Unfortunately, many soccer strength and conditioning programs spend far too much time focusing on the chest and triceps, in particular. Although these muscles are important when throwing, they are primarily used for stability and accuracy, rather than power and speed. A precise, stable and slow throw is more likely to be intercepted than a powerful, precise, stable and fast throw.
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