Club Throw is unique to the Paralympic Games, it’s an event specifically designed for severely impaired athletes and is essentially the equivalent of Javelin. There are 3 classification groups that do Club Throw instead of Javelin – F31, F32 and F51 – in the most basic terms this covers wheelchair quadriplegic cerebral palsy athletes and tetraplegic athletes, of course we know that classification is quite complicated and not straight forward in disability sport, but this is the simplest way to explain it.
I’ve been doing club throw from the age of 12, so about 24/25 years give or take, and I’ve developed a technique throwing backwards with help from great coaches that helped me achieve the one goal that is common among all throwers – to move the object as fast as possible in a certain direction at point of release.
When it comes to throwing or any movement pattern really, there are individual ways of doing things and everyone will develop differently. Especially for those with my condition – athetoid cerebral palsy (CP) – movement patterns will be unique to the individual, mainly because sometimes it can feel like you’re not in control. So having a technical model that fits all is not going to work, however having some general principals is useful, hopefully this is something that could be developed for backwards Club Throw. Repetition is the key, especially with cerebral palsy athletes, to building the movement pattern and motor programmes into the brain. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Here I’ll go through what I think are the best 5 exercises for throwing Club backwards – you can throw the Club sideways or forwards but I throw backwards and there’s not a lot of literature on this technique and it can be the most effect way to throw Club for athetoid CP athletes.
- Front Pull – From a seated position pull from in front of you and low down. This can be a theraband, a pulley machine in the gym or a towel with someone holding the other end. Can be done 2 handed or one handed. Starting position should be leaning forward and extend arm(s) out in front, focus on using legs and lower back to drive backwards and up keeping arms straight.
- Hand Hit – Pretty self explanatory have a target to hit, usually someone’s hand (make sure it’s padded), the target should be just in front of your head while sitting and high enough to ensure your arm is straight. The drill is to lean forward (into position for front pull) then drive backwards and up, hitting the target with your hand.
- Half Backwards Roll to Sit Up – Core strength and mobility is very important to throwing backwards. For this exercise sit on a mat with legs in front, roll backwards and lift legs and lower body in the air, don’t go past 90 degrees then roll back down and sit back up. When advanced you can hold your position with legs in air.
- Snatch – Usually this is done with light dumbbells, but you can use wrist weights if gripping a dumbbell is difficult. Lean forward and down with arm straight, drive up and lift arm above head fully straight. This is a good exercise to train the movement pattern of using your body to transfer momentum to your arm.
- Ball Hit – This is an advanced exercise good for timing. Take the forward position as if you’re getting ready to throw, then another person stands in front of you and throws a light ball (football is best) towards you about a foot above your head. You then do the throwing movement and hit the ball backwards and up as it passes you. This will take some practice but great for speed and coordination.
Remember that stretching is very important, especially back and shoulders when throwing backwards. Use a foam roller to roll on your back, and hanging is great for the spine – wall bars/chin up bars are good for hanging and will improve your grip.
Hope this has been interesting.