How to Best Use the Non-Throwing Arm in Athletics

What Does the Non-Throwing Arm Do in the Shot Put, Discus and Javelin?

When discussing the throws, we talk a lot about getting the throwing arm action right; but what does the other arm do?

The following article will help you better teach kids how to use their non-throwing arm. It will also help you identify and correct faults associated with a poor non-throwing arm action.

Let’s begin with the faults.

Common Fault 1: Throwing The Arm Away

Many young athletes fling their non-throwing arm away behind them as they throw. It will sweep around in a wide arc and can finish stretched out behind them. This results in the athlete over-rotating, losing balance and unable to effectively “block” or “brace” their left side (for a right-handed thrower).

hot putter swinging non-throwing arm behind themselves

Throwing arm away

Fault 2: Dropping The Arm Past The Knee

Have you ever seen an athlete “bowl” a discus or push a shot downwards? This can be the result of the child dropping their non-throwing hand down past their knee. This will lead their shoulder on the same side to also drop and their whole body to tip over like the “little teapot” in the nursery rhyme.

What Should The Non-Throwing Arm Do?

In the shot and discus, ideally a right-handed thrower should keep their left shoulder up high as they they turn to the front and sweep their left (non-throwing) arm around. But once the left arm reaches the left-hand-side sector line, it should be pulled in towards the body to assist in a blocking action.

Shot putter showing good wrist extension

Blocking the left side of the body in the shot put

In the javelin. the thrower will pull their left fist to the left arm pit, releasing the implement with their shoulders square to the front.

The left fist should be pulled in to the left arm pit.

Coaching Cues

Some useful coaching cues for the action of the non-throwing arm include:

  • Tuck the arm in close to the body.
  • Pull the hand in and down.
  • “Pull the handle” into your ribs.
  • Pull your fist in to your arm pit.
  • Pull the apple off the tree.

When To Teach The Non-Throwing Arm Action

Ideally a non-throwing arm action, along with a blocking action, will have been developed through the learning of fundamental throwing skills prior to sport-specific skills being introduced. If not, I suggest focusing on the non-throwing side once the athlete is comfortable with the grip of the implement and can perform an effective throwing arm action.

Now Try Teaching It

Now that you know a bit more about the non-throwing arm action, look out for the two common faults mentioned within the article – kids throwing their hand away or dropping their hand down. The next chance you get, try using some of the suggested coaching cues, or make up your own. I would love to hear what works for you. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details listed below.

Watch as I discuss this topic on a live Facebook video

Further reading

Article:

What is a “Block” in the Throws and How Do I Teach It?

Books:

Complete Book of Throws (from Amazon)

Complete Book of Throws (from Booktopia)

There are links on this page from which Coaching Young Athletes can earn a small commission. This adds no cost to you but helps to keep this blog sustainable. I really appreciate if you do purchase through my links. Thanks for your support. Darren

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.


20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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