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Closed-Kinetic Chain Upper-Body Training Improves Throwing Performance of NCAA Division I Softball Players

Prokopy, Max P; Ingersoll, Christopher D; Nordenschild, Edwin; Katch, Frank I; Gaesser, Glenn A; Weltman, Arthur

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 1790-1798
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318185f637
Original Research

Prokopy, MP, Ingersoll, CD, Nordenschild, E, Katch, FI, Gaesser, GA, and Weltman, A. Closed-kinetic chain upper-body training improves throwing performance of NCAA Division I softball players. J Strength Cond Res 22(6): 1790-1798, 2008-Closed-kinetic chain resistance training (CKCRT) of the lower body is superior to open-kinetic chain resistance training (OKCRT) to improve performance parameters (e.g., vertical jump), but the effects of upper-body CKCRT on throwing performance remain unknown. This study compared shoulder strength, power, and throwing velocity changes in athletes training the upper body exclusively with either CKCRT (using a system of ropes and slings) or OKCRT. Fourteen female National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I softball player volunteers were blocked and randomly placed into two groups: CKCRT and OKCRT. Blocking ensured the same number of veteran players and rookies in each training group. Training occurred three times weekly for 12 weeks during the team's supervised off-season program. Olympic, lower-body, core training, and upper-body intensity and volume in OKCRT and CKCRT were equalized between groups. Criterion variables pre- and posttraining included throwing velocity, bench press one-repetition maximum (1RM), dynamic single-leg balance, and isokinetic peak torque and power (PWR) (at 180°·s−1) for shoulder flexion, extension, internal rotation, and external rotation (ER). The CKCRT group significantly improved throwing velocity by 2.0 mph (3.4%, p < 0.05), and the OKCRT group improved 0.3 mph (0.5%, NS). A significant interaction was observed (p < 0.05). The CKCRT group improved its 1RM bench press to the same degree (1.9 kg) as the OKCRT group (p < 0.05 within each group). The CKCRT group improved all measures of shoulder strength and power, whereas OKCRT conferred little change in shoulder torque and power scores. Although throwing is an open-chain movement, adaptations from CKCRT may confer benefits to subsequent performance. Strength coaches can incorporate upper-body CKCRT without sacrificing gains in maximal strength or performance criteria associated with an athletic open-chain movement such as throwing.

Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Exercise and Sport Injury Laboratory, Department of Human Services, Curry School of Education, and Department of Athletics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Address correspondence to Arthur Weltman,

Supported in part by an unrestricted grant from Redcord AS, Lysaker, Norway.

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association