The overhead cricket ball throw (standing and seated) and side medicine ball throw (standing and seated) were performed on a cricket pitch (20.12 m long). Participants were permitted one stride forward for the standing cricket ball throw while maintaining the front foot behind the line until ball release. Participants were asked to throw the cricket ball into a net with no specific target. The primary objective of this study was to attain maximal throwing velocity, and therefore, no specific targets were set because of speed-accuracy trade-off (6). Outside factors, such as approach speed, approach angle, and ball pick up, were excluded in this study (6).
The side medicine ball throw was performed by grasping the medicine ball (2 kg) with both hands, rotating the trunk opposite to the throwing direction as in a countermovement, followed by rotating the trunk to the throwing direction attempting to throw the medicine ball as fast as possible (7) (Figures 3A, B). Participants were asked to attempt 2 throws for each type (seated/standing cricket and medicine ball throws), and the throw with a greater velocity was used for analysis. The seated cricket and medicine ball throws were performed sitting on a box (30 inches/76.2 cm high) without the feet touching the surface of the floor (to eliminate lower extremity contribution). All the throws (standing and seated) were performed on both sides (i.e., right and left).
The hip rotation ROM was performed on a box (30 inches/76.2 cm high) with the legs resting comfortably off the edge of the box. In a seated position, participants were asked to actively rotate the hips internally and externally while stabilizing the trunk and the hips placing their hands on the hips (Figures 4A, B). The femur was stabilized to limit accessory motion, whereas the lower shank was rotated (internally and externally) until end ROM (11).
Seated thoracic ROM assessment (Figures 5A, B) was performed on a box (30 inches/76.2 cm high) with the hips and knees flexed at 90°, and a ball (20 cm diameter) was placed between the knees to minimize motion of the lower extremities during thoracic rotation (9).
A linear position transducer attached to the weight stack of the cable machine measured vertical displacement relative to the ground with an accuracy of 0.1 cm. Data were collected at a sample rate of 500 Hz by a computer-based data acquisition and analysis program. The displacement-time data were filtered using a low-pass fourth-order Butterworth filter with a cutoff frequency of 50 Hz to obtain position. The filtered position data were then differentiated using the finite-difference technique to determine velocity (v) and acceleration (a) data, which were each successively filtered using a low-pass fourth-order Butterworth filter with a cutoff frequency of 6 Hz (3,22). The force (F) produced was determined by adding the mass of the weight stack to the force required to accelerate the system mass. After these calculations, power (P) was determined by multiplying the force by velocity at each time point (P = F × v). Average power was determined from the averages of the instantaneous values over the entire push-pull phase of chop and lift (until end of movement, i.e., end position). The external validity of the derived measurements from a linear position transducer has been assessed using the force plate as a “gold standard” device (r = 0.78–0.98) (3).
The radar gun (STALKER ATS II) was placed behind the participant who was performing the throw to measure the ball release speed (kilometers per hour). Newton and McEvoy (14) found the radar gun to be reliable in measuring throwing velocity among baseball players, reporting a strong correlation (r = 0.95) between days. In addition, a goniometer (plastic) and a digital inclinometer were used to measure thoracic and hip rotation ROMs, respectively. The goniometer was aligned parallel to the ground at the midpoint between T1 and T2 (thoracic vertebrae) spinous processes, with the spine of the scapula as a reference point. The ROM was then measured with the moving arm of the goniometer while maximally rotating to one side (9). A digital inclinometer measuring angular position/displacement over the full 360° with respect to the vertical axis was used for the hip rotation ROM assessment (11).
Means and SDs were used as measures of centrality and spread of data. Participants (n = 21) were divided into 2 groups (fast: n = 11 and slow: n = 10) on the basis of their standing cricket ball–throwing velocity. An independent t-test was used to determine between-group differences. An alpha level of 0.05 was used as the criteria measure for significance. All significant values (differences) for both dominant and nondominant sides are provided in Table 1.
The means, SDs, and between-group differences for fast and slow throwers can be observed in Table 1. The fast and slow throwing groups differed by 11.03 km·h−1. The differences observed in seated cricket ball throw between fast and slow throwers were significant (12.3%, p = 0.00) and similar in magnitude to standing cricket ball–throwing velocity. The faster throwers were on average 6 cm taller and ∼9 kg heavier than their slower counterparts. However, all anthropometric differences were found to be statistically nonsignificant between groups.
The standing medicine ball throw velocity was ∼14 to 17% greater than the seated medicine ball throw in fast and slow groups, respectively. Also greater power output (30.8–34.5%) was associated with the chop compared with the lift. Only the chop force (18.4%) and work (31.2%) measures were found to differ significantly between fast and slow throwers.
In terms of the ROM measures, hip external rotation ROM on the dominant side and bilateral thoracic rotational ROM (dominant and nondominant) were found to differ significantly (11.7–16.8%) between groups. However, no significant difference was observed in the hip internal rotation ROM.
It was hypothesized that greater rotational ROM at the hip and in the thoracic region, in combination with greater rotational power, would result in increased throwing velocity. Significant differences were noted in thoracic rotation (both sides) and hip external rotation (dominant side). However, it was observed that the faster throwers did not have greater ROM. Furthermore, force and work done during chop on the dominant side were significantly different between fast and slow throwers. No other power variables were found to differ significantly between groups.
In terms of the cricket ball–throwing velocity, the mean peak velocities observed in this study (101–112 km·h−1) were very similar to those reported by Freeston et al. (6) among elite (senior) and under-19 cricketers (100.4–109.4 km·h−1). The mean peak side medicine ball–throwing velocities of this study (38.3 and 39.6 km·h−1) were very similar to those reported by Ikeda et al. (8) among competitive throwers and baseball players (36.5 and 41.4 km·h−1) using a similar weighted medicine ball (2 kg). However, the differences in medicine ball–throwing velocity (seated and standing) between the fast and the slow groups were nonsignificant in this study. Nonetheless, it would seem that the throwing abilities of the participants used in this study were typical of other athletic populations.
With respect to thoracic and hip rotation ROMs, the mean seated bar in front position for the thoracic rotation ROM was found to be greater (56.6–68°) in this study compared with those reported (53.7–57.6°) by Johnson et al. (9). Furthermore, active hip internal and external rotation ROMs on the dominant side were also found to be greater in this study (internal rotation: 33.3–38.9° and external rotation: 41.1–46.6°) compared with those reported by Ellenbecker et al. (5) (internal rotation: 23° and external rotation: 34°) among professional baseball players. The differences observed in the hip rotation ROM values between both the studies could be sport specific or most likely be attributed to methodological dissimilarities between studies, e.g., seated in this study vs. prone in the study by Ellenbecker et al. (5).
In this study, significant differences were observed in active hip external rotation on dominant side and bilateral (both sides) thoracic rotation ROM between fast and slow throwers. However, the faster throwers in this study had decreased ROM compared with their slower counterparts. These findings are similar to the study by Robb et al. (19) that reported moderate correlation (r = 0.50, p < 0.04) between lower total hip rotation arc passive ROM on the nondominant side and throwing velocity among professional baseball pitchers. Excessive rotation at the hips can put the pelvis and foot in a more open position, thereby prematurely initiating the arm cocking phase and resulting in loss of kinetic energy in the lower extremity (19).
In terms of power output, the athletes of this study produced slightly higher peak power outputs (chop: 354–419 W; lift: 232–290 W) to those reported by Palmer and Uhl (15) for the nonathletic population in their study (chop: 346–395 W; lift: 181–223 W). Significant differences were observed between fast and slow throwers regarding the chop (work and force) but not for the lift. These differences may be attributed to throwers being heavier and taller, and therefore, the relative masses and the distance that the load is moved are greater for this population. However, the intergroup differences in the other measure of rotational power (seated medicine ball throws) were found to be statistically nonsignificant.
Greater ROM of the hip and thoracic region was not associated with greater throwing velocity. Therefore, strength and conditioning professionals should be careful in promoting excessive ROM in the proximal segments, as excessive ROM might be detrimental in transferring optimum power through the kinetic chain in an explosive task such as throwing. However, adequate ROM may be necessary to effectively carry out a throwing task because of the sequential pattern of proximal to distal linkage.
Rotational power as measured in this study may not be an important contributor to throwing velocity in cricket. Understanding the rotational contribution is further complicated by the intergroup anthropometric differences. The implications of these findings are as follows: (a) better measures/tests are needed to clarify the contribution of rotational power that control for anthropometric factors and/or (b) rotational power may not be important but rather having a relatively stiff trunk that transfers the momentum generated in the lower body to the distal segments without energy leakage may be more important. The ROM results would certainly support such a contention, those with reduced ROM at the hip and in the thoracic region producing greater throwing velocity.
In addition, significant differences were observed in this study with regard to seated cricket ball–throwing velocity among fast and slower throwers, suggesting the importance of the upper extremity particularly the distal segment. A seated throwing position can reduce the involvement of proximal segments (trunk and legs) requiring greater contribution from the distal segments, such as the arms and hands. Therefore, future research should include assessments that quantify the contribution of the distal and proximal segments with regard to ROM and power output.
Research Conducted—High Performance Center, Auckland Cricket Association, New Zealand.
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Keywords:Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
proximal segment; muscular performance measure