Muscles used to throw a soccer ball: the lower body is more important than the upper body
There is a myth in soccer training, especially among younger athletes, as to where the power comes from when throwing a soccer ball. Many mistakenly believe that the muscles of the upper body, those of the shoulders and the arm, are the main muscles used to deliver a deep, powerful and precise throw. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as the most powerful quarterbacks in the NFL and college football use the lower body for strength when pitching.
The first muscle group young players should know about is their thigh muscles. These include the quads, hamstrings, adductors, and abductors, among many others. The calves shouldn’t be ignored either, but the upper thigh muscles are the most important. These muscles are used to plant the foot on the ground and establish a solid base of support for the throw. Normally, the force is put on the ground to generate a throw, and the leg muscles are the ones that put that force on the ground to begin with. Without strong leg muscles, that 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 ball. The hips are the densest muscle area in the body and can generate an enormous amount of force, as can easily be seen with world-class sprinters who have extremely developed hip muscles. Football quarterbacks also need that development to hit a long, powerful pitch.
The final area of the musculature that young soccer players should be aware of is the ABS. The abdominal muscles are mainly made up of the rectus abdominis, which is located in the front part of the body; the obliques, which are located on the sides of the torso; and the transverse abdomen, which crosses the torso diagonally. These muscles are not used so much to generate force as to transfer it, and transfer it mainly diagonally. This can be seen when a quarterback takes his left foot forward before throwing with his right hand. The legs and hips generate the force, which is transferred through the abdomen to the chest, shoulder, and arm.
It is the abs that complete the chain from the lower part to the upper part of the body and make a powerful launch of the ball. Unfortunately, many strength and conditioning programs in soccer spend too much time focusing on the chest and triceps, in particular. While these muscles are important when throwing, they are primarily used for stability and precision, rather than power and speed. A precise, stable and slow launch is more likely to be intercepted than one that is powerful, precise, stable and fast.