Grip strength plays an important role in a disc golfer’s game. It is often an overlooked when developing strength and power. Usually the most you’ll hear about grip is the advice to grip it harder so that the disc rips out of your hand. Rarely, if ever, will you hear advice on how to improve your grip strength. As other areas of a thrower’s game improve, so should grip strength. If left underdeveloped, it may become the weak link in the kinetic chain. The priority in a strength program should be improving the big movers and major muscles that produce most of the power. Supplementing grip strength exercises into a fitness program is easy and important.
Grip Strength as a Performance Variable
A sport like disc golf requires rotational power. A disc golfer transfers force generated from the lower body and torso into the distal segments of the hand and fingers. This is referred to as the kinetic chain. Power generated from the legs and hips, is transferred through the torso and arm, and released onto the disc through the hand. Improved sequencing (timing), leg power, torso power, and technique will produce more force. While grip plays a insignificant role in producing power, it is responsible for the final transfer of power produced earlier in the kinetic chain onto the disc. A weakness in the grip can ultimately hurt performance as the velocity placed on the disc increases. As the final link of the kinetic chain in throws, it plays a significant role in high-exit velocities. If it’s a weak link, the disc may release earlier out early if the hand and fingers can’t handle the force.
Furthermore, if you have great grip strength, you won’t feel the need to grip the hell out of the disc to get max distance and likely miss your release point by grip locking it. A common tip you’ll hear from top disc golfers is that smooth and controlled shots are more accurate and will likely fly further than a shot that uses all of your might. You don’t need to squeeze the life out of the disc. You don’t need a fast run up. 80% is 100%. You’ll have more accuracy and control of the disc with a firm strong grip.
Not only do you need a firm grip on the disc. You need a strong wrist. You don’t want a lot of bend or movement in the wrist during a throw. Many players will have a slight bend in their wrist. Once again, just like grip on the disc, it plays an insignificant role in power production but plays a vital role in transferring force onto the disc. If the wrist breaks it’s holding position, power and distance will leak out and accuracy and control will be lost. Strong hand and forearm muscles play an important role in both gripping the disc and controlling the wrist.
Grip Strength Training Considerations
The flexors in the hand and forearm are responsible for gripping the disc. While the extensors are responsible for holding the wrist in a slightly bent position. In grip training, there are three main grip holds: crushing (finger to palm), pinching (finger to thumb), and supporting (carrying a load for distance or time). Crushing and supporting are the two types used to improve grip strength for the backhand. Pinching is used to improve side-arm grips. Exercises can be added to a program that specifically develop grip and forearm strength. Exercises that are targeted to improve the primary muscles can be modified to also improve grip strength.
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