If you're a student of the game, you'll know that a lot of distance of a throw comes from the back leg. While there aren't many studies out there specifically for disc golf, knowledge can be pulled from other rotational sports. They have similarities in the muscles they use and the importance of strength, flexibility, stability, and mobility for power, strength, and velocity.
Studies show power coming from the legs
Based on study by Bruce MacWilliams (1), he hypothesized that the push-off forces in the direction of the pitch (AP shear) initiate the forward momentum of the entire body. The greater this magnitude, the more kinetic energy there is in the direction of the pitch. Similarly, the vertical push-off component can be used to generate potential energy, which can be transformed into kinetic energy at later stages. In conclusion, this study verifies that leg drive influences arm velocity. These findings are in agreement with those of other authors who speculate that lower extremity strength is an important aspect of the baseball pitch.
When comparing adolescent and collegiate baseball players, Kageyama (2) found that in the pivot leg, joint torques during hip abduction, hip internal rotation, hip flexion, and knee extension were significantly greater in the College Pitching Group than in the Adolescent Pitching Group. This study also looked at the power coming from the hip which is also just as important. I will write another blog about this topic in the future. For the purposes of this blog, note that he found joint power to be significantly greater in collegiate players.
There are not studies that I know of to prove this but if a study were to be done between disc golf professional players and amateurs, significant differences between leg and hip force production would likely be seen as well. If you were to watch the velocity in hip and shoulder rotation in a top pro, you would notice how fast they rotate. This rotational power and velocity begins in the legs.
Improving strength in the legs
A variety of exercises can be done to improve strength and power in your legs. Squats, lunges, and lower body plyometrics (jumping exercises) are all great exercises for improving the power of your push off leg and the stability of the pivot leg. These can be down with weights or just body weight.
I will develop a program to improve strength and power in the legs that can be down at home, the gym, or out at the disc golf course. If you're interested in learning more about this exercise program to increase lower body strength and power, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also be sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date on future information, blog posts and exercise programs.