Will Weights Throw Off My Shot?

I often get a question from parents, athletes, and coaches about whether adding muscle will negatively affect their performance in skill sports. They recognize the value of increased strength, power and explosion for gross movements, but are worried that it’ll mess them up for fine motor performance. A golf swing, a basketball shot, or another throwing motion usually falls into this category. I’m going to address that in my favorite format, the old reliable hypothetical Q and A.

Will weight training mess up my fine motor based sport skill?

That’s an odd way to phrase that question, but no. I assume by fine motor based sport skill you mean something like your QB throwing motion, golf swing, or basketball shot. Something where muscle memory is incredibly important.

Why not?

Well, even though we are going to try our best to get you results at the fastest possible pace, you simply aren’t going to change strength and leverages so quickly that you overrun the skills you’ve practiced. On a day to day basis, the strength changes are going to be so negligible that you won’t notice them while practicing your sport. As long as you continue practicing your sport, you will benefit immensely from increased strength. If you shoot basketballs every week, there won’t be one random week where you come in and are SO much stronger that you accidentally throw it over the backboard. Not an issue.

Well my coach said it could.

I disagree with your coach as does every professional strength coach working today. You will not find a collegiate or professional level strength coach that has his/her athletes avoid weight training due to a fear of altering mechanics.

But could it Corey? Could it?

Fine. I’ll play along. If you spent a very long period of time not practicing your sport, and during that time worked diligently at a strength program, you COULD come back and have altered mechanics due to increased strength, explosion and altered leverages. I think this scenario is unlikely and if you plan to be good at a sport, you shouldn’t stop practicing said sport.

I know some athletes that aren’t that strong but are good at their sport. Doesn’t this prove that strength doesn’t matter?

No. It proves, in most cases, that skill in the sport is THE most important thing. That athlete would likely benefit from increased strength and speed. It is very rarely a disadvantage to be stronger and faster in sports. I think there are situations where the time and effort needed to increase an athlete’s strength is not worth the cost, but this is not the norm.

Don’t worry. He can still throw a football even though he’s jacked.

So what should I do?

You should continue to practice your sport as often as is reasonable. You should train and try to get faster and stronger so that it’ll help you improve your ability in the sport. If you only have time to practice your sport OR work out, practicing your sport would take priority in most cases. But it shouldn’t be a one or the other thing. For best results do both.

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