Throwing is not as easy as it looks. Sure, anyone can just pick up a ball and toss it in the general direction of someone or something else, but if you really want to make an impact you need to understand the planes of movement.
It might be surprising to learn that a motion as fundamental as “throwing a ball” is actually very complex and requires coordination across several different planes of movement.
In order to be successful in any sport that involves throwing, you need to be able to move adeptly in all three planes—the frontal plane, sagittal plane, and transverse plane. Each of these planes has its own purpose and contributes to the overall quality of your throw.
In this article, we’ll discuss what each plane is, and how you can use all three to improve your throwing game.
The Three Planes of Motion
You may not realize it, but your body is always moving in one plane or another.
The sagittal plane is the most familiar to us, as it refers to movements that occur along the length of our bodies (think of nodding your head “yes”).
The frontal plane refers to movements that occur from side to side (think of waving hello or goodbye).
The transverse plane refers to movements that occur across our bodies (think of spinning around or doing a cartwheel).
All three planes are important for our overall movement and health, and each has its own role to play when we throw an object. Being able to throw with a large amount of force and accuracy is tough—balancing all three planes is essential to excelling in any sport that involves throwing.
The Frontal Plane
The frontal plane is when your body moves forward and backward, such as bending down to pick something up or reaching out to touch something in front of you.
This plane is important for throwing because it allows you to transfer energy from your lower body to your upper body. When you move in the frontal plane, you’re able to generate more power and momentum for your throw.
The Sagittal Plane
The sagittal plane is when your body moves from side to side. This plane is important for throwing because it allows you to transfer energy from one side of your body to the other. When you move in the sagittal plane, you’re able to create a more balanced throw.
The Transverse Plane
The transverse plane is when your body moves around its vertical axis. Movements in this plane are rotational in nature—such as internal and external rotation, pronation, and supination—and are the largest contributor to turning potential energy into kinetic energy during throwing.
This plane is important for throwing because it allows you to rotate your body and generate more power. When you move in the transverse plane, you can put more spin on the ball, which can make it harder for the opposing team to catch.
All three planes are important for your overall throwing motion and work together to affect how you throw.
For example, during the hammer throw, the body has intense rotation in the transverse plane and frontal plane. The body converts that rotation into kinetic energy, which exits the body in the sagittal plane when the body gets into flexion-extension to release the hammer.
By becoming aware of your body’s movement in each plane, you can improve your throwing accuracy and power. So next time you’re out on the field, the court, or even the axe throwing lane—make sure to use all three planes of motion to your advantage!