April 7


The #1 exercise you can do at home to improve your throwing.

By Vince

April 7, 2020

Beginner Judo, Judo, Judo Coaching, Judo Online, Judo Squat, Judo strength, Judo Training, Learn Judo

Do you feel like you do not always execute your throws with enough power? Do you collapse halfway through your throw? Do you pick up niggles and injuries often and not sure why? 

If so I feel your pain and annoyance. But do not despair, we can improve even away from the Dojo!  

Judo is a dynamic sport which requires many different physical skills, and this period of isolation makes practising Judo tough! But there are still ways to make improvements even at home with little to no equipment. 

  • Create more power for your throws.
  • Improve your body mechanics. 
  • Reduce your chances of being injured. 

Currently, there are so many things we ‘could’ be doing but what is the one exercise that could make a big difference? 

Squats, above everything else. I think squats are so overlooked throughout Novice to Intermediate Judo – Children and adults alike.  

The squat, the back squat more specifically, is one of the most common exercises for developing lower limb strength, and is a prerequisite for development into more complex lifting techniques – for example, clean and jerk and snatch. Although your average Judoka is unlikely to progress onto these more complex lifts they are very relevant to Judo, replicating the generation of power required to perform throwing techniques and commonly form an integral part of an elite Judo athletes weight training program. 

As a training tool, a good squat can be very versatile, developing power/strength/endurance, improving coordination and provide a gateway to more complicated training methods, all of which will improve your Judo. 

Purely on the benefits listed above, it is worth considering adding a regular squat routine into your training.

A technically good Back Squat is required in the Functional Movement Screening (FMS). Although no studies are specific to Judo, a low score (poor score) in FMS has been linked with increased incidence of injuries in professional American football players (contact sport with high impact scenarios similar to Judo) firefighters and military recruits. This suggests a technically good back squat could be a marker for reduced injury risk for the athlete.

Functional Movement Screening (FMS) – Is an injury screening tool that was developed to assess global patterns of movement. Consisting of seven functional movement assessments: deep squats (DS), hurdle step, rotary stability, stability push up, active straight leg raise, in-line lunge, and shoulder mobility. 

Functional Movement Screening

FMS is not a tool to test people who are currently injured or have pains, it is a way of observing possible limitations to an athlete and should only be used to guide good practice or investigate further.

5 Common mistakes during a back squat: 

  • Feet too close together
  • Heels off of the floor
  • Not going deep enough (half squats)
  • Knee valgus (knees moving inward towards each other)*
  • Rounding the back

*Knee valgus affects males and females but is more common in females as their hips become wider through puberty and should be monitored. 

Squatting Technique

Techniques such as Seoi Nage (all standing variations) require a strong structure and the lifting section replicates a squatting type movement once the opponent’s weight is drawn on to their back. But in all honesty, every technique would benefit from an improved squat. 

Form checking; you can check your form easily on your phone, film yourself doing your squats from front and side profile.

Now, if you are anything like me you will want to get some weight on the bar and squat heavy! When I retired from Judo, I trained Power Lifting and loved it (I also loved eating), but I definitely would not recommend this for anyone untrained (not regularly taking part in resistance training). Start with just bodyweight squats, and there are plenty of variations of squats you can add in and develop.

Regarding your Judo training, you will receive the biggest benefit from squats if you are achieving full range of motion. Take your time, we seem to have a lot of it at the moment. 

Once you have mastered the squatting technique you can easily add repetitions, weight and more importantly introduce it into your Judo drills, techniques and home training. 

Deep Squat to throw – Your aim


You want to:

  • Create more power for your throws.
  • Improve your body mechanics. 
  • Reduce your chances of being injured. 

This is not going to happen overnight, this is going to take consistent work, but a good squat will 100% improve your ability to do Judo. 

I hope this gives you something to work on, please feel free to share this with anyone who you think could benefit. 

  • Vince, great article as always. For Judo is it important to focus on heavier weights and hence doing slow squatting? Or is it more beneficial to have lighter weights so that you do more rapid squats for developing fast-twitch muscle response?

    • Hi Theo, unfortunately like most things in Judo there is not just one answer!

      As an extremely basic rule: strength training (with heavier weights) will improve speed and power. But, It really depends on the outcome you want and the athlete you are working with. As these factors are more important and will determine the training you prescribe.

      I think with younger athletes and beginners the focus should always be on good technique, so many people when squatting do not squat deep enough or with enough control.

      At the beginning I would always opt for light weight, full depth and with control squats, once they can do that you can then chose the next course of action depending on what you want/need.

      I think that sort of answers your question … hopefully :-).

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