Thomas Grønnemark: He's the Guinness World Records holder teaching football clubs the art of the long throw

MOVE over Rory Delap.

The former Stoke midfielder was a not-so-secret weapon for The Potters, regularly launching balls into the box with his infamous long throw.

The style of play was ALWAYS condemned by the purists, who called that approach 'football from the dark ages' during a time when most teams tried keeping the ball on the deck.

But one man wants to change that perception, believing there's room for teams who play a tiki-taka style to adopt the long throw-in as one of their many tactics.

Thomas Grønnemark, 46, is a specialist coach who has worked for football clubs in Denmark and the UK to teach players how to improve their throw.

A Guinness World Record holder, who can propel a ball 56 yards, he currently works for Liverpool having joined the club in 2018.

We sat down with Thomas in 2018 to ask him what makes a good long throw and he keenly passed on his tips.

Thomas said: "A good long throw has to be, of course, long but it's important it's fast and it is flat.

"A lot of teams have a player that can throw the ball long, but when it's too high it's too easy to defend or too difficult to flick on.

"You look at the flight of the ball and it has to be long, flat and hard.



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Thomas Gronnemark is a Guinness World Record holder for his long throwCredit: Claus Lillevang

"It's always an advantage to have one or two tall players, but most teams have that.

"It's also a matter of smartness and doing it with the correct technique. A lot of teams can score from long throw-ins.

"You have to think about it from a tactical sense and it's something that every team can do, not necessarily ten times a game, but everyone should be able to do it."

When these factors are in place, Thomas believes it's possible a defender can make a mistake and end up inadvertently flicking the ball on for the opposition's benefit.

Reds coach Jurgen Klopp is adamant that Gronnemark has made the difference to his team.

The German told BBC Sport in 2018: "To be honest, I'd never heard about a throw-in coach.

"When I heard about Thomas, it was clear to me I wanted to meet him; when I met him, it was 100 per cent clear I wanted to employ him."

The passionate trainer comes from an interesting background.

Aside from playing semi-pro football, he was with the Danish National Athletics team for six years.

Then, he trained with the Danish bobsled team for four years, building his own body strength along the way.

But now he's happier helping full-backs improve the yardage they're getting in their throws.

And Gronnemark has had a huge effect on Liverpool's Joe Gomez, who has been praised for his throw-ins.

"I saw Joe Gomez take some really good throws for Liverpool that I had not seen him do before, he was fizzing it in there," said former Arsenal striker Ian Wright on Radio 5 live's Monday Night Club.

Thomas told us: "It's almost just as important that every left and right back can throw long, because most teams lose the ball 50 per cent of the time when they have a throw-in under pressure.

"So, a long throw from the full-backs from their own half is very important, not only to keep the ball in the team, but to be able to make counter-attacks.

"You can't be offside from a throw-in, so it's a great chance to launch a quick attack too.

"Teams in Denmark – FC Midtjylland and AC Horsens, they scored 20 goals combined from long throws last season.

"FC Midtjylland were the champions and AC Horsens were a surprise this season in the Superliga."

Gronnemark revealed to BBC Sport: "If I was a defender I would not want to be on the end of one of Gomez's throw-ins.

"In general against Liverpool I would not want to put the ball out for a throw-in.

"I am not saying Liverpool will do a lot of long throw-ins, but you never know when they may do it."

Fans of 'Total Football' may turn their noses up at the idea of favouring the unfashionable long throw-in to score a goal.

However, Thomas argues it has its place in the game and doesn't want to be the enemy of good football.

"One of the big challenges with the throw-in and modern football is that a lot of people think that teams that use the tactic are a defensive-minded team.

"But you don't have to be a team that doesn't want to play football.

"FC Midtjylland can play a short pass game and they can score goals from set pieces as well.

"If you can combine a lot more styles in your game, you can be much more dangerous.

"I don't want every club to make long throws all the time.

"But every player playing in the side, the wingers and the full-backs have to be able to make a good long throw-in.

"A lot of teams that play 'Total Football' are losing a lot of balls from a throw-in under pressure.

"One of the best examples of this, was the Champions League final in 2011 between Barcelona and Manchester United.

"You had FC Barcelona playing tiki-taka, while Manchester United didn't have the ball in the first third of the game.

"Barcelona were winning 1-0 and then Eric Abidal had a throw-in by his own penalty area.

"He made a short throw with a bad technique, Manchester United got the ball and five seconds later it was 1-1.

"We have normally between 30-50 throw-ins during a game. And coaches who say we don't have to do anything about that, I think are unambitious."

When Thomas goes into a club, he gets to work immediately on the full-backs.

He said: "First session, I take 6-10 players, all the left and right backs. I'll make a basic session, basic movements, show the players video analysis.

"Then, I show them some technical things. When I look at the players myself and the video analysis, I'm looking at a number of things.

"I want to see the position of the feet, the distance of the feet, the hip movement, shoulders and the run-in."

Speaking to Liverpool's website in August 2021, Gronnemark spoke of how his move to Merseyside came about.

He remarked: "There was a voicemail message so I went to the car to listen to it. It was Jurgen Klopp – and it was a good thing that I was sat down when I heard him!

"Even though it had been a dream to coach at some of the biggest clubs, you never know if it will happen, that’s the way it is.


Have a balanced run-in: You don't want to jump a lot, you just have to make sure when you're running you are balanced.

Tension: When you're arriving at the line, it's very important to have the right tension in your body. Body position is very important. One of the most important things is you're not falling down.

Follow through: When you've thrown the ball, instead of just standing still you have to push with your hip and then you're getting more energy to the ball.

When you release the ball, you continue over the line.

Rotate the ball: You have to rotate the ball, you're not just throwing it. You have the ball in the palms of your hands, then you're letting go with the palm, so you're rolling the ball over your hand and over your fingertips.

When you rotate it, you create backspin. Doing that gives you more flatness and a faster ball.


“I tried to call him back and he didn’t take it this time, which was probably good because my heart was pounding! I went back into the shop and told my wife and of course she was as surprised as me.

“My son Daniel, who is 19 and really into his sports, was so excited and we decided to go home so I could take the most important call of my life. Suddenly on our way home the phone rang. My wife picked up and said, ‘It’s Jürgen!’

“I stopped the car and we spoke and he said: ‘I read an article about you in a German newspaper, we had a really good season [in 2017-18] but we were really bad at throw-ins, we lost it almost every time.’

“He invited me to Melwood the week after for a visit. We had a fantastic meeting and talked about not only throw-ins but also a lot of things. I speak German too so that helped, as speaking the same language always brings people closer together.

“It should only have been a meeting but the day after there was a chance for me to coach 21 players who had been on vacation and were not at the World Cup.

"Then, the week after, we signed the first contract. At first it was only for six months but pretty early we signed another half-year contract and since then, I have been signing full-year contracts.

“Now it’s my fourth season working with Liverpool and I still have to pinch myself. It’s like a dream come true.”

Blown away by Thomas Grønnemark's work? Visit his YouTube channel to see more videos of the Dane showing off his technique.

Alternatively, check out his website for more info.

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