B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning – Articles 19

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Part V: Medicine Ball Training

by Mike Mejia, CSCS

In the last installment of this series on plyometrics, I wrote about the importance of using proper landing mechanics whenever doing any type of explosive jumping drills. This time around, I’ll be switching my focus to the upper body by showing you a variety of medicine ball drills that are great for increasing power. So, whether you’re looking for a faster shot, or just want to make opponents think twice before enduring one of your checks, these exercises are exactly what the doctor ordered. Not only are they super-effective, but as you’re about to find out, they’re also loads of fun to do!

To make sure you’re getting the most out of these exercises, it’s important to select a medicine ball that’s appropriate for your size and level of training experience. A good rule of thumb, is to try and pick a ball that’s heavy enough to slow down your movement somewhat, but not so heavy that it limits your accuracy, control, or range of motion. Remember, the goal here is to increase power- which is the product of force x distance over time. Which means that you’re going to need to throw that ball with at least some degree of speed- so try and stay away from using one that’s too heavy, or it might actually end up having the opposite effect and slow you down! In the end, you’ll probably have to go through a little bit of trial and error before settling on a ball that best meets your needs.

While there are literally dozens of different medicine ball drills you can do, each of the one’s I’ve selected below has a specific purpose in mind. Some will help increase your rotational power, while others are more geared towards creating more straight line, or linear force. Regardless of which you’re doing, though, take the time to learn the proper execution by carefully reading all of the exercise descriptions, as well as paying attention to the form tips I’ve included in the video below. Finally, make sure that you adhere to the prescribed number of sets, reps and most importantly, rest periods. Because of the heavy metabolic demand, plyometric training requires a bit more rest between sets than traditional strength work.

Exercise prescription: Select 2-3 drills that can be done either prior to, or on separate days from traditional upper body strength training. Do *2-3 sets of anywhere from 6-10 reps (per side where applicable) of each drill, resting at least 90-120 seconds between sets.

* More advanced trainees can do 3-4 sets per drill.

The Drills:

Rotational Medicine Ball Throws: Stand with one side of your body a few feet from a wall. With your feet about shoulder’s width apart and hips, knees and ankles slightly flexed, hold a medicine ball out in front of your hips with arms extended. Begin by rotating your torso and bringing the ball just outside the thigh furthest from the wall. As you do so, squat a little bit deeper into your hips. Next, immediately extend your hips and rotate your torso back towards the wall as you throw it with arms extended. Upon release, your legs and arms should be almost fully extended, with your torso and hips turned towards the wall. Catch the rebound and then set up again and repeat the sequence. After completing the desired number of reps, switch to the other side.

Overhead Medicine Ball Throws: Stand facing a wall that’s several feet in from of you, holding a medicine ball at about chest height. Begin by taking a hop-step forward as you raise the ball overhead and then fire it at the wall with arms extended. Upon releasing the ball, use your lower body and core to decelerate your momentum so that you don’t fall forward. Catch the ball on a bounce, then set back up and repeat the sequence.

Over the Shoulder Reverse Medicine Ball Throws: Here’s a great drill that serves two purposes: 1. It helps you generate momentum for the “take away”, or “wind up” portion of your shot. And 2. It will help put a little extra zing on those over the shoulder shots when your in close to the net. Stand with your back to a wall, a couple of feet away from it’s base. Holding a medicine ball in front of your hips with arms extended, begin by flexing your hips knees and ankles slightly as you rotate your torso and bring the ball just outside of your left thigh. Next, push into the ground to extend your legs as you simultaneously rotate towards the wall and throw the ball up, over your right shoulder. Quickly catch the rebound and then set up again to repeat the sequence. After completion the desired number of reps, switch to the other side.

Medicine Ball Chest Pass: Here’s a great way to develop more power for checking. Stand facing a wall just a few feet away from it’s base. Holding a medicine ball at about chest height, take an explosive step forward and fire the ball at the wall, making sure to get your extend your arms. Catch the rebound and immediately fire the ball back at the wall. You can continue either doing all of the reps with the same leg and then switching for the next set, or alternating legs with each throw.

Overhead Slams: Stand with your feet about shoulder’s width apart and hips, knees and ankles slightly flexed. Holding a medicine ball at arm’s length in front of your hips, begin by bringing your arms up, over your head as you extend your legs and torso and rotate slightly to one side. Next, immediately reverse the movement by slamming the ball into the ground, as you use your lower body and core to decelerate your momentum. Catch the ball on a bounce and repeat to the other side. Continue alternating for the desired number of reps.

Inside Lacrosse Plyos Part V: Medicine Balls from B.A.S.E TRAINING on Vimeo.

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