Many people will never learn to throw correctly! Movements that require shifting, bending, rotating and balance are important in athletics and life. For example, by learning to transfer your momentum from your rear to your front, a golfer reduces the risk of possible injury and improve performance. Due to poor movement skills, many have not mastered patterns to complete these tasks in a coordinated, efficient manner. Learning to throw helps establish or reestablish these movement skills. Throwing medicine balls will incorporate expressions of your speed, your strength, your flexibility, and your coordination will allow you to see measurable improvement rather quickly. Do you know what equipment is appropriate for you? A medicine ball usually weighs about 4-7 lbs. This size is suitable for most people.
When executing these standing movements that sometimes involve rotation, your backside foot should turn, allowing a bigger range of motion and a shifting of your center of mass over your front leg. By doing this, the integrity of your lower back is not compromised. Cueing these actions from day one sets up patterns that should be used in future exercises. When bending and rotating, you should remind your clients or athletes to use as many of their joints as possible. As you can see, these exercises have a balance component with each routine. Ultimately, throwing requires single leg balance.
Many movements in life and many sports involve a lot of acceleration while shifting or moving weight from one side of your body to the other to complete a task. Work towards standing on your one leg and decelerating or blocking one side of the body.
This is a big part of throwing. To properly finish the throws, takeoffs and many swinging movements, the body must fix one side to achieve greater acceleration of the free or moving side.
Next, we will look at how to do a three-step teaching progression for rotational throws. Remember that this may take a few weeks of work to get to modified hammer throws correctly. When progressing through this sequence, keep the previous exercises in the program. You can reduce the amount of sets or reps in Russian twists and side throws as you get to modified hammer throws. Using a few throws can add a skill-based component to your workouts.
Your sets and reps can usually be anywhere from 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps. These exercises will fit great into a warm up and could be used to awaken your nervous system. Throws are outstanding when you are doing a speed or strength session because they are a summation of forces activity. Let throwing medicine balls help you develop better movement skills.
1. Basic Rotation (Russian Twists)
Russian Twists: You want to start the ball close to your torso and work outwards. Note the turned backside foot with a noticeable shift in body weight. Cueing footwork to initiate movement is important. References like “turn your right foot” or “turn your belly button” are good reminders. Later you will see the connection to the hammer throw. The next step involves starting to throw the medicine ball.
2. 90 Degree Medicine Ball Throw
Side Throws Starting point! The thrower is positioned 90 degrees either towards a wall or a partner. The ball should be behind the right hip and arms are slightly bent. The thrower needs to be 3-5 feet from the wall, perhaps even further from a partner.
Initiate the throw by swinging the ball to the start position by loading the right side, and putting more weight on that side as well.
The thrower should start to think about right side movement a little before the ball is completely decelerated. This will eventually get the right side ahead of the ball, teaching a whipping or elastic delivery.
When this all starts to happen, the thrower will note that the effort becomes easy, and they will be “getting to their left side.” Progression for this exercise is for a faster loading and switching. Although walls allow this to happen best, good results can also be achieved with a partner accurately delivering the medicine ball back to the thrower. By the way, the partner doesn’t need to be doing the same exercise.
3. Modified Hammer Throw
Modified Hammer Throw: The final activity in this progression involves adding 90 more degrees to the range of movement. The thrower will then be facing 180 degrees away from the wall or partner, three to five feet away. The move to initiate this is the same, with a swing of the ball into position and loading of the right side. Similar cues can be used. In this exercise, the thrower will understand where the delivery position is and be able to accelerate through the fixed left side. The ball will end up being delivered closer to shoulder height with arms on the upswing at the finish. When you receive the medicine ball from either the wall or your partner, this will set the next rep.
Below are 5 of Our Favorite Medicine Ball Exercises
(that we use these weekly in our warm-up routines)
1. Standing Chest Passes
Using a partner, a coach or a wall; set up in an athletic stance. You then want to catch the ball with two hands, dip into a quarter squat and then from here use the energy from your legs and to come back up and project through the ball with both hands evenly towards your training partner or wall.
2. Standing Rotational Throws
In the same athletic stance, you are going to receive the ball at your waist level, catch the ball and then rotate like a tennis swing. Make sure to turn your knee as well, so it all remains aligned with your foot placement. Drive back through with your hips and your core and project the ball towards your partner or wall. You can repeat on the same side or alternate sides.
3. Behind Your Head Throws
This is one of our favorite movements to teach, the explosive hip extension. You want to start by turning your back towards your training partner or the direction that you are going to project the ball towards, hold the ball underhanded, squat and scoop throw the ball over your head in an explosive manner transferring the energy through the hip and lastly through the ball. You can throw the ball for maximal height or distance depending on the trajectory you decide.
4. Medicine Ball Slammers
This exercise is one of the easiest power movements to learn, and it is enjoyable to do as well. All you will need is a light medicine ball that doesn’t bounce or bounces only slightly. Get the ball over your head and drop your hips and follow through with your arms as if you are trying yo make a hole in the ground. Make sure to get the proper timing down, so the ball will stay close to your body.
5. Lying Medicine Ball Chest Passes
This is an alternative to the standing chest pass; however, you will not have your legs to help you with the movement to generate power and force. Therefore your upper body will have to produce the power. Start this exercise by lying on your back with either your legs down on the ground or knees bent; pull your belly button into the floor and either push the medicine ball off your chest toward your partner or straight up for you to catch and repeat yourself. You want this to be like a spring with no pause in between the transitions from the bottom towards the top.