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Medicine Ball Training


As coaches we are always on the lookout for new ways to present training stimuli. The principle of variety allows development of general strength and body awareness and at the same time maintains athletes’ motivation.

One training device, the medicine ball, has long been recognised as an excellent training tool because of its versatility, cost effectiveness and ease of transportation. Thanks to technological advances in design, the old leather medicine ball has now been replaced with a rubber ball, which is designed to bounce and in some instances even float.

Medicine ball training is appropriate to all levels of age and ability. A unique multi-purpose training tool, it offers exercises for individuals partners and groups both on land and in the water. It’s rebound qualities enable exercises to be performed against a solid concrete wall; on a tennis, squash, basketball or netball court, or outdoors on an oval or park. With hundreds of exercises, agility drills, strength and power tests, games and skills to choose from, it makes training fun and will keep athletes highly motivated and coming back for more.

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Selecting a ball

The weight of the ball will depend on the athletes training age, ability and sport. Having a selection of sizes available will enable you to modify intensity accordingly for strength, speed or power applications.

General movement terminology

Strength = Slow controlled movement using body weight (ie push-up on the ball or squat).
Endurance = Moderate speed with continuous movement effort.
Speed & Agility = Light ball, moderate to fast movement speed
Power endurance = (a) Moderate to fast continuous movements with good form. (b) concentric only concentric/eccentric
Explosive power = short duration, maximum power output
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Recovery

Due to high neuromuscular involvement, especially neutraliser and stabiliser muscles and joints, it is possible to reach muscle failure without showing any of the usual signs of physiological failure. For this reason do not rely solely on conventional measures of fatigue to measure your athletes recovery rate. More so, kinetic chain quality of movement.

Teaching activities that are suitable for your athletes level of development is essential. Stressing a progression from the simple to more difficult exercises enables the coach to pay greater attention to the athletes physical ability to perform the activity.

Commence with general whole body activities, and as your athletes develops, move to skills requiring finer motor control. Once general skills are acquired, your athlete will find it easier to pick up new techniques.

To maximise time (ie circuit format), rotate exercises from the upper to mid, then lower body (ie push-up, abdominals, squats). This allows each muscle group to recover whilst exercising another.

Technique and safety

Exercises

1. Standing Alternate Twists

Purpose: A strong torso is essential in every sport because it provides a stable platform around which limbs can move effectively. Standing alternate twists improve motor-coordination, A strong torso is essential in every sport because it provides a stable platform around which limbs can move effectively. Standing alternate twists improve motor-coordination, transfer of forces and the ability to contract and control the torso.

Starting position:
Stand back to back, feet parallel and shoulder-width apart.

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Partner 1: Hold the MB at waist height in front of your body
Partner 2: Both arms extended by your side. Hold the MB at waist height in front of your body
Partner 2: Both arms extended by your side.

Movement:
With naval drawn to spine and hips facing forward, on ‘go’ each twist your upper body to the same side (slight lateral movement), hand the medicine ball to your partner. Twisting to the opposite side to hand the medicine ball again. Exercise for 10 seconds then alternate direction.

Variations:

(1) speed of movement
(2) distance between partners.
(3) figure 8’s

2. Seated Catch and Push

Purpose: support strength plays a major role in managing forces that are applied to the upper body. This exercise integrates isometric abdominal contraction with functional - concentric (push) and eccentric (catch phase) movement of the arms. support strength plays a major role in managing forces that are applied to the upper body. This exercise integrates isometric abdominal contraction with functional - concentric (push) and eccentric (catch phase) movement of the arms.

Starting position:

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Athlete: Seated, legs bent, resting on heels. Spine in neutral position, draw naval to spine, with hands in front of the body holding the medicine ball. Seated, legs bent, resting on heels. Spine in neutral position, draw naval to spine, with hands in front of the body holding the medicine ball.

Partner: Stand approximately 1m from partner in a semi squat position, hands up in front of the body. Stand approximately 1m from partner in a semi squat position, hands up in front of the body.

Movement:
Athlete pushes ball up to partner, who catches medicine ball, walks forward and hands ball back to athlete. Repeat Athlete pushes ball up to partner, who catches medicine ball, walks forward and hands ball back to athlete. Repeat

Variations:

(a) Concentric only (push to partner)
(b) Concentric/eccentric (catch and push)
(c) Increase distance between athlete and partner for more explosive thrust – concentric only

3. Seated sit and thrust

Purpose: A progression from exercise 2, the seated sit and thrust combines elements of strength, speed, power and motor co-ordination and should only be used by an advanced athlete. A progression from exercise 2, the seated sit and thrust combines elements of strength, speed, power and motor co-ordination and should only be used by an advanced athlete.

Starting position:

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Body position:
Sit on the ground with knees bent, naval drawn to spine and feet linked side by side. Sit on the ground with knees bent, naval drawn to spine and feet linked side by side.

Movement:
Start slow, pushing the medicine ball across to your partner, who catches, lowers to the ground (eccentrically) before thrusting (concentrically) medicine ball back to partner, with hands up ready to catch medicine ball and repeat action. Start slow, pushing the medicine ball across to your partner, who catches, lowers to the ground (eccentrically) before thrusting (concentrically) medicine ball back to partner, with hands up ready to catch medicine ball and repeat action.

Variations:

(a) Chest to chest stationary then progress by lowering in a sit up position
(b) Overhead thrust (slow to moderate speed) focusing on full control of the abdominals.
(c) Increase distance apart.

Please note: Exercise 2 and 3 are powerful in nature and should only be performed for short periods of time (ie) up to 10 seconds with maximal recovery by an advanced athlete. Exercise 2 and 3 are powerful in nature and should only be performed for short periods of time (ie) up to 10 seconds with maximal recovery by an advanced athlete.

For further exercises and drills please refer to the Collinsthenics Medicine ball Workout Manual.

Paul Collins is a Physical Training Educator, author of the Collinsthenics Medicine Ball Workout and designer of the CT Fitness Rebound Medicine Ball. He presents nationally at sports and fitness conventions, to sporting clubs and teams, health and fitness centres and gymnasiums, schools, OH&S in the workplace (posture) and alike.

To order the book, medicine ball, swiss ball or seminar phone: 0411 85 1165 or write to Collinsthenics, PO Box 1097 Manly, NSW 2095.