Track & Field: Medicine Ball Drills for Throwers
If you have never used or do not often use medicine balls in training, it may be time to start. Medicine ball exercises are great way to develop coordination, power, speed, strength and technique all at one time—and this is especially true for throwers.
You may already do Olympic lifting exercises and plyometrics to condition all of those aspects listed above, but medicine balls also help you strengthen your core muscles—the abs, hip flexors and buttocks—which are essential to big throws. Your core is where your power comes from and nothing strengthens those muscles like a good medicine ball routine.
Medicine Ball Drills
Hot Tip: Start Light
Start doing med-ball drills with lighter balls to ensure that you do each drill efficiently and with the proper technique. A ball that is too heavy will defeat the purpose of these drills. As you get stronger you can increase the weight of the med-ball.
Here are a few drills to help you get started. Some coaches recommend doing med-ball exercises twice a week with 20 to 30 throws each. The throws can be broken into 2x10 reps, 6x5 reps, etc. But the options and exercises are only limited to your imagination.
Over the Back Toss
- Start by holding the ball out in front of you with your arms extended. Your back should face the area or field where the ball will be thrown.
- Go down into a squat position and bring the ball between your legs.
- Using power and speed from your legs throw by extending your body and arms backwards. When the ball reaches about knee level you should throw it overhead and up. Let your body follow the motion but keep your toes on the ground.
Overhead Straight Up Throw
- Start by holding the ball out in front of you with your arms extended. Look straight ahead.
- Go into a squat position and bring the ball between your legs.
- Using power from your legs come up quickly and powerfully.
- Throw the ball as high in the air as you can. It may arch a bit forward but the point of the drill is to throw high.
Modified Hammer Throw
- Hold a med-ball on the hip opposite of your throwing side. Your throwing side will face the area that you are throwing towards.
- Start with the weight on your back foot and follow by twisting your core towards your throwing side.
- Bring the ball forward and around and release at shoulder height.
- When you do this toss, look towards the area where you want the ball to land.
Knee Throw to Push Up
This throw can used with a chest throw or an over head throw. Have a teammate or coach stand in front of you so he/she can roll the ball back.
- For the chest throw start with the med-ball in the middle of your chest.
- Throw the ball hard in a straight line. As your body extends catch yourself in a push up position.
- For the overhead throw, start with your arms extended of your head and throw forward.
- Again, catch yourself in a push up position.
Med-ball Push Up
- Start with the med-ball on the ground in front of you.
- Slide the ball under one of your hands and place the opposite hand on the ground. This means you have one had elevated higher than the other.
- Do a regular push-up. You can either do this exercise with your hand on the med-ball the whole time. Or you can switch hands by doing a push-up then sliding the med-ball to the other hand after you come up.
Throw from Lunge Position
- You can do this toss from an overhead or chest throw as well.
- Start in a stabilized lunge position.
- Take the med-ball and place it over your head with your arms extended.
- Throw it forward and as far as you can while keeping the lunge.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- This exercise can also be done against a wall.
Kneeling Side Twist
- Have a teammate or coach stand a few feet behind you so he/she can roll the ball back.
- Kneel on the ground with your back facing your teammate or coach.
- Bring the med-ball to chest height with your arms extended.
- Pick a side you want to throw to.
- Twist your torso so the ball releases at about shoulder height. It should be tossed up and back.
- Start by sitting on the ground with your legs slightly bent in front of you.
- Lean back slightly and hold the med-ball with your arms extended about head high.
- Twist your core so the ball will switch from touching the left and right side of your body near your hip. Keep your heels planted on the ground and do not lean too far back.
- You should feel this exercise in your abs.
Hot Tip: Know Your Balls
- 2-6 pounds: Beginners and one-handed exercises
- 8-12 pounds: Intermediate and two-handed exercises
- 15-18 pounds: Advanced, two-handed exercise, passing and strength exercise
- 20-30 pounds: Strength and total-body throws
One Legged Squat
- Extend your arms and hold the ball in front of you about chest height.
- Squat down on one leg keeping your arms extended. This exercise will challenge your balance.
- Your free leg can be bent at the knee in front of you, to the side or rear.
- Start by standing tall with the ball over your head.
- Throw the ball down as hard as you can using all your core strength.
- Don’t catch the ball. Let it bounce.
You can also do this drill with one hand.
Just the Beginning
These are definitely not the only drills you can do with a medicine ball, but they do make for a good starting point. Stay with it, and soon you'll see how beneficial a simple ball can be!