Throwing Medicine Balls
By: Jim Giroux, Perform Better
Many people never learn to throw properly! Movements that require shifting, bending, rotating and balance are important in athletics and in life. For example, by learning to transfer momentum from rear to front a golfer reduces risk of injury and improves 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, which incorporates expressions of speed, strength, flexibility and coordination, allows you to see measurable improvement rather quickly.
What equipment is appropriate? A medicine ball weighing 2-3 kilos (4-7 lbs.) is appropriate for most people.
When executing standing movements that involve rotation, the backside foot should turn, allowing a wider range of motion and a shifting of the center of mass over the front leg. By doing this, the integrity of the low back is not compromised. Cueing these actions from day 1 sets up patterns that will be used in future exercises. When bending and rotating, remind your clients/athletes to use as many joints as possible. As you can see, these exercises have a balance component. Ultimately, throwing requires single leg balance.
Many movements in life and sports involve acceleration while shifting or moving weight from one side to the other to complete a task. Work towards standing on one leg and decelerating or blocking one side of the body.
This is a big part of throwing. To properly finish 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 do a three-step teaching progression for rotational throws. Remember, it may take a few weeks of work to get to modified hammer throws. When progressing through the sequence, keep the previous exercises in the program. You can reduce sets/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.
Sets and reps can be anywhere from 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps. These exercises fit well into a warm up and can be used to awaken the nervous system. Throws are excellent when doing a speed/strength session because they are a summation of forces activity. Let throwing medicine balls help you develop better movement skills. References available.
Three Step Teaching Progression