Up-to-date athletic trainers and athletes like medicine ball training because it appears to be more specific to their preferred athletic activity than conventional weight training (throwing a medicine ball is more like throwing a baseball or basketball than is lifting a heavy weight, and it’s hard to imagine why lifting a weight would improve the skill factor associated with throwing). Baseball teams at all levels of competition use medicine balls in their training programs.
The following are some guidelines in planning and running a medicine ball session:
Always ensure the athletes carry out a thorough warm up and warm down. Before starting a session, explain the procedures for each exercise with your athletes. Partners who feed the medicine ball on certain exercises should be well drilled on what is required.
Medicine ball exercises must precede high intensity work
Start sessions with lighter less dynamic exercises, then progress to heavier exercises. The program should have exercises that match the pattern of movements of the sport. Plan the program to exercise alternate body parts (legs, upper body, torso). You will need to have a number of different weights of ball available – heavy, medium and light. Initially, athletes should use a light weight ball and gradually progress to heavier ones
Check there is sufficient space (including ceiling height) and that the structure of the walls is safe if any rebounding exercises are used. Maintain good discipline as medicine balls can be dangerous if used incorrectly. An effective work-out with medicine balls can be achieved in about 30 to 40 minutes, if the athlete works efficiently. Quality of movement is more beneficial than quantity of exercise repetitions or sets.
To ensure personal safety and good technique while doing medicine ball exercises the following points should be remembered:
Complete throws with full extension of the arms. On standing exercises plant feet before beginning to throw the ball. Always use the full joint range in the correct sequence in carrying out each exercise. Maintain technique – do not sacrifice control for distance. Inexperienced athletes should not take the ball too far back behind the head when carrying out overhead throws.
When picking a ball, ensure the knees are bent and the back is kept straight. When carrying out exercises lying on your back, ensure the lower back always remains in contact with the surface.