The muscle group that powers all aspects of baseball: the core.
One of the best pieces of equipment to train with is pretty cheap: the medicine ball.
Baseball's Secret Training Weapon: The Medicine Ball
Rotational strength is key for a strong throw and a powerful swing. Doing so with explosiveness allows us to take our game to the next level. To increase both strength and explosiveness, we turn to the medicine ball.
Depending on age, size, and strength, use a medicine ball that's 6-12 lbs. Avoid the 20 lbs balls; our goal is to develop fast, powerful movements, not slow, heaving ones.
Medicine Ball Wall Throws
We start with the wall throw since it should be a no-brainer: it mimics a baseball swing and develops power. The sneaky part of this exercise, and especially its upward wood chop variant, is that it also involves a lot of hips and legs to add thrust, which is a lot like taking off on the basepads.
3 sets of 6-8 repititions:
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, 3-5 feet away from a wall.
- Squat slightly, putting a bend in the knee, but keeping the spine straight.
- Slightly rotate away from the wall, winding up for the throw.
- Rotate as quickly as possible, throwing the ball underhand at the wall, as hard as you can.
- Instead of the straight underhand toss, start with the ball up at the shoulder that is farthest from the wall and swing / throw the ball down, in a downward wood chopping motion.
- Similar to the downward wood chop described above, start with the ball down at the ankle that is farthest from the wall and swing / throw the ball up, in an upward wood chopping motion.
Medicine Ball Slams
This exercise is effectively a two-handed overhead soccer throw of the medicine ball, straight into the ground. Great for harder throws and explosive batting power.
3 sets of 6-8 repititions:
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
- Hold the ball in front of you with two hands, letting it hang naturally.
- Rise up on to your toes, while simultaneously raising the ball straight over your head.
- Slam the ball down to the ground right in front of your feet as hard as you can.
- Add rotation (especially useful for pitching and hitting) by slamming the ball just to the outside of the left foot on one slam, then alternate, slamming the ball just to the outside of the right foot on the next.
- Unbalance your body, activating different muscle groups, by going down to one knee, and perform the slam from that position. Switch legs and repeat.
Medicine Ball Sit-Up Throws
This is the classic medicine ball exercise, activating core muscles that are used in hitting, throwing, and running.
3 sets of 10-15 repititions:
- Lie down in sit-up position on the floor with knees bent.
- Hold the ball over your head with two hands.
- As you rise in your sit-up, complete an overhead soccer throw of the medicine ball to either a standing partner or against the wall.
- Instead of doing an overhead soccer style throw, complete a basketball style chest-pass, using chest muscles more than triceps.
- If doing the exercise with a partner, have your partner toss the ball back to you, reclining in your sit-up as you catch the ball.
As the exercises get easier, we can begin doing them with more intensity or for longer duration. The weight of the medicine ball can also be increased, but as mentioned at the start of this article, avoid going too heavy so that we can maintain that explosiveness.
Until next time, Play Ball!