Having been privileged enough to work with Eric and the rest of the Cressey Performance crew as an intern for 3 months last year, a lot of his presentation was a welcome refresher to what goes on at their facility on a daily basis. With that said, I was also able take away a host of new coaching cues as well as a better understand of the sweet science behind medicine ball programming.
Eric kicked off his presentation by highlighting which populations could benefit from including medicine balls into their overall training program, which included rotational sport athletes, unicorns, The Hulk, and wacky wavy inflatable men. While the inclusion of this type of training can be extremely beneficial for the aforementioned rotational athletes, the point that I’m trying to make here is that almost everyone has something to gain from tossing a heavy rubber ball around, especially the general fitness population.
As a trainer, keeping things interesting for your clients while at the same time keeping them healthy and moving towards their goals is essential, and the medicine ball helps accomplish all of these goals. Looking for a low impact alternative to include in your fat loss training? Give a medicine ball medley at the end of your session a try. Could I interest you in a fun and exciting way to improve your mobility while simultaneously releasing the ever-growing rage that has been festering in your soul? Find a non jagged wall (preferably not in your home), a ball and go nuts. Eric highlighted many of the areas that can be improved upon by implementing a soundly designed medicine ball session into your day, including ankle, hip and thoracic spine mobility as well as scapular, glenohumeral, and core stability – all of which everyone should be concerned with.
Now, for rotational sport athletes such baseball pitchers, the when and how often to incorporate medicine ball works depends on several variables, one of which is the time of year (I.E. – early off-season, mid off-season, late off-season, and in-season). For instance, Eric conveyed that during the early off-season, the total volume of throws is kept between 120 and 160 spread over 2 or 3 sessions, but during the mid off-season when it’s time to get down to business that number increases anywhere from 240 to 360 throws before tapering off again in the late off-season.
The most interesting “bwahahaha” moment that I took away from his presentation was the concept of using medicine ball work as a means to bridge the gap between absolute speed and absolute strength. Eric used himself as an example – his sport is power lifting in which he has spent his time on mainly on the maximal strength side of the spectrum, but if he wanted to try and transition to being a professional pitcher, he knows that he would have to start moving towards the speed side of things. Well, that and throwing a lot of balls. For pitchers, who usually spend all their time on the absolute speed end, Eric did a fantastic job of showing how incorporating medicine ball training into their program can serve as an efficient bridge in terms of reaping the benefits of not only being fast, but fast and strong.
Eric’s presentation was very video heavy, so sadly this is one of those “you would’ve had to have been there” sort of things. For those of you who missed out, be sure to check out his website (especially this article) as well as his Youtube page for medicine ball videos. I didn’t dub him the Magnificent Massachusetts Medicine Ball Magician for nothing!