The medicine ball slam is an explosive, “toe nails to finger nails”, total body exercise that helps you develop the strength, speed and power needed to efficiently develop, transfer and apply forces from the ground up. Because it is performed from a standing position, it also enhances weight shift, posture, balance and coordination. Improving the ability to transfer power from the lower body through the core is essential for powerful swings and throws. The whip-like movement of the ball as it moves from low to high mimics the loading and exploding movements used in hitting and throwing. This exercise has three movements; 1) start, 2) load and 3) explode. Each movement is described below.
1) Start. Stand in an athletic position with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing straight ahead. Hold a MD ball in both hands with your arms hanging straight down and in front of your body.
2) Load. Set you abs, inhale and then hinge your hips back and descend into a three-quarters squat. Keeping your chest up, core tight and the MD ball in front of your body, push through your heels and lift the MD ball directly above your head as you rise back to a standing position and all the way up onto your toes.
3) Explode: With the MD ball at its highest point above the head, transition quickly by lowering your heels to the ground and slamming the ball to the floor about a foot in front of your body. Exhale as you slam the ball downward. Catch the ball as waist height as it bounces off the floor and use the upward momentum generated by the bounce to reload and perform the next rep. Start with 3 sets of 6 reps with a 6-pound rubber ball. Progress to 5 sets of 6 reps with a 10-pound ball. Rest approximately 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
For variety, perform this exercise from a “tall kneeling” (both knees) and half-kneeling position. Working from a kneeling and half-kneeling position increases the demands on the core by eliminating some of the actions of the hips and legs. Be extremely careful when using a rubber MD ball as it can rebound quickly and strike you in the face. For safety, use a ball with little or no rebound capacity.
Eric McMahon, M.Ed., CSCS, RSCC, is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Frisco Roughriders, Texas Rangers.