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Speed and Quickness through a Medicine Ball

Lee Taft, MS, CSCS, SPC, USATF, Performance Director, Sports Speed, Etc., Inc.

It is no secret that my philosophy in training revolves around natural reactive training. I give the body a chance to do what it does and then clean up the mistakes. Having this philosophy allows me to discover training techniques which enhance my belief.

Medicine ball training, if used properly, is just the tool to drive certain reactions in the body to help athletes move better. For example, as soon an athlete picks up the medicine ball the core turns on and becomes much more active. This doesn't necessarily mean the core is functioning 100% correctly, however there is no doubt it turns on and attempts to stabilize the pelvis, ribs, spine and even shoulder girdle against the weight of the ball

When an athlete cuts, accelerates or decelerates really aggressively the joints and primary anchor points of the body (pelvis, ribs, spine...) need to be held stable. The core musculature, with the help of the mass and momentum of the ball, will help anchor down these critical areas of the body.

Over the past few years, I have made medicine ball training a staple of my training. I have used medicine ball training for decades, but the "Fake Throw" medicine ball training I have recently introduced is really what I'm talking about.

"Fake Throw" training simple means the athletes will never release the ball. The athlete can hold the ball still or act like the ball is going to be thrown never releasing it. Having to maintain correct postures against the mass and momentum of the ball is a fantastic training tool.

The premise behind "Fake Throws" is the athlete must use body control to maintain correct postures against the mass and momentum of the ball. Some of the positive reactions I have seen are:

  • Athletes learn to stay down more in a stance that allows them to control their bodies.
  • Athletes have better acceleration and deceleration angles due to the mass and momentum.
  • The athlete's body becomes more "stiff" when changing direction and this allow for a quicker movement.
  • Athletes learn to not waste motions when changing direction.
  • Landing technique cleans up due to having to "stiffen" up the posture against the mass and momentum of the ball.
  • Single leg deceleration gets better, as in lunge stops, angle stops, and leaps, due to the athletes controlling the core better.
There are several other positives, but the six mentioned above are obvious improvements I see with my athletes after several exposures to fake throw training.

I introduced "fake throw" training to my girl's basketball program and I am so impressed with how it has helped their change of direction during a lateral shuffle. My team also does a lot of jumping and landing with the ball which forces them to keep proper postures.

Yours in Speed,

Lee Taft

Please contact me at info@sportsspeedetc.com if you have any questions.

Or visit SportsSpeedEtc.com

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