Medball Training for Power Development

Medball Training for Power Development

At EForce we utilize many different training methods to facilitate power development for our athletes. Everything from jumps, weighted jumps, olympic lifts, sled pushes… the list goes on. One staple that you’ll find in almost all our programs is the use of medballs. In this article we will discuss the purpose they serve in our training, their versatility and some of the unique advantages to using medballs over other methods.

The Purpose of Medball Training

We incorporate medball work with the purpose of developing power in the trunk and upper body. For us, medballs serve as an upper body plyometric, stimulating the neuromuscular system and its power/reactive abilities. The use of medballs allows for the development of these specific qualities as they’re heavily dependent on a muscle’s ability to rapidly generate force. Like jumps/plyometrics, medball throws are a great way to bridge the gap between strength built in the weight room and speed/power demonstrated on the field.

It is important to remember to be fast/powerful you have to train fast/powerful. So for our athletes, we primarily use medballs ranging between 4-12lbs, while implementing the CAT (Compensatory Acceleration Training) method. The CAT method is where you have an athlete deliberately try to accelerate an implement throughout the concentric phase of the movement as fast as possible. This ensures that we’re training at high enough velocities to simulate power development.

Man with white t-shirt and mask on his knees

Their Versatility

Training with medballs for power development is great as they’re extremely versatile!  

First off, there are two main types of medballs; reactive or dead-stop. Each provides its own reaction when impacting the wall/ground. One requires you to catch/decelerate the ball as it bounces off the wall/ground coming back at you at high velocities. The other dissipates energy upon impact, so the athlete doesn’t have to worry about catching the medball coming off the wall/ground.  

Secondly, medballs come in various diameters, densities and textures. This means that a 6lbs medball could be the size of a shot put or basketball, be high-density rubber or filled with soft stuffing, or be rubber or leather exterior.

The sheer multitude of different medball variations means that you can train all types of power qualities, through a library of different throws, using either single arm or double arm variations.

Versatility training

Their Unique Advantages

As for the unique advantages that medballs bring to the table when training to develop power I’d like to highlight 4; multi-planar movement, space/cost effectiveness, fun/competition and learning curve.    

Multi-Planar Movement: One of the biggest upsides to using medballs is that you can develop power qualities in multiple planes of motion. With most traditional power develop exercises you’re restricted to moving in the sagittal plane, but medballs allow you to train through the frontal and transverse planes as well. This leads to a potentially higher transfer power to sport specific actions.  

Space/Cost Effectiveness: With the average cost for a set of 4-16lbs medballs ranging between $100-$200 and their sheer versatility; it’s easy to see how cost effective they are. For this reason, when talking to new gym owners, I always say that a set of medball is a must! In addition to being cost friendly, they also are space friendly as well. Medball storage takes up a minimal amount of space in the gym and you also only need a small amount of space to execute various throw variations.

Fun/Competition: From a training standpoint, medball training brings a lot to the table in the realm of fun and competition. Throwing medball adds variety to an athlete’s training program and without fail, every athlete loves this part of their training program. Just like timing sprints, you can also measure medball throw distance as a fun way to spark competition with your training group. By nature athletes love to compete and making their medball throws a distance competition when appropriate leads to getting max effort in the session.  

Learning Curve: Many power development methods like olympic lifting have a relatively steep learning curve, with a good coach spending 6-8wk teaching the techniques before having athletes execute the lifts in a way that truly develops power. A huge advantage of medballs is there is little to no learning curve. This means that day one, athletes can throw medball with the effort and intensity needed to stimulate power adaptations. This leads to making faster progress then with other power development options.  

Woman throwing the ball into the wall

At EForce, one staple that you’ll find in almost all our programs is the use of medballs. This article discussed the purpose they serve in our training, their versatility and some of the unique advantages to using medballs over other methods. If you or a friend is look to take their training to the next level look no further than EForce Performance!    

Erik Jernstrom

Director of Sports Performance @ EForce

Verkhoshansky, Yuri, and Mel Cunningham Siff. Supertraining. Verkhoshansky, 2009.

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