Tom Drum is a stretching and dryland master. A few weeks ago, Tom graciously sent us a stretching article that featured his braided stretch rope, the "Fraid Not." This week, Tom sends us a new exercise, featuring another of his GREAT products called the Back-It Ball. The Back-It Ball is a fluid-filled sphere that weighs about 8 pounds and that you can use for both massage AND dryland. The Back-It Ball has long been our favorite type of "medicine ball" at Go Swim, and we highly recommend it, as well as Tom’s stretching and dryland exercises. You can order your own "Fraid Not" or Back-It Ball at www.tomdrum.com. Team discounts are available by calling Tom at 888-565-9559. –Glenn/Barbara
Medicine-ball training has been used for decades to train athletes desiring superior results. Swimmers especially can reap tremendous strength, range-of-motion, and power benefits with a regular program. To be effective, a routine should be practiced at least twice ï¿½ and preferable three times ï¿½ per week. A med-ball routine may also be included in a timed circuit-training approach, where stations of push-ups, dips, jump-rope, shuttle runs and plyometric leaps and bounds are tossed into the mix. This combines strength and cardiovascular work in one fun yet demanding session.
Why Do It:
Medicine-ball training combines resistive weight plus applied motion for a different training effect on the muscles than a pure weight program. Many medicine-ball exercises duplicate the exact movement used in swimming a particular stroke, or involve the muscle or group of muscles that strengthen that movement. When using weights, you use approximately the last 10% of the muscle(s) in stopping the weight. Imagine a bench-press. You donï¿½t attempt to throw the barbell through the ceiling. Instead, you stop the motion towards the end. Now picture a two-handed medicine-ball chest pass. It duplicates the motion of the bench-press, except that you extend to almost the end of the range-of-motion. In other words, the med-ball chest pass helps you develop that last 10% of muscle strength.
In the Single-Arm Med-Ball Pass shown here, you will develop equal hip power and thrust, along with increased shoulder strength and that extra 10% of force. This will have an incredible impact on your freestyle entry, reach, and roll.
How To Do It:
1. Stand 8 to 10 feet away from your partner, and facing each other. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and both feet should be on the same line, not one foot in front of the other. This foot placement forces you to use your hips during the exercise..
2. Cup the ball in your right hand, fingers pointed upwards, and hold it close to your ear. Use only your right hand to hold the ball, and do not let your left hand assist.
3. Rotate your right hip backward, as if to cock it, then fire the hip forward, using its motion to power the the arm to propel the throw. The hip moves first, and the arm follows. Your elbow almost locks-out at the end of the release, and your hand should extend and end directly off your right shoulder. You do not want to let your arm fall across your body as a baseball pitcher does after he releases his pitch. Think of it as thrusting forward similar to a straight-arm block in football.
Start with 5 repetitions on you right arm, and then 5 on you left. For kids 10 years and under, start with a 4- to 6-pound medicine ball. For age 11 and up, start with a 7- to 8-pound ball. You will probably find that you are much more coordinated and can throw with more ease on your ï¿½dominantï¿½ side (right side if you are right handed, left side if you are left handed). If you are left handed, you can start with that arm, to gain confidence in the form and the drill. If you have trouble on your non-dominant side, keep practicing. One of the goals of the drill is to help you develop balanced, symmetrical strength in BOTH hips.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. The drill and directions remain the same, except you use a wall (concrete or tile, not masonry or dry-wall) as your partner, so you can throw the med ball as hard as possible. This cannot be accomplished with all medicine balls on the market, but the fluid-filled BACK-IT BALLï¿½ and some other balls from performance companies allow rebounds without a trampoline or partner.
2. Try the drill standing on only one-leg. This adds a balance component into the mix. If you are throwing with your right arm, stand on your left leg, and vice-versa. This leg/arm sequence allows you to fully cock your hip before release.