Medicine Ball Guidelines – Bros and Cons


While I am happy to see medicine ball use increase over the last decade, I have seen some bro knowledge approaches and sloppy use of the system. I have also seen a lot of cons with education of people sharing some magic solutions to performance with just 3 x 6 reps of the magic medicine ball. Coming from a classic USATF environment as well as a swimming background, I feel that medicine balls should be used sparingly and not just tossed in for good luck. Since my first use as an athlete in the 1990s when VHS solutions were the only educational experience, here is what I have learned the hard way.

Like any exercise risk will happen if it creates stress. You are not training unless you stress the body, so doing it right is the name of the game. Medicine balls are commonly used as ways to throw and get ballistic and rhythmic strength and the weak link to the body will be the wrist, shoulder, back, and knee. Here are five key cues to reduce injury.

Cue 1- Don’t cue at all. Remember the best cues are the ones that skip the possibility of needing cues to begin with. Sequence the learning so the athlete is getting it on the first rep and gently guide them to mastery.

Cue 2- Punch through the palm. This will help keep the wrist from getting too much wear an tear

Cue 3- Elbows up! Dropping the elbow creates external rotation too much during shot throws, creating too much overload to the rotator cuff.

Cue 4- Toe pointed to the direction of the throw. I hope the board has a short cue word but this is more an explanation. When doing any rotational work look a the first metatarsal and what direction you are sending the the ball to. Sometimes rotational throws require a 90 degree turn to overload the obliques so it’s all relative.

Cue 5- Snap the whip. An overhead throw with a light medball or mini soccer ball can be better taught with an clear picture of summation of forces.

Feel free to contribute some tips and ideas to for better medicine ball work. Just so people know, that is President Reagan getting after it old school style. Note the toe to the fingers with regards to summation of forces.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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