Foundational Coaching: Installment 2 – Medicine Ball Drills

In this series, I’m going to go over some of the basics with respect to how I progress medicine ball drills and how our youth athletes can best represent the idea of improving movement qualities of power and speed.

Many times our youth athletes will come in one of three ways: very coordinated, somewhat coordinated, and very uncoordinated.

This plays a role in not only our screening process at CSP, but also in what exercises are selected to help them display and express the physiological qualities of strength, speed, power, and endurance.

For example, If someone gets fatigued doing a specific type of drill, it can be expected that their ability to move around and perform that exercise for long durations of time will reduce in terms of efficiency over time. Long story short, their form will degrade as the exercise continues.

The energy requirements that require strength, speed, and power to be expressed in various movements are very different than the ones that are needed during endurance activities. So this brings to light a specific timeline or even window with which these youth athletes can perform exercises before fatiguing on a global level.

If they cannot maintain form for a movement pattern past the 60 to 90 minute mark, who is to say we need to keep on performing that exercise? What do you do instead?


What Do You Do When Someone Has No Coordination & is Quick to Fatigue?

Set them up for success – by any means necessary. Period.

Now let’s answer the question of how we go about doing this. 

If someone can’t display strength, speed, or power from the get-go, what can we do differently to help them show off their power that is harnessed within their body?

One thing to understand is that if someone comes into our gym with a “very uncoordinated” body, then perhaps the position that they are normally in will not elicit the best expression of the desired qualities of strength, speed, power, and even endurance.

How can we bridge this gap between an uncoordinated individual with the tremendous source of energy that they might be able to display in their program?

I’ve always hung my hat on knowing when clients or athletes may not feel coordinated. Over time, you too will be able to sense a moment of hesitation before an explosive motion occurs in jumping, throwing, hopping. This subconscious self-doubt or self-talk displays itself in several micro-ticks within an individual’s behavior. Some call it the coach’s eye, and others will point to reduced force production on force plates or technology, Just Jump Mats, or less weight pulled on the barbell (than you know they are capable of).

Whatever the output is, it is best to identify which movements will elicit the highest outputs of force without detracting from the end goal.

Practical Application

One thing I can use to my advantage is to reduce the movement to its simplest movement patterns in order to progress or layer into the next drill – the end goal for the day. On a neurological level, sometimes standing and being explosive is too much work. Let’s make it easier – go to one knee or two knees, and ask them to be explosive in this manner.

Sometimes sprinting drills aren’t effective because the individual doesn’t understand the requisite movement patterns that are necessary to understand. Sometimes an individual doesn’t understand what it means to throw their whole body into a jump, or medicine ball drill, and there is force production left behind on the table.

Using drills such as a medicine ball medley or medicine ball warm-up will help bridge this gap between uncoordinated movement qualities and powerful slams and throws.

I not only find these drills to be effective for our youth athletes, but also as a great reinforcement of separation for our intermediate and advanced athletes. By locking down the lower half of the body, you can elicit a static base and foundation with which you can display great levels of rotary and sagittal explosive force, depending on the drill.

Coaching Cues

1. Make sure to stay tall through your torso – head up to the ceiling.

2. Brace with the ball in your hands, and give a slight exhale as you slam the ball.

3. Break the ball through the wall, and REACH with whatever position you are in (to encourage upper body separation from lower body).

4. Lastly, keep hips square to whichever position you originally started in.


As always,

Keep it funky.


My Favorite Exercise Combinations: Installment 11 – Teaching the Weight Shift in Med Ball Drills

I love throwing medicine balls around in the gym. It’s loud and it makes my soul feel good. However, when I give this task to a youth athlete or use it for fat loss purposes, sometimes these medicine ball exercises go right over the person’s head (pun intended).

So with that in mind, I have an awesome combination for y’all today, and it is a great teaching tool for anyone from beginner to advanced athletes.

There are a lot of cool things going on here, and I’ll outline what happens in the first exercise in this combination:

A1. Lateral Mini-Band Walk with Pump Fake – 3×5/s

This first portion I liken to observing how gait patterns occur. Long story short, every time you take a step forward with one foot, you need to accelerate with the back foot.

Every time you take a step forward as well, you need to decelerate with the foot that has just left the ground.

Pelvis - Weight Shift

Integrating Ideas – Introducing the Lateral Mini-Band Walk

How does this integrate with a lateral mini-band walk?

You need to decelerate as you take a step to the side, and the “pump fake” with the medicine ball takes this necessity for deceleration to the next level. Otherwise, well, you’ll just fall over. Further, you need to accelerate away from the side on the other foot.

To take it the next level, you need to observe internal rotation at the femoralacetabular joint on the leg that is receiving the weight shift, which talks beautifully about deceleration, and then in order to re-accelerate you need to push out of that position at the hip, and go into external rotation (and hip abduction as well).

Over-coaching athletes to bring their knees into a position that is biased towards genu valgus may be incorrect – the correct position is to subconsciously cue hip internal rotation through external cuing. That is when you win.

Food for thought – males can also have large Q-Angles, not just females (and vice versa).

Further, this necessity for deceleration at the hip will also need to be translated up from the foot – so overpronation should not be observed, but rather staying on the ball of the foot. Overpronation can be thought of as having a flat foot position – there is no arch, and thus there is no force absorption, or rather there is no authentic and efficient force absorption (force is lost through the lack of an arch, and compensation may occur).

Arch vs No Arch
Flat Foot (Left) vs Arch (Right)

Now, to translate this to a sport specific lingo, what happens when you change directions? What happens when you need to re-direct any forces from one position to the next? What happens when you need to make a cut on a field?

Shuffle - Pronation + Valgus

Now, with these ideas under your belt, you can go into the next exercise and teaching tool of shifting in and out with power and speed – the Step Back Rotational Med Ball Shotput.

A2. Step Back Rotational Med Ball Shotput – 3×5/s, 8lb to 10lb

In actuality this can be any side to side, or frontal plane, variation of a medicine ball exercise.

While this exercise may seem relatively straightforward, there are ways to move erroneously. From a cuing perspective, make sure to do these things:

  • Elbows high, imagine someone is behind you.
  • With your lead or front elbow, try to smack or hit the person behind you.
  • Show your shoulders and chest to the wall in front of you – this will avoid any sidearm like action from occuring.
  • Push the ground away from you – or place an object to step AWAY from, since you need a good follow through with your hips.
  • Break the wall with the ball, which should capture intent for power and speed of movement.

These are all the things that I’m looking for when utilizing a very simplistic drill involving medicine balls. Hope this brings some insight as to how I look at things!

As always,

Keep it funky.


Med Ball Drills for Youth Athletes

Throwing a ball against a wall is something of a past-time. The idea of utilizing med ball drills reeks of nostalgia. Perhaps it is more reminiscent of a simpler time, when playing “Wall Ball” in grade school (or more like 2 years ago) was the cool thing to do. Do any kids even do that now, or is it faux pas to play outside?


In any case, the rationale for including med ball drills within a youth athletes program involves several physiological benefits.

Motor Unit Recruitment

Med ball drills provide a fantastic medium with which the central nervous system can improve the drive to specific muscle groups of the hips, abdominals, along with the upper body.

Simply, ask someone to throw something relatively far away very slowly – it is unlikely to reach the intended target within a respectable amount of time. The athlete will need to throw it FAST with INTENT, which will also recruit fast twitch fibers, which will help with speed of delivery.

Increased Rate of Force Development

The very act of slamming and throwing provides a chance for the uninitiated athlete to experience what it feels like to apply a massive amounts of force within a given direction.

To take a step away from the act of explaining the physical benefits, often times I find that the sheepish or shy youth athlete begin to “come out of their shell” after explaining to them I want them to slam the med ball like it is Loki and you are the Hulk from that one scene from the Avengers.

Hulk Smash

Increased Reaction Time

Once an athlete has commanded efficient movement quality within the drill, there may be an added benefit if the aim of the exercise drill is to increase speed, reactivity, and reaction time. This may be enhanced by moving closer to the wall in say a Side Standing Med Ball Shotput, and requesting the athlete to “rebound” off of the wall as fast as possible.

These are simply just a few benefits that medicine ball training can provide. For more information on other benefits, follow the link to read (and watch) an article I wrote on

Medicine Ball Training for Youth Athletes


As always,

Keep it funky.