Working out with medicine balls is a great way to stay in shape during the season. They are low impact, provide a great way to strengthen core muscles, and even help some with balance. Softball is definitely a core-centric sport, and working with medicine balls can improve just about every part of one’s game, particularly hitting and throwing. And take it from me, the improvements can take place almost immediately.
My youngest daughter and I recently started a daily workout regimen using a 10 pound medicine ball. While 10 pounds is more than enough of a challenge for my 90 pound daughter, I have been surprised about the increase in strength I’ve gained in the short time since we started. I try to stay in shape, but mostly by running and bike riding and really had not done much core muscle work. I’ve quickly become a believer in the medicine ball though, as my own hitting and throwing in adult co-ed slow pitch games has noticeably improved in the span only a week or so. What stands out most to me is my accuracy on long throws – twice in my last game I made throws from the outfield that were dead on-target to the catcher for outs at home.
Our workout consists of several exercises that we try to do every day (in reality, we probably average every other day due to our busy schedules). We use a 10 pound ball for most of our drills, but my daughter uses a 6 pound ball for a couple of them until she gains a bit more strength. It is cool that it’s a daddy-daughter thing that also helps us both out on the softball field.
Here is our routine:
-- Figure 8s. This is one where she uses the 6 pound ball. Start holding the ball at the right foot, move to the left foot, then above the head over the right shoulder, then over the left shoulder, then back to the right foot. Repeat 10 times.
-- Back-to-Backs. We stand back-to-back, and we pass the ball back and forth. If I start with the ball, I rotate to my right and pass it to my daughter (who rotates to her left to receive the ball), then I rotate to my left to receive the ball from her and then rotate back to the right to hand the ball back to her. We do this 10 times, and then we reverse direction and do it again 10 times.
-- Backward throws. This motion is similar to Back-to-Backs, but instead of standing back-to-back, the receiver stands about 10 feet away behind the thrower and catches the ball. Then the catcher throws the ball to the opposite side that the thrower threw from. The thrower does this 10 times throwing behind the right side, then 10 times from the left. Then the partners switch.
-- Ball toss. We stand about 15 feet apart and throw the ball back and forth until we have made 20 consecutive catches. If the ball hits the ground, we start over. We use both hands to throw the ball, using either a chest pass (like basketball) or an underhand scoop (like a granny shot in basketball).
-- Hitting. No, we don’t hit the medicine ball, but we get in our batting stance with the ball in our hands like our bat, and then we swing, letting go of the medicine ball where we’d normally make contact with a pitched softball. I’m a big believer in rotational hitting (a topic for another day), and we focus on generating power from the hips as opposed to the arms. This is another drill where my daughter uses the 6 pound ball.
In all, it takes us about 10 or 15 minutes to do these drills (unless we keep dropping the ball during ball toss), and they may be some of the most productive 10 or 15 minutes that we ever spend on Softball. Give it a try!