6 Best Medicine Ball Exercises For Tennis (2023)


Best Medicine Ball Exercises for Tennis

Medicine Balls can be an amazing training tool for tennis players. Medicine balls help develop power in multiple planes, using many different movement patterns.

Specifically, they’re great for improving rotational power – something critical to success and yet more difficult to train with traditional barbells and dumbbells.

In this guide, I’m going to give you some of my favorite medicine ball exercises for tennis. These exercises will help tennis players build more powerful hips and a more powerful core.

Medicine Ball Exercises For Tennis


Overhead Throws


Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball
  • Partner or solid wall

How To

  • Find a partner or solid wall and stand a safe distance away*.
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Reach the medicine ball overhead and brace the core.
  • Now, throw the ball as hard as you can – aim for maximum distance.

Coaching Points

*If you’re doing Overhead Throws with a partner, stand far enough away so that the ball will bounce before it reaches your partner. Catching a medicine ball out of the air can lead to a jammed wrist or finger.

If throwing against a wall, allow enough space so the ball bounces once after it hits the wall before you catch it.


Medicine Ball Slams


Med Ball Slams

Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball (it’s literally in the name)

Muscles Worked

  • Abdominals
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Teres Major

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Grab a medicine ball and stand tall with feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  • Reach the medicine ball high overhead.
  • Using the core, pull the body down – hinging forward at the hips.
  • Follow through with the arms and release the ball.
  • Let the ball slam into the ground, catch it off the bounce and repeat for the designated number of reps.

Coaching Points

First and foremost, test how ‘bouncy’ your medicine ball is before starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen athletes almost have their faces smashed by a medicine ball bouncing much harder and rebounding much faster off the ground than they were anticipating.

The biggest mistake I see with Med Ball Slams is athletes not utilizing the core and simply throwing the ball down with their arms. The bulk of the force should be generated by aggressively using the core to hinge forward. If done correctly, it should almost (and actually might) lift your feet up off the floor.


Medicine Ball Side Slams


Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Grab a medicine ball and stand tall with feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  • Reach the medicine ball high overhead.
  • Using the core, pull the body down – hinging forward at the hips – while simultaneously rotating to one side.
  • Follow through with the arms and release the ball. The ball should hit the ground just to the outside of the feet.
  • Let the ball slam into the ground, catch it off the bounce and repeat (alternating back and forth to each side) for the designated number of reps.

Coaching Points

First and foremost, test how ‘bouncy’ your medicine ball is before starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen athletes almost have their faces smashed by a medicine ball bouncing much harder and rebounding much faster off the ground than they were anticipating.

The biggest mistake I see with Med Ball Side Slams is athletes not utilizing the core and simply throwing the ball down with their arms. The bulk of the force should be generated by aggressively using the core to hinge forward. If done correctly, it should almost (and actually might) lift your feet up off the floor.


Medicine Ball Seated Twist


Med Ball Twist Wrestler

Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start by grabbing a medicine ball and taking a seat on the floor.
  • Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
  • Start by rotating your torso to the left and lightly tapping the med ball against the ground.
  • Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right and, again, lightly tap the ball against the ground.
  • Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
  • Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points (Common Mistakes)

The biggest mistake I see with my athletes when doing Seated Med Ball Twists is moving the ball back and forth primarily with their arms instead of rotating through the core. The focus should be on the rotation. The ball touching the ground is simply an added bonus to the movement.

Speaking of the ball touching the ground – there is no need to bang the ball off the ground as hard as possible each rep. Stay in control of the movement and the med ball and lightly tap it on the ground.


Medicine Ball Side Throw


Med Ball Side Toss
Photo Credit (Srdjan Randjelovic / shutterstock.com)

Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Grab a medicine ball and stand perpendicular to a sturdy wall*.
  • Distance away from the wall will vary based upon the type of medicine ball you have**.
  • Stand in a good athletic position, feet shoulder width apart, hips and knees bent.
  • Begin by rotating away from the wall, reaching the medicine ball toward the back hip.
  • Now, aggressively rotate toward the wall, turning on the ball of the back foot, opening the hips toward the wall and releasing the ball into the wall.
  • Catch the ball off the ball, reset and repeat. Once all reps are completed switch sides.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see athletes make when doing Side Throws is using their arms (and not their hips) way too much to throw the ball. Power for the throw should primarily come from rotating the hips and torso and the arms should be secondary.

*If you have a partner, you can throw to each other instead of into a wall.

**The distance away from the wall will vary depending on what type of medicine ball you have. If you have a hard rubber medicine ball then be prepared for the ball to bounce a good ways back off of the wall. If you have a soft Dynamax-type medicine ball then you can stand much closer as the bounce off the wall will be much less.


Medicine Ball Cannonball Throws


Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball

How To

  • First, make sure you have enough ceiling height to be able to do Cannonballs. I recommend doing them outside to avoid this issue altogether.
  • Grab the ball with both hands cradling under the ball. Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the shoulder blades back, engage the lats and core, slightly bend the knees and hinge forward at the hips.
  • Allow the medicine ball to fall in between the shins.
  • You should now be in a good athletic position that looks very similar to the starting position of a Hang Clean.
  • From here, explosively drive the feet through the ground and aggressively extend the hips and throw the ball as high as possible*.
  • Allow the ball to hit the ground, grab it, then reset and repeat.

Coaching Points

Do NOT try to catch the ball directly out of the air. This is a great way to jam a wrist or a finger. Allow the ball to hit the ground first before grabbing it for the next rep.

*Cannonball Throws can either be done straight up in the air or behind you to a partner. If working with a partner, stand facing away from them and throw the ball at about a 45 degree angle. The goal is to throw the ball as far as possible in the air.

Final Thoughts

The University of Tennessee tennis team was the first sport that I had the privilege of being the head strength coach. It was one of the most exciting moments of my career and I still remember talking with players and coaches about all the different movements on the court and how they affected performance.

Medicine balls quickly became a staple in our training. Almost every day we would have a few medicine ball movements in our workouts, just like the ones I’ve listed for you here.

I hope some (if not all) of these exercises help you maximize your potential on the tennis court!

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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