Can Medicine Balls Be Slammed? (It depends)
Medicine Balls are an amazing tool to use as part of a complete strength and conditioning program.
They can be used to help develop power. They can be used to learn technique that will carry over to Olympic lifts. They can be used to develop core strength. The list goes on and on.
But, the question we’re going to tackle in this article is, ‘Can Medicine Balls Be Slammed?’
To answer that question, the first thing we have to do is understand that there are actually 3 different types of medicine balls and each has its own level of tolerance for how much (if at all) it can be slammed.
Types of Medicine Ball
The 3 different types of medicine balls are:
- Soft Shell Medicine Balls aka Wall Balls
- Rubber Medicine Balls
- Slam Balls
Because each ball is so different in its makeup and “slam-ability”, let’s discuss each type individually.
Soft Shell Medicine Balls, or Wall Balls as they are also commonly known, are a type of medicine ball that has been made extremely popular through CrossFit.
Wall Balls, the ball, are almost exclusively used for Wall Balls, the exercise. This is where you squat down and then throw a med ball up to a target on the wall, catch the ball out of the air and repeat.
Personally, this is the type of medicine ball I’ve been predominantly using with athletes for years. Wall Balls can be used for all sorts of throws, slams, core work, etc.
Wall Balls work well for doing throws with a partner because they’re softer and bigger in diameter, making it less likely to jam a wrist or finger trying to catch the ball coming at you.
Can You Slam a Wall Ball?
Technically, many (or most) companies will explicitly state in their product descriptions that this type of medicine ball should not be slammed. Why? Because, eventually if you slam a ball enough times with enough force, even one of the highest quality medicine balls you can buy (Dynamax Medicine Ball full review) can end up looking like this:
Now, that’s two Dynamax Medicine Balls that withstood thousands of slams and throws before finally busting open at the seams. Cheaper wall balls, however, can find this fate much, much sooner.
Regardless, medicine ball companies don’t want to be responsible for constantly replacing medicine balls so they’ll put ‘not designed for slams’ on their product.
Having said that, do I slam wall balls? Yes. All the time. I recently bought ten medicine balls to review and slammed all of them a few hundred times to see how they’d hold up. (See the full medicine ball review)
The truth is, a high-quality ball will be able to be slammed quite a bit before it will get destroyed. I’ve used Dynamax and PB Extreme Med Balls in weight rooms throughout my career and they would last a few years before busting open. If it’s just you in your home gym, they’re going to last way, way longer.
Just don’t go cheap on a wall ball if you plan on slamming it cause you might be replacing it sooner than you’d like.
Rubber Medicine Balls
Rubber Medicine Balls are the ‘bouncy’ med ball variation. They’re smaller in diameter which actually makes them easier to throw and slam for most people. They’re made with a thick rubber shell and are almost always hollow on the inside.
Can Rubber Medicine Balls Be Slammed?
Yes. Most rubber medicine ball manufacturers encourage you to throw and/or slam them.
But, you still should be mindful of two things:
First, rubber med balls are going to bounce back much harder, faster and higher than a wall ball will. So, if you’re not used to using them be very careful on your first couple of sets of slams. I can’t tell you how many athletes I’ve seen almost smash their faces in by a rubber medicine ball cause they weren’t ready for the amount of bounce back.
Second, even though they may be more durable and better for slamming, rubber medicine balls are not indestructible. I’ve seen a handful of rubber medicine balls crack open like a coconut over the years. Go ahead and slam them, but don’t be negligent with them.
Slam Balls are the newest iteration of medicine balls and were born from the idea of wanting a medicine ball that was durable enough to be slammed repeatedly.
They’re typically made with a rubber outside shell but are more malleable than a rubber medicine ball. The inside is then generally filled with sand to get the full weight of the ball. Slam Balls are often made much bigger than the other two types, up to about 100 pounds.
If you’re looking to do a lot of slams, or are buying medicine balls for a school weight room or local gym, then Slam Balls are your best bet for maximum durability.
Can You Slam Slam Balls?
I know I’ve pretty much already answered this, but yes, you can absolutely slam Slam Balls. They are the tanks of the medicine ball family.
The only other thing I want to mention, in case someone has never used them before, is Slam Balls will have zero bounce to them. Zero. Envision if you filled a grocery bag with sand and then threw it on the ground. How much would you expect it to bounce?
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
If you want a medicine ball that you’re going to be able to slam, I would suggest going with a high-end wall ball. They’re still going to give you a ton of versatility and will still hold up against quite a bit of punishment.
Quality-made Slam Balls are going to be the most durable, but they’re not nearly as versatile.
Or, if your budget allows it, get two balls. A Wall Ball for most of your throws and other exercises and a Slam Ball specifically for your slams. Here are my recommendations for the best medicine ball for a home gym.
Finally, just make sure to check the product’s specifications. Most medicine balls will specify what they encourage, and don’t, with their medicine balls.