The 7 Best Med Ball Exercises For Pitchers
Pitchers have a unique set of needs to improve performance on the mound. Flexibility, mobility, strength, endurance, and power are all needed.
Developing power in specific planes of motion is critical. We know that training power in the transverse and sagittal planes will be advantageous for pitchers.
In my opinion, med ball work is the most specific implement pitchers can use to develop power for their position. I recommend Dynamax-style med balls between 6 and 15 pounds. A sturdy wall is also required.
In this guide, I will be going over the 7 best med ball exercises for pitchers, off-season vs. in-season, and more!
Med Ball Exercises For Pitchers
Around The World Med Ball Slam
The around-the-world med ball slam and other med ball slam variations do a great job training rapid force development utilizing the whole body. The reason I like this variation the most for pitchers is because of the movement at the shoulder.
This variation is great for pitchers looking to develop a powerful core while also working shoulder stability.
Standing tall, hold your med ball in front of you. Lift the medicine ball, rotate it around your head, and slam it to the ground as hard as you can. You will notice your opposite foot (opposite to the side you slam on) pivot similar to the way it would on the mound.
Catch the ball and repeat on the other side. Alternate sides until you are done with your set.
Split Stance Medicine Ball Side Slam
One of my favorite medicine ball drills is the Split Stance Side Slam because of how specific the position is to our positions on the mound. It also helps us generate power through cross-body tension.
Take a split stance and try to keep your feet pointed straight ahead. If your right foot is the lead leg, take the med ball overhead and slam it as hard as you can down and to the left. You can catch the ball and repeat.
If you have a wall or partner, this will be helpful to get multiple reps in a row without resetting your feet. Try to maintain balance and core stability as you slam the medicine ball.
Split Stance Overhead Stomp
One of my favorite overhead slamming variations, the single-leg overhead med ball stomp is sport-specific for pitchers.
Take a medicine ball and have a very similar approach that you would have in your delivery on the mound. The idea is to open the hips, rotate with the medicine ball overhead, brace hard on that front leg, and drive the med ball into the ground as hard as you can.
This is a great sport-specific movement for pitchers to train. I like doing these movements early in the lifting session when the body is fresh. The idea is to be explosive so take pride in breaking some med balls here!
Rotational Med Ball Side Toss (Into Wall)
Rotational Side Tosses are one of my favorite medicine ball drills for pitchers. This is as specific as you can get to the rotational power needed on the mound and therefore very important.
Take a side stance, facing perpendicular to the wall. Hold the medicine ball with open palms. Gain momentum with a counter movement and load the back hip. From here, rotate and toss the ball as hard as you can into the wall.
The emphasis here is on the core and hips delivering that med ball to the wall. Do not “push” the ball.
I would not focus on catching the ball off the wall. Each repetition should be fast and explosive. Take pride in breaking some med balls here!
Rotational Side Toss (With Countermovement Into Wall)
Adding an extra step to the rotational side toss, and adding a countermovement is a great way for pitchers to train their athleticism and stretch-shortening cycle while working on their explosive med ball work.
Set up the same way as the rotational side toss, laterally jump away from the wall. Now after stopping your momentum, transfer your weight, drive through the hips, and execute your side toss. This is a great way to use your momentum and stretch-shortening to increase force development and rotational power.
Rotational Side Toss (Into Wall with Approach)
Lastly, for the rotational side toss progression, is with the approach. Here stand about 10-15 feet away, approach the wall with a few steps/skips, plant, rotate, and execute the side toss. In this variation, you are going to utilize your momentum to toss the ball as hard as you can.
Rotational Side Toss (For Distance)
Another very specific rotational power movement, the medicine ball rotational toss for distance is very important in training the core to be explosive.
Once again, use open palms, focus on that counter movement, and launch the ball as far as you can.
Each repetition should be fast and explosive. Focus on being aggressive, launch angle, and distance. Take pride in setting a distance record. Keep track of each attempt!
Off-Season Vs. In-Season
I am a firm believer in developing rotary power in the off-season. Working on rotary power 3 days a week is ideal.
- Dynamic warm-up
- Throwing warm-up
- Throwing program
- Med ball exercises
- Plyos and sprints
- Weight training
I think this is the ideal setup for a day of training a baseball pitcher.
Conversely, I do not think it is necessary to train rotary power in-season more than 1 (maybe 2) day per week. Especially for starting pitchers who might throw 80-100 pitches in an appearance. Pitching in and of itself is a rotary power sport.
In my opinion, the weight room emphasis should shift more to anti-rotational work to avoid overuse injuries.
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More Links and Info
Looking for more info on how to take your game to the next level?
Check out my articles for the best upper body exercises and lower body exercises for baseball players!