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The Correlation Between Medicine Ball and Positional Velocity

The Correlation Between Positional Medicine Ball to Positional Throwing Velocity

By Greg Vogt

Overview

Medicine Ball training has been used for decades when training athletes of all sports.  Tracking the use and putting athletes through a variety of drills is key to developing power through different planes of motion.  This study was done to see if the medicine ball assessments and throwing assessments showed any correlation in our high school athletes.  

This program has used medicine ball training with variations in weight and movement patterns for multiple years with assessing velocities.  There was a focus this off-season on seeing which athletes excelled in rotational power and how they moved compared to a medicine ball and a baseball.  Based on video analysis and velocity, individuals received specific drills to improve rotational power, core stability, and movement patterns.  Testing data was collected for pre-testing and post-testing with a 6LB Medicine Ball in the positional movement.

What We Already Know

Overloading a sport-specific movement requires the body to organize itself in a manner that produces more force.  Rotational power is a key aspect to both throwing velocity and bat speed.  The volume of repetitions, types of movement, and intent of the athlete are all important factors to consider when prescribing medicine ball training for baseball players.  You also must take throwing and weight training workload when prescribing volume of medicine ball training.

Data Collection

With 68 athletes training for 10 weeks, medicine ball drills were one aspect of the development of velocity.  Velocity assessment occurred in week 1 and week 8 of the training. Throughout the program, different drills and weights of medicine balls were used to develop movement patterns along with rotational power.

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The average medicine ball velocity was 29mph while the highest was 33.8mph in the post-assessment.    Our assessments included a positional throw and a run n gun with a 6 pound medicine ball. Overall, medicine ball positional velocity went up by an average of over 1.4mph while positional velocity increased by 3.4mph in the program containing 72 athletes.  Some did not test Medicine Ball for different reasons. Testing shown above is for the positional throw. 15 of the top 18 throwers were over 30mph with a 6LB Medicine Ball Throw.

Data was tracked in weeks 1 and 8 for peak velocity in a positional medicine ball throw weighing 6 pounds.  A Stalker Pro II was used for tracking. Athletes received up to eight 8 throws to find their peak velocity in the medicine ball throw.  Throwing velocity was also assessed with a Stalker Pro II in their positional movement with up to 8 throws. Data was measured in weeks 2, 6, and 9.  The peak velocity was used for final assessments and comparison.

Results

The trendline shows a steady increase correlating medicine ball and baseball velocity.  The R Value was 0.81. There are also several outliers. These outliers tell us a few key things to learn from and how to program their training.  A common theme in the outlier was physical strength. Those who struggled in positional velocity but tested well in a medicine ball showcased a deficiency in the trap bar deadlift compared to others with similar body weight.  Measuring an athlete’s deadlift and ability to use the ground to produce force translates to how much force they can put into a medicine ball. Another common theme for outliers were body weight. Some of the lighter, more explosive athletes move well a medicine ball but fall under the trend line when it comes to mechanics and sequencing as well.  

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Rotational power is one the biggest pieces to throwing velocity.  

A medicine ball throw is a respectable assessment to add into conditioning programs.  

Outliers will provide information to help make adjustments from standard programming and help communicate that to athletes.

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Free Drills:

Here are some free drills that we use and the reasoning for doing so in our training. Contact prpbaseball101@gmail.com with any questions about these drills!

PRP Medicine Ball Drills

PRP Medicine Ball Drills

Summary

Medicine balls have been used years for training of athletes of all sorts.  Adding practical medicine ball training can enhance the movements required to throw a baseball.  These movements challenge normal throwing patterns by improving lower half usage, sequencing, rotational power, and intent.  In summary, we know that medicine ball training for baseball and softball players can build stronger and more powerful athletes.  Assessing and developing rotational power through plane specific training can improve your plan to develop throwing velocity. It is one piece of the puzzle that should be implemented in an individualized manner after assessment and with proper dosage.

For more information, e-mail PRPBaseball101@gmail.com or click below for Programming information.

The Correlation between Trap Bar Deadlift and Mound Velocity

The Correlation between Trap Bar Deadlift (1 rep max) & Mound Velocity

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Overview

Developing strength in throwing athletes continues to be a key form of training programs across the nation.  The goal of tracking different tests and assessments is to find out what is the best strategy to building healthy, sustainable velocity in athletes of different levels and capabilities.  

One of the main assessment tools used in this off-season programming was the trap bar deadlift.  It began with an on-ramping phase and teaching the proper way to perform the lift.  After a 4 week on-ramping phase, we assessed trap bar technique and reviewed form.  We tested the 1 rep max the following week.  Several athletes were stopped based on technique in their testing.  In total, 47 athletes went through the consistent programming and assessment process with the trap bar deadlift.

Assessing a 1 rep max can be dangerous and difficult to ask for athletes of different age levels or abilities.  Several athletes made adjustments into a 3 rep max or did not participate in the lift at all due to previous injuries or mobility issues.

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Programming

The next 7 weeks focused on developing strength and technique through variations of weight training and plyometrics.   Exercises included but were not limited to trap bar deadlift, Bulgarian squat, reverse lunges, box jumps, dumbbell bench, TRX exercises, Palloff press, sled push and pulls, lateral lunges, and several different core exercises.  

There were about 20 athletes that had specific deficiencies or previous injuries required altered training programs.  Theses athletes were not in the sample groups.

Several made quick improvements based on better technique and form.  The biggest improvers, some up to 70 pounds, were new to the lift itself and made bigger improvements after consistent training and and workload. 

Results

The post-assessment for Trap Bar Deadlift was in week 9 of the program.  Those testing numbers are shown in the graph above compared to their mound velocity (peak) assessed in week 10.  Overall, the average 1 rep max improved by 21 pounds for over 50 athletes (below).

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Why does the trap bar deadlift assessment show similarities to positional velocity?  Improving muscular strength in hopes of gaining velocity is nothing ground-breaking.  However, assessing athletes, being transparent with their results and deficiencies, and training them accordingly to maximize their ability to throw hard separates this program from others.

The trap bar deadlift provides a movement that develops key muscle groups and while training ground force that provides a stable foundation for throwing.  As seen in the data, our stronger athletes often throw harder on the mound. Those that made big improvements in their trap bar deadlift max also improved more than average in their positional velocity.  There were outliers, but this testing provides an educational piece for both the athlete and the trainer.

Summary

In general, the trap bar deadlift is a very important piece to strength training that provides important feedback on power and force production.  It is a common lift variation for athletes but has not been tracked in a large group of athletes that are all attempting to improve throwing velocity.

These athletes often participate in lifting classes that focus on the “power 3” being squat, bench press, and power clean.  All three are good movements, but the baseball player needs more plane-specific movements that challenge them in similar positions used in baseball.  

When combining the rotational power development of medicine ball training, lower half power output assessment in the broad jump, and physical strength in the trap bar deadlift, you are building the foundation that leads to increased throwing velocity.  

Not one of these tools can answer all of the problems, but combining different assessments and training prescriptions can lead to better results.

For more information on data or training, contact PRPBaseball101@gmail.com

Contact - PRPBaseball101@gmail.com

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