Young athletes need to build explosive power. It's what separates average players from great players in most sports.
However, for a developing athlete, some popular exercises for building explosive power are a bit complex—effective, no doubt, but requiring extensive practice and instruction to perform safely. Many athletes simply don't have the time or resources to make this happen.
We've had fantastic success with med ball exercises as a substitute for some of the more complex lifts. Without diving into a full debate over the efficacy of Olympic weightlifting movements, we prefer to use methods of putting force into the ground with various med ball training exercises that are simple and easy to teach, allow for expressions of power in athletes and eliminate the concerns associated with coaching the Olympic lifts.
Medicine ball exercises not only allow us to train at a more appropriate resistance level for our developing athletes, but they also present a much safer way to instruct the exercises. This creates a more efficient training day for our athletes. In the earlier stages of our training program, we can get more done with a fleet of medicine balls than we can with racks and barbells. In addition, as our kids' training age progresses, the med balls serve as a way to express power (triple extension) without the "catch" associated with Olympic lifts like Clean variations and Barbell or Dumbbell Snatches.
Med ball training is a great way to incorporate triple extension and allow for an expression of power to complement our traditional weight training movements; and we are able to spend more time on these exercises because we aren't spending an inordinate amount of time teaching Olympic lifts.
In short, with a wide variety of athletes' training ages, med ball training allows us to maximize our athletes' time and allow them to perform explosive movements that are not only safe but also appropriate for the demands of multiple-sport athletes.
For these reasons, med ball training has been a staple of our programming. Check out the video above to see some of our favorite exercises in action.
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