Linked to the drill I posted a few days ago, I wanted to keep the ball rolling because people really seemed to like the short video type of post. I wanted to share another one of my go to drills for both the gymnasts on our team but also my gymnastics patients during the end stages of back pain rehab. It’s called a Tall Kneeling Overhead Medball Throw. I’ve talked about why I really like the tall kneeling position before, as it has great carry over to hip, core, and overhead skill work. Here is the video, and then I’ll expand a bit more below.

The reasons I like this drill are,

  1. It forces the gymnast into a tight open hip extended position, and with the arms up it mimics 3/4 the body shape needed in many overhead skills.
  2. It teaches the gymnast reactive and eccentric control against and overhead force. This type of motion is key for control during the swinging phase of backhandsprings/yurchenko’s, the catch phase of a release. This same concept is very important core control work for a gymnast to not hinge in their lower back creating spine overload during skills
  3. It teaches the gymnast to receive, transfer, and release force across the entire body to prevent overload at any one spot. You can see in a few reps of the drill she still needs to work on this.
  4. It teaches the crucial concept of rapid shape change form tight arch to hollow, which is seen in many gymnastics skills across all events
  5. It helps focus on not only core control but also power/rate of force development. This type of core work is different than typical core strength like would be seen in a plank, leg lift, etc. Both are important, but need to be worked in different fashions.

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Here are the steps to work through,

  • Have two gymnasts work together, one in tall kneeling and the other kneeling in front holding a light medball. The kneeling gymnast should have hips open tight, a tight braced core with proper breathing, and a strong overhead arm position.
  • The gymnast with the medball lightly tosses it into the kneeling gymnast’s hands overhead
  • While staying tight and maintaining good load spreading through the entire body, the receiving gymnast catches and decelerates the medball, then forcefully changes into a global hollow shape and releases the ball back at the thrower. Be sure to not allow lower back hinging, hip piking, or a drop in the arms.
  • Although things get a little trickier, if you don’t have a partner the gymnast can also do it by themselves at a wall. Just make sure they don’t get the medball coming back too fast at their face, get the ninja skills going to stay safe.

Tall Kneeling Medball Tosses

I use this a ton in rehab to build up eccentric strength and reactive control. You can also perform this drill by throwing the ball slightly off to the right and the left adding in a reactive, eccentric rotational demand on the core. It’s very important that gymnast understands the basics of core control, tight bracing, breathing, and progressions like cross crawl before this is added in. We don’t just want to let them go through the motions being sloppy or not understanding the point of the drill. Rather than always cue the athlete (“hips open”, “squeeze your glutes”), I think it’s really beneficial to construct the training environment in a way that automatically causes the athlete do what we are looking for (hips open and long tight arch body shape). Give it a try in the gym or with some patients who are in their return to sport/reconditioning phase of rehab! Take care,

Dr. Dave