The Ball Slam is a fantastic exercise and shows up in a plethora of workouts. Like most of the exercises we employ, it’s a “core to extremity” one.
- Hold a bounce resistant D-Ball with both hands overhead. Keep your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and toes facing forwards. Try doing a slow, simulated version of the movement during which you keep your back straight and end up with your hand by your thighs.
- Slam! In one explosive movement, drop from your hips and slight incline your trunk forward. Keep your back solid and your hands outstretched, and slam the ball against the ground. The inner edge of the ball should contact the ground right in line with your toes. Keeping your back solid with square shoulders, catch the ball as quickly as possible and stand up into the beginning position.
- Add intensity once you’ve mastered the movement. Start by increasing the weight of the ball you’re using.
Here’s a quick comparison between two ball slams. The first is one of our great high school kids, Steph, going through the slams in “21 the Hard Way”. The second is a “this is the way to do it” ball slam sequence example from CrossFit.com. Lets take a look:
Obviously there are a few differences here.
- Overhead position: For the most part, new athletes tend to be a bit shallow with their extension overhead. More experienced folks get the ball overhead with full extension akin to a decent press. Very experienced CrossFitters will get to the “reverse C” extension shown in the bottom photo sequence above.
Basic Goal: Strive for active shoulders at the top to start off the proper full range of motion execution of the exercise.
- Stance / Posture: The proper stance is your air squat stance. The recommended stance is heels at about shoulder width apart, toes pointed out at about 30 degrees. Stance is a very individual thing, and will vary with hip width, hip ligament tightness, femur and tibia length and proportion, adductor and hamstring flexibility, knee joint alignment and ankle flexibility.
Whew! A LOT comes into play! Who knew?
In Steph’s sequence, she’s got a bit of a wider stance than the CrossFit.com model, and her toes are pointed out more. Tight hips are the issue here. However – the wider stance allows her to get to a wickedly deep squat. Nice!! This in itself will cause the problem to correct itself and allow her to, in short time, assume a more useful narrower stance like the model has. One minor cue would be for her to shove her knees out a little when she hits the bottom.
- Bottom: The bottom position is a proper squat position with a straight back and squared shoulders.
Steph has slammed her med-ball ball a bit in front of her. So she’s reaching for it. And since it’s a mushy med-ball with absolutely no bounce, she has to drop to a deeper squat to get it. It’s Oly Squat clean depth for sure! Huzzah!
It’s also important to note that she decided to use a 30 lb medicine ball. That’s a lot of weight! Way to challenge yourself, Steph!
- Final Thought: Naturally, with a larger load in an exercise smack in the middle of a long WOD, one can expect form to falter. In fact, we want it to. Accuracy goes to heck (ball winds up in front a little) and the upper body fatigues (extension at the top gets shallower.
Steph’s form was solid and admirable throughout the WOD and she attacked it with good intensity. The camera happened to catch a few reps that weren’t 100% perfect, but provided a good “teaching moment”
Good effort Steph! CrossFit Sacramento says “Keep It Up!”