How To Coach And Progress Wall Balls With James Fitzgerald


For X Select today, we’re going to discuss
the wall ball. We’ll talk mainly about the execution of it in program design and strategy, but we’ll a touch a little bit on technique, too. I’m going to make the assumption that you have already properly assessed somebody to be able to do a wall ball. I want to think of a couple different things. Think about dose response of the
wall ball; I’ll do a couple reps just in case you’ve not seen a wall ball before. (laughing) This is actually a fifty pound ball right here… (really, it’s 20 pounds) (still laughing) Just watch how easily I do this thing. One day you might be as fit as me. My points I wanted to make on the wall ball was more around understanding the kinds of contractions we’re doing with the reps. The wall ball has been placed into a category of a squatting movement, but it’s really is a very dynamic contraction That should make you think about well what are the precautions and things I want to think about before I want to program it in a fitness design . I’ll be pretty quick on the progressions. First and foremost, before we get into a double leg movement (squatting esque), there’s a couple of things that I want you to think about think about – you can see it as a
coach if you do an assessment – Watch the person from behind looking for right to left shifts. Watch their feet as they go through a bunch of repetitions. That into itself can be an indirect assessment to look at bilateral issues, hip shifts, or maybe even some core stuff you can suss out prior to giving them wall balls. Also, look from behind in terms of how their scap (scapula) rotates and moves with their arms equally from right to left. That’s an indirect assessment to look at things we may also see with a scratch test, a core test, a single leg test, a split stance test, etc… Those three things we want them to have in place. To put it in simple terms, I’d really like them to have great core endurance and excellent right to left balance before doing wall balls. Let’s say we’re moving ahead and we want to implement that… you want to progress the wall ball in an element all by itself. You’ve presumed that they have right to left balance; you want to place them into a speed strength activity. Not a strength speed activity such as clean and jerk, snatch at high load (weight), and not an absolute strength activity like squatting at high load (weight), it’s a speed strength activity. So, if you feel that they don’t have adequate motor control, adequate absolute strength, and they can’t express force, then I want you to really rethink around why you’re doing wall balls. Just because wall balls exist doesn’t mean people need to do it because it is a dynamic contraction. If you plan on practicing it, though, we have the pre-emptive right to left stuff, the shoulders, the core, etc… taken care of they can express absolute strength, strength speed, and we’re doing wall balls, do them by themselves. Put it in the fitness program design on the back end of a squatting day and put it all by itself. Meaning that people can do this as a skill, take a break, and then do it all over again. In order to progress from that you just want to do it in volume. Now the volume and repetitions of the wall ball is largely based upon the functional capacity of the person, so, if “Lisa” is doing wall balls because she likes fitness then there’s obviously a functional requirement for her to be able to do a wall ball for the rest of her life. Somebody participating CrossFit probably needs to do 100 to 150 or 200 in 1 training session and do them under fatigue while maintaining quality form. Back to Lisa, if she’s just trying to be healthy for the rest of her life, I’d argue the reps would be in the 30 to 50 range to get a quality double leg squatting speed strength dose response. Okay, you’ve done wall balls by themselves. Let’s add some breathing to it. Maybe Lisa a little air bike and then does wall ball reps. She’d want to build volume (total reps) up on that. The progression from that is that she’s going to do a movement that complements it. That could be a upper body pulling exercise such as ring rows or pull-ups or some sort of rowing activity and then does wall balls right after. After that progression, she’ll move to one that makes it more challenging, something that doesn’t complement it. Maybe she does double unders or box jumps step down and then wall balls. You can see what I’m doing there is I’m just creating a progressing of where the wall balls fit in. I’ll stop when Lisa has gotten some different kids of contractions (remember, she’s only doing it for fitness, not sport) Okay that was an indirect assessment for… tracking people from behind or watching their feet or watching their arms as they extend overhead changes in position are should
be obvious, we do want knee tracking that’s equal on both sides. I’m not too concerned about changes in pelvic position based on loading (weight). Remember if people are doing wall balls and there is a specific kind of form or technique that’s required for it, I would assume they have motor control, great squat mechanics and can express force before they get to this point. So, I’m going to presume that they’re they’re capable of getting there. What may hold up a lot of coaches at this
point is that you’re probably realizing that most clients are NOT getting wall balls in the context they currently are. And, I would say if those people are there, they don’t have adequate strength, great expression of force, and they’re doing up a pelvic tilt, lumbar flexed spine, 100 wall balls in a workout, that’s a problem because they don’t have the base support
required in order to get outside of that buffer zone. Someone has the strength + flexibility, and they’re in a slightly “off” position for a bunch of reps may not overly stress the system. I hope that made sense. Put the wall ball in place based on those considerations + the indirect assessment + the progressions and you should be good to go. That was the wall ball in a different form. Hopefully you can practice some
more implementation of the wall ball. Give us some feedback as to how you can implement it, or ask some questions below and I’ll get
back to you on how you can upgrade your wall ball prescriptions!

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