Wall balls: you either love them or you hate them. Ask most CrossFitters and they will probably tell you that they hate them. However, the wall ball is an excellent exercise that tests your upper and lower body capacity, making your muscles scream and lungs burn. Whether you are in the ‘love ‘em’ or ‘hate ‘em’ category, here are 4 tips to help you get better at wall balls.
Master the Catch Position
How you catch and throw the wall ball can make or break your workout. As with any CrossFit movement involving a weighted object, the closer the object stays to your body the lighter it will feel. The same goes for the wall ball. When catching the ball, position your hands to the sides and slightly towards the bottom of the ball. You want to tuck the ball right under your chin and keep your elbows high as you squat. Dropping your elbows or moving them back behind you will cause your torso to dip forward and you will lose all driving power from the bottom of your squat into the next rep.
Watch the Depth of Your Squat
When performing a wall ball, your hip crease must break parallel. However, oftentimes this standard can be exaggerated and you often end up in the notorious “ass to grass” position where your butt touches your heels. This ensures that you meet the standard, but it can also lead to greater fatigue in the legs and loss of control at the bottom of the squat which results in a reduction of power into the next rep. In order to train your body for how deep it should go, practice squatting to a wall ball. This ensures that you break parallel but also that you don’t squat deeper than you have to.
When to Catch the Ball
When performing a wall ball you want the movement to look like one fluid motion. Oftentimes athletes struggle with the catching portion of the movement because they segment the catch and squat into two separate movements. Instead, keep your arms outstretched to receive the ball overhead and then absorb the weight of the ball as you begin to squat (essentially riding the momentum of the wall ball down into the squat). These movements should be connected together and will allow for greater control of the wall ball in the catch position and as you come out of the squat to throw it for the next rep.
Stand the Correct Distance from the Wall
Finally, knowing where to position your body in relation to the wall is an important part of mastering the wall ball. Standing too far away from the wall results in wasted energy because you will lose upward momentum as your body begins to tilt forward to correct poor positioning. In order to measure the correct distance from the wall, hold the ball in both hands with arms outstretched until the ball touches the wall; this is then where you should stand. Keep in mind that this is a general method for measuring distance and may need to be adjusted based on each individual’s body mechanics. It is important to remember that you don’t want to be so far from the wall that you’re falling forward to compensate for distance and you don’t want to be so close that your ball bounces violently off the wall and you have to move around to catch it.