The medicine ball is one of the most used materials in CrossFit. The Wall Ball and Slam Ball can be found in most commercial gyms, but they are not designed to be used for the same types of exercises.
So which ones are better? In terms of training material, Wall Balls are better because they are more versatile and can be used for more exercises. Slam Balls, on the other hand, cannot be used for drills that require the ball to bounce. But since we don’t normally throw balls in the air, they are ideal for people with gyms with low ceilings.
- Materials . Wall Balls have a synthetic leather, vinyl, or Kevlar (a durable synthetic fiber) exterior. They are filled with two types of fillers: a weightless filler, such as polypropylene cotton, and a heavy filler, such as iron sand or rubber particles. Then the seams are joined. These types of high-quality medicine balls are often double-stitched for added durability. They also have an air valve that releases pressure so they don’t burst.
- Size and weight . The Wall Ball that we would normally find in a gym only weigh up to 15 kilos, although some brands manufacture them with a weight of up to 25 kilos. Slam Balls normally weigh up to 35 kilos. Wall Balls also have a larger diameter than other medicine balls.
- Bounce . Neither wall balls nor slam balls bounce as much as a basketball or tennis ball. But the Wall Balls have more performance and bounce a bit when dropped. On the other hand, the Slam have very little bounce to avoid being hit in the face after being thrown to the ground.
- Malleability . Slam Balls are not soft per se, but the rubber they are made of is flexible. The bottom of a hit ball will flatten out a bit when it’s on the ground. Wall Balls are designed to hold their shape, making it easy to catch a Wall Ball when it comes back down after throwing it into the air.
- Intended Use . As their names suggest, Wall Balls are best for throwing against a wall, while Slam Balls are best for hitting the ground. The former are designed to bounce when thrown against a hard surface, while the Slam will absorb the impact of a fall.
- Price . The price of this type of medicine ball varies by manufacturer. However, most range between €4 and €10 per kilo. The price difference is due to all the extra material needed to fill the balls.
Wall Ball: wall medicine ball
Wall balls are large, dense medicine balls made from synthetic leather, vinyl, or Kevlar and filled with a combination of weightless and heavy materials. They are specifically designed to throw against the wall. Instead of absorbing the impact, they will bounce off the wall so we can repeatedly catch it and throw it again.
The most popular exercise used with a wall ball is throwing it at a wall. It’s a full-body dynamic move that targets the quads, hamstrings, shoulders, glutes, triceps, core, and pecs. It’s also an excellent exercise to improve hand-eye coordination and get your heart rate up.
- We will stand at a suitable distance from the wall. We will choose a weight for the medicine ball. We will stretch our arms in front of us until we can touch the wall with the ball. This is an ideal distance to start from the wall.
- We will put ourselves in a starting position. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the wall ball at your chest.
- We’ll do a deep squat. Bending at the hips and knees at the same time, squat down until the hip crease is below the knees. We will avoid letting the weight of the ball push us forward and we will not stand on our toes.
- We will ascend from the squat position and launch the medicine ball against the wall. As we get up from the position, we will throw the ball against the wall.
- We’ll catch the ball as we drop into another squat to start another rep.
Tips for performing Wall Balls
- Control your breath . A common breathing technique when doing the Wall Ball is to exhale as we throw the ball and inhale as we catch it and squat down. Alternatively, we can exhale as we throw the ball, inhale while airborne, exhale as the ball comes back down, and inhale as we crouch down.
- Hold the ball from below instead of from the sides . If we hold the ball lower, similar to how we would hold a kettlebell upside down when goblet squatting, we can generate more force for it to hit the target.
The truth is that they are more versatile than the Slam Ball. Wall balls can be used for some exercises intended for hitting balls, but we must be careful with them so that the ball does not bounce and nod hit.
On the other hand, the wall ball exercise is a full-body movement. They work almost every major muscle group in the lower body, as well as the shoulders, pecs, and triceps. They also work the cardiovascular system. When we wall ball, we get a bit of strength and conditioning in one movement.
Wall balls require more space because they are bulkier . This can be a problem if you have a small home gym and don’t have a lot of storage space. We also need access to a room with high ceilings if we want to be able to wallball higher targets.
Wallballs are expensive . Wall balls can be a great addition to any gym, but they are expensive. These medicine balls are not really a product that we want to skimp on cost. The seams on cheaper wallballs can come undone after a few months, and the padding can also shift and make the wallball more difficult to handle.
Slam Ball: medicine ball to launch
These types of medicine balls are made of rubber and are designed to be durable and shock absorbent so they don’t bounce after hitting the ground. They’re also softer than wall balls and have an air valve that helps release pressure so they don’t pop open.
The most used exercise with slam balls is to hit it on the ground. Ball hits can help improve explosive power, core strength, and conditioning. They’re also a great way to release some stress or frustration if you’ve had a bad day at work.
Although this exercise does require some lower body work, it primarily targets the upper back, shoulders, core, biceps, and triceps.
- We will stand with our feet hip-width apart and hold the medicine ball in front of us.
- We will carry the ball above the head and stand on tiptoe. As we lift the Slam Ball overhead, we’ll stand on our toes. This will allow us to use more lower body strength to push the ball into the ground.
- We will throw the ball to the ground. We will start to lower the ball at once. Once we’ve cleared ourselves, we’ll drop the ball and throw it to the ground as hard as we can.
- We’ll pick the ball up and move on to the next rep. We’ll squat down to pick up the ball. We will immediately lift it over our head as we rise from the squat and hit the ball to the ground again.
Tips for Performing Slam Ball
To progress on the slam balls, we will not only add weight, but also modify the range of motion . One way to make medicine ball shots more challenging is to do rainbow shots. They’re done in much the same way as regular ball strikes, but instead of bringing your arms down, swing your arms in a rainbow shape and drop the ball next to your foot. This challenges your core in a different way because of the extra rotation involved.
We also have to keep the medicine ball close to us. As we lift the ball, we will tuck it into the chest and keep it close to the body as we lift it over the head. This will help us maintain our balance and prevent additional fatigue from building up in our shoulders. Similarly, we will not extend our arms in front of us while hitting the ball. This will limit the amount of force we can apply to the ball.
Slam Balls are not that expensive . Compared to the Wall Ball, the Slam cost less euros per kilo. This can be a relief for gym owners who are looking to add new equipment to their gym but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
Slam balls are available in heavier weights . Since slam balls don’t launch as high as a wall ball, they are available in heavier weights. Most people will be able to use more weight for ball hits than wall balls.
Slam Balls are not meant to be thrown against a wall. This type of medicine ball cannot be used for wall balls because they don’t bounce for us to catch. They will just slide down the wall when they come back down.
Some slam balls can only be used on the gym floor. Some brands of hitting balls are not tough enough to withstand being thrown over dirt, gravel, or other types of rough surfaces. This is a drawback if we like to exercise on the porch of the house or in the park.