Two things I am a huge fan of in any type of movement practice are creativity and play. In fact, it could be argued that getting better at those two things might be the darn point of this whole training thing anyways.
The following are some really fun ways to introduce this sense of exploration and play into your own training.
I like using a tennis ball as there are very few places in this world where dropping one is going to lead to a catastrophic outcome. With some of more traditional tools used for these exercises the effects of a missed lift can be more hazardous to the health of both the individual and the immediate environment.
Some quick rules of the road before we go into the drills themselves
Use a Tennis Ball, not a lacrosse ball, a golf ball or a baseball or any other type of ball you wouldn’t wanna have bouncing off your noggin from arms length overhead.
The sense of play should trump the need for perfection so, although the ball is there to keep you somewhat honest, a little cheat here and there isn’t a deal breaker.
And of course remember, safety first. These drills can take your body into some fairly challenging positions so make sure to start slowly and increase the range of motion over time.
There is no right or wrong way to do these movements. I’m being deliberately vague in my descriptions of these drills and the examples I’m showing merely illustrate my way of doing it on that particular day. I certainly don’t expect you to mirror what I am doing as I try and do it a slightly different way every single time anyways.
I invite you be creative and, should you come up with something cool and fun, please share it with me so I can steal it and tell everybody I made it up.
Just kidding, I’d love to see it and get a chance to try it myself..
In all the below drills the ball should be held balanced in a cupped hand with the fingers together and as out of the mix as possible.
The first is a fairly challenging mobility drill that although simple enough in concept, can be devilishly tricky in execution.
Start Position: Holding a tennis ball in an arm stretched over head in full lock out
Drill: Touch your other hand to the floor without dropping the ball.
The next game is based on the Qigong Tea Cup drill and I came upon this whilst scouring Instagram. I came across movement coach Venus Lau teaching this movement and I’m pretty sure I recall her using a tea cup, but for the reason given above, plus a deep loathing of wasting good tea, I use a tennis ball.
Start Position: Start holding the tennis ball in the palm of your hand out in front of your body. Feet planted about hip distance apart.
Drill: Trace the largest circle around your body as possible keeping your eyes on the ball the whole time.
I particularly like this one as it takes you into a lot of positions that are the polar opposite of the ones your body assumes when sitting/texting/writing blog posts in coffee shops.
Its no secret that most of us spend way too much time in these type of postures and this is a great way to put in some work to help counter that.
The next drill is based on what my Kettlebell comrades call the Turkish Get Up.
Seeing as we’re using a tennis ball we can take a less formalized approach to the way we do things.
Start Position: On your back, arm extended vertically.
Drill: Get all the way to your feet and then back down again.
I honestly think that just playing with these drills can provide a pretty good base routine for most folks looking to stay reasonably mobile.
As a coach, I often put these and other similar type movements in as active rest between more strenuous exercise.
Personally though, I like to keep a tennis ball in my office and just do these at random times throughout the day as part of my own personal mobility practice. I don’t concern myself with things like sets and reps, simply with having fun and trying (and often failing) new things whilst knowing that these games will help keep me youthful, spry and supple.
Anyhoo, give ’em and shot and let me know how it goes in the comments.
PS: Currently playing with:
PPS: Venus Lau = @venus2fab on the ‘gram.