How to Improve Your Wall Ball Technique for Crossfit Workouts

Wall Balls hurt. They are one of those exercises that really test you deep down, making your legs and arms scream out for you to stop. Here are 5 tips to help you get much, much better at them.

1. Catching and Positioning the Ball

You want to keep the ball as close to your body as possible during the entire movement. As with any weight, the further away from your body it is, the heavier it will seem. This is because the resistance arm becomes longer.

The tricky part about keeping the ball close to your face and body is that we have all, whether we like to admit it or not, probably had a Wall Ball smash into our faces at some point during a WOD because of tired arms and fatigue. This isn’t pleasant, and conditions you to want to keep the ball as far away as possible in order to avoid this embarrassment happening again.

Resist the temptation and position your hands to the sides and slightly towards the bottom of Ball during the catch. Concentrating on hand positioning will help to focus your attention, and avoid any further unwanted kisses from your Ball.

2. How Deep should you Squat?

During Wall Balls, your hip crease must break the plane of the knee joint in the squat. There is nothing more frustrating than watching another member of your Box cheat their way through a grueling series of Wall Balls and round it off with a further set of unearned gloating and celebration. As with all Crossfit exercises, if you are going to do something, do it properly.

In order to train your body to find the exact position, try practicing with another ball placed on the floor behind you that you ‘sit’ on during each rep. Don’t let the ball take any of your weight, simply use it as a physical trigger to teach your body the depth of the position that it needs to achieve. As soon as you touch the ball, propel yourself straight back upwards.

Training with a Wall Ball on the floor can improve your movement
Training with a Wall Ball on the floor can improve your movement

With Wall Balls, it is vital that you generate enough energy to propel the ball upwards with force and accuracy. Performing the squat properly is essential to making this happen. You don’t need to super deep, ass to grass, in order to create this power. If you are struggling with this, try moving your feet into a wider stance. This will force your hamstrings into the movement at an earlier point, and help generate upward force that you can then translate into the throw.

3. Give Your Arms a Rest

Reducing fatigue in the muscles surrounding the shoulder join is only a good thing during Wall Balls, and any way you can do this should be maximised!

After propelling the ball upwards, allow your arms to drop back down, that slight moment of rest will make a difference over time and help to reduce the fatigue of your deltoids. Although this seems like a miniscule and possibly pointless action, it works. When you are dealing with endurance and volume in exercise, small improvements to the efficiency of your movements make all the difference.

4. Take the Weight of the Ball

The mechanics and movement of wall balls should flow in a good rhythm. This means that although your legs are on fire and you feel like you might die, you must try and maintain a graceful movement throughout. When you catch the ball on its descent, absorb it’s weight into your squat.

Keep your hands high when you catch the ball. Its momentum will drive you downwards and your job is to turn this ballistic movement into a strong bounce at the bottom that will power the Ball upwards again.

5. Stand the Right Distance from the Wall

No matter how effectively you manage to rest your arms during each movement, or perfect your squat depth to maximize power, if you stand too far away then you will give yourself a huge amount of extra work.

If you have to throw the ball too far forward (because you are further away than you need to be), then you will lose the upward momentum as your body tilts forward to correct the movement. This wastes unnecessary energy, and will tire you out much quicker.

Good positioning on the left, compared with a poor, forward tilted posture on the right.
Good positioning on the left, compared with a poor, forward tilted posture on the right.

To measure the correct distance, place the ball in two hands (in goblet position) with your arms fully outstretched. When the ball touches the wall then you have your position. There are a couple of additional factors to think about as well here:

  • Personal biometrics: Practice from this position and adjust slightly to find the perfect position for you.
  • Bounciness of the Ball: A much more bouncy ball will obviously fly further away from the wall, and a heavier, more solid ball will fall closer to the wall. Use your good judgment to adapt to these conditions.

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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