Soft-Sided Exercise Ball

One of the most productive exercises in training has been rebounding. Throwing a ball against an angled trampoline. For years, we have been using a ten-pound exercise ball for the movement. From a distance of about five feet away, throwing over my head. Taking the ball in two hands and releasing it from over my head, moving forward. It is thrown against an angled trampoline. The ten-pound ball hits the trampoline. Then, is propelled back at approximately the same angle it was tossed. My job is to catch the soft-sided ball and throw it back against the surface. The motion is repeated again and again. The exercise ball is tossed against the trampoline, it rebounds back toward me, is caught with both hands, and is thrown back again. We place this exercise into the category of targeting. Working on my ability to throw a ball to or against an intended target. During the almost three years of training with Bernard, we have worked on targeting under varying circumstances. The type we are discussing here, has been a constant. The softness of the exercise ball making it the safest option. Taking away any kind of mishap if catching the rebound would be missed. 

There will always be the possibility of missing an object. Cerebral palsy impacting my ability to react to any flying object. While, making sure my hands are ready to catch is also challenging. Not only do my hands need to be in the correct position. They also need to be open with fingers extended. Two objectives challenged by my disability. So, we have been working on improving both of these skills. Because of the challenges controlling hands position. It has been important to use the soft-sided exercise ball in tossing. Providing the comfort to work on my hand positioning. Knowing that missing the catch would only bruise my ego. It could contact anywhere on my upper body without doing damage. The exercise ball is also fairly large in size. Making for an easier object to catch. Even with the slowed coordination with my hands. The speed has always been there to receive the ten-pound object. It has been a long time since missing the ball on its rebound. I haven’t dropped it since early in our work. Becoming so comfortable with rebounding the exercise ball.

The challenge of working on the exercise ball has always been fun. It strengthens my wrists and hands. Forcing them to remain solid as the ten-pound ball returns. The exercise helping me understand how to keep my fingers extended. As cerebral palsy wants to have my muscle fold inward. My wrists and fingers always want to bend inward. When the fingers curl inward, they close the hands. Making it almost impossible to make a catch. This rebounding exercise forces concentration on extending my fingers. With Bernard reminding me to focus on opening the hands. An interesting aspect of the ten-pound exercise ball in this rebounding is the soft-sides. They allow forgiveness when it comes to extended fingers. The softness leaves me able to squeeze the ball even if all fingers aren’t extended. Providing the opportunity to really practice another aspect of CP challenge. Taking away any harmful penalty if all fingers aren’t ready. There have been many aspects to this exercise making it safe. With the comfort, it has been easy to work on throwing and catching without hesitation. Through the years, I have noticed how this drill helps my coordination.

Being able to improve coordination is exciting. It has been more enjoyable to improve those skills with something fun. Playing catch has often seemed a cornerstone of sport. Most of which are played with a ball being moved between people. Having cerebral palsy has held me back from playing catch. Possessing limited reaction time has seemed to keep me out of playing catch at times. Causing some uncomfortable emotion and frustration with the disability. Engaging in this exercise has been fulfilling. Because of all the catch I felt was missed earlier in my life. I love the challenge these targeting movements provide. With the fulfillment of working on improving my disability. But, there was more in store with this activity. Like many things we do in the gym. The goal is to improve any exercise we take on the challenge with. I thought the next challenge would be a heavier exercise ball to rebound. There is a soft-sided ball that is 20-pounds in the gym. It would have seemed logical to toss that heavier ball against the trampoline. The trouble is the realism involved in catching something 20-pounds. It would have no real-world application to work on catching a ball that heavy. Bernard had a different ball in mind. The next step would be a ball that was not soft-sided. A smaller exercise ball would be more challenging. 

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