Why Is James Harrison Playing Volleyball With a Medicine Ball?

So you’re star NFL player James Harrison, you’ve got a little downtime, and you spy a volleyball net that’s just begging for a few hyper-fit athletes to frolick around it. You consider it; finding ways to fit in physical activity is a must when you’re a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But when you’re a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you don’t just play any old volleyball. You play it with a medicine ball.

We’re not totally sure of the weight of the ball, but we think it’s a Dynamax med ball so it’s probably at least twenty pounds. That means that this isn’t just a workout that looks cool — it’s one that requires an unbelievable amount of explosive strength and, if you pay attention to the way Harrison catches a lot of those throws, rotational strength and lateral stability, too. In short, this is a workout that needs and uses a ton of functional movements for NFL players.

He’s playing with teammate Vince Williams against another teammate Robert Golden and the former Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, and if this looks a little familiar, it’s because he played the same medicine-ball-volleyball hybrid with the same teammates in 2012.

This game was actually a favorite of President Herbert Hoover (it’s often called Hoover Ball) and after a CrossFit Journal article on the sport was circulated about ten years ago, it’s sometimes seen being performed by functional fitness athletes.

These clips were enough for some blogs to name Harrison “King of the Weird Workout,” as he’s posted plenty of clips of unorthodox exercises. Anyone who has performed a few sets of hip thrusts in a commercial gym knows the kind of looks they attract from the average gymgoer, and Harrison can do them at 675 pounds for reps. He’s removed the video form Instagram but you can see him cranking them out in a fan’s YouTube video below.

Harrison has posted a ton of other insane feats of strength, including a one-armed 135-pound barbell shoulder press, but he seems to have purged nearly all of his old Instagram posts. But we do have this beautiful set of incline bench presses at 405 pounds to keep us happy.

At 39 years old and still the most reliable pass rusher on the Steelers, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that Harrison’s weird workouts are working out just fine. Now, where can I order me one of those volleyballs…

Featured image via @jhharrison92 on Instagram.