Monday, January 25, 2010

Find the time

There is always more you can do, or a better way to do what you are doing. The worse thing we hear from a player or a coach is that I don’t have time to condition, to strength train, to work on speed. Planning is the key and then understanding what are the very basic things we need to do to stay healthy and improve our performance. To gain strength, you don’t need 3 hours in the gym. To gain speed you don’t have to run 20 sprints. To gain conditioning you don’t have to run 20 miles. Strength is gained through continuing to challenge the body to adapt to the stimulus you provide. This can be through weight or a change in position or repetitions just to name a few. Find a few movements that are demanding to the body and you can get great strength gains in only a few minutes a day. Take the walking lunge with a knee drive and MB diagonal chop. Here is a simple exercise that requires dynamic balance/ strength of position/ core movement and stabilization; this is a total body super exercise. Do 20 of these and then let us know if this is not demanding. How can we work on speed, always remember it is the little things that matter with speed, especially in baseball. Work on arm swing, body position or even take off from first, that first step can make or break that steal. Remember intensity is the key to great conditioning in baseball. Do those sprints but make them fast and add a few things like bounding type movements, lateral shuffling movements. This way we can increase conditioning but also increase speed, power, coordination and decrease injury rates. So how does it all work together, let’s put together a sample plan:

Lets get a 8 minute workout:

1) 30 yard sprint there and back- 30 seconds
2) 20 Lunge chops- 2 minutes
3) 30 yard spring there and back- 30 seconds
4) 20 lunge chops- 2 minutes
5) 30 second break
6) 30 yard sprint there and back- 30 seconds
7) 30 yard marching arm swings- 30 seconds
8) 30 yard bounds- 30 seconds
9) 30 yard side shuffle- 30 seconds
10) 30 yard Sprint there and back- 30 seconds

Try it out, it’s fast but effective and many things can be substituted. The time is well worth the effort.

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS
Warrior Sports Training

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Warm-Up to Throw! (Don't Throw to Warm-Up)

It is not uncommon for a coach to call down to the bullpen for a relief pitcher to “get loose”. The pitcher immediately jumps up and begins throwing to the catcher. After a few “warm-up” throws, he tells the catcher to get down and proceeds to pump out a series of pitches at high effort and intensity. Without being aware the coach and the player are inhibiting the player’s performance and potentially increasing his risk for breakdown and injury. While it sometimes may be necessary to perform this routine due to the pace of the game or the slow situational reactions of the coach, the best approach is to perform a dynamic warm-up to prepare the body for the upcoming stresses of pitching.

Current research indicates that carrying out a sport-specific dynamic warm-up, will enhance overall strength and power while performing on the field. An active warm-up prepares the muscles and joints for performance by “turning-on” the neuromuscular (brain-to-muscle) connections that will be utilized during the sports skills.

Muscular stiffness and lack of joint mobility result in greater muscle damage after exercise. A dynamic warm-up increases the body’s global core temperature, as well as, the localized tissue temperature for the specific muscles that will be active during sports movements. When the muscle tissue is “warm”, it becomes more elastic, more flexible, and less stiff. This greater elasticity means less tissue damage and less potential for injury.

Rather than waiting for the coach to react, the pitcher should be paying attention to the game. As the game progresses to the middle innings, the bullpen pitchers should begin preparing for the time that they may be called upon. The following is a sample dynamic warm-up that can be performed in the bullpen during the game. The warm-up progresses from general to more sport-specific activities.

Relief Pitcher Dynamic Warm-Up

Jogging Down and Back in Foul Territory
High Knee Run x 10yd
Side Shuffle x 10yd
Carioca x 10yd
Walking Knee-To-Chest x 3 each
Walking Quad and Reach x 3 each
Walking Shin Grab-Hip Rotation x 3 each
Russian March x 3 each
Lunge and Twist x 3 each
Lunge and Instep Touch x 3 each
Medicine Circle Chops (6lbs) x 5 clockwise / x 5 counterclockwise
Medicine Ball Trunk Twist (6lbs) x 10
Medicine Ball Lunge and Throwers Chop (6lbs) x 5 each
Throwing Arm Tubing – Rows x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – External Rotation at the Side x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – External Rotation at 90deg Abduction x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – Diagonal x 10 (stride stance)

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Burn The Ships!

This week I wanted to give you guys a story I came across, one that I hope impacts you as much as it has impacted me.

There was a great warrior that had to make a decision to ensure his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said “You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice---we win or we perish!” They won. Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as "a burning desire to win", essential to success.

As a coach or a player, have you left yourself no way to retreat? Have you made the decision to make whatever your doing a success. Whatever you want, go get it. Cortez used this strategy when he came to the new world.

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS
Owner, Warrior Sports Training

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movement Training vs. Muscle Training

Sports performance skills such as running, throwing, striking, catching, jumping, landing, and stop and turn activities require coordinated muscle recruitments of multiple joints and planes of movement. During the developmental period of infancy, we learn how to recruit various muscle groups in order to stabilize and balance our bodies (raise the head > rollover > sit up > stand). As we continue to grow and mature, we learn basic loco motor skills such as scooting, crawling, and walking. Still later in our development, we progress to more fundamental movements such as traveling skills (climbing, galloping, jumping, running), object controls skills (kicking, throwing, striking), and balance movements (dodging, rolling). All the while, the brain is programming and saving these movement patterns for future use. With practice the patterns are fine-tuned and enhanced.

The body is a sophisticated and marvelous machine. The joints of the body are connected to each other much like the links of a chain or an engineering system. Action at one joint in the chain (i.e. movements, forces, dysfunction, etc.) directly affects the next joint above and below in the sequence and indirectly influences the rest of the body. Activities can be divided into two types:

Open Chain Activities – one end of the chain is fixed to a point while the other is
free to move in space.

Example: hamstring curl, tricep extension, bench press etc.

Closed Chain Activities – both ends of the chain are fixed to a point.

Example: squat, lunge, push-up, etc.

In reality, there is no such thing as a pure open and closed chain. Sports movements involve a constant cycle of opening and closing of the chain (i.e. running, jumping, throwing, kicking, etc.). The Central Nervous System (CNS) is not programmed for isolated muscle function. When a motor task is necessary, the CNS recalls the pre-programmed patterns of movement that were learned during our developmental years. During sports activities, the body has to compensate for the pre-programmed movement patterns and react to gravity, momentum, and ground reaction forces.

Force Production >> Stabilization >>Force Reduction >> Stabilization >> Force Production

Despite the body’s natural tendency to movement pattern activities, many athletes, coaches, and trainers continue to perform sport-specific strength training activities by isolating and developing specific muscle groups. This will succeed in developing muscle size and strength, but will limit the crossover for sports performance and daily life. During athletic and daily life activities, the body must function as an integrated unit rather than isolated segments. Performing exercises which stress multi-joint and sport-specific movement patterns which the athletes encounter while playing strengthens the muscles in the manner in which they are used. This helps to limit abnormal muscle recruitment patterns and stresses on the body by integrating and enhancing the function of the kinetic chain.

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pre-Season Preparation

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to Baseball Strength’s blog. We hope the New Year will bring new opportunities and new success to everyone. As the New Year starts it is very important that you as a player or a coach puts down what you want to accomplish for the year. A little goal setting never hurt anyone. It allows you to refocus and make sure you start the year out right. What’s nice about Baseball is that the season is about ready to begin so many of the goals will be seen fairly early, and so is very rewarding. I don’t want to get too caught up in the goals and vision of the year; I just want to make a quick reminder to do it.

What I want to get into is getting the body prepared for the up coming season. Every coach and player starts to think about conditioning before the season, and many times they try to get prepared to late in our minds. During tryouts and early pre season is not the time to have your most intense conditioning. Your main goal should be looking at talent or displaying your talent the best way possible. As a coach I know that many of you have workouts before the official season starts and this should be the time to prepare the players with heavy conditioning. They should be prepared to play (or conditioned) before the tryouts start. You will continue to condition through out the season but the main foundation should be laid before the tryouts start. I will give examples later in the blog. As for players if your coach is not getting you a great foundation it is your responsibility to be prepared. You want to step on the field ready to go and if heavy conditioning is part of tryouts then you are one step ahead. What this means is that you are not as sore and fatigued meaning you can put your best foot forward during the tryouts. You will have more fun and perform at your best.

Let me give you some examples of things you need to be doing before tryouts start.

You must lay the foundation:

In conditioning that usually means some long distance type running, but we are going to be really specific for baseball. We believe at this time there is no need to go over 3 miles in a workout. Baseball is a game of short bursts no matter what position you look at. Intensity is king. If you are out jogging you need to push the pace and that is why there is no need to go over 3 miles. Try to keep your miles around 7 minutes or less. That should be your goal. So if you go out for the 3 miles try to keep it around 21-25 minutes. This is also the time to include you longer sprint type workouts, 800’s, 400’s, 200’s. Remember intensity is king; you must push yourself at all times. I have included a basic week of workouts.

Week 1:
-Monday: 1.5 mile jog (shoot for 7 min mile)

-Tuesday: 2x 800’s
2x 400’s
2x 200’s

-Weds: 1.5 mile jog

-Thursday: 2x 800’s
2x 400’s
2x 200’s

-Friday: 1.5 mile jog

Week 2:
-Monday: 2 mile jog (shoot for 7 min mile)

-Tuesday: 3x 800’s
3x 400’s
3x 200’s

-Weds: 2 mile jog

-Thursday: 3x 800’s
3x 400’s
3x 200’s

-Friday: 2 mile jog

Hopefully you can see how the progression goes, this will continue for 4 weeks. After the 4th week the program changes to increase the sprinting, to include shorter and faster sprints. I hope this helps get everyone off on the right foot. Remember to set those goals and go get them this year

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS
Warrior Sports Training