Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Energy Balance Equation

As a Performance Enhancement Coach, I am frequently fielding questions from athletes who are trying to gain weight. What kind of workout should I do? What supplements should I buy? How much protein should I take? What kind of protein should I take? All of these questions can and should be addressed. But, there is one question that should be asked before all others…How many calories do I need?

The concept of weight management through Energy Balance is not a difficult one to convey. First, if an athlete’s goal is to maintain his weight, then the amount of energy (calories) that he expends through activity and exercise must equal the amount of energy he consumes (food). If his goal is to lose weight, then he must expend more energy than he consumes. And finally, if the athlete’s goal is to gain weight, then he must consume more energy than he burns. This is the most important issue in weight management – even before I begin discussing protein, carbohydrates, supplements, etc. Gater et al. (1992) demonstrated that athletes who participate in a strength training program and consume more calories than they expend show higher muscle mass gains than athletes with a neutral calorie balance.

(+) Energy Balance = Weight Gain
(-) Energy Balance = Weight Loss
(0) Energy Balance = Weight Maintenance

Even though this is not a difficult concept to convey, it definitely is not as easy to put into practice. For me, the first thing that I ask the player to do when dealing with weight management goals is to keep a weekly diary of what he is eating and drinking, so that I have an idea of how many calories that he is consuming. From there, we discuss the player’s daily calorie expense based on his daily practice, training, and performance activities. The biggest thing that I’ve found over the years is that most players do not have a good grasp on how many calories they need during the day or how many calories they actually take in.

23yo Male / 6ft Tall / 200lbs  3,114 Calories

The average professional baseball player requires 3,114 calories just to fuel his normal bodily functions at rest and maintain his current body weight. The need increases to between 3,600 and 4,100 calories per day to fuel the body for the addition of daily baseball activities. It is important to also understand that a player’s calorie needs will change based on the time of year (off-season, pre-season, or in-season), within a given week (5-day Starting Pitcher Rotation), or according to his role on the team (Starter vs. Reliever, or Everyday Player vs. Bench Player). Consuming up to 100-500 more calories per day than you are expending will provide you with the energy needed to gain strength and increase your lean muscle mass.

How do you gain weight? Above all else, make sure that you have a positive calorie balance.

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS
Co-Founder, BaseballStrengthCoaching.com

Monday, March 22, 2010


A player’s intensity can be a great asset to his performance, a player that is able to perform at a higher intensity mentally as well as physically will excel at any skill he performs. But, how can we challenge the intensity to increase performance. I continue to explore new ways to challenge my athletes to increase their intensity, and consistency. Many players don’t understand how to keep intensity at a high level. They have been trained over time to just give enough to get by, if they only need to take 10 grounders a day to make the team then that is good enough. This can be very frustrating to me at times; I don’t understand how you can dream of playing a game at a high level and only do what is needed to get by. How can a player not want to be the best, or able to reach their full potential? I am not saying every player will go pro or has the potential to play pro ball, but, I have seen many players that through a lack of focus and intensity let the world pass them by. I have been working on a few aids that have had great success in helping many of my players find the intensity and consistency of intensity to raise their game to new levels. The ideas are simple, but can lay out a plan that can focus a ball players day to day routine.

1ST- We start to track the players practice schedule
-hitting, fielding, throwing.
This allows the player to see how much work is actually being done, the first time the player does this they will usually be surprised at the little they actually did at practice. Many players will say I put in 21/2 hours at practice that should be enough, but how much work did they actually get, 25 swings, 15 grounders, and couple base steeling opportunities.

2nd- Determine a plan of action to increase the players actual individual work time.

Set a day to day schedule on extra tee hitting drills, hitting off the curve ball machine, taking back hands, ect. The key is to start slow, just a few drills every night or every other night. Many times after the practice tracking reveals to the player the lack of work they have been doing they will be highly motivated to do extra work, but if they are overloaded, they set themselves up for failure. If the work load is too great the player will soon be stressed by the extra time commitment and will usually discontinue the activities. Remember to start slow and as progress is made it will be easy for the player to make adjustments and increase work load.

3rd- Keep track of the performance changes.

In many cases the player’s numbers will increase in just a few weeks, but the player will also start to exude more confidence and playing potential. The tracking of these changes can be an extra motivator to the player when tough times come, like a hitting slump. By reminding the player of the time committed to their performance and increased intensity the player can gain confidence and will themselves out of tough times.

Now this is not the only way to increase a player’s intensity, but just one of many. The goal is to increase performance and developing a plan and tracking progress increases the player’s ability to have a hands on experience, which in turn increases the success of the program. The first step is the decision to bring your game to a new level, it is hard work and sacrifice after that, in my opinion the fun part of the development process.

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS
Co-Founder BaseballStrengthCoaching.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Preparation = Confidence

I know that the Vancouver Games have been closed for over a week, but one particular athlete’s story stood out in my mind. Immediately after winning the gold medal in the Women’s Moguls event, skier Hannah Kearney was interviewed and she talked about a “special note” that one of her strength coaches had sent her on the morning of the finals. Kearney was known to keep a diary of detailing each of her workouts over the past year. Her coach secretly went through the diary and summed up her work:

- 2,500+ Jumps
- 250 hours on the Bike
- 5,800 stairs climbed in ski boots while jumping into the pool

At the bottom of the note, the coach wrote “You are ready.”

Performance is a test of your training and skills. I know it’s a cliché, but don’t you feel better about taking a test if you’ve studied for it? Preparation for next season begins as soon as this season ends. Preparation for your next outing or game begins as soon as your last one was over. The goal is to maximize recovery, review what went right and what went wrong, develop a game plan, and then execute the plan. Simple right?

Not always. But, Hannah Kearney is on to one trick that can help…keeping a Training Log. Maintaining a log of workouts can help you recognize patterns and better understand when it is time to change movements and adjust the volume and intensities for optimal training benefits. Keeping a diary of previous performances can help you identify successful strategies and prevent falling into predictable patterns.

When you see it on paper, it is easier to recognize that you’ve done everything you can to prepare yourself for. And then you’ll know… “You are ready!”

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

Friday, March 5, 2010

Finding Balance

Finding Balance

I have struggled all week with the blog. I wanted to touch on a very important part of the athletes training, that being balance. Some times this very simple concept is overlooked. The transfer of forces from the ground to the hands is based on balance, but where do you start and can it be covered in a blog. As I struggled with the topic I remembered a story I read from a master of kung fu. It explained the importance of a strong foundation as related to a tree. A tree that grows roots deep into the soil will withstand any storm and a tree that’s roots are shallow will fall over. The same is true of the athlete. The athlete that grows and trains his roots deep will be able to perform any task. In this metaphor the soil is the surroundings of the tree and so relates to the surrounding of the athlete. Who and what does the athlete surround himself with will determine how deep the roots can go. If an athlete is jumping from new fad to new fad they can never really lay down roots, because something new is being introduced constantly. The athlete must also surround him self with the right instructors and mentors. These strong influences can help the athlete stay grounded, motivate and support. So to keep it simple this week, really take a look at your program and who you surround yourself with. These things are either helping you or bring you down, and remember the tree, get those roots deep and stay with it. Hard work always pays off.

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS