Monday, September 27, 2010

Pull With Your Back

As coaches, we strive to achieve the maximum benefit for our athletes in the shortest period of time. Often, we see athletes performing an exercise correctly but not receiving the outcomes they should. Perhaps, this lack of outcome stems from the lack of appropriate focus on the performance of the exercise. For me, one of those exercises is the Lat Pulldown / Pull-Up exercise.

The primary muscles that are engaged during this exercise are the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major, and the lower trapezius. Their function is to adduct the arm and draw it closer to the pelvis. During the throwing motion, these muscles act as large decelerators to counteract the distraction forces at the glenohumeral joint. The muscles of the hand /forearm flexors, as well as, the biceps brachii are considered secondary movers during the Lat Pulldown exercise.

One of the common mistakes that I notice when athletes perform this exercise is that they over-emphasize their grip and as a result pull down using the smaller muscles of the arms. As I mentioned, the primary focus should be placed on the larger musculature of the back. Using mental cues can improve the mind-body connection. When coaching these athletes, I find it helpful to use the mental cue, “Pull with your back!” to emphasize the proper performance of the Lat Pulldown exercise. This will make an immediate impact in the technique by locking your “lats” into activation. To check this technique, the coach can place his hands on the athlete’s shoulder blades and feel that the pulldown movement is being initiated by their depression and retraction.

Focusing on the proper muscular activation while performing a movement can help to insure maximum benefits are achieved. “Pull with your back!” can be used for any exercise that requires the large upper back muscles to perform (i.e. seated row, bent-over row, etc).

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome to College!!

Congratulations! You were a very successful high school baseball player. Maybe you were lucky enough to garner some baseball scholarship money – good for you. You have packed your bags and maybe some of your high school trophies and highlight films – not recommended – and have made it to wherever your campus might be located.

You are on campus and realize that life is going to be pretty good. Baseball doesn’t start for a couple weeks; the girls are wearing their summer dresses and some are even laying out on the quad; life is good. The first day of class comes, and the first team meeting follows shortly after – man the recruiting process is over, Coach is mean, and these classes are going to be brutal. All in all, after the team meeting, Coach has the majority of the guys ready to run through a wall when he sets the expectations, the fall schedule, and starts talking about playing in Omaha in late June. You walk out of the meeting with chills and thinking that the team will do awesome this season – and no one has even touched a baseball.

Do you think you are ready?

I have had a couple of coaches break it down a couple different ways.

Coach A – “ Academics first (while holding up two fingers) and athletics second (while holding up the number one sign)!”

Coach B – had a more systematic approach and breakdown. “There are 24 hours in a day and it should break down like this. 8-3-6-4-3.”
• 8 hours of sleep – It’s a good solid number to shoot for, and your body will thank you.
• 3 hours to eat – Combining all meals and snacks (unless you eat like I do and try to grab anything as fast as you can between seeing athletes).
• 6 hours of baseball activity – No, this is not all organized activity, it includes early work in the batting cages and extra work spent on your defensive game. I won’t even start (yet) if your shoulder starts to hurt.
• 4 hours of class daily – Ok, I understand that you might be fortunate enough to not have class on Friday.
• 3 hours of free time.

Well, if I have done the math correctly, that is 24 hours. Wow, three hours of free time, that’s it? Those three hours are absolutely crucial. Coach B referred to that as F.A.T (four letter word-around-time). If your free time extends past three hours, where do you typically take the hours from? Sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then you are falling behind on the other areas. Then you are not performing as well as you would like on the baseball field, so you try to make up time in the cage. Then you are not doing so hot in some of your classes, so you decide to take a look at your buddie’s test sitting next to you in class – also not recommended. It seems to be a vicious cycle.
How will you spend your F.A.T??

Chris Ham, MSA, ATC, CES
Athletic Trainer
Vanderbilt University Baseball