You don't have to look very far to find a
sport-specific training routine. Regardless of the sport, these
"sport-specific" routines look pretty much the same: Push ups,
squats, rows, lunges, blah, blah, blah. While these are fantastic
movements for general conditioning, they are not in and of themselves really
specific to any sport. Now, you can make some of those movements more
applicable to a sport or activity by tweaking the movements consistent with the
demands of the activity, but that's not as easy as it may seem.
There are a number of considerations when creating
a sport-specific routine (many more than listed below). However, for the
purpose of this post lets take an activity (baseball) and dissect it a bit to
understand how we can create a routine consistent with the task demand.
Lets start by asking ourselves these questions:
1. What are the demands of the player's position?
(Lets pick the pitcher)
2. What is the position of the player relative to
3. What are the transformational zones of the key
movements the player is required to perform?
4. What are the primary drivers being utilized to
perform the activities?
5. What conditioning attributes are required to
successfully fulfill the position requirements?
Before we delve into the demands placed upon a
pitcher, lets first appreciate there are principles of human function that we
must consider in order to create the program. By the nature of the
questions asked, we're considering three dimensionality, positions / motions,
transformational zones, natural forces, drivers and task-specific conditioning
attributes to name a few.
Three dimensional - All movement
occurs in three planes of motion: forward to back, side to side and with
rotation. The first thing our pitcher will do on the mound is step /
rotate his body to ready for the pitch. Rotation through the lower
extremity would be a component of his conditioning.
Positions / motions - The positions we
are in determines the motions we go through. Consider squatting, as you lower
your center of mass your hips are meant to flex (bend) symmetrically.
Now, place your R foot ahead of your L foot. This stance positions
your R hip in a flexed starting position while the L hip is starting from an
extended position. As you squat, both hips will flex BUT the R hip will
flex more due to its beginning position and the L less due to the same.
Transformational zones - The zone where the
body switches directions. Think about a player swinging the bat. As
he pulls the bat backwards, he loads his body to prepare to hit the ball,
before he comes forward and swings the bat, that is the transformational zone
of the backswing. Then, on the other end of the movement after the swing
has taken place, the athlete must decelerate (slow down) the bat and that is
another zone of transformation. It is in these key zones (backswing /
follow through) where we will focus our training and conditioning efforts.
Natural forces - Gravity, ground
reaction forces, mass and momentum naturally stimulate the body and our muscles
simply respond to control these forces. If the player's body is upright
relative to gravity, then the majority of conditioning should be upright.
Yes, for core work too!
Drivers - The part of the body that makes a
movement occur. Lets go back to swinging the bat. The hands
initiate the movement back, then, once loaded, the pelvis drives out of the
motion creating the whip effect through the core. So the hands and hips
via the core drive the bat
Attributes - The conditioning skill sets the
player needs to successfully perform the position / task demands. Lets
focus on big rocks, this could be a really long list: speed, power, agility,
coordination, balance and mobility.
These aforementioned principles are just some of
the basic considerations when making a program sport-specific.
So to recap, our player needs a program specific to
his position (pitcher), that is predominantly upright relative to gravity, that
focuses on the key zones of pitching, running and cutting, that utilizes the
authentic drivers of the hands, feet, hips, eyes and one that will enhance
speed, power, agility, coordination, balance and mobility. Now, tell me
if you still feel push ups, squats, rows or lunges will give this athlete what
he needs to be effective and efficient? Most likely not.
Since we've identified pitching, running and
cutting as the key movements of a pitcher (there are many more), we need to
start conditioning our athlete relative to these demands. Lets take the
pitch itself. Our pitcher is R handed. We must now consider the chain
reaction biomechanics of pitching. As a reference, lets focus on what the
hips are doing throughout the movement although we need to know what is
occurring at every joint within the body to help our athlete best.
Although the hips will experience movement in three planes, we'll
reference the dominant plane of motion.
Chain Reaction Biomechanics (CRB) of Pitching
a Baseball (keep in mind there are different styles of pitching)
Our pitcher will start out facing the batter, he
will take a R foot R rotational step away from the batter loading his groin
complex (inside hip) on both sides rotationally, then his L knee will follow up
and around in the same direction to load the R posterior hip (butt)
rotationally and the L hip into flexion (pitcher's prayer). Then, his L
thigh will drive his lower body out of that position reversing all motions as
he starts to explode / perform the movement. This reversal of motion
creates the whip effect through the midsection and as the L foot comes into the
ground, the L hip flexes / externally rotates as the R hip extends and
externally rotates. As the L foot continues to accept more weight, the
trunk pulls the arm around the body and just as the ball is released, the upper
body falls forward and the L hip will dive deeper into flexion with extreme
internal rotation while attempting to balance all the mass and momentum that
just came crashing down onto the L leg. Here, we have only referenced two
joints of the 70+ we own. It's imperative to know what is occurring at
each and every joint within the body.
See it in slow motion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVQbvANljDs
Considering the CRB of the throw, how do we now
create a training program to enhance this athletes game? After assessing
what the bones are doing in space (real motion) and what they are doing
relative to each other (relative motion), we can determine which muscles will turn
on to control the motions of the pitch and create an environment for the
athlete to subconsciously and authentically creates those motions for effective
carryover or what we call sport- specific. We would simply repeat this
process as we assess the demands of the other activities the player would go
through. Lets take a few exercises from above and tweak them to make them
more applicable to our player.
1. Push up to knee crossover - after each push up,
pull your knee towards your opposite elbow to use authentic drivers to drive
the core similar to how its turned on in baseball (position to gravity is not
2. Squat matrix with foot driver - with one foot
steady, drive the moving leg in all three planes of motion along all 6
angulations of movement to functionally stimulate the hip complex (pitch is
rotation dominant but challenge player in all 3D to over prepare him)
3. Single leg stance with 1 arm reach and row -
stand on a single leg, place a cable in the pitching hand, reach cross body to
allow the cable to load the stance leg (L) hip into flexion, adduction internal
rotation similar to the demand of the pitch
4. Pivot lunge to balance reach - drive
rotational lunge to stimulate hip / core separation and return to start
position in a single leg stance and add balance reach to flex, adduct
internally rotate hip according to demand of activity
*These movements will be tweaked to provoke
development of the desired attributes
Click here for the visual of this circuit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgzc1akqtlE&context=C4f67148ADvjVQa1PpcFMszfeKKfTbDoeJFNgz-U8VmTo03XpN92k=
So the next time you come across a sport or activity
specific routine, ask yourself the 5 questions above and see if the techniques
chosen pass the test according to what the athlete needs in order to accomplish
the said activity. It is always clear that the intent of the professional
writing the programs we see are passionate about their sport, we just need to
have a thought process relative to making our programs more functional with
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