Importance of Assessments and Individual Programming – DJ Edwards
One thing I believe that truly allows us to have success, along with our culture in the facility, is how thorough we are in our assessments and our programming. Most training programs we see from the outside are a cookie cutter one size fits all program. Usually the program looks like this: Athlete walks in the door, signs a waiver, and with no assessment the coach tells them to warm up with the group. Away they go with a preprogrammed workout. More than likely it will be a mixture of athletes that all have different needs. A great mentor in business said “customize to dominate”. This is our goal. You can go anywhere within a 5 mile radius and find 15 plus gyms or sports performance facilities. If we want to be the best, we need to deliver the best.
In some cases, GPP and basic sprint mechanic work a one size fits all program would work fine, but a strength program needs will be different. This is why we start with a thorough assessment. We need to see the deficiencies and strengths of each athlete before we build them their 100% customized program. Our programs are not shiny or anything special. We stick to our core lifts, which are determined by the assessment on what the athlete is able to do. Where we get really personalized is in our mobility exercises.
In any program if you’re not assessing, you are doing the athlete a disservice. Any assessment is better than no assessment. Working with Dr. Nick Thurlow (Next ERA PT), Chris Dunn (HiPro Hitting) and Coach Chris Adams, we have gathered a ton of different assessments and have built our own from what best fits our population. The majority of our athletes being baseball players, we have noticed trends over the years in what this population is deficient in. Needs and strengths are what make them the athlete they are. Sometimes their asymmetries are what allows them to throw 95 mph or hit for plus power. This is why it is vital to assess, not guess. Knowing that joint placement dictates muscle function, and may limit an athlete’s performance from poor posture. It is vital we assess to have a road map on where to start. Here are a few things we look for in our assessments:
-Static Assessment, assess the way they walk in the door, depressed scap? Hip tilt? Head posture? Ankles? Knees? Military posture? Athlete in extension or flexion in the lumbar spine? We usually can tell if the athlete is a right handed or left handed thrower when they walk in by looking at the clavicles, hips or head. If one side is depressed it usually is the throwing side.
-Dynamic Assessment, assess through movement. Thoracic rotation, extension and flexion. Scapular movement, control endurance. Hip external and internal rotation. Shoulder stability, internal and external rotation of shoulder. Ankle mobility, knee stability, anterior core strength and serratus anterior recruitment.
-Laxity test, if the athlete is lax we will include more stability. If the athlete is too stiff we will include more mobility.
-Table assessment, shoulder ER vs IR. Do they lack internal rotation as a thrower? Can we regain IR by a basic horizontal adduction stretch? Does the athlete lack external rotation? Can we regain it through adding thoracic extension exercises?
Once we have assessed the athlete we begin to build the program. Like I mentioned above, we stick the basics. As Bruce Lee said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times”. We do the same with our core lifts. We drill proper form in basic movements. Can the athlete hinge? Can the athlete squat? Can the athlete properly press and pull? Foundational strength is key and allows us to build off the foundation that has been built.
Imagine this, Athlete A walks into the facility with his teammate Athlete B. Athlete A is in extension with retracted scaps, has limited elbow extension and has limited hip IR. While Athlete B is very lax, lacks stability in his shoulder, elbow and knees, has a very flat back, scaps are winged and has decreased lumbar curvature. What do you do? Do you write a program on a white board that has a ton of mobility, that has the athlete working on anti-extension exercises? These two athletes cannot be any different. Truth is a one size fits all program for these two may injure or decrease strength due to the program that was written. Do you want to put an already extended athlete into more extension? Do you want to add even more mobility to an already lax athlete? If you can train to increase an athlete’s strength, stability or power, I believe it is very possible to decrease an athlete’s strength stability and power through improper programming.
Take time to assess and personalize a program if possible. Give the athlete what they need while delivering them the program they deserve.