Learning and working with 100’s of athletes we decided to take bilateral squats out of our program. This may piss people off in the fitness, power lifting and body building worlds but we have our reasons. First I learned about the bilateral deficit and applied it and it worked. Second we had to ask our selves how strong is strong enough and at what point do we want to focus on the physical demands of the athlete’s sport? A weight room record board is rarely populated with starters from the team. The job of the athlete is their sport, not the weight room so we work on the way the athlete applies their force through angles and joint positioning. I want our guys to be very good at acceleration and deceleration through creating positive angles. Though I strongly believe strength is the foundation of all movements, there are better ways to build that strength than with the back squat. Every human more than likely learned to roll and crawl before they walked. They also carried things before they started putting things on their backs. So why would we want to load dysfunction?
Our process is the athlete will always start from the floor up and go from proximal to distal. After the athletes do their floor movements we add depth drops, lateral hops, and stomps before jumps so the athlete can get the feel of the force produced in to the floor (GRF). After we teach drops we use jumps, we can teach vertical force through jumps as in box jumps and we do add DB drops on the eccentric phase to supply more force into the ground. The biggest backlash I have heard is that we can not supply vertical force with out box squats. There are many many different ways to produce vertical force than squats.
After the drops and jumps we have them split squat, rear foot elevated split squat, and increasingly add heavier loads because an athlete rarely if ever plays on two stable feet. Just a few movements we do are sled pushes and marches. This teaches the athlete horizontal force production (sprinting) which is used on the field of play. We also add lateral sled drags in to increase lateral force production to assist in changing of directions.
We do how ever obviously do bilateral movements. Our main core lift is the trap bar deadlift. We introduce this when the athlete has anterior core control as well as pelvis alignment. The goblet squat is another bilateral movement we use in many forms. We do different forms of goblet squat such as isometric holds or single arm kettle bell squats. Both challenging the anterior core. The core is the root of the body and its main job is to protect the spine.
I hope this can stir up some thoughts in your programs as well as some good conversation. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at email@example.com
During the off season the strength that was built is the foundation of power, lateral movements and sprints. Strength is the foundation of all movement. The main goal in Phase Four which is our in season phase is to keep the athlete strong and healthy while understanding that baseball is priority. We do not want to be in the mind set of “maintenance” mode but want to continually get each athlete stronger. We do decrease the amount of lower body movements and focus a lot more on arm health and anterior core work. In this phase to volume as well as load are decreased. We usually do one or two heavier lifts a week, one lighter lift a week and a regeneration day week. Obviously the lifts differ from our pitchers who are starters and relievers as well as our starting position players and our non-starters. We can map out the starters lifts knowing when they throw and play but the relievers and non-starters need to be ready to play at any time. Out lifts only last around 45 minutes in season. The guys will spend about 15 minutes on moblites and regeneration then jump into around a 30-minute session. Some days may vary if they have a scheduled arm care day or if a pitcher threw the day before. The biggest thing we address is shoulder stability and arm health. As we know every time you throw a baseball the capsule of the shoulder becomes less stable and increases humeral gliding anterior or superior. Another factor we see is the loss of scapular upward rotation through the course of the season. This is where our wall slide variations and thoracic mobility comes into play during the in season program. What ever stuff we add to a program we need to take out as much. We do not want to build too much stress. This goes along with decreasing volume.
The thing that gets me is guys that have the old school mind set to shut down lifts in season. I have had kids tell me that coaches told them not to lift in season because they don’t want them to get tired. The reason we train all year is for the season. The season is the time where you need to be your strongest. Lifting will decrease breakdown and injury with the correct program. Lifting in season will also assist in getting the athlete out of every day repetitive movement of rotational work in baseball. So with that we may add med ball or other rotational work for a right handed athlete to mimic a left handed athlete.
Then on the other hand we have the guys that get the process and buy in. These are more than likely our elite level guys that understand how it works. They come in and do their arm care program, motilities, stabilities and strength lifts.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . We hope to continue to spread the word on how important an in-season strength program is to an individuals success at all levels.
How many times have you seen coaches tell his team to go for a run and have him sit back in the dugout and not know why he is having his athlete’s go on a mile run or why they are running those poles? Coaches need to step back and ask themselves, when in the sport of baseball is the athlete doing a long, slow distance run in games? More than likely the coach believes they are flushing the lactic acid or building aerobic capacity. It has not been proven that baseball builds any kind of lactic acid in recent research therefor it is an alactic sport. Though if you train the right energy system they will turn lactate to energy. All the poles and milage the guys are running will do more harm than good by building an excess of lactic acid in the body. When the body doesn’t know how to clear the lacate in the body, it begins to build up and a toxic environment is created within the body. Once the body reaches this state, the pH levels begin to drop and the muscles are now compromised. Then you have another coach that may say he wants to build mental toughness through long distance running. I believe there are many different ways to build mental toughness other than running. I firmly believe that a coach needs to understand the demands of baseball on the body. Coaches need to know biomechanics of the swing, arm motions and especially energy demands of the sport. Baseball is a special breed of guys and those guys are extremly underserved.
For the sport of baseball we want to get away from the traditional idea of conditioning involving long distance and running poles. We have many reasons why we use more sprints or anaerobic types of conditioning. Baseball stresses the anaerobic system, it is a short powerful movement and running poles will not help with the power output due to the fact that the hitter would be training the aerobic system. Aerobic capacity still can be built however through different types of anaerobic movements such as tempo runs. We do not want to train an athlete as a marathon runner and a baseball player. They need to stick to their sport and let the hitter be a hitter. Hitters and Pitchers are repetitive athletes in the way they throw and hit. Adding a run where they repeat their running motion as well for an extended period of time is not necessary. Since baseball builds so many asymetries we use change directions in sprints and short powerful anaerobic movements instead. Another reason to stay away from long distance work is the lack of range of motion created by the long distance jog. During the jog the athletes hip will more than likely not go past 30 degrees of flexion. Therefore, the hips will be tighter because the hip joint will not get into ideal flexion at the hip as much as it does in sprints.
There are two different kinds of running mechanics, acceleration and top end speed. In short acceleration is short distance, powerful and is mainly stressed anaerobically. Top end speed is after acceleration has ended and maintaining speed is of importance. Baseball being a quick and powerful sport, acceleration is the main type of running seen. So why wouldn’t we want to develop the kind of running if they are both stressed by the same energy system? Running poles is neither short distance, powerful, or stressed by the same energy system. While performing sprints and other shorter distance runs, the athlete will be able to develop power. When the athlete runs long distance they will have a hard time maintaining their strength and body weight as well. Running long distances doesn’t require the athlete to produce as much force into the ground compared to that of sprints. Athletes become faster by using their strength in the lower body and anterior core to produce force in the ground and Ground Reactive Forces (GRF) propel the athlete in the direction the force is produced into the ground. Since running poles and/or long distances don’t require much force in the ground the strength is not being used and if its not being used then it becomes lost. Sprints require the athlete to express force in the ground rapidly and quickly. This now requires the muscululature of the lower body and anterior core to now fire and fire quickly.
With this the are many other ways to condition a baseball player more effectively other than long aerobic work. Coaches need to take the time and realize at times they are doing more harm than good to the athlete.