Integrated Performance Training for Throwers and Strikers

21 Nov Integrated Performance Training for Throwers and Strikers

The overhead throwing and striking athlete must recognize a strength and conditioning must adhere to specific training principles and include components conducive to injury prevention and athletic development. Understand the baseball, softball, golf, tennis, or volleyball athlete perform a repetitive overhead throwing and rotary action during competition. These kinetic chain patterns require the athlete to encompass certain components week in and week out in order to address all the mobility, strength, and power requirements associated with the athletic actions of these sports. At a base level the strength and conditioning programs for these athletes will encompass sections addressing the following: mobility/flexibility, stabilization, balance, core, strength, and power.

Mobility/Flexibility

Flexibility is defined as the normal extensibility of all soft tissues that allow for full range of motion of a joint and optimum neuromuscular efficiency throughout the entire kinetic chain during functional movement patterns. (Michal Clark, Director: National Academy of Sports Medicine) The process of improving flexibility and mobility for the athlete occurs through a systematic approach incorporating a continuum of flexibility training modalities. This flexibility/mobility training continuum incorporates static, active, and dynamic training modalities to develop optimal range of motion and soft tissue extensibility. Limitations in flexibility creates mobility limitations directly affecting the ability of the athlete to execute each phase of the throwing or striking action in an efficient manner. Such limitations will typically lead to physical dysfunctions and biomechanical inefficiencies.

Stabilization

Stabilization is the ability of the neuromuscular system of the kinetic chain to provide optimal dynamic joint support and maintain correct postural position during functional movement patterns. The development of stability is contingent upon the creation of optimal levels of muscular strength and endurance within the stabilizing muscular of the kinetic chain. The development of stabilization strength and endurance provides the athlete with the opportunity to generate and transfer speed efficiently through the kinetic chain during athletic actions. Stabilization limitations will impede the athlete in maintaining the required postural positions as well as limit the ability to generate speed during movement patterns. Developing the stabilization capacities of the kinetic chain will focus on development of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, shoulder, and scapular regions.

Balance

Balance is defined as the ability of the body to maintain proper alignment, center of gravity, and coordinate the body during functional movement patterns. Balance in the throwing and striking athlete is achieved through a process of both active and passive coordination between the neural and muscular systems of the body. Limitations in one’s balance capacities limits the efficiency by which the intricate athletic actions of the throwing and hitting motion are executed typically resulting in the development of compensations in an attempt to overcome these limitations. The process of developing the athlete’s balance capacity entails utilizing the one’s limits of stability and challenging it with systematic and progressive series of training modalities. Balance training exercise will typically challenge one’s balance capacities through the process of maintaining balance in a proprioceptively enriched environment during the execution of corollary movements.

Core

The core is a reference to anatomical section of the kinetic chain consisting of the structures found within the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. According the National Academy of Sports Medicine the core operates as an integrated functional unit providing intersegmental stability, deceleration, and acceleration. In addition, the core interconnects energy generated from the ground reaction forces of the lower extremities of the kinetic chain to upper extremities. The development of the core for optimal functioning encompasses a comprehensive, progressive, and systematic approach within an integrated strength and conditioning program.

Strength

The kinetic chain operates as a unit producing force, reducing force, and transfering force efficiently. This allows for acceleration and deceleration of segments of the kinetic chain efficiently during functional and athletic orientated activities. The overhead throwing and striking athlete is no different, in that the athletic actions of these sports  it require integration of the entire kinetic chain in the production, reduction, and direction of force. This allows for the efficient transfers of speed through the kinetic chain into ball, bat, club, or racquet. In order to achieve this requirement of these athletic actions, specified levels of strength within the entire kinetic chain which can be developed through integrated, multi-planer, and multi-directional strength training modalities is required.

Power

Power in the most basic of formulas is strength plus speed. It is the combination of these two entities cohesively working together that allows for a sprinter to sprint fast, a pitcher to throw hard, and a golfer to swing with clubhead speed. Speed development for the throwing and striking athlete begins in the lower body, progresses to the core, and is completed in the upper body and then directed into the implement (bat, ball, club, racquet). In order for this segmental speed development to occur, the kinetic chain must have certain levels of strength as well as have the ability to generate speed.

Speed development by the kinetic chain is contigent upon the neuromuscular system having the ability to generate force in the shortest amount of time possible. The process by which speed development can be improved with the kinetic chain is through the utilization of power exercises, commonly referred to as plyometrics. These type of training modalities develop the explosive properties of the neuromuscular system via motor recruitment, CNS (central nervous system) functioning, neuromuscular synchronization, and rate of force production allowing for increases of speed during execution of athletic actions.

Integrated Performance Training

The goal of integrated sports performance training program is to prevent injury, correct physical dysfunction, and optimize performance, providing the athlete with a greater opportunity to execute the biomechanics of the golf swing efficiently and effectively. This process on the “physical side” of the equation is achieved through a comprehensive, integrated, systematic, and progressive conditioning program where the components of flexibility, balance, core, strength, and power are addressed. In order for the goals of integrated sports performance training program to be met, the health and fitness professional must utilize safe yet challenging exercises for the client. This is achieved through a systematic approach to integrated training where exercise selection is based upon the following:

Exercise Selection Criteria

  • Safe
  • Challenging
  • Progressive
  • Systematic
  • Proprioceptively enriched
  • Activity  specific

 

 Exercise Progression Continuum

  • Slow to Fast
  • Known to Unkown
  • Stable – Controlled – Dynamic function movement
  • Low Force – High Force
  • Correct Execution to Increased Intensity

 

 Summary

As you can see from the information provided in this article it is necessary for the overhead throwing and striking athlete to envelope a number of training principles, guidelines, and components into a strength and conditioning program. Adherence to these training principles, base components, and exercise selection criteria in a structured program will provide the athlete or performance coach a systematic approach to the development of the kinetic chain relative to the requirements of this athletic population.

About Performance Coach Sean Cochran: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized performance coaches in sports today. A career spanning positions with 2 major league baseball organizations, over 10 years on the PGA Tour and work with top professionals including three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson, future hall of fame Trevor Hoffman, and Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy provides Sean a proven track record of success.  He has been involved in the production of numerous performance videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts, and Fit to Hit. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the world renown Titleist Performance Institute.

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