Sports Science is the Study of Human Performance, Mechanics, and Physics
Sports Science gives Strength Coaches and Performance Specialists the data they need to build strength & conditioning programs that enhance speed, power, strength and reduce the risk of injury.

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Onset of Hip Dysfunction in Throwers, Catchers, Hitters, Baseball Athletes

Good morning Team,

Coach JJ here, and in Typical JJ fashion I’m about to get real-ridiculous, real-quick with regards to my speak and verbiage. Most of you know by now that we bust our asses to bridge the gap between what happens at the clinical level and what you’re actually experiencing under the bar, and most importantly on the field, but for those of you who don’t know myself, my staff or the culture at S8 – education is as big a part of what we do as the programming and development itself…

That said, as you read these studies, they might sound over-head, or to some of you, like we’re trying to sound smart. I like sounding smart, I’m not going to lie, and yes I can hold conversations with PHD’s in Exercise Science, Physics Majors, Orthopedic Surgeons, and Physical Therapists, but I’m not here to wow you with my understanding of the above topics.

My goal is to show you that a guy with a beard, covered in tattoos, and that has taken far too many elbows, knees, and fists to the head can understand and breakdown the processes in the human body, the Central Nervous System, Biomechanics, Physics and how a baseball player performs any given mechanic necessary to achieve high levels of competitiveness, AND I can diagnose the breakdown and dysfunction of the kinetic chain. And because I can do it, I believe my athletes can too.

So what the hell does that mean? It means, that if you read our stuff long enough, and you interact with my staff of medical and strength professionals long enough and you train in our systems you’ll find us having conversations like the following case series – regarding Throwers, Hitters, and Catchers – and an all too common cause of pain and large decreases in performance – with our athletes nearly everyday.

So with-out any more rambling, here is a video of a thrower in our Velocity Research Program that has a MASSIVELY dysfunctional lead hip and it was alerted to us by the onset of locked hamstrings, pelvic tilt and occasional sciatic like symptoms.

While we look like magicians that we found this problem in a 53 second video, I assure you it has been a much more involved process and this simply documents how much range of motion the athlete is missing. He’s a very promising student and has already added 5+ MPH to his throwing velocity, and after finally reaching the “light-bulb” moment we now are able to attack a breakdown in the kinetic chain. In more detail than a short video can provide… See the Below results of a study on 15 athletes presenting with hip Dysfunction:

 

THE PROBLEM

 

Over the course of the last six months during intensive work with over 100 baseball players we’ve seen an array of commonalities in biomechanical dysfunction arise. Of these one of the more Common dysfunctions exists in the lead hip of throwers and hitters, and presents in both hips of catchers.

 

THE SYMPTOMS

 

Symptoms include low back pain, lack of mobility and articular abilities in the hip, and thigh, anterior pelvic tilt, tight hamstrings locked in an elongated position, and overall lack of power transfer in the throw and swing. Other subtle biomechanical symptoms surface when taking a squat as the foot on the lead leg/hip side of the body tends to be from 1-3 inches behind the back side foot regardless of load, walkout and bar position on the squatters back.

 

CONCLUSION & DIAGNOSIS

 

We have concluded that this is a combination of multiple dysfunctions: a hip impingement causing very minimal articular abilities, suspected to arise from the jamming that happens in the front femur-pelvis connection when the athlete launches his lead leg out in-front of him and creates the braking mechanism towards the bottom of the mound to transfer power up and over the back through the arm down the mound.

 

COLLATERAL DEFICIENCIES

 

In addition to this ailment, the IT band and Glute system seem to over compensate for an inner thigh weakness, and a major iliopsoas over dominance on the lead side of the thrower / hitter, which is believed to be pulling down on the pelvis, and lumbar spine, creating anterior pelvic tilt, lumbar vertebral jamming and neuropathy. This same case presents with tightness in the piriformis and by our estimation is causing pressure to be placed on the sciatic nerve, which explains why the pain isn’t acute but rather localized and traveling throughout an entire lower limb / low back segment of the body.

 

TREATMENT & REGENERATIVE PROTOCOL

 

There are a host of exercises and systems of mitigation that have proven effective in the short term and long term both for performance and the elimination of biomechanical dysfunction, and pain; These are:

 

  1. The Reverse Hyper, provides decompression for the Lumbar Spine, rotates the sacrum and allows spinal fluid to flow more freely as well as restoring the space between vertebrae eliminating pinched nerves
  2. Isometric strengthening of the Adductor and Abductor systems for lateral control and balance of the thigh
  3. The above combine with CARs or Controlled Articulated Rotation exercises allows the athlete to express full joint capacity and function, which provides the athlete with the ability to incrementally develop not only range of motion but active control in the newly acquired ranges of motion.
  4. Working in the belt squat with multiple walks and steps in varying directions and angles builds incredible hip tracking, and controlled ranges (this can also be combine with CARs exercises with light loads around the hips for traction)
  5. Developing Strength in the Hamstring through closed and open chain movements like the Inverse Curl and Seated Band Curls allows the biceps-femoris the ability to function properly as an extensor of the hips and can enter into a state of balance with the iliopsoas and quads
  6. External Progressive angular Isometricaly Loaded exercises in where the athlete will open the femur out to an extended range and meet an immovable load causing a maximal isometric contraction at the end range. This causes neural response to motor units that are basically dormant in the range of motion that the athlete can no longer achieve and very quickly gives the athlete what is known as ACTIVE range or functionality in the newly achieved level of mobility.

Now if you don’t understand the above and you think you have hip dysfunction thats limiting your performance on the diamond, give us a call or fill out a form somewhere on this site or drop us an email… I’d all but guarantee we can get you throwing gas or dropping tanks in no-time.

In Strength,

JJ Morris
Director of Performance
S8, LLC

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Why Speed is a Product of Strength

Speed is affected by multiple factors and Running mechanics can be a monster. Most athletes have no clue how you’re supposed to run, and what’s more, coaches constantly tell kids you’re born fast or slow.

While it’s true athletes are born with varying percentages and proportions of fast twice fiber and slow twitch, ANY athlete CAN get drastically faster then they are naturally with correct development in the weight room and on the turf or track

If they couldn’t why would Olympic sprinters like Usain bolt have the best strength and speed coaches in the world at their disposals?

Case in point this kid Kyle Kramer has taken over 4 Tenths off his 60 yard and continues to gain weight while getting incrementally faster because we focus on two primary factors: stride length (strength) and Stride Frequency (CNS Development)

In addition – honing of mechanics and the development of stabilizers, joint integrity and elasticity of the major muscle groups are imperative to producing the correct angles and posture allowing the athlete to be capable of optimal speed and acceleration. But the real ground is gained (no pun intended) because of the increase in strength that Kyle is Experiencing.

We have a very direct approach when attacking an athletes speed, and that approach boils down to this simple equation:

Body Weight to Dead Lift Ratio.

Now most parents and uneducated coaches are instantly in an uproar over this term “dead-lift” because they have heard from a  friend or colleague or they themselves, experienced an absolutely terribly executed “dead lift” while having zero development in the posterior chain or understanding of biomechanics and injured themselves or someone else.

That is for another article though. The fact is, as the ratio between bodyweight and deadlift strength increases, speed & power output and overall athletic ability increases dramatically.

This is because the primary mechanics of the dead lift and the affected muscle groupings involved in the dead-lift are the SAME EXACT muscles called upon by the body when requiring an explosive jump in any direction, a powerful first step and even in decelerating and changing directions from high speeds in a split second.

to put this in layman terms, Movement by our body in any direction is resisted by the earth gravitational hold on us. Basically a rate of one times our body weight. So a 225 pound athlete, must be able to produce more than 225 pounds of force to move in a given direction.

However, as the rate of speed the athlete moves increases, the g-forces (gravitational pull) on the athlete increase – so – to accelerate, the athlete must now produce a force greater than the percentage of gravity resisting the athletes movement.

Because the deadlift is the most pure form of removing weight from the earths surface in an explosive factor, it translates into the athletes ability to separate him or herself from the ground in an athletic situation. Most simply, in a sprint.

Training for Power & Acceleration: Velocity Based Training for Sports Performance

Power & Acceleration | What can I do to Start Training Now?

Our First entry comes from a Question from Jake Taraska of FACTR Baseball 17U … His Question: “What can I Do to increase my power and acceleration before we start training?”

So lets begin. In the S8 Development program, speed, and athletic performance in general, comes down to 8 Components

  1. Posture & Structural Integrity
  2.  Core Strength & Endurance
  3. Flexibility
  4. Power – where P=(Force*Distance)/Time
  5. Mechanics – Bio-mechanical form and positioning of the body during movements
  6. Physics (the angles at which the body moves and the proportions of power applied)
  7. Mentality, Focus & Aptitude
  8. Recovery

At S8 we focus on developing all 8 Components, but today for purposes of this post and video, we’re going to focus on Power, which will generate the fastest return on effort invested assuming you already got all the other components are covered.

The Biggest word in performance today is:

“POWER”

But What is Power?

Well I can tell you what it’s not. It is NOT how much you can max, or how many reps you can do. Honestly its not really specific to the weight room at all. The first thing you need to do is get your mind off of any weight thats found in a commercial gym unless it involves a pull up bar, a roman chair, or a squat rack. And no. Squat racks are not for curls.

We’re trying to build POWER, which is speed applied to force in a given time, not beach muscles.

Meat heads and workout-warriors… you’ll find the x button at the to right corner of this screen, athletes… continue on

Plain and simple if you generate more power you’ll be faster and generate more force in any movement you make, the key is to make sure is applied in a movement pattern that trains all of the chain posterior or anterior and sometimes both.

the Best moves in the book for this are hands down the Russian Kettle Swing, and the Front Squat.

1. First lets breakdown the Russian Kettle-bell Swing

  • Keep the back erect, with chin up, and chest out / shoulders back
  • The movement begins and ends in the hips with the “Hip Hinge”
  • Break at the hips and send the buttocks as far back before you “bend over”
  • Contract the gluten while extending all of the muscles in your legs and lower back to explode the hips forward, un-hingeing the hips

2. Now Lets Talk about the Front Squat or what I like to call the Rack Squat

  • Swing or hike the bell or heels into a rack (AKA Goblet) position, keeping the bell firmly to the chest with chin up and tight core
  • Using the same Hip-Hingeing Movement, Begin the squat by breaking at the hips and sending the buttock behind your heels,
  • Once you’ve initiated a hip-hinge begin to sit down and backward to the box
  • Once you hit the box, drive up thrusting the hips forward and through as fast and explosively as possible to the start

So how can you put these into practice?

Simple, Get your mind out of Maximum load based training, and start think in terms of Volume and Velocity.

  1. That is, add up the number of reps, x the number of sets, x the poundage in one workout, and you’ll get your total tonnage.
  2. Next Track your time under work, and rest time. Add up only the amount of seconds you were under tension divide by 60 to get the total number of minutes
  3. Now divide the tonnage by the number of minutes, and get your Work Rate.
  4. Increase the Work-rate, and you’ll increase your performance.

Adequate rest and recovery is necessary, as well as nutrition, mental readiness is a given, structural work and flexibility are all required elements. but this gives you the basics for developing power… not just beach muscle. Do these 2-3 times per week. track time under work tonnage, and volume ( and if you train with S8 use your PUSH band Data, and you’ll see increases in speed. Guaranteed.JJ Morris
Director of Performance | S8HP
August 18th, 2015

Why is Speed Analysis and Performance testing important and how will strength and conditioning help my athlete?

Soccer Sports Performance & Soccer Training In General Requires more than Knowledge of the Game

Soccer is a sport filled with intricacies on and off the field. Training needs to be soccer specific improving technical and tactical skills to help better your performance.

Things like ball control, position based requirements, and the ability to develop the field come from practice and technical and tactical development; However, research is now showing the importance of having a strong base in speed, agility, and strength is just as important as the technical and tactical skills the player uses within the game.

It makes sense, if you step back from the field and look at the big picture. The basis of any team-sport is dynamic, integrated movement: Changes in direction, velocity increases, deceleration, explosive bounding and lateral movement … the list goes on. It would make sense then, that to develop a player’s ability to execute these movements faster and with more precision, one would want to condition the machine, also known as the human body, powering the movements.

Knowledge of the physiological and biomechanical factors that determine performance in each of the 3 speed tests will allow specific training programs to be designed to address player weaknesses, improve speed capability of players in relation to their position on the field of play, and ultimately, improve match performance.

This is why we’ve developed our program around testing and analysis first. Because the basis for program design needs to be built around what the specific athlete, unit or team needs to develop as far as performance output. The Speed Analysis and Performance Testing we utilize at S8, gauges the athletes’ acceleration, maximum or top speed, and agility.

A study performed at Manchester Metropolitan University

This study ran athletes through three tests testing their acceleration, top speed and agility (Little & Williams, 2005). They then divided the athletes and put them through training programs. One group specifically focused on speed while the other group specifically focused on agility. When they retested the athletes, it was found that just speed training had minimal to little effect on agility and vice versa.

The reasoning being is different types of training focus on conditioning different leg muscles, building different body mass, and specific muscle fiber types (Little & Williams, 2005). The conclusion of this study was in order for a soccer player to become a more all around athlete on the field, they need to train all three.

Previously there has been a lot of reserve and controversy surrounding strength and conditioning training for younger athletes.

However a study performed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association has proven the opposite with a “…PROPERLY designed and supervised resistance training program (Faigenbaum Kraemer, Blimkie, Jeffries, Micheli, Nitka, & Rowland, 2009).”

Having the right strength and conditioning program in place, helps enhance the athlete’s soccer sports performance on the field. It allows the correct body mass, leg strength and muscle fiber tissue to be conditioned and built specific to each athlete’s strength and weaknesses. Proper and supervised strength and resistance programs are also shown to “…increase young athlete’s resistance to sports related injuries (Faigenbaum, et al., 2009).”

By testing and performing Video Analysis on the athletes, it allows us to design specific programs for the benefit of on the field skills. This training, in combination with technical and tactical training that the athletes receive during practices will help to make a stronger, faster, more accurate soccer player.

 

References:

Faigenbaum, A., Kraemer, W., Blimkie, C., Jeffries, I., Micheli, L., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. (2009). Specificity of acceleration, maximum speed, and agility in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(5), 60-79. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.fcboulder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/NSCA-Position-Stand-Youth-Resistance-Training.pdf

Little, T., & Williams, A. (2005). Specificity of acceleration, maximum speed, and agility in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(1), 76-78. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.e-space.mmu.ac.uk/e-space/bitstream/2173/3518/3/williams – specificity of acceleration.pdf?sequence=3

 

Periodized Sports Performance Program Incorporating Speed Training

What is Periodized Training?

Periodized training is an organized approach to training that involves the cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time (Len Kravits UNM). So said in simpler terms for sports performance training, preseason, in season, off season, and post season would be the general setup for a periodized training program. Developed in progressive blocks the program gradually peaks the athletes ability in whatever mode of training her or she is in, be it Speed Training, Power Training, Strength Training, or Even Flexibility and Injury Prevention.

Periodization is most commonly used in resistance program design to avoid over-training and to systematically alternate high loads of training along with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness (e.g. strength, strength-speed, and strength-endurance). For the youth athlete, it is extremely important to incorporate these different loading and de-loading phases, especially to prepare them for the increasingly high demands of todays competition. Even athletes as young as 9 years old will benefit from various phases of movement development and structural strengthening as well as bodyweight based plyometric and fundamental resistance, think bounding, jump rope, pulling and pushing movements and cutting drills.

The human body adapts very quickly to stress, especially when it comes to the stress exercise puts on the muscles. Once the body is adapted to exercise, the progress it is seeing will start to reach a plateau, to avoid this plateau we must change or cycle the routine, furthering our progress. An area where progress couldn’t matter more is in Sports. There is constant competition to be the fastest, strongest, and most powerful athlete on the field. To properly attain and improve all of these attributes one must be put through a rigorous periodized training program. Speed is a quality that requires the most attributes of being athletic, one can be astonishingly strong but without explosive power and flexibility he/she will not have a high degree of speed.

Speed training for sports performance is and always should be an extremely important focus when training an adolescent for their given sport. In today’s time young athletes tend to be neglected when it comes to having a proper training program.  Effective Speed Training is a combination of power and strength development with correct mechanical and movement pattern development to bring about the ability of an athlete to produce a large enough force, in an efficient movement mechanic that when combine allows the athlete to defeat gravities hold on the body.

It is thought that because they are young and their bodies aren’t fully matured that the more simple and basic the program the better, when in reality is actually the opposite; Youth athletes have a degree of sponge-like mold-ability because they are able to grasp new movement mechanics and patterns.

It is important to remember that novice athletes, particularly the young athlete, with a high degree of neural plasticity, can and will adapt to almost any training stimulus (Dr. Toby Brooks). There for making Periodized training essential for a youth athlete and his or her speed.

Written Collaboratively By:
Joshuah D Morris, Nike SPARQ SC
Colton J DeVoe, ACE CPT

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Works Cited
Frankel, C., & Kravits, L. (2000). Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications. Retrieved August 1, 2014, from The University of New Mexico: http://www.unm.edu
Toby Brooks Ph.D, A. C. (2011). Periodization for the Young Athlete. Retrieved August 1, 2014, from IYCA: http://iyca.org