TRAINING BACKSIDE DRIVE IN THE SOFTBALL SWING PART 1: SKILL SPECIFIC FOCUS

Do you feel like you’re swinging hard but the ball is going nowhere? Is ‘warning-track-power’ your nickname? Do you feel like if you ever do get a hold of a ball it gets pulled foul? Then you may be suffering from lack of backside power…

In hitting, there are three main components to developing power within a hitter: Separation, front side tilt, and backside drive. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the most effective ways to train backside drive in an athlete, in particular, a female softball hitter.

This article will cover the various ways to coach an athlete through improvement. Some hitters operate best with a simple cue while others need a more focused skill development. Sometimes, neither of these work and the hitter is instead limited physically by their structure and muscular functions. For this article series, we will dive into each of these categories so that you as a parent, coach, or athlete can feel fully equipped to develop backside drive.

Part 1: Skill Specific Focus for Backside Drive

What exactly is backside drive?

Backside drive is referring to the ability for a hitter to apply force into their front side of their body during the swing. In the picture below, the swing is indicating where the focus of ‘drive’ is coming from. Keep in mind, spinning the backside is exactly what we are looking to avoid (pictures E & F). There are three main things to look for on backside drive:

1. Back hip & knee positioning

A. Back knee position in stance
B. Back knee position at contact

Whenever evaluating for backside drive it is important to observe an active drive phase. Typically, observing the back hip position would be best. Ideally, the back hip at contact should be pointing toward the intended location of the ball. Fortunately, most shorts have small logos on this part of the leg/hip and a great cue would be to get the logo on the shorts to face the location of where you as a hitter want to hit the ball. However, for some, the movement and positioning of the hip is difficult to see. Therefore, there are times when evaluating the trailside knee is best. The backside knee should appear to be closing the gap between the two legs. Failure to do so will be observed as a straightened knee with very little muscle activation. This is a simple evaluation tool and a great place to start when evaluating backside drive. However, the back knee only tells a partial part of the story of what is actually going on in the swing.

2. Back foot positioning

C. Back foot positioning in stance
D. Back foot positioning at Contact

A simple way to see if an athlete has initiated their backside for power vs. sitting back and spinning it to draw a line by their back foot while they are in their stance. This way, you can evaluate just how much drive the hitter was able to get because you simply have a point of reference.

Pictures E &F below show an athlete who has under-utilized their power from their backside. Also, note that the knee position in picture F is deceiving. Although it appears that there is adequate drive, when drawing a line behind their back foot, it is obvious that there was too much sit and spin happening in the swing.

E. Back foot position in stance
(Sit and Spin)
F. Back foot position at contact (Sit & Spin) 

Effective Drills

Seeing a movement deficiency is key to becoming an effective hitting coach. However, being able to quickly translate to the hitter what they need to do in order to correct this deficiency is where your impact on the swing can be effective.

1. Walk up

1a. Walk up variation

2. Walk through

3. Wedge

4. Back elbow / Back knee

5. Back knee emphasis

Keep an eye out for part 2 and 3 explaining mental cues and movement corrections to develop backside power.

WHY ANTI-ROTATION IS MAKING OUR ATHLETES BULLETPROOF

A

It has become conventional wisdom that training the core is an essential part of every strength training program. From the world’s best athletes to the average Joe at your local gym, everyone is obsessed with training the CORE! But what is considered the core and how can it be trained optimally?

The core consists of more than just the 6 muscles that you would consider your abs (the six-pack). The whole core is actually made up of over 20 muscles including obliques, which are the muscles on the sides of your abdomen and deeper muscles that wrap around your spine and midsection. The core can include or be considered anything besides your arms and legs. The main purpose of the core muscles is to stabilize, not to move. Core strength comes from the ability to stabilize both the upper and lower parts of the body. So given all of that, why do so many people train the core in only one plane of motion? They shouldn’t!  Training the core should be done in multiple ways since the core is used in almost every movement we do as humans. Anti-rotation is a type of core training that has recently become more popularized in sports performance. It is especially good for athletes who generate a lot of power through their core such as baseball players, tennis players or any sport that requires a lot of rotational power. It can also be used for anyone who is looking for different ways to effectively strengthen and stabilize their core.

So what is anti-rotation and how can it be used to improve my overall performance?

An anti-rotation exercise is generally an exercise where the core is contracted and its job is to hold the rest of the body still in a singular plane, direction or motion. It is essentially a tug of war but instead of you pulling back on the resistance, you are holding still, trying to keep the resistance from moving or pulling you. Unlike crunches and sit-ups or other general core exercises, anti-rotation movements maintain the body in a still position as opposed to moving through a range of motion. The ability to resist or prevent motion (or rotation) may be just as important as it is to create motion (or rotation). It is important to understand that athletes should be able to resist rotation before they are able to produce rotation. Too many times you see athletes injured because they are able to produce more force than their body can resist.  That’s why when training to throw a punch or swing a baseball bat, it is essential to train the core in multiple planes of motion. Anti-rotation movements such as the paloff hold or press and difference plank variations are examples of different anti-rotation movements that can be used or added to any core training routine. Improving the core improves stability, balance and prevents injury. Try adding a few anti rotations movements to your workout to improve overall core strength and prevent injuries. The key to optimal performance is to stay healthy with a solid core.

The Hitting Stat That Doesn’t Count

Runner on second. Batter hits a ground ball to second base. She is out, but the runner moves to third. The next batter hits a fly ball that scores the runner. Your team wins 1-0. Everyone congratulates the batter who hit the sac fly but no one says a word to the batter who grounded out to second. Why? That 4-3 ground out in the book may very well have been the most important play of the game.

Meaningful Outs

Yup, read that again. MEANINGFUL outs. Who has ever heard of those before? Often, we think of sacrifice bunts or fly’s. But what about the play mentioned above? Is that out not incredibly meaningful? Meaningful outs result from advancing runners. It takes the selfishness out of the game and creates the “team first” attitude. When running the bases properly, it is about a little over 240 feet from home to home. Imagine if that base runner had to run 60 less feet! Think of how much easier that is to score! There is a reason why most coaches put on the sacrifice bunt in International Tie Breaker… You’re 60 feet closer to that winning run.

Team First

Often times it is the player with the best stats that gets recognized. Every person wants to be the person to hit the game winning homerun or make the big play. But it’s the dirty work that no one will comment on that truly wins games. But not every player is going to achieve this every single game. It’s the grind. It is the reason why we love to hate this game. It teaches us failure. But when you focus on team first, your statistics don’t matter. They will take care of themselves. The only statistic that should matter is the amount of “W’s” in the win column. But statistics are only a record of what you have done in the past. What are you going to do going forward?

The player who hit the 4-3 groundout will not be interviewed or be the center of attention, but anybody who truly understands the game will know how important she was to the outcome of the game. It’s the statistic that doesn’t count.

Stay humble,

Cassidy

STATIC STRETCHING VS DYNAMIC STRETCHING

Recent research has argued against static stretching before competition/training in favor of dynamic stretching.  I remember static and dynamic stretching as part of the pre-game warm-ups all the way back to my pee-wee football and tee-ball days. I can still clearly recall running a lap around the field and then lining up and performing a variety of stretches with my 6-year-old buddies. Was it so wrong?

STATIC STRETCHING

Static stretching is a technique of stretching that involves holding a challenging position where a muscle is stretched to the end range of the motion for 10 seconds to 2 minutes.  Static stretching is a commonly practiced in the fitness and health industry with the intent of promoting flexibility and decreasing injury risk. Static stretching can be an effective way to improve range of motion in a muscle or joint and increase flexibility throughout the entire body.

DYNAMIC STRETCHING

Dynamic stretching involves moving joints and/or muscles through a repetitive range of motion measured generally by repetitions or distance. Dynamic stretching involves more active and sports specific movements that can increase blood flow to active muscles, increase heart rate and reduce stiffness. Dynamic stretching has also been shown to increase nerve-impulses in the active or contracting muscle.

Which One?

Static and Dynamic stretching both play a part in overall performance. Although recent studies have shown static stretching before or after performance and/or competition may actually decrease power output and may not be effective against delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS), it still has its place. Static stretching benefits are maximized when stretching occurs in bouts separate from competition or training regiments. On the other hand, dynamic stretching benefits are best utilized before competitions or any type of training. Adding dynamic stretching to a warm-up can mentally and physically prepare the athlete(s) for the demands of the upcoming event. When it comes to stretching, it is important to understand the difference between the two stretches and when they can be best utilized.   If implemented properly, both static and dynamic stretching both have their place in sustaining and increasing overall performance.

Dealing with Stress as a Collegiate Student-Athlete

College is hard for most people. Now add 4 hours of practice, 8 hours of study hall, and even more “non-countable” hours. Not to mention multiple games that take up your whole day that also can impact the view of your university or college as a whole. Sounds stressful, right? Being a student-athlete often comes with the idea that you are super confident and on top of the world. Sometimes, this can be the furthest thing from the truth.

It’s Okay Not to be Okay

Student-athletes are often associated with strength and power. So what happens when they don’t feel strong? Are they supposed to lock it in and just “deal with it?” In their position, student-athletes often think strength means dealing with their problems on their own and not letting anyone know they are struggling. True strength comes from admitting you cannot do everything on your own; that sometimes life, school, and sports does get hard and overwhelming. It’s okay not to be okay. We are in the middle of a transition in the stigma regarding mental health. Admitting you are not okay does not have to mean you are depressed or have a mental health disorder – IT IS NORMAL. When competing in everything, mild bouts of stress and anxiety are normal. Being able to communicate it is important in being able to deal with it.

Communication is Key

Often, collegiate programs have someone in their department that specializes in dealing with student-athlete’s health – both physical and mental. Utilize them! They are there for a reason! What you talk about with them is confidential and will not affect your playing time – it is for you to be the best version of yourself. But, if you are uncomfortable with this, there are other people to talk to as well. Not only are there Student Health Services on campus but you also are in a unique situation being around people who understand what you are going through – your teammates. Sometimes we get caught up in the mindset that no one understands what you are going through. While they might not be feeling the exact same things, your teammates often understand what your schedule and normal stresses are like and, for the most part, probably feel them too. Make the most of the people you have around you – you never know what can help you until you try it.

Stay true to you,

Cassidy

The Importance of the Warm-Up

I would like to take this opportunity to remind our athletes and coaches of the importance of a proper warm-up.  With many of our athletes currently in season, we need to stress that warming-up, as part of a pre-game routine, is essential for both training and game days.  Athletes don’t only need to warm-up but they need to do it properly.

Let’s start with why we warm-up?  The overarching reasons are the warm-up prepares you both physically and MENTALLY!  Additionally, an appropriate warm-up can reduce the risk of injury. Lastly, the right warm-up has been proven to ENHANCE PERFORMANCE.  

So how to warm-up?  To start with, going out and throwing a ball for 5 minutes is not a proper warm-up.  If you forgot or you just don’t completely understand how to properly warm-up, here are some key elements to focus on when designing a warm up.  

 First, we want to get the body moving with exercises such as short sprints or jumping rope.  For lacrosse athletes a typical line drill is perfect. Baseball / Softball players can start with some short sprints or jump rope before just putting on your glove and throwing the ball.  The purpose of this portion of the warm-up is to simply raise the body temperature, heart rate, blood flow, respiration and even joint viscosity. This does not need to last any longer than 5 minutes.  

Second,  this part of the warm-up would be more geared towards the activation of muscles and mobility exercises. This is when we would use mini bands, do shuffles, squats, lunges, thoracic mobility, etc.   Again, no longer than 5 minutes needs to be spent on this. Think about the joints and be sure to be hitting specific exercises to activate the muscles around those joints.

The last part of a good warm-up would be to mimic something close to the activity you are about to be involved in, whether that is a game, practice or workout.  For lacrosse players, something with a change of direction, cone drills, start-stop drills. You could finish with some reactive drills, 1 on 1’s. Baseball / Softball this is when we could do infield-outfield drills.  This final part will obviously take longer than the 5 minutes. Try to keep it under 15 minutes, remember we are getting the body and mind ready to perform not trying to fatigue it.

One final note, just as we individualize our prehab/workouts at Athletes Warehouse, the warm-up does not need to be the same for every athlete.  For example, one athlete might need to spend time warming-up change of direction and the other might need to spend more time warming-up catching and receiving.  Be smart, understand the value and importance of the warm-up as part of your pre-game routine, it will only serve to benefit you throughout the season!

Matt June

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FRONT TOSS & TEE WORK

Just about every lesson we’ve ever coached or completed as an athlete has had some component of tee work and front toss work. Both of these exercises are common in pre-game warm-up routines from the little league level all the way up to the pros. So, what is the difference between each exercise?

Before we answer this, let’s keep one thing in mind: Our goal is to not become great at drills but to become a great hitter in the game. There is a big difference between someone who can just swing vs. someone who can thoughtfully execute as a hitter. Being able to translate practice work to the game is imperative. Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Thus, if we practice the incorrect modality each day, we will reinforce imperfect movement patterns.

So, the difference between each?

  1. During front toss, the front leg will vary in flexion at contact depending on the height and velocity of the pitch. This is not a bad thing, just a positive indication that the body is working to adjust to each pitch. If the athlete is having front side consistency issues, it may be best to work on tee work before diving into front toss.
  1. During tee work, the athlete has a tendency to increase lateral trunk flexion toward their backside. This is a natural move that every single one of us has done. Admit it, we sometimes like to hit cage bombs. Also, it becomes very easy to over swing off of the tee because the incoming pitch velocity is not there to provide the rebound effect. It takes quite a bit of discipline to ensure that we work strong mechanics when hitting a stationary ball off of the tee. If you have an athlete that experiences difficulty adjusting their tilt/lean angle, perhaps front toss work would be best to start with prior to tee work. Or, alternate tee work and front toss throughout the entire length of the session.
  1. Lastly, when an athlete is completing tee work, they do not need to allocate any mental focus to pitch velocity or pitch location. Therefore, as a coach, we can afford to cue body awareness issues to the hitter during tee work as they will be able to utilize their mental resources to focus on their body. Conversely, when hitting off front toss, velocity and pitch location become a part of the hitter’s decision-making process and thus allocating any focus to the body will deter focus from the incoming ball. Coaches should work to cue simpler and more focused on the ball to bat quality of contact opposed to what the hitter’s body is actually doing during the swing.

Keep in mind, just because you know everything that is going wrong in the swing does NOT make you a great hitting coach. Give the athlete positive information that they can directly apply to their improvement.

Washington, J., & Oliver, G. (2018). Kinematic differences between hitting off a tee versus front toss in collegiate softball players. International Biomechanics5(1), 30-35.

Does ‘that time of the month’ really put a female athlete at risk for tearing her ACL?

Quite the title, huh?

If you have any involvement in the sports science world, you are well aware that females have a higher incidence of ACL tears than males. In fact, women are 3-6 times at a greater risk for tearing their ACL than men. For years, researchers, coaches, athletic trainers, doctors, and professionals alike have been trying to answer the question, “Why?” Perhaps it is the naturally wider hip angle of a female that creates the infamous ‘Q’ angle putting extra pressure on the knee joint. Or maybe it’s the hamstring to quad ratio, perhaps females present with more muscle imbalances and compensations than males. Still, it wouldn’t fully explain the borderline epidemic that has occurred in the world of ACL injuries. Additionally, if tearing the ACL was due to structural factors then theoretically, us as professionals should be able to predict the incidence of injury with fairly accurate results. Yet, we’re missing something. We still see phenomenal female athletes tear their ACL. Athletes that have done all the right things in training, presented with zero knee valgus, have high resistance to fatigue, work tirelessly on midline strength, landing mechanics, proprioceptors, etc. So, what is it then? I’m not sure we’ll ever truly be able to explain the answer to this in black and white, however, there is some very interesting research that has recently presented itself as promising leads on female ACL tears.

As a college athlete at the University of Alabama, I was surrounded by tremendous athletes on a daily basis. Looking back on my time there, the level of professionalism amongst everyone involved in the athletic department was truly remarkable. I remember one athletic trainer saying she was convinced a female on her period had everything to do with when they tore their ACL. So much so, that she had the wild thought of sitting athletes while they were on their period. “WHAT?!” I blurted out. If anyone told me that once a month (that’s 20-25% of my year) I would have to sit out from athletics on the off chance I’d tear my ACL I’d be picketed in the streets at the ridiculousness of the thought. However, with every crazy thought, there is some merit to it. If this athletic trainer who had been working at the university for over 25 years saw 90% of her athletes tear their ACL during that time of the month then maybe she was on to something. Before we ask the question of what we should do during that time of the month, let’s first explore the why behind how the menstrual cycle impacts a female’s chances of tearing her ACL.

The Impact of Hormones

When a female’s body goes through its menstrual phases, there are various hormones that get released at different times. These hormones are designed to prepare the body in case the female gets pregnant. Thanks to our extremely intelligent body, some of these hormones are designed to increase joint laxity so that the hip region can expand in order to carry a baby. These hormones don’t just increase joint laxity at the hips, they increase laxity throughout the entire body (including the knee). Researchers have found that ACL injury has been 2.7 times higher in women whose knee laxity values were more than one standard deviation from the mean. Thus, it would make sense that hormones that increase knee joint laxity would, therefore, put the female at a greater risk for knee injury. These hormones can not only increase joint laxity but also make an impact on muscle sequencing, muscle contraction, and muscle stiffness. Alterations to any of these will also increase the risk for an ACL injury. Some studies went even further into evaluating hormone concentration levels and found that females with 6.0 pg/mL of relaxin (a hormone that causes the cervix to dilate) were putting females four times more likely at risk for an ACL tear. Now, here is the interesting part; What about females taking oral contraceptives? As a refresher, oral contraceptives are used to ‘tame the cycle’ and their purpose is to suppress the release of certain hormones while you are on the pill so that you won’t get pregnant. Ready for the mind-blowing part? One study found that females taking oral contraceptives were 20% less likely to tear their ACL.  

Do we buy it?

After reading this information I was equal parts intrigued and equal parts questioning everything I was reading. The data and facts seemed to make so much sense! This is what the athletic trainer I had talked to in Alabama was talking about! However, there are still some major flaws in the research that need to get investigated. For starters, how was ‘joint laxity’ of the knee actually being tested for most of these studies? Researchers were using the Lachman’s test. The Lachman’s test involves a practitioner manually testing for laxity. Some issues that may arise with this test are 1. Laxity is subjectively measured by the practitioner, 2. The temperature of the individual or the environment could make an impact on the perceived laxity of the joint. When determining which part of the menstrual cycle an individual was at, some studies would simply base their conclusion off of a questionnaire as to, “When was the last time you had your period.” Although it is possible to accurately measure if someone is in the follicular, ovulatory, or luteal phase based on when they get their period, it is also possible that someone has inconsistencies in their cycle and will get their period at the ‘wrong time’ in terms of the appropriate time of the cycle. Based on these estimates is when researchers would determine what hormones were present the most during that time. However, some females don’t even ovulate causing the release of fewer hormones, others have inconsistencies that keep certain hormone levels extremely high. Regardless of these inconsistencies, future research should aim to test hormone levels based on urine, saliva, or blood work. Lastly, one of the biggest issues with the statement pertaining to oral contraceptives is that the types of oral contraceptives vary greatly. In fact, some oral contraceptives contain the hormone, estradiol which is said to be at its highest concentration when the incidence of ACL injuries are also highest. Other oral contraceptives instead only contain progesterone which some researchers claim to have the least impact on joint laxity. Future research should work on completing a study comparing the different types of oral contraceptives and their impact on ACL injuries.

Back to the first question, what do you do about playing time during that time of the month?

The answer here is simple. There is nothing we can do, yet. In the future, I see our collective understanding of this injury growing ten-fold. With it, the understanding of regulating hormones will be within our grasp and we will have a better idea of when an athlete is at greater risk of injury. That is what the professional in me says. The former athlete within me says that there is no way I will ever sit on the sidelines just because I have my period. Just like an athlete who has a knee deviation due to genetic structure, I will strengthen my imbalances tirelessly in order to mitigate my risk of injury. As a female, and as an athlete I understood every day I walked on the field that I was putting myself at risk for injury. I willingly accepted this risk and felt confident in my body because I prepared myself in the best way I could for battle. ACL risk will always be out there but with continued research, we can work to grasp a better comprehensive understanding of how to prevent this catastrophic injury from occurring.

Evaluating Training Differences Between Men & Women

Why are men typically stronger and faster than women?

There is a multitude of differences between the male and female anatomy that account for strength, power, and endurance differences. However, where most people like to attribute these differences to gender alone, the main reason for these discrepancies is due to hormones and muscle mass distribution. Meaning, a female, and male with similar hormonal responses and muscle mass would thus have very similar training outcomes.

Hormonal Impact on Strength

Testosterone is the main hormone that has become synonymous with doping in the professional sports world. Testosterone levels benefit the athlete by increases bone mass, improving fat distribution, muscles size, and strength, and increasing red blood cell production. If the best athletes in the world are seeking ways of increasing testosterone then it should be obvious that it is one of the most important hormones to strength and power. Pre-puberty. testosterone levels in both males and females are fairly similar thus there are very few differences observed in strength and power output amongst young athletes. However, post-puberty, males can produce anywhere from 10-20 times the testosterone in women.

How much of a difference is there?

Post-puberty, once hormonal changes begin to make an impact on an athletes physique, the true differences between males and females begin to emerge.

Strength

On average, females have less muscle mass than males. As a side note, this means they are more susceptible to reconditioning. This susceptibility means that in-season training is imperative to females because they will lose muscle mass quicker than males. Women will have 2/3 the overall muscle mass of men; 1/2 of the upper body muscle mass and 3/4 of the lower body mass. For example, a male will on average have 80% of their leg be muscle whereas a female will have 60% of their leg be muscle. With this being said, when adjusting for fat-free weight and fat-free cross-sectional area, one study reported that all sex differences in strength were eliminated when looking at the lower half (1).

Speed and Power

Men have a tendency to be faster because of three main reasons: body composition, hematocrit levels, and heart and lung size. Due to hormone sensitivity and production, males have a tendency to be leaner and carry less fat mass. Typically, a leaner body mass will equate on average to a faster runner. Hematocrit is the volume of red blood cells in proportion to total red blood cells. The higher levels of testosterone in the male system account for a higher red blood cell count. More red blood cells lead to an improved ability to exchange O2 and CO2 within the cell thus a higher power output when training. Lastly, males on average have larger heart and lung sizes. A larger heart would equate to a higher stroke volume again affording the ability to generate more power over a sustained period of time. Additionally, the wider hip angle of a female puts them at a biomechanical disadvantage when sprinting. Meaning, when looking at the force vector applied to the human system when the foot strikes the ground, the wider hip angle can make it more difficult to transmit directly through the female athletes’ center of mass. This would thus require more overall force to create the same power when running than a male. This is yet another reason why a male of the same muscle mass as a female may still run faster.

Despite these differences, it is still impressive that some women are able to compete with their counterpart males in various sports. As for which gender benefits the most from training, the confounding variables contributing to this question seem to stray in too many directions to give a definitive, black and white answer. As a Sports Performance Specialist who has had the opportunity to observe males and females spanning ages 6-30 and across a spectrum of sports, I can tell you the athletes that trained with intent, put the effort in to remain consistent, and truly believed they were going to improve observed the greatest benefits from training. The desire to improve does not favor a gender.

(1) Sex difference in muscular strength in equally-trained men and women

PHILLIP BISHOP, KIRK CURETON & MITCHELL COLLINS

Pages 675-687 | Received 14 Mar 1986, Accepted 29 Oct 1986, Published online: 27 Jul 2007

(2)Gender differences in skeletal muscle substrate metabolism – molecular mechanisms and insulin sensitivity

-Cassie Reilly-Boccia

How Training Can Become Your Place of Solitude

Given the right circumstance, the human brain has an unbelievable ability to self-regulate. I recently read two amazing quotes from Dr. Adriaan Louw. He states, “The most powerful pharmacy in the world is between your ears”. He added, “…on average, after a 6-mile run, the brain releases 10mg of Morphine. If you break your arm and rush to the ER, they will only administer you about 2mg while they reset the bone.” Let’s take a second to think about the power of the brain.

Your body and brain were designed to move. Over the last couple of years, fitness and training have become an incredible place of solitude for me. A place of self-reflection, where everything in life just seems to come back into perspective.

At a young age, my father would see me struggle with something going on in my life. Don’t get me wrong, my problems were minuscule compared to many others in this world. However, if I had a bad game, got a poor grade, broke up with a girlfriend, or had any little bit of trouble, he’d always tell me to go for a run. Every time I came back from the run I had found the answer. Exercise has been an outlet that allows me to find the answer whenever life has thrown me any sort of obstacle.

It wasn’t until I got to college and I began my undergraduate degree in psychology that I realized exactly what was going on in my brain. I realized the power of the chemicals that my brain was releasing and I figured out how to utilize them. I was going through my undergrad with the ultimate academic performance enhancing drug on the planet. It was movement. Rather than planning my workout around my school work, I began to plan my school work around my workout. I found that if I could time lacrosse practice or a training session perfectly, I would go to my school work with my brain firing on a completely different level.

When I listened to Dr. Adriaan Louw talk about how movement can release powerful chemicals into the brain, it made me reflect on all the times that exercise has allowed me to re-establish a homeostatic state of mind. My purpose in writing this is to share with others the potential that movement and exercise can have in their lives. It is something that we, as humans, can all hold in our back pocket whenever we find ourselves in a tough spot.

Stay Strong,

Coach Jack

How to Keep Your Passion From Feeling Like a Job? (Open list) (12 submissions)

Anyone who has worked in strength and conditioning in any capacity can tell you that, like many industries, your days are long, sleep is sacrificed, preparation must be at a pinnacle, but at the end of the day you leave work with a full heart. At Athletes Warehouse, that is why we coach. It is the fulfillment of our passion. As a coach, you have to be “on” at all times. Neither you nor your athlete can afford to lay back or turn off at any given time. Not just does it provide a situation that puts the athlete at risk, but it does the athlete an incredible injustice in the type of product that you are providing. Athletes and their families are investing their time and money and entrusting us with their athletic development. This is an incredible burden to bear but an honor to carry.  

It can be tiresome to be “on” for so many hours of the day and sometimes it can impede on your passion. Remember, no matter the age, sport, or skill level, we approach every session with the intent that our athlete deserves the greatest version of us every time they walk in the building.

Here are some things that we practice that eliminate a situation where the coach or athlete are just “going through the motions.”

Teacher over motivator. Motivating is necessary – it is part of being a strength and conditioning coach. But purely being a motivator creates a monotonous situation for the coach and is not a true fulfillment of your job. At Athletes Warehouse we find a balance between upbeat and motivating vs. slowing a session down and teaching. Slowing down a session allows for a coach to communicate and get an athlete to understand the purpose of each training session.

Humbly pursue knowledge from all areas of the strength and conditioning industry. At Athletes Warehouse we continually implement new training methods from all areas of the industry. Again, this keeps you, as the coach, active in continually teaching a new technique, but more importantly, it keeps your athlete actively engaged in the training process. Intuitively, consistent presentation of a new stimulus to the athlete is always going to provide a superior product.

Train yourself. This may be one of the most important things to being a coach who can relate to the athlete. Train yourself like you train your athlete. By going through the same program design that your athletes are, you will find yourself better able to relate to the exercises that you are prescribing them.

Maintaining passion for what you do for a living is critical for your career as a strength and conditioning professional. An athlete’s attitude towards strength and conditioning can be highly dependent on how they perceive the coach’s attitude. Here at Athletes Warehouse we recognize this and see the benefit to sharing your passion for strength and conditioning with a young athlete every time they walk in the facility. THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING PROFESSIONAL. I hope that you can utilize some of the tips that we practice to maintain your passion and continually share such with your youth athletes.

-Jack Gladstone