Dr. Nick Serio on Special Strength Training For Pitchers

Last week Dr. Nick Serio dropped some knowledge bombs on Joel Smith’s, “Just Fly Performance Podcast.” (https://www.just-fly-sports.com/podcast-183-nick-serio/

In this podcast, Coach Nick goes into detail on how he has developed special strength training methods for rotational athletes, especially for the baseball pitcher. This podcast was PACKED with information. It is necessary for all athletes, parents, and coaches in the baseball community to listen to this. Nick shares his most informed methods in training the baseball athlete and specifically the pitcher. Today I attempt to break down the mass of information stated in this 52 minute podcast. Here were my major takeaways.

With the alarmingly high increase in baseball/pitching related injuries, especially at the youth and high school level, there are a number of factors at play.

  • The recruiting and showcase format is not advantageous to the athletes recovery.
  • The pitcher’s performance is becoming highly predicated on velocity, and therefore many are striving to achieve high velocity with very high risk training methods.
  • While a degree of specialization is necessary to develop the required skill sets to pitch at a high level, there must be a necessary time away from throwing. This time off of throwing should include special exercises related to baseball (more details on this further on). 

As professionals in any field that works with athletes, we must do a better job of illuminating new research to the athlete and parent.

  • Many old school methods no longer have a place in sports.
  • Far too often our population of athletes and parents will never see necessary research and methods in a way that is digestible to them. 
  • The more informed our population is, the more equipped they will be to make good decisions in sport.

“Specialization” has become a villainous term. 

  • While time away from baseball is important, the athlete can gain tremendous strides in their performance by focusing on specialized strength training.
  • With more access to strength and conditioning at the high school level, it is not necessary for athletes to search for “cross-training” of benefits by playing multiple sports. Strength and conditioning should become a season in the athletes yearly sport participation.
  • By implementing special strength training methods during the off-season, and simultaneously giving throwers a 4 month window away from throwing, it has been proven that we can increase performance and decrease the rate of throwing related injuries. 

Pitch count is irrelevant.

  • The baseball community must take into account multiple factors beyond pitch count when monitoring a pitcher’s throwing volume. This includes the amount of pitches during high pressure situations, as well as physical preparedness of the athlete. In short, just as we would not prescribe the same weight to all athletes in the gym, all athletes should not be prescribed to the same pitch count when throwing.
  • A more accurate test to monitor fatigue of the pitcher would be grip strength. Due to the necessary force absorption capacity of the forearm and hand flexor group, monitoring this fatigue directly may be a better method to predicting overuse.

As coaches, we can give athletes a very accurate depiction of where their progress is solely by evaluating certain foundational movements.

  • SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE when working with youth athletes.
  • The Overhead squat will tell us a tremendous amount of about everything from ankle mobility, to hip rotation capacity, to thoracic spine function, as well as arguably the most important for this population, how their shoulder functions in an applicable way under load and challenged position.
  • The Bear Crawl exposes cross-body coordination, as well as challenging the midline strength of the athlete. This movement has become crucial in return to sport from labral surgery, as it allows the athlete a controlled, yet dynamic way to load the shoulder joint.
  • The Reverse Lunge has become one of the greatest transfer strength exercises to throwing. Those who are able to increase their reverse lunge strength almost always are going to throw a baseball more effectively.
  • Finally, those that throw a baseball well also tend to sprint and run very well. 

We need to emphasize the importance of athlete screening and implementation of corrective exercises.

  • Our evaluation process begins with the belief that not all postural based dysfunction leads to movement based dysfunction.
  • Contrary to the old school belief that baseball players should not go overhead, we are constantly striving to improve the scapular and shoulder function through movements that get the athlete into the overhead position. (One of Nick’s favorites is the Landmine Press)

During the 4 month window away from throwing, throwers will partake in a very specialized medicine ball strength program that allows the athlete to improve sequencing of the actual action of throwing a baseball. (All of which can be found on the Athletes Warehouse movement library:

  • Through a progression of phases, we allow the athlete to be incredibly aggressive in their throwing actions.
  • While the drills may mirror the action of throwing, the athlete is able to disassociate from throwing a ball while still working on sequencing and power production.

There must be a massive focus on the front/blocking leg in rotational sports

  • Across the board, when looking at high velocity throwers, there is a common theme of a stiff front side after the front leg hits the ground.
  • In order for the thrower to do this, they must require a large amount of strength on the front leg. We will often take athletes through drills like single leg drop jumps to increase their eccentric capacity.
  • Forcing an athlete to land on an elevated surface on during medicine ball throws, we can force the athlete to generate force sooner, which in turn will allow them to create a stiffer front side.

If you are a baseball athlete in the New York City or Westchester area and you are not training under Coach Nick, you are doing yourself a massive injustice. He has maximized the potential of so many baseball players in this area. From the most elite recruits, to those just trying to make a high school team, this program has proven to succeed with athletes time and time again. Drop the ego, and hand over the reigns to Dr. Nick. 

Three Ways We Utilize Isometrics at Athletes Warehouse

By Stephen Portee

When a new athlete enters our doors, regardless of previous training experience, they can find themselves executing Isometric exercise variations to some extent. In turn, this allows the athlete to spend time in very specific positions of a movement. We also utilize isometrics (in a somewhat different, but similar way) with some of our most elite athletes for a wide variety of benefits that they provide. Here is an article defining an isometric contraction as well as details of the many benefits we find by utilizing these exercises for every athlete, no matter of training experience.

Intro 

Muscle contractions can be simply broken down into two different phases or types. Isotonic contractions involve muscular contractions with changes in the length of the muscle. The word isotonic indicating iso=same tonic=tone. During these types of contractions one can see both shortening (concentric) and lengthening (eccentric) of the muscle fiber. Isometric contractions are muscular contractions without changes in the muscle length. When training Isometrics, it allows us to challenge very specific positions of exercises or sports.

Before going into more detail, we must first distinguish two very important types of Isometrics. Overcoming isometrics involve applying maximal force to an immovable object (think trying to push into a building wall), while yielding isometrics involve holding a load at a specific position with the goal of resisting eccentric forces (examples of this would be holding oneself at the top of a pull up bar, or holding the bottom of a squat position). Overcoming isometrics involve recruiting the maximal amount of muscle fibers and involve a higher level of neurological demand. They are generally performed for short durations and are closely related to strength and power potential. I generally utilize overcoming isometrics with more experienced athletes who are preparing for a power and peaking phase of their training program. 

1) Yielding isometrics are closely related to eccentric strength and are less neurologically demanding so they can be held for longer periods of time. Yielding isometrics can be used to teach proper technique/positions to beginner athletes with low training ages with minimal risk. Positional holds can be mentally and physically challenging, and gives the beginner athlete a modality where they can push to a great deal of exhaustion without the risk of high loads or complex movements that they are not prepared for. It allows me to prepare a beginner athlete both mentally and physically for higher volume training, as they are going to experience immediate fatigue, but will not experience extreme soreness in the days to come following their training session. Muscular soreness is generally caused by breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise. Isotonic exercises involve repeated changes in muscle length which lead to a greater amount of tissue breakdown. Isometric exercises generate maximal muscular contractions without the constant deformation of the tissue. Minimal tissue distortion leads to less tissue breakdown, which in turn prevents soreness. This is a very important concept when dealing with new athletes.

2) Yielding isometrics can also be utilized to train the Amortization phase of HIGHLY skilled and trained athletes. We train the amortization phase of movements to help to teach the athletes to absorb and transfer of force properly through the body. Imagine an athlete performing an overhead toss with a medicine ball. They will use what we call the “stretch shortening cycle” to stretch and load the muscle tissues then rapidly shorten and contract to produce force to throw the medicine ball as high as they can. Our objective in training the amortization phase of movement is to maximize that transfer of energy from the Stretch (Eccentric) to Shortening (Concentric) muscle action with maximal control. 

3) Finally, I utilize isometric exercises at end ranges of motion, in order to create strength and stability through positions that lack active range of motion. Our bodies are capable of both active range of motion, defined as using muscular contraction to achieve positions (hip flexion), and passive range of motion, think static stretching. End range isometrics involve setting your position to the highest point then creating a concentric muscular contraction in attempt to go further into that range of motion. For example, if we take a general hamstring stretch where we will have the athlete lay supine (on their back), and use a band to pull their leg up into hip flexion (INSERT PICTURE), it’s commonly thought that this end range position is the weakest for that hamstring group. Now, if we take the hamstring to that same end range and then force the muscle to create an effortful isometric contraction, we can begin to build strength through the muscle’s weakest point.

5 Introductory ISOMETRICS that we utilize in on-boarding programs

There are a variety of educational exercises that we use in our onboarding program for athletes. Each exercise is used to teach proper positioning and muscle activation. We start with these exercises because they are easily coachable and display minimal risk to the athletes. All of these exercises generally begin with no external load, then as the athlete progresses and acclimates to training we can apply load. 

Isometric Squat

Isometric Deadbug

Isometric Glute Bridge or Hip Thruster

Isometric Lunge

Pushup Plus Plank

5 Elite Level ISOMETRICS that we utilize in Specific training phases of high level athletes.

Pin Hold Deadlift

Split Stance Unilateral Load Drop Landings

Copenhagen Plank

Long Duration Loaded Iso Lunge holds

Loaded Chin Up Isometric Holds

Two Major Improvements I can expect in my sport after doing a phase of Isometrics

  1. Increased strength and stability in less mechanically advantageous positions
  2. Increased muscular work capacity and rate of force development during athletic movements.

Concluding 

There are many applications for the use of isometrics in an athletes training program. We use them as tools of education, physical and neurological prep for a heavy lift, and ways to increase strength and stability in difficult positions. For the in season athlete, isometrics are a way we can still train hard without the same level of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that might occur with general isotonic training. End range isometric contractions are used to increase both muscular strength and range of motion.

WHY WE FOCUS ON MOVEMENT PATTERNS BEFORE MAX EFFORT

Say you just bought a used car that you planned on fixing up as a weekend project. The car needs a ton of work. Regardless of your experience, intuitively, you may begin with getting the engine to run, change the brakes out, and change the tires. What you wouldn’t do is go directly to adding a turbo to the engine that doesn’t quite run yet. What we can come to realize from this article is that strength and conditioning can be thought of in a very similar way to working on a vehicle.

On “Just Fly Sports Performance Podcast”, I listened to Joel Smith interview French performance coach Jerome Simian on how he built a world record holding decathlete. There was one section of the interview where Jerome notes his viewpoint on how he is able to increase performance through movement rather than through strength and power maxes. While he would agree, there is a time and place for heavy strength lifts, I thought it was a fantastic point made that we can increase the performance of the athlete through creating better movement patterns. This can be thought of like the car mechanic. If we pursue max effort strength movements before addressing competent movement patterns, it’s as if we are increasing the horsepower of the engine while driving on bad brakes and tires. In both the human and the car, the expression of the engine’s horsepower must be facilitated by a structure that is optimal. If structure and movement is not addressed first, we are giving an athlete an engine that is way too powerful for what their frame can handle. This is how countless injuries occur in even the best athletes. Even for an athlete in a strength based training program, we must continually come back to movement focused work; just as we would bring our car in for an oil change and inspection from time to time.

Just yesterday on the training floor, Coach Matt was breaking down a lateral shuffle technique with one of our highest level athletes. I noticed him quietly observe the movement patterns of the athlete’s lower body and feet. I asked him what he was looking for. He noted how he did not like how this athlete was stacking their trail leg during a lateral shuffle as they went to change direction. He felt it placed the athlete in a compromised position. What they did was break down the movement into simple holds, allowing the athlete to feel the exact adjustment that they both agreed that her body should be in. Even though this was a very high level athlete, they struggled in making an adjustment to correctly aligning her body. I couldn’t help but think what a catch this was by Coach Matt. With the naked eye he was able to notice just the slightest leak in positioning of the athletes lower body during a high speed lateral shuffle.

Whether we admit it or not, many humans have this innate belief that more is better. Oftenly in the strength and conditioning field we fall into this trap of trying to squeeze more speed, more power, and more strength out of our athletes. After all, we call ourselves performance coaches. How can we know if we increase performance without a quantitative number to tell us that we are improving? The adjustment Matt made to his athlete’s lateral technique was more beneficial than any pro agility (a baseline agility test commonly used by strength and conditioning professionals) or sprint time. He facilitated a technique that increased the integrity of this athlete’s frame, allowing massive room for the addition of more horsepower. Like I said before, adding horsepower to a car that is out of alignment, is a recipe to end up back in the mechanics shop. When people come into our facility for the first time, this is not always what they want to hear. Most people come to us and say “I want to get faster”, “I want to build strength”, “I want to increase my agility”. Regardless of the athlete’s goal, it must be initiated with fantastic movement patterns. In turn we will develop a machine that runs reliably, efficiently, and will have a tremendous amount of room for after-market additions.  

TRAINING THE CHEERLEADER

When observing the detailed movement requirements of a cheerleader we can see the broad range of movement capacity required out of the athlete. In our context, movement capacity can be described as the ability to perform a wide range of patterns (jumping, twisting, flipping, landing, balance on a single leg, handstand, etc.) with efficiency and stability. With this, a successful cheerleader must possess the prerequisite strength to produce a massive amount of force as well as have the stability to absorb such a force to avoid injury.

In all sports, athletes from youth division up through elite levels deal with overload injury. “Overload injury” is commonly synonymous with “overuse injury”. These injuries are those such as stress fractures, tendonitis/tendinopathy, muscle pull/tear. “Overuse” implies that the athlete is at imminent risk of these conditions upon too much volume of their sport, which is most certainly not the case. “Overload” describes these conditions as a result of the athlete not possessing the physical requirements to handle what their sport is throwing at them. While athletes may get hurt while exposed to repetitive movement patterns, this only becomes an issue when their bodies can no longer handle the load placed upon it.

In terms of cheerleading, athletes have such a variety of physical demands. From holding as a base support, sprinting and tumbling, to jumping and landing, and everything in-between. The injuries stated before happen as a result of an unprepared athlete. As strength and conditioning professionals, our skill set is not in coaching the fine movement patterns required of cheer, but to build the capacity of the athlete’s muscular and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and bones) to handle the forces that they will receive throughout a cheer season.

Movement’s that we implement with a cheerleader may be scaled dependent on age. However, the planes of motion, as well as muscle groups that we train, will be relatively similar across the board. Here is a simple list of sample exercises that we would implement upon training cheerleaders:

Landing: One of the first things we do with any athlete is teaching them how to properly land and absorb the force of their own body dropping from an elevated surface. The drill begins with two-foot landings and progresses to one foot as well as implementing rotation and lateral movement too. This will inevitably be a prerequisite for any complex plyometric drills that we implement in the future.

Squat: Shown here, one can see the similar mechanics squat to the landing. We train our athlete’s to create a stable and strong squat stance that will allow them to build strength that will carry over to the landing itself.

Quadruped/Crawling: By getting the athlete to crawl with opposite arm to leg, it forces them to create a cross body and torso stabilization. This is an incredibly important strength requirement whenever an athlete is rotating, twisting, or changing direction. Proper crawling is also key in building transferable upper body strength in athletes as they are forced to coordinate their upper body with their lower body. Spending time supporting their body weight on their hands will also build stability in the elbow and wrists.

Box Jumps: Shown here is a box jump, which is a useful tool in any training program. It allows the athlete to produce a tremendous amount of force and athleticism in landing on an elevated surface. Box Jumps are a very good tool for increasing vertical power, which when done properly can increase an athlete’s vertical jump. Again, whenever we complete this movement we are always reverting back to our landing/squat position to ingrain those proper force absorbing movement patterns.

Sled Pushing and Pulling. This is by far one of the greatest ways for an athlete to express and build their absolute strength. This will be the primary platform that we utilize in providing a younger athlete with an external load other than their bodyweight. The reason being is that the weight never leaves the floor. Upon fatigue or technique breakdown, the athlete is never in a position of vulnerability or injury as they only bare the weight when they are pushing or pulling it. These are great movements in building strong and stable ankles, knees, hips, torso, and shoulders.

Pushups and Pullups. Finally, these two movements have stood the test of time in strength training for a reason. Similar to the crawling pattern stated above, the pushup teaches the athlete to support their body weight on their hands and press with a stable torso. Moreover, the pull up is another foundational movement as we are going to build shoulder stability by teaching athletes to support their body weight from a hanging position. These are the starting points to building strength through the upper body for an athlete who is going to be supporting their own bodyweight, or in this case someone else’s body weight, with their arms.

Strength and conditioning for cheerleaders is an integral part of both their performance as well as their health and longevity in the sport. Regardless of the sport, our goal is to create resilient athletes who are able to handle the demands of what their sport throws at them. An important takeaway message is to realize that many of the muscular and connective tissue injuries that youth athletes constantly suffer from are those of overload. Their bodies simply were not capable of handling the force or volume placed upon it. These issues are preventable with a well planned progressive training program.

WHAT COACH JACK IS LEARNING ABOUT THIS WEEK

While we have had the luxury of getting our athletes in the building multiple times per week, many of these athletes are practicing the specific skills of their sport simultaneously in the same week or even in the same day. We generally see two types of back dysfunction that are exposed during movements performed in the weight room.

Extension-Based Back Pain

This is usually a result of an aggravated joint in the lower back. Where this pain is usually exposed is during a Squat or Deadlift where the athlete experiences discomfort while setting their back. These are athletes that we commonly see as slightly lordotic, and therefore when setting their back before a lift tend to overemphasize extension. The athlete experiences pain in this position due to extension sensitivity, yet interestingly enough, these athletes also lack adequate ranges of flexion. What I have found to be a fantastic training tool for athletes like this is utilizing flexion exercises like a segmented rounding over to touch the toes (even with a light load in some of the stronger high level athletes), reverse hyper, or even many of our quadruped crawling drills that emphasize a global rounded position of the spine.

Flexion-Based Back Pain

This is much less common in many of our athletes as it is usually associated with a disk issue. Simply enough, these athletes usually lack sufficient extension capacity. These are athletes that a coach would see having the opposite problem as stated above. They would have difficulty even expressing any form of extension when setting themselves up for a lift. These athletes tend to benefit from extension based exercises. Movements like an active cobra pose, supermans, bird dogs, or even just a straight up back extension.

Some athletes come out of a long season with mild discomfort in the lower back. It’s important for us as the coach, and often times the first point of contact in identifying an athletes pain, to understand when an athlete must be referred out to see a specialist. Overall, I have found this to be a great guideline to prescribe proper exercise that avoids exacerbating dysfunction, and can even help an athlete build strength and range of motion in areas that they may be deficient.

WHY THE PRONE TRAP RAISE IS SO DIFFICULT FOR ATHLETES?

The prone trap raise is a fantastic exercise for not just any athlete but for most of the population as well. However, as alluded to in the title, the prone trap raise is a difficult exercise to master. The article below will touch on a few reasons why this exercise, that appears simple, is actually one of our more complex movements we complete with our athletes.

What is the prone trap raise?

In this video, you’ll see Coach Brandon completing a prone trap raise on an incline bench. The exercise can be done on a table as well where the athlete is laying flat. Coaching cues for the exercise:

    1. Begin by having the athlete lay flat on the incline bench and crush their anterior core into the bench (there should be no excessive extension at the lumbar spine.)

    1. Cue to keep the chin tucked and pressed into the bench. This will prevent excessive forward head push. If the athlete were on a table, they should have their head turned toward the direction of the arm being used in order to decrease activation of the upper trapezius musculature (more about which muscles we target below).

    1. Have the athlete ‘scap load’ meaning, they will pull their shoulder blade into a retracted and posteriorly tilted position. Most of the time, this will be done so with the aid of a coaches guidance in order to ensure the athlete is setting up properly.

  1. The athlete should then raise his or her arm up at approximately a 135-degree angle in order to activate the lower trapezius regions. See picture below for the pennation angle of the striations in the trapezius muscle.

*Due to the many areas of focus for this exercise, we will typically begin each athlete by just utilizing the weight of their arm.

Why is this all important?

Attention to detail with this exercise is paramount to making sure we as coaches are not just prescribing exercises because they make sense on paper. As an industry, we need to take pride in knowing the why behind everything we do. This will allow us as practitioners to provide the best for our athlete as well as be able to educate the athlete on the importance of taking pride in the finer details of the movement. The prone trap raise is an important exercise because the exercise works to put the scapula in the proper position by activating the lower trapezius muscle fibers. Many times, the body is used to relying on the upper trapezius in order to complete movements. The lower regions of the trapezius are important for balancing this dominance by the upper trapezius as well as allowing the shoulder to get into an upwardly rotated position. In addition, utilization of the lower trapezius will aid in stabilizing once in the overhead position. Most sports such as (but not limited to) baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, and weightlifting involve a heavy reliance on the ability to raise the arm overhead. Understand that our body, especially as an overhead athlete, will not shut down once we fatigue. Even when improper muscle sequencing begins to take over, we will still find a way to throw, shoot, spike, and lift. As athletes, we will compensate and reach for a different part of our body that is less than optimal for completing the movement in order to get the job done. This repetitive compensation will overtime set us up for injury.

Why is this exercise is so difficult?

Posture

Not just as athletes, but as a society, our posture is pretty terrible. Take for example how we find ourselves in front of our electronic devices:

Typically, we have a very shortened and tight front side of our body. If we look at the upper body alone, the shortened pectoralis region can lead to an anteriorly tilted scapula. [insert picture of anteriorly tilted scapula]

This poor scapular position can lead to a multitude of dysfunctions with athletic movement. One of the more pressing issues is the inability to get into a proper upwardly rotated position. In order to help correct for this, we can add prone trap raises into the athletes exercise routine. Remember though, the very first thing we had to do in order to properly complete the prone trap raise was scap load our athlete into a posteriorly tilted position. But what if the athlete lives in an anterior position? What if the front side of his or her body is so shortened that they cannot get into the correct position in the first place? They’ll complete the prone trap raise but they’ll crank on their upper trapezius in order to get the job done. This is just further exacerbating their dysfunction! Instead of helping the athlete, we as coaches have put them in a position to hurt themselves. This is when a properly trained eye and guidance from a coach can aid in helping this athlete accomplish the purpose of the exercise.

Let’s take it one step further. So the athlete has a shorted front side of their chest. Why? What if there is a lower body dysfunction that is causing the upper body to compensate? In some cases, we observe individuals with extremely tight hip flexors. This tight hip flexor position pulls their low back into an extreme lordotic curvature. Over time, the body will compensate for this lordosis by developing a kyphotic curvature of the upper back (see image below). So, let’s say we as coaches try to get an athlete to posteriorly tilt their scapula by lengthening the front side of their chest but we are still missing the bigger picture which is that their lower half is a mess to start with. Working on releasing the tight hip flexors that are pulling the hips forward and causing thoracic flexion in the first place may be step one to correct these movement and posture deficiencies.

Posture is a bit of a rabbit hole and I hope I didn’t disrespect the topic too much by briefly going over general issues. It is important for someone who has chosen to study the human body as their career to keep in mind that there can always be more than one explanation for a movement dysfunction. Our role as coaches and specialists is to honor the complexities of the body and continue to educate our athletes on proper movement. By doing so, we will be able to better correct for issues in the human body and not only will you as a coach pay closer attention to movement but your athlete will too resulting in accelerated improvements.

WHY OUR ATHLETES TRAIN BAREFOOT

If you follow us on social media or have watched any of our Youtube videos lately, you will notice that many of our athletes have been training barefoot. I wanted to take a moment and explain why.

For some time now, podiatrists have termed shoes, “foot coffins” with the intention of highlighting the potentially damaging impact a sneaker can have on the musculature, connective tissue, and ultimately functionality of the foot/ankle complex. These damaging effects are resulting from a reduction in mechanical stress applied to the foot, as the sneaker works to alter the force absorption needs of the foot. Inherently, this should seem beneficial as the mechanical load on our biological system would then be less. However, our body is a master at being efficient, which is most illuminated through the conservation of energy. Therefore, when the musculature, tendons, and bones of the foot are not being stressed or utilized regularly, they will begin to decrease in functional capacity and ultimately become weaker. While this may seem like a trivial result to use of sneakers, we must heed the mounting research that suggests functional capacity issues at the foot/ankle complex can lead to several upchain issues such as altered kinematics at the knee and hip complexes leading to potential injury. To deconstruct this concept in a more comprehensible format, think of the sneaker as wearing a cast.  When it is time to remove the cast you will undoubtedly notice some muscular atrophy, movement deficiencies, and downright weakness. Now think about the damage if that cast is worn 365 days a year and for approximately 8-12 hours a day.

WHAT ABOUT THE INJURIES THAT CAN OCCUR BY BEING BAREFOOT?

The ramifications of going barefoot for walking, running, or training have been duly noted in several research studies; patients have complained about several issues such as plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and several other bony and soft tissue injuries.  However, with almost all these instances of injury, the primary issue was not the forces being applied but the progression in the duration and intensity of these forces. Take Wolff’s Law of Adaptivity, which states that compressive forces applied to bony structures in a healthy system (person or animal) will respond to the load being applied to it. Thus, if the load increase the bone will remodel stronger over time, conversely, if the load decreases the bone will get weaker over time (remember the body is an efficiency master). While this explanation works well to explain the potential benefits of bone stress, the key term in the explanation is the word ‘respond.’  

The word choice of ‘respond’ is absent of definitives, as all it states is that the bone will produce a response, not whether that response will always be positive or negative. Therein lies the primary issue – the rate of progression and intensity to which this load is applied. Thus, the potential benefits of training barefoot (much like all things with the body) can only truly be realized if the progression to overload is acclimated accurately.  Several studies have indicated that benefits from training, walking or running barefoot may take several months to a have a meaningful impact.

SO, WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS TO TRAINING BAREFOOT?

Each athlete that enters our door is put through a thorough initial evaluation process that among many other kinematically based movement screens, includes an analysis of the foot at stance and in action (walking, running, landing, jumping, etc.).  It is extremely common for many of these athletes to present with issues relating to the foot and the way in which this will cascade to other issues up the chain towards the knee, such as valgus moments (the knee diving in), or the hip, such as asymmetrical shifts in jumping or landing.  These dysfunctions are a primary concern of our programming process and must be addressed as an integral part of increasing performance. It is with this that several new studies have begun looking at the potential benefits of training athletes barefoot.

One of the more recent studies found that over an 8-week period of barefoot training individuals were able to redevelop strength and connective tissue tension in the arch of the foot which allowed for great force production through the big toe.  If you have looked into any recent literature on sprint speed, agility, or power production, you will be aware of how significant the force production potential of the big toe is to these skill sets. Adding to this point another recent study (link) took several athletes through an 8-week barefoot training program and found that the athlete’s ankle stability, speed, and their agility all improved. What is interesting about this study is not so much the ankle stability as this inherently conceivable, or the speed development as it is probably easy to ascertain that improved foot mechanics, can lead to improved force production (as we just learned with the previous study) and thus faster speed times, but what is most interesting is the improvements in agility. Agility is a kinematic process that is highly dependent on the deceleration capacities of an athlete, which would imply that by training barefoot an athlete becomes better at not only creating force but absorbing force as well.  This concept is further illuminated by two studies (link) that looked at groups of athletes performing squat movements both with shoes and barefoot. What can be gleaned from both articles is that the eccentric portion of the squat resulted in greater musculature activation when barefoot and as a result of the barefoot training the athletes experienced an increase in stiffness at the knee joint and hamstring reflex activity. These two studies help provide some evidence as to perhaps why we may see improved agility based measures following barefoot training as the stiffness at the knee joint and improved hamstring reflex will greatly aid in safe and accurate deceleration movements.

MAJOR TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Barefoot training can improve foot dysfunction over time with the proper progression of exposure.
  1. Barefoot training can improve force production through the big toe which can have drastic implications in total system power output.
  1. Barefoot training can improve foot/ ankle stability, speed development, and agility based movements.

FINAL NOTES

Each of our athletes are progressed to training barefoot based on their responses to its exposure (like any other training modality) and are all (at least initially) provide foot strengthening, mobilizing, and stiffening exercises upon initial exposure.

WHY THE CLEAN SHOULD BE APART OF EVERY CATCHERS PROGRAM

When it comes to the sport of softball, quick, explosive moments followed by a period of physical relaxation has come to define its physical exertion. Some positions, such as the pitcher and catcher, require it to happen more frequently than others. The frequent movements a catcher makes requiring explosive power provides performance coaches with the reasoning for incorporating the clean into their workout programs. Below is a video of just some of the similar movements between the clean and throw down for a catcher.

What Does the Clean Provide for an Athlete

“The hang power clean exercise has been found to produce high bar velocities, high ground reaction forces, and high power outputs.” (1)

  1. It teaches the importance of the kinematic sequence  
    1. In order for an athlete to effectively complete a clean, there is a series of movements that must happen in a specific order. The kinematic sequence allows the athlete to transfer power throughout their body necessary for completing a powerful movement. Triple extension is an imperative sequence in the sport of softball – it is the concurrent extension of the hip, knee, and ankle that produces power up the kinetic chain (2). For the clean, this power travels from the feet all the way to the upper limbs which are responsible for flipping the bar to the catch position.
  1. Force application into the ground  
    1. In order to generate the power for the kinematic sequence, the athlete completing these movements must first pound into the floor. The equation for force is mass multiplied by acceleration. In order to initiate the clean, we are started from a neutral position and accelerating as fast as we can. This speed multiplied by our own mass is equivalent to the force we put into the ground. This force then transfers up our physical chain which allows the upward pull sequence to involve less upper body work and allows the arms to only have to “get under” the bar.
  1. Explosive Power  
    1. Olympic lifts, such as the clean, require high amounts of muscle fiber recruitment in order to provide the explosiveness necessary to complete the sequence. This translates to speed and power development. The ability to quickly recruit motor fibers of several muscle groups is necessary for the reactive aspect of softball and other sports.
  1. Rapid Concentric to Eccentric and Eccentric to Concentric Muscle Action  
    1. The first movement of the clean forces triple extension – mentioned above – that is a concentric movement. From there, we are forced into an eccentric load on the squat portion of the clean and back to a concentric movement on the extension of the clean. This rapid amortization phase in the clean correlates to the power output of an athlete. The faster you can go through this cycle, the more powerful you are.
  1. Feeling like a Boss Afterwards  
    1. There is no better feeling than hitting a clean that seems daunting. After this movement, athletes tend to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as it is not an easy movement to perform. Drop the bar like you drop the mic.

How this Translates to Catching

Numerous aspects of the clean translate to the catching position. First off, the catcher is performing an enormous amount of eccentric and concentric movements – think of the number of times they go into and out of a squat. As for the catchers throw down, triple extension is paramount to throwing out of a squat. Being able to effectively go through this kinematic sequence is important to ball velocity on the throw down. Effective use of the legs in the squat position transfers power up the kinematic chain which, in turn, increases velocity. Tthis begins with the force application into the ground and travels up through the midline, to the shoulder, ending in the fingertips. Similar to the clean, there are very few feelings like throwing out a runner. You get to sit there and feel like a boss for just a split second. The confidence in the weight room can translate onto the field.

It is important to note that, as a strength performance coach, we cannot give an athlete a movement just because we know it works. If the athlete is not strong enough, or ready to understand the movement, it can be more harmful than beneficial. There are certain segments of the clean – the deadlift, jump shrug, and high pull – that can be used to start the athlete on the process of performing the clean. But when the athlete is ready for it, the clean can be an extremely beneficial movement for the athlete.

Cassidy

References

Rucci, J. A., & Tomporowski, P. D. (2010). Three Types of Kinematic Feedback and the Execution of the Hang Power Clean. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(3), 771-778. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181cbab96

Ayers, C. (2016, June 221). Basic Biomechanics: The Foundation–Triple Extension. Retrieved from: http://www.byanymeansbball.com/blog/basic-biomechanics-the-foundation-triple-extension

  1. (2017, July 6). How Olympic Lifts Translate to Athletic Performance. Retrieved from http://blog.bridgeathletic.com/how-olympic-lifts-translate-to-athletic-performance

SIX EXERCISES YOUR CATCHER NEEDS TO BE DOING

Catching is painful; from the bruises to the ever constant joint pain, it stays with you long after you catch your last pitch. It is a brutal position that is physically taxing on the body. So, before I continue with this article, I want to make a point – HAVE YOUR CATCHERS WEAR KNEE SAVERS. They do just that – save your knees. It is not weak, it is smart. Conceptually, most individuals and researchers will say that you should be strong enough to sit in that position. Research takes anecdotal perspectives in a given situation and not the whole experience. Instead, I challenge you to think about it from this perspective. One game is on average two hours. Split in half and estimate one hour is spent on defense. Now, multiply that by five to six games (at a minimum) a weekend for 32 weeks. That’s 160 hours of sitting in a squat position!! Now, multiply that by countless practices and training sessions and the hours pile up on the individual’s knees. When interpreting the studies conducted on this topic, researchers are just considering the one game, not all of the excess hours put into the craft. But here is the catch. Regardless of whether you utilize knee savers or not, catchers still tend to have hip, knee and lower back discomfort. So, how do we address this issue?

3 Stretching Activities Your Catcher Needs to Do

  1. Hip CARs (controlled articular rotations) – 
  1. Known as an FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) exercise, hip CARs challenge the athlete to go through the full range of motion at the hip joint. In concurrence with the “use it or lose it” mentality, when we do not challenge ourselves to go into certain ranges of motion, our body’s ability to get there deteriorates. Flexibility at the hip joint is imperative to a catcher’s physical health. As the range of motion breaks down, the body will adjust to an inferior position. Catchers tend to rotate their hips internally which places excess stress on the knees and lower back.
  1. Directions – Bring knee as high up as it can go. Open “the door” of the hip without rotating at the torso. Then rotate the foot at the knee joint (internal rotation). From this position, work the knee back with hip into extension. Reverse the process with as much control and precision as possible.

90/90 Switches – 

    1. Here we are focusing on opening up the hip joint and working on the internal and external rotational ability of the joint. Being able to control and move through this range of motion is imperative to full body health of a catcher. We are working postural awareness in conjunction with hip mobility. Another function of a healthy hip: taking pressure off of the lower back.  
      1. Directions – Driving the open leg down into the ground, try to lift the closed leg into the air. Drive both legs in the opposite direction and eventually switch.
  1. Talus Slide Lunge Stretch 
  1. Dorsiflexion is the ability to flex the foot in the upward direction thus allowing the shin angle to decrease to a more acute angle while squatting. Ankle mobility is extremely important in catchers. Often, they are stuck in an elevated position, similar to a calf raise, for a majority of their time catching. It is important to provide flexibility and the opposite range of motion to avoid extreme stiffness which can lead to injuries up the chain. If a catcher does not possess the adequate dorsiflexion needed to achieve the most effective position it is important to note that this will not inhibit the athlete from sitting in a squat but instead will cause the athlete to compensate into ineffective positions in order to get into that position.   
    1. Directions – While maintaining contact between the heel and the ground, go into a lunge position. Drive the shin forward while still maintaining heel contact with the ground. Work to avoid shifting hips and instead keep torso and hips in line while driving forward.

3 Strength Exercises Your Catcher Needs to Do

  1. Internal/External Hip Lift Offs 
  1. Mobility is one aspect of injury prevention, strength is the other. Being able to get through the full range of motion can be just as dangerous if you do not have the strength to stabilize the joint. These isometric holds at the hip joint provide strength to the hip abductors and adductors which are responsible for holding the ball and socket of the hip joint in place.  
    1. Directions – In the 90/90 position, lift the front knee and foot off of the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. Next, lift the back knee and foot off of the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. If actively achieving these positions is not possible, work to find a passive range of motion as well.
  1. Deadbug Variations 
  1. Core strength is important for every aspect of athletic movement. In catchers, it provides stabilization to the pelvis in a squatting position. The deadbug forces the athlete to contract their midline, activating erector muscles of their back into the ground, while either holding the position or going through small, controlled movements. The key here is to push your lower back into the ground while maintaining the ability to breathe. Being able to contract the core and breathe is important for athletes of all sports and positions as it ensures the muscles surrounding the diaphragm are responsible for breathing and not the muscles that are supposed to be stabilizing the spine.  
    1. Directions – While pushing hands  into the wall, drive the lower back into the ground while maintaining the 90-degree angle at the hips and knees. Drive one foot out, leading with the heel, work to breath while simultaneously maintaining ground contact with the lower back.
  1. Supermans 
  1. When constantly being positioned in lower back flexion, think about a catcher’s squat with a rounded back. In order to combat this, we need to strengthen the catcher’s back in the opposite end range – extension. Supermans provide posterior chain activation in the gluteal, hamstring, and spinal levator muscles along the posterior chain. Whether it is in the contracted hold or constant movement range, this exercise provides stabilization to the area catchers tend to be underactive in.  
    1. Directions – Driving the belly button into the floor – lift your arms, using your lower trap muscle structure, and your legs by flexing your glute and hamstrings. Hold for 3 seconds and then relax.

While there are far more exercises your catchers should be doing, these are ones they can do on their own at home. These should be done at least three times a week for both the stretches and the strength exercises. Before performing any catching activity, the stretches should be done. Providing flexibility and mobility to a position that generally results in extreme stiffness is imperative to preventing injury. But, as stated before, mobility should only be given with the intention of providing strength to stabilize the mobility. Finding the optimal balance between strength and mobility is the first step to preventing injury in any athlete.

All about the Box Squat with Coach Gladstone

Recently we sat down with Coach Jack Gladstone to talk about the box squat. This movement has become a part of the foundation for training our athletes and we wanted to share the knowledge to the what, how, and why of this movement. Without further ado, enjoy learning all about the box squat:

How is the box squat different from a traditional squat? 

We use the box squat as both a learning tool and a strength tool. By using the box, especially with youth athletes, we are giving them a physical reference point to cue their hips to. By doing this, we reinforce a squat mechanic that is now primarily loading the hips and hamstrings. Many young athletes come to us either a) not having squatted before, or b) have reinforced a quad dominant squat with previous training. This can be seen by an individual who squats with a forward shin angle, failing to target the glute and hamstring properly.

How would you start someone who is starting to learn the box squat? How would you know when it was time to progress someone to the next level of a box squat?

We start box squatting with an athlete the second they are prepared to complete a simple bodyweight squat. Usually, we do this for the simple reason that it takes the thought of depth out of the equation and allows the athlete to focus on shin/knee and torso positioning. When beginning with an athlete, we teach them to squat to the box, touch the box, and then immediately stand back up. As an athlete progresses to understanding torso positioning and gains more strength through their hips, we tend to widen out their stance and have them perform a true pause on the box before standing.

What are the benefits of utilizing the box squat?

The box squat is beneficial because it requires the athlete to squat in a more hip and hamstring dominant position. By sitting back onto the box, pausing, then coming back up we are hitting multiple different goals at once. As said before, on the eccentric phase of the lift, the athlete loads their hips and hamstrings back onto the box. Having the athlete sit and pause on the box, it forces the athlete to again utilize the hamstring to stand up off the box. This pause will lead to greater movement proficiency, stabilization of the spine, and will reduce stress on the knee. It is important to note that this is not a movement to train the stretch-shortening cycle, but instead a foundational prerequisite to other explosive actions.

Why have you liked using it with your athletes? Is there a scenario where you would opt out of using the box squat?

I have continued to talk about hip, glute, and hamstring strength while performing the box squat. The reason why this is so important to young athletes because of the incredible amount of quad dominant individuals we see coming to Athletes Warehouse. As coaches, we try to immediately build up hamstring and glute strength to prevent very common quad dominant knee injuries during sport such as ACL Tears, Patellar Tendonitis, or Meniscus tears. Secondly, in our gym, we have seen a strong correlation with athletes who have built up glute and hamstring strength through box squatting report faster 40 yard dash times, 20 yard dash times, broad and vertical jump scores. All of these values have lead to an increase in sports performance while simultaneously protecting the body from injury 

When would you use the front/back / vs. safety bar? In this video you cued the safety bar – what exactly were you saying?

With a new athlete, we perform the box squat first with bodyweight, then progressing to a goblet squat (single dumbbell or kettlebell in the front rack position). From there, we generally prefer to progress the newer athlete into a barbell front squat position, however we leave a fair amount of wiggle room to progressing the athlete to the position they feel most comfortable in. Training in the video you see two athletes who are fairly advanced in our system. We utilize the safety bar during the session in order to challenge these two athletes through different stimuli. In short, the safety bar provides a different stimulus to a traditional barbell because of its design to load the athlete down the center of the body.

Take Home:

It’s important to think that this is not the end all be all of how we teach the squat. However, it is a tool that we use to progress an athlete who may have muscular imbalances or movement deficiencies. While it’s a great rehabilitation and learning tool it is also a great variation to progress a well-trained athlete to develop greater power production.

From Athlete to Coach

This article is about Jack Gladstone’s experience in his transition from an athlete to a coach at AW, and how he was watched the culture of Athletes Warehouse grow and evolve.

A letter from a coach to current Athletes Warehouse athletes

by Coach Jack Gladstone

Before there was a physical presence of a building that we all know as Athletes Warehouse, the culture of Athletes Warehouse had been forming since 2012. A bunch of high school and college athletes training out of a barn in the middle of the summer (might I add with no A/C). Our equipment was limited to some barbells, kettlebells, and pull up bars. However, regardless of the conditions this group was wholeheartedly devoted to the training program under one of our coaches and owners, Nick Serio.

As an Athlete, training in the barn was tremendously important to my collegiate athletic career. As I look back, I’m unsure if I would have made it through four years of varsity lacrosse without it. I was becoming faster, stronger, more powerful, and more confident as an athlete. From the start of the summer of 2013 to the winter of 2015 my strength and power numbers skyrocketed. On paper, I was a completely different athlete. Every time I showed up to school after training for numerous weeks in that barn with Nick, I had the confidence that I was faster and stronger than the previous semester. Looking back at pre-training pictures from my freshman year, I hysterically laugh at the image I see. To sum up the image in short, I just looked like a kid that could use a cheeseburger. Since beginning my athletic transformation, I have achieved things that I would never have accomplished under my own programming.

As my college career ended, and I began coaching at Athletes Warehouse, I realized the most important thing that being one of the first Athletes Warehouse athletes had taught me. Sure I had learned how to squat, clean, and sprint at an elite level, which is all incredibly important, but above all else, I learned how to BE and ACT like an Athlete. I learned what it truly meant to be an athlete. These are the things that are important, beyond what your Pro-Agility time is. Without acting like an athlete, you’ll never even make it to the starting line. So here is my list of things I learned from athletes warehouse on how to BE an athlete.

  1. Be a good person. No matter how good you are at your sport, at the end of your career if you didn’t take time to strive to be a good person you’re going to look back and no one is going to be standing there with you.
  1. Put the right things in your body. If you’re one of our athletes here and you are still unsure of what, when, and how much to eat before and after your training session, please go see Tim.
  1. Wherever you may be training or practicing, never give your coach half an effort. With the attitude that the Athletes Warehouse coaches put forth to me and every other athlete that comes through the door, the athlete should supersede that.
  1. Do not be afraid to identify and attack a weakness. It does not matter whether it is attacking physical weaknesses but also lifestyle and habitual weaknesses.
  1. To the the College and High school kids, be a good athlete, be an even better student. Just like all those coaches who put in time and effort over the years to develop your skills on the field, think about how many teachers invested years in developing you into the well-educated individual you are today.
  1. When you’re having a bad day, whether it be on the field, in the classroom, or in the weight room, make it only your bad day. Understand the impact that your attitude can have on others.
  1. Lastly, understand your “WHY”! Take the time to think about why you are playing the game. In my honest opinion, most athletes that I coach here originally do not come here with a “why”. I believe when a coach helps an athlete to understand their “why”, they unlock a whole new motivated machine. An athlete who is performing exercises without a purpose is just working out. An athlete who is exercising with a purpose is training. An athlete must understand this in order to put forth an effort and approach to each training day that is going to continually progress them to a higher level in the sport or skill that they are trying to enhance.

To all the AW Athletes out there, this is my message to you. As a former AW Athlete, turned AW Coach, I hope to see more of the same in the future. As someone who has been an Athlete and Coach here, I can wholeheartedly say that this program develops young athletes in a different way. I am so envious of the early exposure that our younger athletes have to our program because I am incredibly grateful for what AW provided me. The future of the AW athlete is extraordinary. I am honored to be a part of the process and I am humbled by the incredible athletes that I coach on an everyday basis.

The Culture of Athletes Warehouse is Cool. The Culture of athletes warehouse is awesome. The culture of Athletes warehouse, which some refer to as the culture of athletes warehouse, is world renowned for being the culture of athletes warehouse.

12 STRENGTH Exercises Your LACROSSE Athlete Should Be Doing

This article is about lacrosse exercises to improve performance.

by Jack Gladstone

  1. Front Squat

We utilize the front squat for training lower body strength as well as to challenge the midline control of the athlete. The movement promotes stability through the pelvis, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, and abdominals. By loading the barbell in the front rack position we minimize the risk of loading the pelvis and lumbar spine into a lordotic position (increase stress on the lower back as the pelvis is tilted forward). The front rack helps the athlete gain control over a maintaining a neutral spine. Whereas most of the musculature in the human body is meant to create motion, the muscles of the midline are meant to brace or resist motion. This is a vital component to preventing injury in an athlete but will also aid in an increase in power during the violent action of shooting a lacrosse ball. The front squat is fantastic for the lacrosse athlete in that it promotes strength, stability, and durability throughout the entire system (ankle, knee, hip, spine, abdominal, shoulder) all of which are crucial when sprinting, jumping, cutting, checking,  or even absorbing a check.

      2. Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift has many of the same benefits as the front squat in the sense that it challenges the integrity of the entire system. However, during the sumo pull, it’s important to cue the athlete to drive their knees out towards the outside of their foot, attempting to “spread the floor.”. Why is this so important for the lacrosse athlete? The sumo deadlift will aid in building hip and external rotator strength which is extremely crucial in a lateral dominant (ie. cutting) sport like lacrosse. The sumo deadlift can also be safely utilized dynamically for power development.

     3. DB Lunge

We utilize the dumbbell lunge as an accessory exercise to a main lift (For example: We would do these after completing our squat, press, or deadlift). The dumbbell lunge is a tremendous unilateral exercise that is critical for developing strength through the glute, hamstring, and quad. By creating this unilateral strength and stability via the lunge, the athlete will also promote stability and strength throughout the knee joint. This is vital in a sport that sees too many knee injuries throughout the course of a season.

     4. Box Jump

The box jump is utilized for the lacrosse athlete to promote lower body power through triple extension of the ankle-knee-hip, critical in sprinting, jumping, and cutting. Triple extension is a key aspect in transferring energy from the lower half to the upper half – something all lacrosse players know is vital to their sport. Additionally, the eccentric strength capabilities required from landing on top of a box will be instrumental in bulletproofing the athlete from injury.

     5. Hang Power Clean

Similar to the box jump, the hang power clean is a great exercise to generate power throughout the entire system. However, unlike the box jump, the clean a great deal of kinematic sequencing (ensuring the timing of the lower half and upper half are in sync) in order to execute the movement properly. While it is a great power development exercise, it is a great movement for the lacrosse athlete in that it teaches the athlete to generate force and simultaneously absorb force.

    6. DB Push Press

The push press is a great way to train the upper body while still demanding full body awareness. The push press applies much better to the field athlete than a traditional strict press would. This movement allows the athlete to generate rapid extension through the knee and hip which will then translate to the momentum and power needed to thrust the weight overhead. Additionally, anytime an athlete is loaded in the overhead position, the movement is demanding midline strength and stability (ie. not allowing the back to arch or sway). This rapid extension combined with midline bracing correlates to a lacrosse athlete throwing a check and pushing off of an offensive player.

7. Renegade Row

Lacrosse has a tremendous demand on the athlete being able to generate and resist rotation. The renegade row is a great exercise to train the body to stabilize the pelvic region during rotational exercises. By not allowing the hips the rotate, we train a domain that is referred to as “anti-rotation.” Some professionals even believe that anti-rotation is even more critical to the rotational athlete than a weighted rotational exercise. At the end of the day, the idea of being able to generate force through the transverse plane is irrelevant if the athlete cannot stabilize it first.

8. Alternating Goblet Lateral Lunge

The lateral lunge trains the anterior midline and overall hip strength in the frontal plane. Creating strength in the frontal plane is critical in lateral movement on the lacrosse field. The movement also trains aspects of the posterior chain as well as adductor in that it requires a tremendous demand on ranges of motion throughout the lower body in order to complete a full range repetition. As most injuries happen at the extremes of the movement, the lateral lunge is very beneficial in preventing common hip flexor and groin/adductor strains that happen in the sport of lacrosse.

      9. Sled March

The sled march is beneficial to the lacrosse athlete for the purposes of acceleration. Offense is entirely predicated on getting a single extra step on the defender, and vice versa for the defensive player. By focusing on the rapid extension of the back leg, the sled march continuously trains an aggressive and powerful first step.

10.  Single Leg RDL

We train the single leg RDL for the lacrosse athlete as a unilateral posterior chain exercise. The single leg RDL is used as a great tool for training the hamstring, a critical stabilizer of the knee as well as extremely important for speed development. This exercise has great implications for injury prevention as well as performance enhancement.

11. Farmers Walk

The farmers walk trains the athlete to stabilize their hips while moving forward. It is very beneficial for the overhead athlete in training stability of the shoulder girdle while the humeral head is depressed downward, rather than overhead. Additionally, overall grip strength and body awareness will be improved due to demanding the body to hold and control heavy weight at their side.

12. Box Squat

In a similar manner to the sumo deadlift, the box squat is a movement that is extremely beneficial to hip strength and hip health. While the box squat is technically a bilateral, sagittal plane movement, it’s beneficial for the lacrosse athlete for lateral stability and power, as the coach will cue the athlete to generate force towards the outside of the athlete’s feet. The athlete should work to brace their midline in an attempt to drive straight upward so that their hamstrings and glutes get more involved in the movement opposed to just their quads. This will also be beneficial for an athlete being able to take pressure off of their knee joint when squatting.

Lacrosse exercises are great for people wanting to do lacrosse exercises. Lacrosse exercises are sweet in the gym when you’re looking for lacrosse exercises. Lacrosse exercises can help your performance because the lacrosse exercises make you stronger.