Perturbation Exercises: Reactive Training for the Core

Core training has become the norm in most professional baseball training programs during the past decade, and there is an abundance of core training equipment and core training programs each claiming to be the “best” way to train the core, enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. Equipment and programs exist to stabilize the core by preventing flexion, lateral flexion, extension and/or rotation. There also exit procedures to improve core mobility by increasing flexion, lateral flexion, extension and/or rotation. While most of these programs have some degree of effectiveness, all utilize some form of preplanned movement, i.e., you know what action you are going to produce (more…)

Front Plank with Hip Extension

It is always preferable to include exercises that activate the gluteus maximus and medius in training programs. Research has shown that poor hip activation/control leads to frontal plane knee collapse and may lead to excessive strain on the knee.

In a previous posting, I discussed the side plank with hip abduction as an excellent choice for the gluteus medius based on EMG activation. This article will discuss the front (more…)

DB Split-Squat and Reach

The DB split-squat and reach is an excellent in-place, hip dominant, posterior chain, functional exercise for the ankle, knee, hip and hamstrings. Placing the DBs in front of the lead foot shifts the body weight forward and involves the hamstrings heavily in hip extension and deceleration. Placing the feet relatively close together increases the demand for total body stability.

How to do it: The exercise starts from a split-squat position with feet slightly wider than parallel and a DB placed horizontally on the floor approximately 6 inches in front of the lead foot. From the starting position with one leg forward and one leg back, the exercise has four sequential movements on each leg:


Sandbell Training: An Effective Alternative to Traditional Training

Strength coaches are always looking for new and effective training tools and program options to help players achieve consistent results, provide variety and train through potentially rough spots.  One option that is gaining traction among many coaches is the sandbell, an extremely durable neoprene bag designed to be filled with sand or steel shot. Because they come in a variety of sizes and weights, sandbells can be used to improve performance in a variety of exercise movements. Lighter 2-6 pound units, for example, can be used for both concentric and eccentric shoulder and rotator cuff work, medium (10-15 pound units are good for core training and heavier 20-50 pound units can be used to increase single-limb strength and total body strength and power.


Open and Close the Gate

Groin strains are one of the most common injuries in a sport like baseball where there’s a lot of running, starting, stopping, changing directions and jumping. The following exercise is a closed-chain, dynamic exercise for the muscles of the groin and lower body that can be used as part of a pre-practice or pre-game warm-up routine to help prepare the hips, groin, legs, ankles and feet for the specific movements that occur in game and practice situations.

Starting position. Stand in athletic position with knees bent, back flat, chest out, shoulders back and head up. The feet are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, both feet are pointed straight ahead and body weight is on the balls of the feet. Hands are together in front of the chest with fingers interlaced and both elbows are down and close to the ribs.

Open the gate. Perform a counter-movement by sinking the hips down slightly to pre-stretch the muscles of the lower body and then jump up off both feet just high enough so that the feet leave the ground approximately 1-2 inches. While airborne, raise both knees up and turn them out away from the mid-line of the body to stretch the groin (open the gate). Land with both feet turned out about 45 degrees and let the elbows sink down inside the knees to increase the stretch. At the bottom of the stretch, quickly jump up off both feet and close the gate.

Close the gate. Jump up off both feet approximately 1-2 inches, bring the knees up and around in front of the body and land in the starting position. This is one rep. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with 1-2 minutes of rest between sets.

Coaching points. Perform each rep in a rhythmic manner and keep the head up, chest out, shoulders back and back flat throughout the exercise. Start by descending until the elbows are just below knee level. Gradually increase the depth of the descent as dynamic mobility of the hips increases. Wear a weighted vest or hold a KB at chest height to increase the intensity of the effort. See video “Open and Close Gate”.







Ric Mabie, RSCC is the Strength and Conditioning Coach, AAA Round Rock Express, Texas Rangers.


Side Plank with Hip Abduction

We know that improving hip strength and stability are important parts of most corrective exercise and general training programs. With limited time for training sessions, it’s important to know which exercises produce the highest muscle recruitment. We know, for example, that: 1) performing side planks with hip abduction will strengthen the gluteus medius; and 2) improving hip abductor strength will prevent valgus collapse at the knee, (more…)

Fournier and Castellano, All-Star Game Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Paul Fournier and Perry Castellano were selected by MLB to serve as National and American League strength and conditioning coaches, respectively for the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Fournier is only the third NL strength and conditioning coach to be invited to participate in the MLB All-Star Game. He has 17 years of experience in the field including stints with the Phillies, Marlins and Expos. Paul became the Phillies Major (more…)

Medicine Ball Rainbow Power Slams

In an earlier posting (Medicine Ball Power Slam), the MD ball slam was recommended as an explosive, “toe nails to finger nails”, total body exercise that helps develop the strength, speed and power needed to efficiently develop, transfer and apply forces from the ground up. While the power slam is an excellent total body exercise that should be included in everyone’s tool box, it is a single plane exercise with all movement occurring in the sagittal plane. Because most movements in game situations utilize multi-joint, multi-plane movements, adding lateral and twisting rainbows to your tool box will let you do power work in different planes of movement. (more…)

Warrior Series – Dynamic, Multi-plane Warm-up Exercises

The following sequence of three dynamic, multi-plane warm-up exercises has several important functions when preparing to train and compete. First it will increase muscle temperature. Second, it will actively work the muscles of the hips, shoulders and thoracic spine (T-spine) through a full range of motion. Third, it will increase flexibility in the shoulders, hips and thoracic spine (T-spine) and fourth, it will help you move more efficiently. Incorporate these into your daily warm-up routine, especially before throwing a bullpen or taking early batting practice, and you should see an improvement in flexibility and efficiency of movement in the hips, shoulders and T-spine. Start with 5 reps per side of each exercise with a 6-lb MD ball and gradually build to 10 per side. (more…)

A Key Exercise for a More Powerful First Step

There many exercises performance coaches use to exploit power in training sessions, including medicine ball throws, Olympic lifts and the spectrum of Plyometrics. A well thought-out curriculum of training should have all of the aforementioned skills implemented over the course of an athlete’s career. One exercise that has been in my arsenal for years is the “double-leg box blast”. It’s a simple, but complex exercise at the same (more…)