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Balance Split-Squat – 2 X 4

If you are looking for a change of pace from doing traditional split-squats, try doing them of a 2” x 4” beam. Elevating your body as little as 2 to 4 inches and placing your feet in a parallel stride position raises your center of gravity, decreases your base of support, reduces stability, increases proprioceptive demand and is a relatively simple way to develop strength, balance and coordination. The ability to perform this relatively simple exercise easily and gracefully will also help improve stability, increase strength, reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

Start slow using only body weight as resistance and gradually build up. Sometimes even the strongest and most athletic players find that their balance is not what they thought. They have trouble controlling their body; ankles wobble, knees rotate in and out and the upper body sways side-to-side.

Start by assuming a split-squat stance on the 2×4 with your left leg forward and right leg back. There should be just enough distance between your feet so that the knee of your back leg touches the board approximately 1 to 2 inches behind the heel of your lead foot. Think in-line lunge in the Functional Movement Screen. Place your hands on your hips for balance, keep your torso tall, shoulders back and head up. Set your abs and lower into a split-squat until your back knee barely touches the board behind the heel of your lead foot. Drive your lead foot into the board and push yourself up to the starting position. Do 10 reps and switch legs, i.e., right leg forward and left leg back.

When you can do 2×10 on each side, you can make the exercise more difficult by increasing the tempo of the exercise and/or adding resistance. Do the exercise faster to improve balance and proprioceptive demand. Wear a weighted vest or hold a DB or kettlebell (KB) in the hand opposite the lead leg to increase strength. To increase strength and proprioceptive demand at the same time, try holding a KB at shoulder height on the side opposite the lead leg.

To make the exercise more baseball specific, assume that you are moving laterally to field a ground ball. When an infielder has to move to one side to make a quick backhand or forehand play, his feet are often in a straight line (parallel to each other). To make a forehand play (right handed players), assume a split-squat stance with your left leg forward and right leg back. Hold a DB or KB in your left (glove) hand, set your abs, lower your body into a split-squat, bring the DB/KB over the top of your left foot and place it about 1 to 2 inches above the ground and just inside your left foot. For a backhand play, stand with your right foot forward and left foot back. Hold the DB/KB in your left hand, lower your body into a split-squat, bring the DB/KB over the top of your right foot and place it about 1 to 2 inches outside your right foot. Make sure that your hips move straight up and straight down. Don’t lean to one side.

Javair Gillett
Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Detroit Tigers

 

Fuel Your Game : Pre-Game Nutrition

Research shows that proper nutrition and hydration before competition can improve performance. Try these food and fluid recommendations to find out what works for you!

Food
• Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal with moderate protein 3 to 4 hours before competition. Examples would be scrambled eggs with oatmeal, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread
• Choose foods that are familiar to you and well-tolerated. Avoid high fat and high-fiber foods.
• The closer to game time, focus on carbs and fluids.

Fluids
• For optimal performance, enter your competition well-hydrated, but not over hydrated.
• Drink until your urine looks like pale lemonade.
• Electrolytes (primarily sodium) helps your body retain water.  If you are experiencing cramping, try adding salt to the food in your pre-game meal.

Examples
• Cereal with toast and jelly and a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
• Grilled chicken sandwich on a bun with vegetable toppings, mixed fruit cup and a sports drink.
• Spaghetti pasta with tomato and meat sauce, a side salad and a low-fat frozen yogurt cone.

Sports Nutrition FAQ

Why are carbohydrates so important in pre-game nutrition? Carbohydrate stored in your muscles (aka, “glycogen”) is a rapid energy source for your body in both high intensity, short duration and endurance sports. High carbohydrate meals maximize your muscle glycogen stores and keep your blood sugar levels from dropping, which can result in hypoglycemia, loss of concentration, fatigue and weakness. This is why the closer to game time, this is the hero!

Why are high-fat and high-fiber foods not recommended? Fats slow “gastric emptying”, which is the process of food and fluid leaving the stomach. High-fiber foods may cause gastrointestinal upset or abdominal cramping.

Why consume sports drinks or plain carbs when time is short? Liquids are generally more tolerable and empty from your stomach and deliver nutrients to your body faster than solid foods

Roberta Anding, RD

Sports Nutritionist, Houston Astros and Houston Texans

Perspective : Advice For Youth Pitchers

If you are a pitcher in professional baseball you are in the game because you have a love of the game and you have a gift. You were given a gift. I didn’t do anything to be blessed with the arm that I had. It took me a while to figure out that I was blessed with a God-given gift. Once I figured this this out, I decided that I was going to be the best pitcher I could be for as long as I could be. I didn’t make this decision at age 18. I was happy to be playing professional baseball and getting paid to do what I really enjoyed. I thought it was a pretty neat opportunity.

But then it finally went off in my head that I had a real opportunity here and I dedicated myself to being the best pitcher that I could be. This is what every young pitcher needs to do. You have to dedicate yourself to being the best that you can possibly be and conditioning is one of the biggest aspects of being your best. If you are not in shape and can’t handle the workload, it is going to be just a matter of time before you start having problems and breakdown.
For most of you, it has been easy to this point in time because you have been blessed with a gift, and have always excelled. When the workload increases and you are not prepared to handle it, it is just a matter of time before your break down. You have to work hard. You have to take that gift and make something out of it if you want to be successful. You have to take the information that your pitching coaches and strength and conditioning coaches give you and apply it. And, that doesn’t mean that you do it a couple of days per week. You have to live by it.

You won’t win every game that you pitch, but you should never walk off the field and feel like you got beat because the other team was in better shape. Never get beat because the opposition was better prepared. Your preparation is the only thing that you can control. The opposing pitcher may have more talent. He may have gotten the breaks, but he should never be in better shape. I always conditioned myself to go 12 innings. Once I took the mound, it was my ball game to win or lose, and if it took 12 innings to win, I wanted to be in shape to do it. Today most people are not going to allow you to go 12-innings, but you should never condition yourself to go less than 9.

In my opinion, the greatest game ever pitched was between the S. F. Giants and Milwaukee Braves on July 2, 1963. Forty-two year old Warren Spahn and 25-year old Juan Marichal each went 16 innings and the game ended 1-0 on a home run by Willie Mays. Each pitcher threw over 200 pitches; Spahn threw 201 and Marichal 227. Including Spahn and Marichal, there were seven future Hall of Fame players in that game. We will never see that again because the game won’t allow it. But both of these guys were prepared to go as long as it took. And this game was not a fluke; both pitchers won 20 games that season. For Spahn, it was his 13th 20-win season and for Marichal, it was his first of six.

My highest pitch count was 232 in a game against the Red Sox in 1974. I pitched 12 innings, struck out 19, walked 10 and had a no decision. My counter-part, Luis Tiant threw 180 pitches in 14 1/3 innings and took the loss 4-3. We were on a 4-man rotation back then and pitched on 3 day’s rest. I had 26 complete games in 1973 and 1974 and didn’t even lead the league. Gaylord Perry had 29 in 1973 and Ferguson Jenkins had 29 in 1974.
I always took a month off when the season was over to re-charge my battery. I needed to get away from my routine and schedule. And, I found that by the end of that month, I started getting itchy to get back into my routine because I missed it. When I got back into my routine, it was with the attitude that I really missed it and enjoyed it. I enjoyed working out. I felt good about myself after a good workout.

Once the season started, I found that the time, energy and sweat that I had spent on conditioning carried over to the mound. If you don’t have the discipline to workout and prepare yourself, you are not going to have the discipline on the mound to win ball games. There are going to be times during every game that require you to remain focused and not be distracted by things that you can’t control. You need to develop tunnel vision and avoid distractions. You can’t let things that are out of your control affect the game and your approach. Make one pitch at a time and focus only on things that are within your control at that particular moment in time.

Nolan Ryan

Why You Should NOT Slide Head First into First Base

Despite the fact that management and coaches have been telling players for decades NOT to slide head first into first base, some players continue to do it. While most know better, when caught up in the heat of the battle, the competitive juices start to flow and players will do anything to reach base safely.

While Michael said he has no regrets about his decision to slide into first, management might see it a little differently. At the time of his injury, Bourn was Cleveland’s most productive player; hitting .333 with 4 doubles, a triple, 2 homers and a .375 on-base percentage. The Indians will be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement for him while he is on the DL and are out about $43,000.00 per day in DL salary.Darryl Royal, former head football coach at The University of Texas, said “There are three things that can happen when you pass the football, and two of them are bad.” The same can be said of sliding head first into first base. You can be safe, you can be out or you can be injured.  Sometimes two things can happen at once. Worst case, you are out and injured on the same play. Slightly less worst case, like Michael Bourn, you are safe and injured. On April 14, 2013, Bourn, who usually slides feet first when stealing a base, slid head first into first base to beat the throw from Adam Dunn to Matt Thornton. He was safe, but had to leave the game and have five stitches placed in his right index finger when Thornton stepped on his hand.

While manager, Terry Francona has not said so publicly, he might be thinking something similar to what Larry Dierker said after watching Richard Hidalgo separate his shoulder running into the outfield wall – “As a manager, it is nice to know that you have a player who will run through a wall for you; however, it is better to know that you have one who has enough sense to stop so that he can play tomorrow.”

There is another important reason NOT to slide into first, it slows you down. That’s right, it takes longer to reach first when you slide than when you run through the base. Scientists say that sliding creates friction which reduces speed, increases the risk of injury and prolongs the time it takes to reach first. If you don’t believe the science, believe the numbers. I have times on Michael on over 600 runs from home to first base. The average of his best times on bang-bang plays is 3.94 seconds. Average time when he slid into first is 4.02 seconds, about 2% slower.

Gene Coleman, Ed. D., CSCS*R-E, FACSM

Starting Pitchers – Training Structure

INTRODUCTION

Starting pitching is the foundation for any successful organization. Whether they came from your minor league developmental system, via a trade or signed through free agency, this collection of five starters has a significant impact on your team’s success or failure.

Running programs that are implemented during the lead up to a pitcher’s start are critical for the health and performance for of each starter. Outlined below is my assessment over the years of the daily programs for each starter.

DAY ONE AFTER START

This is the day when pitchers usually do a run for an extended period of time. The next day after a start the conditioning is designed to increase the pitcher’s cardiovascular conditioning. Improving heart and lung function while challenging the pitcher’s mental toughness is the key to day one. Being able to push through fatigue while conditioning goes a long way to keep your starters out there every fifth day and have them perform at their best. There have been many ways to accomplish this. A 30-45 minute run has been the traditional protocol. Timed poles with a certain period of rest time, 3/4 poles for 30 minutes, distance running followed by stair running and treadmill sprint programs have been implemented for the day one for starters. The use of heart rate monitors can help the athlete understand how hard he can push himself and how many calories he’s burned. Charts and graphs from the monitors can provide added information as to what level the athlete is performing on and how he can get improve. Constantly challenging the athlete and giving a variety of options help in keeping the pitcher motivated through the six months and 34 starts in a season.

Ultimately, that pitcher needs a sense of self motivation to accomplish the activity at a high level and challenge himself periodically on his own. When that starter gets in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th innings, he has to draw on that conditioning and toughness to push through to get that win.

DAY 2 and DAY 3

These are the days where anaerobic conditioning is implemented at a high level. Pitching is a start and stop activity over a period of time. Besides throwing each pitch, he might have to sprint to cover 1st base, back up another base, field a bunt, or, in the case of National League and interleague play, hit for himself and run the bases. Following a long inning on the mound, the starting pitcher may have to step in to be the first batter, possibly running the bases and eventually scoring.  Conversely, with the “quick inning,” he may only sit and rest for 1-2 minutes prior to immediately returning to the mound. We, as strength coaches, have to prepare our starters for these various scenarios. Conditioning protocols include gassers and half gassers for time with a certain rest period. For example, the pitcher would run 90 feet down and back twice in 30 seconds or less with a rest period of one minute. He would do this for eight reps.

Other examples would be running half poles with a short rest period, 180 feet (60 yards) and 90 feet (30 yard) sprints with 30 and 15 second rest periods along with short 15, 30, 45 second and one minute treadmill sprint programs. The basic principle is to repeatedly challenge the anaerobic threshold of the athlete with short rest periods. The ability to accomplish these activities and have the heart rate come back down before the next rep is the key to increasing anaerobic threshold.

DAY 4

The day before the next start is usually low in intensity and volume. Ten easy sprints or striders is the protocol. Getting the legs loose and stretched out is the main goal. At this point all the hard work has been done and recovery is the key.

INJURIES AND AGE

As with all baseball players, battling nagging injuries throughout the season and career can hamper the athlete’s conditioning. We, as strength coaches, must adapt to the athlete’s particular circumstances when it comes to age and injuries. Sometimes using aquatic therapy for conditioning in conjunction with treadmills, bikes, stair masters and ellipticals might be the better choice when dealing with ankle, knee and low back issues. Being in constant communication with trainers and doctors to prescribe the correct exercise is crucial to keeping your starter on the mound) every 5th day.

Being able to change the intensity and volume of training during the season can help also. Travel schedules, “night followed by day” games, time zone changes, and being “under the weather” can influence your programs. Developing a professional relationship with your pitcher so he can honestly give you an assessment on how he feels on a daily basis is extremely important.

CONCLUSION

As strength coaches, we are constantly challenged to keep our pitchers in the best baseball- specific condition as possible. Preventing injuries and having him take the mound every fifth day is paramount to our jobs. By understanding the athlete and his needs, implementing the best sport-specific programs and keeping in constant communication with trainers and doctors, we give the athlete the best chance at success. I firmly believe that the specific programs we implement will help to bring out and maximize the pitcher’s natural athletic ability. There is a great sense of satisfaction when a starter goes the distance for a complete game and his conditioning and preparation helped him perform it.

Phil Falco

Atlanta Braves

Head Strength Coach

 

 

Training Today’s Player – At All Levels

Injuries in baseball seem to be on the rise at every level of play and many of them are preventable.  This is a multifaceted concern with several possible culprits.  One potential issue is that athletes are designing their own strength and conditioning programs without the benefit of a scientific foundation or fundamental knowledge of exercise physiology and biomechanics. To say you don’t need a CSCS educated in baseball physiology and biomechanics would be like saying you don’t need a hitting or pitching coach.  Another common issue is that baseball players don’t train to improve stamina like they did in years past.  Ten years ago, the challenge was trying to convince players to lift weights whereas now the challenge is getting the guys out of the weight room and onto the running field. The key to preventing injury is conditioning, which involves tempo, fluidity, repeatability and helps improve recovery.  Over the past several years, we’ve found that our better conditioned pitchers performed significantly better than our poorly conditioned pitchers.  This doesn’t mean that if you run more you’ll automatically pitch better, as a better aerobic capacity will not directly improve your pitching velocity or give you the ability to throw more strikes.  Conditioning will, however, help you complete the tasks on the field, making them feel much easier.

It should be noted that the pathways we are taking toward maximizing power and athleticism do take on inherent risks.  To decrease that risk, a resistance training program for adolescents should fit the individual based on factors including, but not limited to, motor development, experience and aptitude.  By implementing a strategic program that blends both injury prevention and power producing techniques, you can help to minimize the high rate of preventable injuries.

Where it concerns resistance training injuries, the most likely cause is reported to be “inappropriate training techniques, excessive loading, poorly designed equipment, ready access to the equipment, or lack of qualified adult supervision,” according to Faigenbaum, et al., (2009) (S61).  Perhaps the biggest difference between adults and children lies in the exercises prescribed. One common mishap occurs when a youngster attempts exercises like a squat or bench press with improper technique and poor function and it goes unnoticed and/or uncorrected.  For example, due to the lack of core strength, an improperly functioning scapula can cause shoulder joint movement dysfunction, acting as the precursor to labrum and/or rotator cuff injuries later in the athlete’s career. Another potential result is knee valgus, which is common for young girls and often predisposes them to ACL tears.  A recent report, however, points out two things worth taking notice of for all of those who implement a youth resistance training program: first, prepubescent boys and girls are equally predisposed to knee valgus and second, there is no evidence of strength differences between preadolescent boys and girls (Barber-Westin, et al., 2005),  Faigenbaum, et al., (2009). Although acute injuries might not occur immediately, biomechanical predisposition and poor technique can lead to future problems for both genders.

In regards to duration, intensity and volume of training, many similarities seem to exist between both adult and prepubescent protocols.  Training volume for youths may be similar to suggestions given to adults but it is important to keep in mind that young athletes should not be treated as miniature adults.  When incorporating weight-lifting and plyometric exercises, a lower volume of training is preferred for young and/or inexperienced athletes.

When designing an effective program for a young person, it is important to learn what types of programs have shown to be effective in the past.  According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA, nsca-lift.org) (by Faigenbaum, et al., 2009), the most common programs designed for young athletes take on an eight to twelve-week training cycle, and are performed two to three days per week on nonconsecutive days.  Every training session should begin with a five to ten-minute dynamic warm-up period.  To improve muscular endurance, 10-15 repetitions are used vs. using 6-10 repetitions when strength is the goal.  To improve power, the young athlete should perform one to three sets of three to six repetitions.  In all cases, one to three working sets seem to be sufficient after the appropriately prescribed warm up set(s).  We typically begin counting working sets when using over 65% of the individuals one-rep max.  To improve strength, a variety of multi-joint upper body and lower body exercises can be performed.  Routines should involve an overall effort on improving core strength, which will be explained in further detail later.  As strength improves, resistance should increase gradually (5-10%) and we do not progress by adding weight until two sets can be completed comfortably at the prescribed rep range.  Every session should end with a cool down incorporating less intense calisthenics and static stretching exercises.

Another important priority when implementing a program for young people is having the practitioner devise a list of exercise progressions and classify each exercise based on its difficulty level.  There are a wide range of exercises available that differ in intensity.  Eccentric contractions, as well as heavy load isometric contractions, are more likely to cause muscle damage (Elsayed & Reilly, 2010).  Examples of highly eccentric exercises include weight-lifting under extremely heavy loads as well as high impact plyometrics like depth jumps and downhill running.  The presence of higher eccentric contractions involved in these exercises might make them unsuitable for the prepubescent athlete, partly because the active stretch creates more strain on the muscle fibers.  While high load, highly eccentric contractions are an effective way for well-trained adults to gain strength, this mode of training (especially performed over many repetitions) might not be best for young athletes.

It is important to also consider that prepuberty children have a faster lactate clearance rate (Beneke, Hütler, Jung, & Leithäuser, 2005).  With a high aerobic capacity and a higher resistance to fatigue, training using higher repetitions (>10) might offer a proper stimulus to increase motor unit recruitment and muscle firing patterns.  Improvements in coordination made via neural adaptations are often made best over many repetitions.  Rest times can also mimic the sport that is being played.   In the case of a baseball player, average rest time in between pitches is 20 seconds (Szymanski, 2009).

When the goal is improving strength in young athletes, it’s easy to assume that kids just need to get outside to play more and participate in team sports, but practitioners cannot solely rely on anaerobic conditioning drills.  Basketball is an effective means to improve maximal aerobic capacity and reduce body fat; however, this form of exercise will not significantly improve strength or joint mobility (Vamvakoudis, et al., 2007).  Basketball is a fun conditioning option that can co-exist with a strength building routine in an effort to improve overall fitness and prevent injuries.  Since strength is relative to mass, it is likely that strength gains achieved during pre-pubertal years will lead to an earlier development of additional lean muscle mass after puberty, if training continues.

When building strength in young people (or beginners of any age), their regime should focus on improving core stability, coordination, movement technique and reactive skills.  To that end, upper body exercises selected for youth need to focus on “core” musculature that ultimately alleviates stress on less stable joints.  Core exercises should strengthen the musculature supporting three important structures of the body: the scapulae, the spine and the pelvic girdle.   One example is a Push-Up Plank Hold (see figure 1), an upper-body exercise that focuses on core stability. For an athlete that lacks the core strength and the stamina to hold this position accurately, stress is added to the shoulder joint and increases the likelihood of injury when that athlete moves on to a more advanced exercise, like a traditional push-up.

Appropriate resistance training exercises for youth will lead to neuromuscular adaptations, resulting in increased strength.  Unilateral body weight squats are a challenging exercise that can be incorporated into youth resistance training routines in an effort to improve balance, coordination and lower limb strength.  Conversely, bilateral squats might be a safer alternative when the goal is to achieve maximum strength and power using higher external loads.  One study (McCurdy, et al., 2005) concluded that unilateral and bilateral lower body resistance training were both equally effective in improving strength during the early phases of training in untrained adults.  A typical two to three-day resistance training program for youth should strategically incorporate both unilateral and bilateral exercises.  It is anticipated that youth can experience similar neuromuscular adaptations to adults in the first 10 weeks of training.

A positive, injury-free experience is easily attained with proper exercise progressions, optimal technical performance and a strategic program formulation.  For anyone concerned about the increased likelihood of injury resulting from resistance training, it is good to know that the risk is no greater than participating in sport-related activities (Faigenbaum, et al., 2009).  New updates in research and growing support among adults continue to drive the development of youth exercise programs and fitness initiatives. In fact, physical education curricula now commonly include activities to improve muscular strength and endurance (Faigenbaum & Myer, 2010).  The growing number of youths participating in these types of activities is a positive change but it is also the probable cause for the rise in reported injuries attributed to resistance training. Creating proper exercise progressions—as well as establishing the appropriate intensity, volume and frequency of fitness regimens—remains an integral component of safe youth and adolescent resistance training programs.

References

Barber-Westin, S., Galloway, M., Noyes, F., Corbett, G., & Walsh, C., (2005, December).  Assessment of lower limb neuromuscular control in prepubescent athletes.  American Journal of Sports Medicine, 33(12), 1853-1860.

Beneke, R., Hütler, M., Jung, M., & Leithäuser, R., (2005 August).  Modeling the blood lactate kinetics at maximal short-term exercise conditions in children, adolescents, and adults.  Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(2):499-504.

Clarkson P., (2006, February).  Case report of exertional rhabdomyolysis in a 12-year-old boy.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(2), 197-200.

Elsayed, E.F., & Reilly, R., (2010, January).  Rhabdomyolysis: a review, with emphasis on the pediatric population. Pediatric Nephrology, 25(1), 7-18.

Faigenbaum, A., Kraemer, W., Blimkie, C., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T., (2009, August).  Youth resistance training: Updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning associationJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 23(5). August 2009.

Faigenbaum, A., & Myer G., (2010, May-June).  Pediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations.  Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(3), 161-8.

Malina, R., (2006).  Weight training in youth: growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence based review.  Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 16, 478–487.

McCurdy, K., Langford, G., Doscher, M., Wiley, L., & Mallard, K.,  (2005, February).  The effects of short-term unilateral and bilateral lower-body resistance training on measures of strength and power.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(1), 9-15.

Ozmun, J.C., Mikesky, A., & Surburg, P., (1994, April).  Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 26(4), 510-514.

Ramsay, J., Blimkie, C., Smith, K., Garner, S., MacDougall, J., & Sale, D., (1990, October).  Strength training effects in prepubescent boys.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 22(5), 605-614.

Vamvakoudis, E., Vrabas, I., Galazoulas, C., Stefanidis, P., Metaxas, T., & Mandroukas, K., (2007, August).  Effects of basketball training on maximal oxygen uptake, muscle strength, and joint mobility in young basketball players.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3), 930-936.

Strength Program – Youth Focused

Recent research indicates that there is a shortage of training education for both youth athletes and coaches( http://1.usa.gov/InqqoO ).  Knowing this, we have posted a simple ground based training program.  The goal of this program is to create flawless movement patterns, before adding external resistance, for these younger athletes.  This should be the focus of our youth training.  As these skills are acquired and practiced, resistance can be slowly and progressively added.

This program was created by Arizona Diamondbacks strength coach Nate Shaw.  It can be found here : Bodyweight Exercise Program.

A Long-Term, Comprehensive Approach to Developing Young Baseball Players


Getting to First Base-Developing the Athlete’s Batters Box through the B.A.S.E.S. System

The five athletic skills are Balance, Agility (movement), Strength, Explosiveness and Speed, which I call B.A.S.E.S.  It is critical to find a good starting point when developing the young baseball player.  The young player will eventually need to address athletic development beyond the skill of baseball/softball or just lifting weights.  The first and foremost starting point is Balance and core stability.  Beginning strength training involves slowing things down.  The same is true in hitting.  The coach will tell the player to slow things down to gain control before moving to game-action bat speed.  This begins the learning process of body control in preparation for moving through space and making changes in direction (Agility).  Just as the pitcher and catcher are referred to as the “battery” on the field, Balance and Agility are the battery for further improvements in the most sought after athletic skills: Strength, Explosiveness, and Speed.   Before moving around the bases there is no reason a young athlete should load their body unless they can stabilize their joints and move them properly.  Then, first base will be developing Strength and Power, second base will be improving Explosiveness, and third base will be maximizing Speed.  Through proper progression a youth athlete can reach their goals quicker avoiding unnecessary injuries.

Balance and core stability training begins the moment we are born but making further improvements as an athlete can start as young as eight to ten years of age.  Seek the right professional in the athlete’s area who knows how to develop a young player, though this may not be easy.  Do they have experience in the sport being trained (in this case baseball/softball)?  Does the professional have the education such as a degree or formal certification through creditable organizations geared toward athletic development and not just personal training?  Find out what sports they have worked with in regards to conditioning and if they have worked with children.  Ask for a résumé.  What are their goals for the young athlete?  Also consider asking where they are going to start with your child.  Will they test and which tests will they use to evaluate the young athlete?  The final question is what the plan is based on the test results.  If they do not talk about starting with balance and stability, it is time to walk away.

If the young athlete is in the eight-to-ten year range, training must also be fun.  Simply lifting weights isn’t fun for eight-year-olds.  Look for ways the athletic professional will incorporate fun activities such as playing with footballs, basketballs and soccer balls—not just a baseball or softball.  They may not learn an organized sport, just something that will make them a better athlete.  They should do sports that incorporate shooting, dribbling, and running to improve agility.  Karate is great too!  This coordination practice will improve power and speed without ever lifting a weight.

Proper Position-A Natural Progression

Once this base has been established, the natural progression is to add difficulty.  So adding weightlifting is common but should only be to the point of being able to maintain the proper positions. Proper positioning makes the athlete more efficient, stronger and they will improve on-field skills as they develop.  You don’t have to always increase weight to get stronger though.  Other ways to get stronger without adding weights: 1) make the exercise more difficult by taking a leg off the ground, 2) perform the exercise for a longer duration, 3) speed the movement up a little bit.

Starting Exercises-The Athlete’s Batters Box

Through the careful planning and development, the young athlete can lay a good foundation to pursue their passion- lean and clean.  The Athlete’s Batters Box is the area that must be concentrated on and developed from the very beginning (see Figure 1).  The three areas that form the box are the scaps, spine and hips—the baseball/softball athlete’s core.  Most people think abs are the core, but it is much more comprehensive.  The first exercise is the iron lunge (Figure 2).  This works the hips in the batters box for a stable, balanced position with no movement and hands to the side.  The athlete holds this position for 30 seconds.  Figure 3 shows the iron lunge with the arms extended, which is the first progression.  This will be challenging for an eight-to-ten-year-old.  For the spine aspect of the batters box, the first position is to get into the push up position and hold for 30 seconds (Figure 4).  For the scap, we do a Retraction (pinching scaps together) and hold for 30 seconds in the extended position (Figure 5).

Now it is time to add movement.  The iron lunge becomes a normal lunge; this can be walking or stationary.  The next progression to add more strength and improve a youngster’s explosiveness would be split squat jumps (Figure 6).

The following progression is for the spine—a walking push up or bear crawl off the ground or using a Bosu ball (Figure 7).  You can add difficulty to the scap retraction by moving through a range of motion similar to a bent over fly.  Once this becomes easy then add light dumbbells (Figure 8).

These starting exercises form the foundation on the B.A.S.E.S. system.  We usually start out by practicing movement over 15-20 reps and then we add weight and decrease to 10 reps.  Sets vary from 1-3 sets for each drill or exercise depending on the time of year and experience level of each athlete.  Big Leaguers are always incorporating simple movements and doing body weight exercises to help their performance. Starting at an early age with proper progression is the key to the success of the young athlete to establish a lifestyle that is lean and clean.

Javair Gillett, Major League Strength Coach, Detroit Tigers

Article provided by Performance Conditioning Baseball/Softball www.performancecondition.com/baseballsoftball the Official Publication of the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society

The Major Responsibilities of Minor League Conditioning Coordinators: Developing Young Players

Sean Marohn, M.S. CSCS, Cincinnati Reds Minor League Conditioning Coordinator

Sean has served as the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Conditioning Coordinator since 2005. He coordinates all aspects of flexibility, strength, conditioning, and diet for the Red’s minor league system. In addition, he hires and supervises 6 strength coaches who are assigned to each minor league team. Among his duties is to move into each city minor league club to evaluate players’ health as well as the strength coach performance at that affiliate. Prior to becoming minor league coordinator he was strength and conditioning coach for the Reds AAA minor league team, the Louisville Bats. His duties included home and on the road strength training, agilities, flexibility, conditioning and rehabilitation.

Sean came to the Reds from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization where he was strength and conditioning coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters. In 2001 he served in the same capacity for the Milwaukee Brewers/Ogden Raptors short season A team. Sean earned a Master of Science degree in Human Performance/Sports Medicine from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. While at the University of Tennessee he assisted with.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment and training of athletes in the men’s athletics department and implemented training regiments for athletes.

PC: Sean please explain your duties as a minor league strength and conditioning coordinator since this is a relatively new position in the world of baseball.

SM: My position entails coordinating the strength and conditioning program, which includes strength, conditioning, flexibility, speed, and agility programs as well as dietary issues whether it be weight gain or weight loss. In addition, my staff including myself will physically evaluate players coming in whether they are 16-year-old Dominican players, kids from the states or collegiate four-year players coming from elite programs. Also, because of trades we might have a new player coming in from a different organization where the philosophies might be a little different. I need to see where they are coming from and implement what we are doing here in the Reds organization.

On another side of it, I hire six strength and conditioning coaches for our affiliates so each location has a strength coach. As the new coaches come in I introduce, teach, and implement our program with them. We have 30 days during spring training to do this. We know that coming in these new coaches have knowledge in the area of strength and conditioning. My job is to make sure they apply this knowledge to our program making the proper adjustments to what we want. As they leave to go to their particular locations, I make sure that they know their players and are implementing individualized programs based on individual needs.

PC: What are some of the challenges you face with such a diverse group of players ranging from young 16-year-olds to seasoned four year college players?

SM: The first thing we do is evaluate the players by doing some basic field tests. Table One outlines the tests and the standards we look for while Table Two provides some interesting comparative data of the progress of athletes from spring training to spring training.

This provides a basis of the type of athlete I’m beginning to deal with. The height and weight provide.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment data. We have kids coming in that are still growing and coming into their own. Once the testing is done we can see any deficits that are going on in the athletic parameters such as flexibility, speed, etc. We then start formulating a program for that individual. For the more.gunnertechnetwork.comeloped players we start refining what they have done in the past and address deficits based on their age or position. Here we get more position specific. We also communicate with our field managers, pitching and hitting coaches to see what they would like us to work on as well. It’s a combination of testing data and evaluation by the coaching staff that really is the seed of formulating a strength and conditioning plan and identifying what’s most important and where to start. For example, the younger players who have never lifted and are strength deficient we would start on basic functional movements and core stability before any type of large volume work is implemented. Once they get established with the basics we can move them on accordingly and at their own pace of.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment. In the area of weight we look an athlete’s ability to gain or lose weight and adjust accordingly based on our dietary plan.

PC: You may have athlete coming in with poor lifting and training habits and techniques that might create bigger issues than an athlete with no training background. How do you handle this challenge?

SM: Like anything else, we get kids in from programs that have provided strong mechanical backgrounds with excellent techniques for their athletes. Others may come from schools where the sheer numbers of athletes per coach make if very difficult to learn proper techniques.

Take the squat for example. I have to watch the athletes first. If they show any deficits, we immediately stop and go back to basics. We break it down starting with proper squatting technique in a squat with no weight, work on a physioball squat and leg press until I feel we can start loading the athletes. We have to restart and retrain that movement to make sure they are not putting themselves at risk for any type of injury.

SC: Since you have to identify early and late maturity levels with athletes coming in from a wide variety of backgrounds, how does the maturation process create a challenge for you in establishing your program?

SM: I look at growth in the first six or seven months (a full baseball season). If one shows huge growth spurts I know the maturation process is still occurring. With such an athlete we will be more conservative on the side of volume and loading. I’m especially tentative with the Dominican kids since they are generally unde.gunnertechnetwork.comeloped. If their maturation process hasn’t finished or has just begun, it changes the program drastically because you can tell in their movements that their body hasn’t caught up. We have had Dominican kids come in and they will grow two to three inches in one season and up to three to four inches in one full year! They may not look young but you have to be aware of at what stage of.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment they are in. A lot of this has to do with their nutritional background and their lack of accessibly sound nutritional practices.

Due in large part to training techniques and nutrition in this country, athletes can start to mature at age 13 or 14 and many are well.gunnertechnetwork.comeloped by the time they are 18. I witnessed this through my work at the University of Tennessee. With many of our Dominican kids their chronological age doesn’t match their maturation age.

PC: Tells us how testing fits in to all this. Is testing integrated into maturation determination?

SM: Testing is critical because, based on our historical data we know what deficits we have with each athlete. The kids we sign at an early age obviously have talent for this game. My role, once they get here is to build on that whether it is speed, power, lateral movement, etc. We focus on baseball skills such as acceleration to run down a ball or leg strength for the catcher and hip rotation power in the hitters. With the base data we immediately identify where we can enhance those baseball skill strengths.

PC: Do you keep data from year to year for comparison purposes and to create benchmarks for use in the rehabilitation process if injury should occur?

SM: Correct. Over time we are able to determine where athletes have excelled and where they might have deficiencies. Year to year and over multiple years we are able to gain good insight into the players. It’s also a great tool in that if an injury does occur it gives us the baseline numbers to tell us where we need to be in the recovery process.

PC: Let’s talk about your working relationships. It is obvious that you have a lot of people to work with. You have coaches at different levels for hitters, position players and pitchers. What challenges arise from this multi-boss scenario?

SM: The biggest thing to do when you sit down with coaches is to understand what their goals are for any particular player. I’ve been working with coaches since 2003 in the Reds organization and I’ve learned that in creating good relations with the coaches is to understand their point of view. This includes their concerns about certain.gunnertechnetwork.comelopmental issues and to make sure that you, as strength and conditioning coach, are able to communicate to them what is going to help a particular athlete overcome certain.gunnertechnetwork.comiancies that the coaches have pointed out.

Communication involves all the staff and not just coaches. I must understand what they are asking and answer their questions in a language they understand and can use. It’s important not to be too scientific in your response. They want to know what you are going to do and how they can effectively communicate this to their athletes. My job is to make sure everybody understands the programs being implemented. If you start using too many scientific term with kids coming out of high school or from the Dominican Republic you’ve lost them.

PC: With an individual athlete do you work with one coach or a multitude of coaches; i.e., position coach, hitting coach, etc., for that athlete?

SM: We have a field coordinator, a pitching coordinator, a catching coordinator, and a hitting coordinator, They are the first group I go to because obviously they have their certain groups that they work with. As I rove through the year in and out of all the affiliates, I touch base with the pitching and hitting coaches and managers to make sure they don’t see anything that needs to be worked on. If there is something we want to implement, I’ll communicate this issue back to the field coordinator and help to determine what we can do. I’ve created great relationships through the years and they know where I’m coming from. My job is to make sure everyone is in the loop. This most definitely includes the strength and conditioning coaches at these affiliates.

PC: How do you handle the issue of total workload and volume in a sport where activity and playing is almost constant month after month? And how do you coordinate baseball skill loading with conditioning loading in order to avoid overuse and over training?

SM: We are very aware of rest intervals. For athletes in peak shape I’ll give them the ability to take their heart rate during a workout for a 10 second interval. I give them a certain number, for example 24 to 27 heart beats in 10 seconds, which gives me a simple way of determining where I want their heart rate for a minute. This is for conditioning. If I want to increase the fat burning affect from training I’ll lower the expected or goal heart rate a little. For an athlete who is out of condition I can tell they are struggling, I’m not so concerned about the heart rate but rather the workload itself. A pitching coach might notice that after 35 pitches a player’s legs are starting to go and mechanics are starting to change a little. For that individual I start to get their conditioning levels up a little. In addition, a player’s position is of importance. For starting pitchers their workload is going to be very different than that of a reliever or for position players infielders are much different than catchers. I have to be aware of what each player’s workload is on the field. From there I adjust the conditioning as necessary to recover properly.

PC: What is the communication relationship between yourself and the major league strength coach?

SM: Matt Krause, our major league strength and conditioning coach, and myself have been working together since 2002. I’ve been very lucky in the fact that I have great communications with him. Within the 40 man roster I have 15 in the minor leagues. I’m in communication with Matt as to what goals he has in mind and what adjustment need to be made to meet those goals. Thus, once they get to Cincinnati they are on the right track that will benefit the team in Cincinnati.

PC: How does the program design element work? Is it top down or down to top? What are the lines of program.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment?

SM: The program philosophy for the Cincinnati Reds is the same from top to bottom—it’s just a matter of making adjustments to the individuals to fit within that philosophy and that program. So, when an athlete comes up through rookie ball all the way to the Big Leagues, everything is very familiar and very consistent. When a player gets to Cincinnati the program is not changing, it’s just a matter of making small adjustments as necessary. This avoids surprises and big changes.

PC: What is your overall philosophy?

SM: Our philosophy is very progressive in nature. The goal of each athlete is to increase strength, power, lean body mass, agility, flexibility and endurance, and baseball specifics. On the mental side, it’s an increase of self-confidence and mental toughness. Within the program there’s discipline, accountability, consistency and dedication to the program. These qualities are extended throughout each year over the long term and all in a positive, progressive manner.

PC: Let’s talk about dedication to program. Beyond the fact that these players are professionals and there’s a dollars and cents issue, how do you insure dedication?

SM: It’s all communication and trust. If athletes know you are there for them and have their best interests in mind, dedication will be there. It’s a matter of you being a strength coach who is available, accountable and consistent.

Article provided by Performance Conditioning Baseball/Softball www.performancecondition.com/baseballsoftball the Official Publication of the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society

Weight Carrying Capacity: A Revolutionary New System of Looking at Body Weight, Height and Body Types in Athletes

Dave Ellis R.D., L.M.N.T., C.S.C.S., Applied Sports Nutrition Specialist, President, Sports Alliance Nutrition, Lincoln, NE

Dave Ellis is an accomplished Sports Dietitian and President of Sports Alliance, which provides consulting services to athletics and the food industry.  Dave has earned a reputation as a pioneer and leader in the field of applied sports nutrition and is celebrating his 25th year of practice athletics in 2006.   As the Director of Performance Nutrition support services at the collegiate level (20 years combined – Nebraska and Wisconsin Universities), Ellis orchestrated the most highly evolved performance nutrition and body composition support service models in the country.  Dave also Chairs the Nutrition, Metabolism & Body Composition Special Interest Group of the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is an advisor to the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society (PBSCCS) Advisory Board, USADA and the Taylor Hooton Foundation.

 

Coaches often try to categorize the amount and composition of an athlete’s body mass based on the event or position they compete. All too often athletes who do not have the stamina or speed to move the way the coach wants find themselves attempting to lose body mass to “lighten the load” or being moved to a slower position where they are asked to add additional body mass. Or in the case of cycling participate in a different event.  In reality, body mass may have had nothing to do with why the athlete was not moving well; it could be due to injury, illness, stress, etc. If there were a way to illustrate to coaches and athletes how much potential to carry body mass each individual has based on their mature skeletal dimensions, it would be easier for coaches to more objectively place athletes in the correct events, positions or weight classes in the first place as opposed to the subjective process of trial and error that currently takes place.

As you can imagine stature (height) is the measure most coaches currently equate to weight carrying capacity and yet we see tremendous variability in net body mass for the same heights. Obviously other segmental and body breadth measures must come into play in more accurately predicting frame size and subsequent potential for gains in fat free mass (FFM). Imagine if a coach could rank the skeletal frame sizes of his or her athletes in a manner that highly correlated to their potential to carry FFM. The coach would be able to rank frame sizes from high to low on a team as a way of determining who has the potential to be the largest (FFM and total body mass) athlete to the smallest at each position or event. Even if an athlete has not yet accrued the FFM through maturation and training, the coach would have the ability to determine what the net potential of the individual’s frames might be. Maybe, more importantly, an objective method would exist that could illustrate a point of diminishing return for continuing to focus on adding mass to a frame that is carrying a high ratio of grams of FFM per cc of frame volume. This is a growing problem in male power sports.

Continued subjectivity by coaches and athletes in estimating potential to carry body mass can result in some very negative outcomes. On a clinical level these outcomes have surfaced with dysmorphic-dissatisfied body images of male athletes as they quite often strive for a body mass that is completely unrealistic and quite often unattainable. Whether self-imposed, societal-induced or coach-stimulated, these unrealistic images of what the composition of body mass should be is a rapidly growing problem in western society. We need a new measuring stick to more realistically put into perspective just what a realistic weight range could be relative to volumetric representation of our skeletal dimensions.

Determining robustness of a frame apart from stature is still a problem that challenges the forensic and anthropological community. Much of the error in accurately predicting weight relative to stature has surrounded the individual geometrical variation of the trunk. Some of the more high-tech solutions to this age-old issue seem to be surfacing in the research associated with three dimensional body modeling techniques used by computer animators and medical imaging (DEXA, MRI & CT). Until these techniques are more common and cost effective to evaluate healthy athletes, a more simplified anthropometric means of assessment seems to be the practical solution. Because athletes are so heavily muscled the use of circumferences are highly variable and typically better suited for predicting total body mass.

The purpose of this article is to introduce the concept of taking into consideration the unique geometric variances of the trunk that based on my experience and data can better correlate and predict what a male athlete’s capacity to carry FFM is in comparison to traditional non-geometric methods (height, wrist circumferences and elbow breadth). Historically, the efforts to predict a functional relationship between weight (total or lean body) and concomitant anthropometric measurements have received great attention due to military, design and health interests. However, as far back as this research goes come comments that illustrate the shortcomings of only using stature in this estimation process. “…Fundamentally weight must be proportional, not to length nor surface, but to cubic mass” (Gray & Walker ’21). And thus efforts began to factor in multiple skeletal dimensions and circumferences to better predict total body mass most of which utilized some measure from the trunk (primarily breadth measurements).

As early as this need for volumetric frame estimation was identified, we read sixty years later: “…Data relating to the quantification of body frame size are scarce. The commonly used frame size standards rely almost totally on self-appraisal. To our knowledge even these self-appraisal frame size standards have never been discussed or subjected to quantification. To adequately define body size, frame size must combine a measurement of stature and width in some mathematical and logical way. Additionally, frame size estimation must be essentially unrelated to body fat and be subject to quantification, statistical manipulation and population norming. The relationship between frame size and body composition has never been documented, although it seems logical to expect that frame size should vary as a function of the lean body mass component.” (Katch & Freedson ’82).

We needed something that was more geometric (three dimensional) when assessing an athlete’s frame, not just height. If you look at what is out there, body mass index, (height squared divided by bodyweight) you get a non-geometric, two-dimensional way of looking at the body and its weight carrying capacities. This is not to say it isn’t a valid way of looking at height in relation to total body weight, it just doesn’t tell the whole story especially when working with muscular populations like athletes. But it’s a three-dimensional world and we need to look at the body in three dimensions (Figure 1) to give us accurate assessments in dealing with athletes.

Weight Carrying Capacity in Three Dimensions

You can think of the body’s structure as being similar to scaffolding on a building. Some scaffolds are designed to carry large amounts of weight; others would collapse under the same amount of weight. The whole idea in athletics is to have the right amount of weight (lean/fat mass) in relation the three dimensional capacity of their frame so that the athletes are able to move at maximal functional capabilities—to score the goal, hit the home run, kill the ball or sprint across the finish line winning the yellow jersey.

In today’s training practices with emphasis on hypertrophy (muscle mass.gunnertechnetwork.comelopment), periodization, special nutritional supplements like creatine, and other advanced training methods, there is created a situation where an athlete may carry too much lean tissue and body weight to be at optimal level of functionality based on his/her sport. In addition, with too much weight come joint, tendon and ligament problems in the later phases of an athlete’s career. In early phases, it may just be a performance issue wherein the athlete is not getting the job done on the field, court, diamond or course.

Recently we have seen problems with athletes carrying too much lean mass in relation to performing in hot weather environments. In a contact sport, lean mass comes in handy when generating force to knock someone over, but there is a cost of keeping this large mass hydrated, cooled and buffered. There is a point of diminishing return in acquiring more lean mass. These include orthopedic concerns, diminished performance movement capabilities, environmental issues, and for endurance athletes, metabolic factors. All these factors are more or less severe depending on the sport.

Key Is In The Trunk

Independent of height, what is going to help us differentiate weight carrying capacity of males and females are variations in the trunk. In other words, how much of an individual’s height is trunk as opposed to legs. For our purposes, the trunk is defined as the area of one’s body from the top of the head down to the end of the tailbone. This is a very big factor and needs to be assessed when considering an athlete’s weight carrying capacity. Pearsal reports: “In particular, the trunk represents a segment with the greatest divergence of reported mass values: for instance, the percentage of body mass assigned to the trunk have ranged from 43.6% to 52.4% for males.” (Pearsall ’94).

The number of anthropometric measures necessary to replicate the human body model used in this industry is well beyond what any coach or practitioner has time to acquire (Yeadon ’90). In Yeardon’s example, the 95 measurements taken comprise 34 lengths, 41 perimeters, 17 widths and three depths and requires between 20-30 minutes of the subject’s time. Current under construction on our web site fuelingtactics.com details on how to size up these male frames in an interactive manner will be available in the near future (Table. 1). Trying to describe how to take these measurements and turn them into geometric solids for upper and lower body segments is best done with animations. It’s the three-dimensional perspective of sizing up an athletes frame that has to be considered. A person with a longer, more robust trunk is going to carry more weight in relation to height than a person with a shorter trunk and longer legs.

 

Table 1. Geometric Skeletal Measurements

 

UPPER SEGMENT SOLID
X – Xyphoid Level Chest Depth (XCD)
Y – Biacromial Breadth (Width of Shoulder) (ACB)
Z – Seated Height (HTSIT)

LOWER SEGMENT SOLID
X – Hip Depth (HIPD) of Abdomen at Pelvis in Supracristal plane estimated from Bi-iliac Breadth (BIB) * .5 (Waist)  = HIPD
Y – Bitrochanteric Breadth (Width of Hips) (BTB)
Z – Lower Limb Length (LLL) estimated from Height (HT) – Seated Height (HTSIT) = (LLL)

 

How the Nature of a Sport Affects Weight Carrying Capacity—Considerations for Baseball/Softball, Volleyball, Cycling and Soccer

By the time athletes reach the professional or Olympic level there is a good chance that they have already figured out what is functional for them with regard to weight carrying capacity. In the case of professionals with whom I frequently work, they tend to carry a little extra body fat but have a good read on their FFM situation. However, some take muscle to extreme. They want to put on more and more FFM to try and be a better athlete where, in reality, they might be better off putting in the time to improve movement or sport-specific skills rather than trying to make their motor bigger. As athletes.gunnertechnetwork.comelop there is a need to continually reprioritize their training. They may have achieved success by accruing FFM and think that by adding a little more they’ll get better. They don’t realize there is a point of diminishing return. By providing professional athletes with information about their weight carrying capacity, they are better equipped to understand there is a ceiling for FFM that impacts their performance potential.

In sports there are different ceilings for FFM. For example, in football the ceiling is very high but there are limiting factors. Football players, while large, still have to have a great deal of mobility, agility and ability to play in a hot environment. Even though there is a 25-second rest between plays there is also an endurance factor that is enhanced while playing the popular no huddle offense. A shot putter’s ceiling is even greater. Here the athlete doesn’t have to worry about agility, environmental factors or endurance. The ultimate lean tissue.gunnertechnetwork.comeloper is a body builder where lean tissue is the only consideration.

There are instances where I’ve been able to convince a coach as to what position on a team is best for a particular player because of the player’s weight carrying capacity. Regardless of an athlete’s speed or agility, the body isn’t going to allow that individual to be a tackle or guard in football if the frame can’t carry the FFM. Without the correct FFM an athlete will never to able to carry the mass necessary to effectively play guard or tackle at a high level.

The required amount of endurance, position played, and the competitive event all have a direct affect on weight carrying capacity considerations. In baseball and softball the position of shortstop requires a great deal of agility and mobility. First base requires less movement skill. Considerations of weight carrying capacity vary based on the two physical requirements of the two positions. A shortstop would carry less of their potential weight carrying capacity than the first baseman. In volleyball, the middle blocker and outside hitters would be similar to the first baseman while the libero would be closer to the shortstop in weight carrying capacity considerations. In soccer, the goal keeper would want to be closer to their maximum weight carrying capacity than a midfielder who has to have a great amount of power endurance capabilities. In cycling, where you have a wide variety of events and endurance requirements, a sprinter would want to reach maximum weight carrying capacity for lean tissue within the lower geometrics solids measurements. For a stage racer who has to manage mountains, every ounce of unnecessary mass becomes excess baggage while climbing. Lance Armstrong is a great example of applying “economy of mass” to achieve optimal results.

Gender Considerations

From the anthropological community come these observations: “…Because of the different proportions of the trunk (specifically, bi-acromial to bi-iliac breadth ratios) in males and females, sex specific equations should be used if possible.” (Hiernaux ’85). At this point I have not formalized calculations by sex and most of my data has been taken in male power sports like football and baseball. Why? The consideration is cultural.

In the male athletic population, the desire to gain lean tissue and add body weight is a desirable goal. For female athletes, however, the cultural situation is different. As they mature, many have a goal to blunt accumulation of sex-specific body fat that differentiates endurance, mobility and power output capabilities compared to their younger years. This population doesn’t put an emphasis on “how much bigger I can be” as opposed to the male population. It’s more of an opposite where body shaping and how one looks are the major considerations. Many female athletes want only to know “how can I keep body fat off.” However, the reality is that they may need to know even more about their weight carrying capacity to have a realistic body image and, hopefully, avoid disordered eating behaviors. They need to know that “I’m this big and will always be big. I have a big frame and you know what, I’m proud of it.” This is a healthier prospective. The situation with female athletes creates a need to collect data on them so we can gain a better perspective. We need to shake up this whole body image thing and understanding and applying weight carrying capacity principles could be the way to do it. The reality is you can alter bone density over time with diet and activity (for better or worse) but, you really can’t alter the geometry of your bone structure in rapid fashion like we can our lean and fat mass.

Practical Considerations

This information of knowing the difference in frames of the athletes is very important for a coach. Knowing this information will help prevent coaches from making unrealistic demands on their athletes to change or conform to a position/event standard that is beyond the athlete’s reach. Knowing that a certain athlete will always be smallest according to his/her frame, while another athlete will always be biggest will make the coaches job easier when choosing in what direction the athletes should be steered with regard to position or event. This knowledge will always impact conditioning priorities in the off-season.

For the most part, coaches won’t have time to do the measuring and calculations that are requirements in implementing a geometric weight carrying capacity program for their athletes. But there are some easy things a coach can do. It’s not beyond the scope of any coach to measure height and seated height. This will provide the coach with important information as to who has more trunk relative to height. Someone with the highest ratio of upper body segment to lower body segment (height minus seated height) will be the person who can carry more weight. Start tracking this information and keep a record of it. To measure seated height, have the athletes sit on the floor, tuck their tailbone against a wall and sit straight and tall. This information will help you make realistic decisions with your athletes.

List of References Cited

Gray, H, Walker, A.M., (1921) Length and Weight, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 6: 3, 231-238

Hiernaux J., (1985) A Comparison of the Shoulder-Hip-Width Sexual Dimorphism in Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, In: Human Sexual Dimorphism. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis, 191-206

Katch V.L., Freedson P.S., (1982) Body Size and Shape: Derivation of the “HAT” Frame Size Model, Amer. J. Clin. Nut., 36: Oct, 669-675

Katch, V.L., Freedson P.S., (1982) Body Frame Size: Validity of Self-Appraisal, Amer. J. Clin. Nut., 36: Oct, 676-679

Pearsall D.J., Ried, J.G., Ross R., Inertial Properties of the Human Trunk of Males Determined from Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Annals of Biomedical Engineering 22: 692-706

Yeadon M.R. (1990) The Simulation of Aerial Movement-II. A Mathematical Inertia Model of the Human Body, J Biomechanics 23: 1, 67-74