Train Like the Sport You Play
As coaches and athletes, we should be constantly searching for training methods that will improve the performance of the athlete in their specific sport. I believe that the blending of movement with resistance in patterns used for the sport will yield higher levels of athletic performance. We attempt to accomplish this with athletes in the facility by using implements readily found on the training floor to provide resistance in the movement they will use repeatedly in competition.
At True Grind Systems, we train athletes across a broad variety of sports, but a large percentage of our training clients are baseball players. In his book, Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach, Frans Bosch states: “No clear distinction can therefore be made between strength training and technique training. Especially when strength training is used to support a ball sport, it is important to beware of this blurring” (Bosch, 2015).
Blurring the line between strength and technique training should be an essential part of any well thought out training program. An example of this type of “blurring” can be seen in the use of medicine balls to create resistance in rotational movements such as the baseball swing.
In the rotational medicine ball scoop toss, we have our athletes closely mimic the pattern used to create the baseball swing. Let us break the movement down into segments to better understand the similarities in movement pattern on the training floor and that of the baseball swing.
Loading in to the Back Hip
As with the baseball swing, the athlete will rotationally load in to the back hip. The hinge “sit” created with this rotation allows force to be created with the ground.
Once the rotation is completed with the lower hand of the body in to a “loaded” position, the lower half of the body will rapidly rotate toward the intended target. While the lower half moves toward the target, the upper half hold the initial rotation position and, in some cases, continue to rotate away from the target. This counter-movement creates rotational separation between the two halls of the body.
Weight Shift and Transfer
The rotation of the lower half toward the target creates a weight shift where the force being exerted in to the ground changes from the back leg to the front (post) leg. At the same time, the upper half of the body begins to rapidly uncoil in the direction of the lower half creating speed in rotation.
Post and Rotate
As the front hip fully rotates toward the intended target, the front leg braces and creates a firm avenue for force to come out of the ground, up the stable front leg and through the rotating upper half creating speed and power.
Major League Baseball has quantified batted balls through the use of the launch angle of the ball hit. MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) provided a guideline for how to correlate the type of batted ball to launch angle.
Since it is our desire to have baseball players hit balls between a 10 and 25 degree positive launch angle, we should be creating the same launch angle with our medicine ball throws. As you can see, this athletes launches the ball close to a 15 degree positive launch angle.
By training an athlete as closely to the sports specific pattern needed to be successful, a coach will be able to maximize the effect of the training session and improve the overall performance of the athlete. Athletes, blend the movements you do in the training room and on the field in order to perfect and improve your overall performance.