The kettlebell windmill is a great exercise that improves many traits at once. We all know that mobility, stability, and strength are vital to optimizing sport performance. Any time we can accomplish all these physical attributes at once is ideal to maximize training time.
Thoracic spine rotation is something that many athletes lack and is necessary for optimal sports performance. As a throwing athlete, thoracic spine mobility is imperative to attaining separation and fluidity in the throwing motion. Elbow and shoulder health is also very much dependent on the thoracic spine doing the job it is intended to do.
Shoulder stability is also very important as the shoulder joint is the most unstable joint in the body. Good control and alignment of the joint can help to prevent many common injuries that athletes face in sports like baseball. Throwing a baseball is the fastest motion in sports, and therefore extremely stressful. Proper stability will ensure that the shoulder can withstand the repetitive stresses and avoid the common overuse injuries.
The windmill also helps to improve lateral core stability where the oblique’s resist against unwanted movement of the spine. When sprinting, many athletes lack the necessary core stability to maintain posture. This is evident when the athlete exhibits a lateral hip hike or an unnecessary side bend of the torso. Stability through the core will ensure that all force is being put into the ground as it should and not lost, thus achieving maximum velocity.
Physical Principle: Tempo
By Sammy Knox
When discussing tempo in training, we are referring to the speed at which we execute the exercise. Training with different tempos is important because it will provide the athlete with a different stress, therefore causing a specific adaptation to that stress. There are three different tempos we utilize in our training because there are three different types of muscular contractions.
Isometric – a muscle that does not change in length while contracting
Concentric - a muscle that is shortening in length while contracting
- The better you are at eccentric strength (a slow descent in the squat), the better you will be at absorbing force. This is important for both preventing injury and increasing performance. When sprinting, we want to spend very little time on the ground while still being able to apply enough force to be fast. The stronger the athlete is eccentrically, the better they will be able to achieve this.
- Isometric strength (holding the bottom of the squat) is beneficial to being a well-rounded athlete, as you are required to hold static postures under high forces and velocities while sprinting. Our core muscles must be strong isometrically during sprinting and other athletic feats to transfer force in the most efficient and effective way.
- Concentric strength (standing up from the bottom of a squat) is all about force production and can also be referred to as “starting strength.” This is very important in the acceleration phase of sprinting, which is the first 10-20 yards. This is the case since we are not able to utilize the stretch reflex as effectively to propel us in the direction we want to go; therefore, we must use more concentric strength to get us going.
As you can see, all three tempos are important and useful for athletes to develop maximum strength.