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By Dynamic Sports Training 23 May, 2017

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is one of the most productive movements in strengthening what we call the “GO” muscles.  The “GO” muscles are the muscles usually overlooked on the posterior side of the athlete -- the hamstrings, glutes, lats, etc.  


The RDL can be used as a great teaching tool for younger athletes because it’s a hip hinge/posterior chain movement. Many times coaches don't emphasize the basics, so it’s a good idea to keep it simple with younger athletes by establishing a solid foundation early on. Coaches need to figure out how well the athletes can push, pull, hinge (RDL etc.), squat, and carry before progressing to more advanced movements. Teaching the hip hinge/RDL not only builds a strong backside, but it also creates the primary hinge movement for the deadlift, clean pull, clean, snatch, etc., as well as builds your deceleration muscles ("GO" muscles - catching on yet?).


The hamstrings and glutes play an important role in almost every sport. Strong hamstrings and glutes are a vital component in improving speed, as well as deceleration, and also help maintain good knee joint and hip stability. Having the ability to engage and properly activate your glutes will provide stability through the various movements of the hip.


Set-up:

  1. Tall posture and neutral spine (feet hip width apart, hands slightly wider than shoulders)

  1. Breathe-and-brace

  1. Power position

Execution:

  1. Push the hips back

  1. Keep the bar close (sliding against the thighs)

  1. Vertical shins

  1. Back is engaged and flat while spine stays neutral.

Common Faults:

  1. Overextending lumbar and/or cervical spine

  1. Non-vertical shin angle

  1. Rounding of shoulders and Back

  1. Knees Locked Out
By Dynamic Sports Training 18 May, 2017

The question of showcasing is a topic I tackle often in talks with both players and parents. There seems to be an acceptance of the status quo when it come to showcases. People have bought in to the notion of "if there's a showcase, I need to go". In reality, showcases are unhelpful and, often times, actually detrimental to the majority of athletes. This statement comes from experience having been around and participating in showcases for several years. I've seen the inner workings of showcases from every angle: I’ve participated as an athlete, observed as a collegiate baseball coach and have worked several showcase events as a coach and trainer. It is my position that showcase events serve a small minority of the athletes who attend while the majority of participants won't realistically be seen by coaches. To help explain, I’ve put together a list of three problems with showcasing.


Problem #1: Showcases are Self-Serving

Showcase companies are generally not in it to help all athletes. Instead, I would argue any athletes they do help are just a by-product of chasing what these events are actually all about - MONEY . And I'll gladly give showcases their due here: they are wildly successful as a for-profit business, because there is almost no substantial overhead and a large cash flow comes in a short period. Allow me to break it down:

Let's say a showcase charges $500 for a weekend and they get 300 kids to show up. Not unreasonable, right? That is $150,000 . They can easily get away with paying 10 coaches $200 each for the weekend. Usually, big showcases get a discount with facilities because they know showcases bring in a large number of people and that brings credibility to their business. So lets say the showcase pays $5,000 for field use (Spoiler: They Aren't). The company still ends up with $143,000 for the weekend. Do ten showcases a year, and you’re talking about $1,430,000 . All they have to do at this point is pay a couple guys to maintain their web databases. Let’s say they pay three guys $100,000 per year (Another Spoiler: They don’t). Now, the company is left with a measly $1,130,000 in profit. I'm leaving a few things out, but you get the point. It's a racket. 

As I stated earlier, I've worked some of these showcases myself, and I can tell you the emphasis is not primarily focused on helping these kids. The emphasis is on making the kids feel helped. Here's an example: I was working one particular showcase as a coach of a team when a Division-I coached asked if one of my pitchers could pitch earlier because he couldn't stay to watch him pitch at his scheduled time. Seemed reasonable to me and it was a great opportunity for the pitcher! What happened? The showcase administrator refused to change the showcase schedule even though he knew full-well that meant preventing a kid from getting Division-I exposure. Doesn't seem consistent with someone who wants the best for their athletes, does it?


Problem #2: Showcasing (A Lack of) Tools

I don't want to tell you that showcases absolutely never help kids, because sometimes they do! It is just absolutely the VAST minority. Ninety percent of the athletes who show up will not benefit at all from the experience. Once again, if they were all about helping the kids, why wouldn’t these showcases turn away kids without real ability? Any guesses? Money.

The purpose of showcases is for athletes to show off their tools. For those of you who don’t know, a 'tool' refers to speed, power, arm strength, bat talent and glove talent. There are various standards for these tools as well.

Most of these athletes don’t have even one tool that meets the standards. As a pitcher, you’ll need to throw at least in the mid-to-upper 80’s. Position players, you need to run under a 7.2 second 60-yard dash. Outfielders, you need to throw upper 80’s to low 90’s. Infielders, you need to throw in the mid 80’s. These standards are the MINIMUM. If your goals are to play D-I or pro, the standards are even higher. If an athlete can’t meet ALL the standards required of their position, attending a showcase is completely useless.

Unfortunately, most athletes roll out there and showcase substandard tools. You wouldn’t sign up for a car show and bring a stock Ford Mustang, much less a beat up Corolla, but that is precisely what most athletes are doing. I tell my guys that it’s better to not participate than to put bad numbers on paper. If you want to showcase, take the time to develop some tools first.


Problem #3: Showcasing Too Early

Here's the deal: The standards are the standards regardless of how old you are. No college will sign you when you hit 84 mph as a freshman if you’re still 84 mph as a senior. Likewise, no college is going to turn down a 92 mph arm, because they were only up to 74 mph a year before. The same goes for the other tools. But now 8th graders are showcasing? It doesn't make sense. The player rankings they put out are to fuel more participants in their camp. Why? Money. There is absolutely zero benefit to showcasing before your tools are ready.



Since there are obvious problems, what's the solution?

The Role of Athletic Development

With so much emphasis on showcasing, parents and athletes are neglecting crucial times in the athlete’s development. People don’t balk at $1,000 for a showcase or $60-$80 per lesson, but for some reason $50 per week of athletic development seems unaffordable. This also stems from the industry's status quo and doesn't take into account the actual value of the services. Whether we are talking about throwing velocity, speed or power, working on force production and rate of force development is 100% essential. 

Let's use the example of sprinting. Let’s say we have a 170-pound kid who’s running a 7.5 second 60-yard dash. All the technical work in the world may not help this kid. If he doesn’t even have a base of strength, I don’t care how technically perfect he is. He can’t apply force to the ground. He can’t absorb the ground reaction forces and overcome them quickly and efficiently. He won’t get faster. You see, speed is trainable. Velocity is trainable. Power is trainable. Maybe it’s a force problem keeping you from improving. If so, we need to build your strength. Maybe it’s a lack of rotational power holding you back. If so, maybe we need to work anti-rotation strength and rotational medicine ball work. Maybe its specific mobility (not the same as flexibility) that is holding you back. I don’t care how many times a pitching coach tells an athlete to "get into their back hip". If they have a limitation, they won’t be able to get there. Still, parents will pay for lesson after lesson in vain where a coach flips them balls over and over or tells them to balance more.

Here's my suggestion: prioritize athletic development at least as highly as skill development. Athleticism enhances skill. This creates tools. Once again, don’t spend money on showcases that won't further your career. Focus on developing tools first.

By Dynamic Sports Training 16 May, 2017

Our DST Exercise of the Week is the plank. The front plank is a very common exercise seen in all gyms and workout routines from all individuals. The plank is a great core stability exercise that challenges the athlete to set and maintain a good neutral spine position. ‘Stability’ is classified as the ability to resist movement at a certain joint or region of the body.  We classify the plank into an anti-extension category as gravity and bodyweight are the forces being applied to push you into excessive sway back (lumbar hyperextension).  Lumbar hyperextension is a major factor in lower back and hip pain seen in many athletes.


Cues to improve plank technique:

  1. Elbows under the shoulders

  2. Abs braced

  3. Glutes squeezed

  4. Pull your elbows to your toes, and your toes to your elbows


Programming recommendations:

  1. Use at any point in the workout (beginning, middle or end)

  2. Use when fresh if you’re a beginner

  3. Use when slightly fatigued if you’re more advanced

  4. 2-3 sets

  5. 10 sec. in duration all the way up to 1 minute per set


With the plank, remember that quality is more important than quantity. Just because you can hover your body off the ground for five minutes doesn’t mean you have proper plank form or are building a strong core. Prioritize spine position and tension of the core over the length in time you can hold yourself up. It doesn’t matter how long you can hold if you’re not holding a good position.
By Dynamic Sports Training 11 May, 2017

Today, there is a lot of attention being given to pre-workout supplements, post-workout nutrition, protein powders, and so many other areas of nutrition. In all of this discussion about nutrition, there has been one detail that has failed to get the attention it deserves.  All life on Earth - from vegetation to mankind - is completely dependent on one element. Without water there is no life.  And without sufficient water, our bodies are greatly hindered.


Our bodies are made up of nearly 60% water.  When we see just a 1% drop in body weight due to water loss, an athlete’s performance begins to decline. Because of this, it is crucial for athletes to understand sweat rate, fluid needs, and hydration status. All of our cells hold water, but different cells hold varying amounts of water.  Bones contain about 22% water, fat is an estimated 25% water, muscle cells are roughly 75% water, and our blood contains almost 83% water.  With two major players in athletic performance and recovery (muscle cells and blood) being composed of at least 75%  water, it is easy to see why hydration plays such a major role in athletic performance and recovery.


Determining our hydration status and understanding our fluid needs takes a bit of work at first, but once it’s done, maintaining the habit becomes simple and effective. Once you understand your needs for water during and after exercise, it becomes a habit that will be part of your daily activities.  


There are three main steps in the process of maintaining proper hydration:

1. Determine your hydration status.

2. Calculate your sweat rate.

3. Calculate your fluid needs.  


While this seems like a lot of work, it’s not as hard as it might sound.


1. Determine Your Hydration Status


How do you determine your hydration status?  First, DO NOT use thirst as an indication of hydration status.  Thirst is a poor indicator of your hydration because it is a delayed effect of dehydration.  You will not feel thirsty until you’ve already lost 1-2% of the water in your body.  The easiest way to make sure of your hydration status is to check the color of your urine in the morning.  When you are properly hydrated, your urine color should be a pale yellow color, similar to lemonade.  If the color is closer to apple juice, you need to increase your water intake.  When the color of your urine is pale yellow, you should weigh yourself so you know what your body weight should be when you are properly hydrated.  After you’ve determined a baseline body weight while hydrated, you can use that weight as an indicator of your hydration status.  You should recheck this about once every two weeks to keep up with fluctuations in your body composition, which can affect body weight and hydration status.


2. Calculate your sweat rate.


Once you have determined that you are hydrated, you can move on to the step number two, calculating your sweat rate. This is easier than it sounds.  To calculate your sweat rate, weigh yourself immediately before and after a workout, practice, or game.  The difference between your pre-workout weight and post-workout weight is your sweat rate. Knowing your sweat rate will help you determine how much water you lose during a workout, practice, or game, which allow you to replace that water so that your body functions and recovers optimally.  There are a couple of tips for getting the most accurate sweat rate.  Weighing yourself with as little clothing as possibile before and after is the best way to get an accurate sweat rate.  Always weigh with your shoes off, and try to weigh with lighter clothing.


3. Calculate your fluid needs.


Now that you have determined your hydration status and calculated your sweat rate, you can move on to calculating your fluid needs for rehydrating yourself.  For every pound you lose during a workout, you need to drink 16oz of water. However, your body can only absorb about 16 to 24oz of water into the tissue per hour.  This means that if you lose 4lbs of water in a workout, you can’t drink 64oz of water at one time and bring your body back into a proper state of hydration.  You will need to drink a minimum of 16oz of water for the next four hours to rehydrate yourself.  


What’s At Stake


.5% Water Loss - there is an increased strain on the heart.

1% Water Loss - there is reduced aerobic endurance.

3% Water Loss - there is reduced muscular endurance.

4% Water Loss - there is reduced muscular strength, reduced motor skills, and heat cramps.  

5% Water Loss - there is heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, and reduced mental capacity.

6% Water Loss - physical exhaustion, heat stroke, and coma.

10-20% Water Loss - death.  


When you use the three steps to create a plan for maintaining a proper state of hydration, you can optimize your performance and recovery from training.


Remember:

  1. Weigh before AND after training or practice.

  2. For every pound you lose during a workout drink 16oz-20oz of water.

  3. Your body can only absorb 16oz-24oz of water per hour.    

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