To keep and improve flexibility.
When we are born, we have excessive joint mobility and flexibility. As we grow up, we lose the mobility we don’t use and retain some based on the activities we do and sports we play. This plays a role in the compensations we develop. For example: As a baseball player, you partake in thousands of reps of swinging and throwing using one side of your body prior to high school -- this is what we would label “functional compensations” -- as the excessive range of motion a pitcher gets in the shoulder is a big contributor in how well they can throw a baseball. On the flip-side, it is likely to cause certain issues when performing other activities that require more symmetry. Lifting weights and learning how to perform your basic movement patterns properly will help to improve and maintain joint mobility while building stability and strength.
Mobility without stability is just as much an injury risk as an overly stiff body that lacks mobility.
By creating stability in a given range of motion, you are more likely to retain that joint mobility. Think of resistance training as pressing the save button. If you only quarter squat, you will likely lose the ability to achieve full hip flexion compared to someone that squats with load through a full range of motion. By training from a young age, we develop the functional mobility and strength that sets the athlete up for greater improvements down the road, along with a decreased risk of injury.
Gravity is resistance
I had a parent ask me recently, after seeing one of our youth athletes doing cleans, when the time was right to start resistance training. I explained to him that everyone does resistance training in life as soon as they are born. Let me explain. How does a baby stand up for the first time? Well, after trying over and over and failing to overcome their own bodyweight and gravity, they eventually build up enough strength and coordination to stand up and walk without falling. Fast forward a few years and those kids are running, jumping, and exploring the world through movement. Each ground contact during running is upwards of three times your bodyweight. Even some of the strongest NFL players will never lift anything that heavy in the weight room. Ever seen a young child jump off the monkey bars or from the swing and land on the ground from high up in the air? Did you worry about them and the health of their body? These are joint forces that are much more extreme than anything they could do in a controlled weight training session with a knowledgeable trainer. By participating in resistance training, a good coach can teach proper mechanics and help build a more resilient body, thereby reducing the risk of injury in sport.
Where are all the farm boys with stunted growth?
It doesn’t matter if we are lifting barbells or a bail of hay, resistance is resistance. Most people have heard that lifting weights at an early age will stunt the growth of a growing child. If this were the case, why aren’t children who grew up on farms (or other scenarios where physical labor was unavoidable) deformed and broken? Bails of hay, buckets of water, and wheelbarrows full of dirt all add up and are relatively heavy just like barbells and dumbbells. We have yet to see an epidemic where these children grow up to be hindered by it. Most of them reap the benefits of a strong mind and body as well as a robust general capacity to do physical work.
Scapular push-ups are a basic exercise designed to target the serratus anterior muscle which is a mover in protraction and upward rotation of the scapulae. While the scapular push-up is not necessarily the most ideal way to target protraction and upward rotation, it is a good beginner’s exercise to gain awareness and control of the scapulae, and specifically, the serratus anterior.
Three Coaching Cues:
Start in a plank position with the elbows under the shoulders and a neutral spine.
Slowly descend into scapular retraction (bringing the shoulder blades together or pinching) without compromising a neutral spine.
Press the elbows into the floor and drive into protraction (taking the shoulder blades as far apart from each other as possible or push apart).
The scapular push-up can be used as an assessment or a reinforcement technique within a strength program (especially for younger athletes).
If you go to your favorite search engine and type the word “leadership” in the search bar, it’s going to pull up thousands of articles and quotes online on the subject of leadership and characteristics of great leaders. You’ll find pearls of wisdom from world leaders, sports figures, legends and icons past and present.
I don’t presume I can give better insight into the subject of leadership than so many greater men and women have already done. Instead, I want to take what has already been said and try to apply it to our everyday lives -- to give tangible examples on how to live into the principles of leadership.
Leaders Have A Clear Vision
“Action without vision is only passing time. Vision without action is merely day dreaming. But vision with action can change the world.” - Nelson Mandela
It’s essentially impossible to lead when you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. Without a goal or purpose in mind, it’s also very hard for anyone to “buy in” to you as a leader. When you have a clear vision worth working toward, I believe you’ll find yourself alongside others working to help you achieve that vision.
No matter where your leadership role is -- on a team, in a business, or within your family or group of friends -- you’ll have a much greater impact if you can cast a clear vision and plan on how to get where you want to go.
Leaders Build Relationships
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Take a brief moment to think of the best leaders you’ve had in your own life. I’m willing to bet whoever just came to mind had a few of very important things in common:
Who wants to follow someone who doesn’t care about them? I’ve heard several horror stories about people who hated their jobs because of how terrible their boss was. In the vast majority of these cases, the issues were personal not professional -- they didn’t feel valued or cared for as individuals.
If you want to achieve your goals and fulfill your vision, you’ll need the help of a team. To keep that team in tact, you need to invest in each and every one of them. Don’t just tell them, but show them they’re valued and build a personal relationship with them. In short, treat them the way you want to be treated.
Leaders Empower Others
“Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” - John Maxwell
That theory was put to the test here at DST this past year. When the Los Angeles Angels reached out to our owner to join their staff, Lee could have passed on the opportunity because he was needed here. Instead, he took the interview knowing full well what the results here could be. That decision instilled great confidence in our team. By moving forward, he conveyed his trust in us to thrive without him here.
Empowering others is a process. It means focusing on the what and not the how. It can mean giving up control and relying on others to operate in their own styles and methods; or letting others make changes, try new things, and even fail on their own. But it’s an ability leaders need to ultimately succeed. Because at the end of the day, leaders aren’t making followers...
Leaders Make Other Leaders“True leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.” - Tom Peters
Physical limitations can create mechanical issues. Increasing the range of motion through the thoracic spine creates separation so force can be transferred without “energy leaks”. You can’t have sufficient rotation when you are stuck with a rounded upper back posture. The Baby Hip Bridge exercise helps increase range of motion through the thoracic spine. Here are the three keys we’re looking for in the Baby Hip-Bridge:
1. Thoracic Spine Rotation:
If we lack thoracic rotation, our arms will drag to try and create separation. In addition, to make up for a lack of thoracic rotation, we will sacrifice lumbar stability to maintain an upright torso. Sufficient mobility in the “T-Spine” (upper back) allows essential separation of the hips and hands during your swing, throws and pitches. Lack of thoracic mobility can also cause anterior shoulder issues in pitchers, who compensate for lack of range by creating external rotation in the wrong places such as the shoulder joint.
2. Shoulder Stability: The shoulder is a tricky joint because it has to provide adequate stability while maintaining full mobility. This exercise focuses on keeping the shoulders in a stacked position, and can create strength through stability added with thoracic rotation.
3. Psoas (Hip-Flexor): Proper hip mobility while pitching plays a significant role in avoiding shoulder and elbow injuries. When the hips are stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt, it can block off internal rotation as needed to generate force on the mound.
Physical Principle: Stress
By Sammy Knox
Stress is the body's way to react to a challenge. When we talk about stress in our workout programs, we're talking about different ways to challenge our athletes' bodies to get stronger, faster, etc.
Depending on an athlete's program, we're going to prescribe different levels of stress (or loads) to help increase strength, explosive power, or stability (control). There are a number of different factors that go into the stress levels our athletes go through in their workouts -- these factors include the athlete's in-sport goals and their bio-mechanical abilities. Before we can gain strength and increase speed, we must first make sure our bodies are able to handle the stresses necessary to reach our goal levels of strength and speed. Once we are in the right position, we'll give our athletes' bodies the necessary levels of stress (in varying degrees and phases) to work towards their end goal.