New Old Posts


Today brings a couple of older posts.  I posted back during Spring Training on the training of the Seattle Mariners and their new system. 

A “Weightless” Weight Room

I recently came across the video of Peak Performance Project who is the group that took over the Mariners strength and conditioning.  This isn’t the Mariners facility but the company’s private facility in California.  I have to admit that it has all the bells and whistles you can imagine.  I can’t fathom what this facility cost to create.  It may be the most scientifically designed training facility I’ve ever seen.  Whether they use it to its max would be my concern, and especially when their training lots of younger athletes.  Their training philosophy sounds pretty good and they have the ability to calculate all sorts of data.  Anyway it’s a good watch.

I got caught flipping through channels the other nite and on came The Biggest Loser.  It reminded me of one of the first things I wrote about at the time.  As I the show began I see things still hadn’t changed.  My back, and knees hurt just sitting on the couch watching. 

The Biggest Loser!!!


Football vs. Baseball

A question was recently posed to me about the differences in training young athletes for football and baseball, and what the difference should be.  The athlete in question was a junior high football player.  The uniformed parent wanted to know the difference in the training of a junior high football player vs. a baseball player.  They were under the belief that the training should be completely different for these two athletes and that these two athletes shouldn’t train together. 

First off, in young athletes I believe the most important thing to emphasize is development and perfection of movement patterns.  Every young athlete needs to be taught how to move first and foremost. It doesn’t matter if the athlete is a baseball player, gymnast, badminton player, or football player.  Young athletes need to be taught how to move and move correctly before they incorporate stronger and more specialized training means.  They should build a foundation of movement before other motor skills are taught. 

The foundation of movement that should be taught refers to sprinting, cutting, decelerating, jumping, basic athletic positions, as well as implementing proper movement patterns such as pushups, squats, RDL’s, lunge patterns, etc.  Just because two kids play different sports doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have similar training.  Everything that happens in a weight room should be about teaching general movement patterns.  The specific activities should occur on the field.   Movement patterns are the foundation of athletic development and future training. 

Parents should remember that there is no reason to specialize in sports at a young age.  The total pool of motor skills developed becomes extremely limited and in essence puts a ceiling on the overall development of the athlete in the future.  Not only does this limit athletic potential but causes severe overuse injuries, creates huge imbalances and movement deficiencies at a young age that aren’t easily corrected, and causes burn-out.


With it being Friday I thought we might have some fun before a big weekend.  The Frogs play rival SMU tonite across town in Dallas. 

In other news I just got back from watching my first Tommy John surgery.  Pretty impressive stuff if you’ve never seen it.  Everything went real smooth.  I was impressed at how quick the surgery is. 

To set the theme for the weekend we have the top two knockouts in support of the upcoming UFC 119 which our staff plans on watching.  Enjoy.  GO FROGS!!!

The Birddog

No we’re not talking about Weimaraners here, we’re on the topic of a commonly used exercise that gets run through the mud when it comes to technique.
A damn good birddog!!!

This is one of Stuart McGill’s Big 3 for low back rehabilitation and performance, and one that about every athlete performs at one time or another.  Our athletes utilize this during their warm up as well as during their low back / glute activation circuit.  It never fails that we see a lot of errors in the correct performance of this exercise. 

Not what we want

In the birddog the legs are arms are being mobilized while the spine is stabilizing.  This is the reason the exercise is so important in back rehabilitation as well as performance.  The purpose is to lock in and stabilize the spine while the arm and leg are moving around it.  This is the general concept of all athletic activity for the most part.  The spine acts to stabilize and transfer power to the appendages

Athletes generally try to bring the leg and arm up too high equalling compensation by the lumbar spine to achieve this motion.  The arm and leg don’t have to be any higher than parallel to the ground.  What we want when we perform the birddog is to push the leg straight back instead of picking it up.  This helps to keep athletes from arching the back to achieve this position as well as helps teach and train the glutes to fire.  

Spine should always stay neutral

When we teach the leg movement we also train it with dorsiflexion.  This helps create the image of driving the leg straight back through the heel and aids in creating glute activation. 

Good birddog

Another problem that commonly arises is athletes keeping their head up during the exercise.   This inevitably causes the back to arch.  Always teach and train the head to stay in a neutral position with spine. 

Athletes need to be taught the real reason for doing the birddog.  Many believe the exercise is about moving the arms and legs above parallel.  I don’t care how high we move the appendages as long as we learn the proper pattern of stabilizing the torso and spine.

Internal Impingement of the Shoulder – PART IV

Last week we visited external impingement in the shoulder, how it arises, and what to do.  This week we’ll take a look at internal impingement.  Internal impingement is a pathologic condition that can lead to a whole host of problems in the shoulder.  The problem is most commonly seen in overhead throwing athletes, tennis players, volleyball players, swimmers, as well as athletes involved in overhead weight lifting. 

Shoulder Mobility and the Fist to Fist PART I

Shoulder Series and the Sleeper – Part II

External Impingement – PART III

Internal impingement is the repetitive contact of the articular surface of the rotator cuff against the posterior superior surface of the glenoid and glenoid labrum.  Essentially, the supraspinatus and infraspinatus become trapped between the humeral head and the rim of the glenoid in the back of the shoulder.  This happens when the arm is abducted and externally rotated or the “high 5” position as I like to refer to it.  When we look at sporting activities this encompasses it’s the exact position for throwing, or serving in tennis. 

Internal impingement of the shoulder: comparison of findings between the throwing and nonthrowing shoulders of college baseball players

Contact between these structures happens naturally but not everyone presents symptomatic with pain.  When internal impingement is ignored rotator cuff and labral fraying can occur which can lead to full on cuff tears SLAP tears, and labral lesions; not a good thing for the shoulder. 

The precise cause of these impingement lesions remains unclear. However, it is believed that varying degrees of glenohumeral instability, posterior capsular contracture, and scapular dyskinesis may play a role in the development of symptomatic internal impingement.

Overhead athletes are pre-disposed to internal impingement purely because of the physiologic adaptations that they develop which include humeral retroversion, anterior laxity, increased external rotation, etc.  The same characteristics that allow an individual to throw hard also cause dysfunction in the shoulder. 

When pitchers lay back into maximal external rotation the head of the humerus is allowed to slide anteriorly in the gleniod.  With the inability to stabilize the humerus dynamically at high speeds the posterior cuff gets pinched between the gleniod and the humerus.  Athletes usually complain of pain on the posterio-superior region of the shoulder when the arm is externally rotated into the throwing position. 

Exact causes of internal impingement aren’t exactly clear but there are several theories on what causes internal impingement but most start with anterior laxity, the inability of the rotator cuff to stabilize dynamically, scapular dysfunction, as well as posterior tightness. 

The first place to start in the rehabilitation of internal impingement symptoms is to restore total motion to the glenohumeral joint, namely the posterior musculature.  This can be done by stretching with the sleeper stretch as well as cross body adduction. 

From there we also want to emphasize strengthening the rotator cuff statically, then dynamically.  Anything to strengthen the cuff and major players in the role of proper scapular function is warranted, especially upward rotation. 

The one thing we don’t want to emphasize is any external rotation stretching.  The anterior capsule is already loose enough due to the nature of their skill.  When we stretch we are concerned with increasing movement through internal rotation. 

The main take home points for internal impingement are to restore motion, especially internal rotation, strengthen the cuff and scapular stabilizers, and look to restore proper motion in the scaps.

Popular Question and 2 Cents

Every weekend during the fall baseball practices we have herds of recruits and their families to entertain.  Part of the recruiting process involves me laying out the strength and conditioning program that is in place for baseball.  I usually spend about 45 minutes to an hour presenting to a group of 20-30 people.  One of the questions I get asked most often is why I left professional baseball to come back to the collegiate ranks.  For those of you who don’t know I spent two years as a strength coach in the professional baseball ranks.  At the time I had opportunities to advance  within the system as well as several chances to get back into professional baseball since I’ve been here.  Each time I have declined. 

The biggest problem I have with professional baseball is the lack of athletic development with their athletes.  Professional baseball has a “let the cream rise to the top” philosophy in many of the organizations.  I’ve never understood that and it was a serious factor when it came making a decision as to which level I wanted to build my career in. 

Young players are brought into the organization and never given the tools to really succeed.  They aren’t fully developed into the athletes that they could be.  One set of 12-15 reps on 15 different machines is not what I would call a “good program” for athletic prowess.  In many places this in the norm.  Players are never taught the basics of movement in any form.  Players break down continually because of major imbalances and negligence in general movement patterns. 

 When your an 18-year-old kid who has gotten this far on pure athletic ability never having to further develop your ability to dominate the competition, why would they go workout after a long day when you can go back to your hotel, take a nap and play X-box the rest of the day.  Players aren’t held accountable for doing their training.  If a player doesn’t want to get his training session in he doesn’t necessarily have to.  Many players show up and do nothing, some slip through the cracks and never show up, others will do their program with random weights never progressing in any way.  Sometimes players may get fined for skipping workouts but often times no repercussions occur. 

More often than not players are trained around convenience using what I call “idiot periodization” which is random exercises placed in random order to produce a random training effect. 

More Is Better?

Rarely are athletes actually trained to perform at a higher level year in and year out.  They are put on the same training program for the six months they are in season with an organization and then start the same training program all over when they return whether they have utilized the off-season to work out or not. 

Training programs should be built around developing athletes into the best all-around baseball players and athletes.   Doing this would not only keep medical bills down due to less surgeries, rehabs, etc. but would develop the diamonds in the rough that get passed up right now.  Organizations are loaded with hidden talent so to speak.  If they got the chance to develop these kids they might produce more phenomenal players but this chance is never given.  Every year a new crop of 16-20 year old youngsters come into the program, get chewed up and spit out never knowing what really could’ve been.  They don’t know that what will determine  their future is their ability to stay injury free and fully DEVELOP as a baseball player and athlete.

Truly Sport Specific

I got an email yesterday from Allen Huffstutter, President of the OmegaWave.  In it he had attached an article that I found interesting.  It comes from Dave Tenney, the Seattle Sounders soccer club’s Athletic Development Coach.  Coach Tenney utilizes the OmegaWave with his athletes and uses one of my old friends in the area, Joel Jamieson, as a consultant.  The article has a lot of great information and goes right along with what I posted a few months back during the World Cup on the training of soccer athletes.  

Dave Tenney – Seattle Sounders Interview

Here is one of Coach Tenney’s excerps from the aritcle. 

We’ll need to come to the agreement that soccer is an alactic-aerobic dominant sport. We could then assume that most intense actions are short enough that the energy required can be fulfilled by the alactic system, and the resting intervals should be enough time that the oxidative system aids the replenishment of ATP for the alactic system. It appears that an over-reliance on lactic energy can be very taxing on the body, and is not efficient.

This goes right along with my opinions in my previous post that soccer players don’t need to train in a lactic environment.  This delays restoration, and recovery and causes more stress on the body.  When you truly look at how soccer is played it is with short bursts of activity with active rest type recoveries. 

Soccer and Energy Systems 

The other piece in the article that is terrific is Coach Tenney’s view on training specifically.  He talks at length of training the energy system by playing the sport, not by circuits or randomized weight room training.  They train for their sport by playing their sport.   Everything in the weight room is general in nature.  Training on the field with a ball, and competitors is the most specific way to train not only skill but proper energy systems as well. 

European Model of Sport Selection – GREAT READ 

In all it’s great interview and gives some insight into modelling energy system development to that of the sport.