Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blog has moved

It has come to my attention that this site is still separate from my new blog site.  Go over to http://www.ZachDechant.com for all new content that began in April of 2016.  Thanks.

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Throwing to Warmup

A problem I see often is athletes who dismiss the importance of a proper warm-up and none other come to mind more than pitchers.  All too often pitchers throw to warmup instead of warmup to throw.  This is still a huge problem in my eyes at all levels of play. 

Too often I see young athletes do no warmup prior to competition and begin their throwing program to warmup for their bullpen work that will precede their game. 

For years with the Angels as well as at the collegiate level I watched starting pitchers do maybe 5 min of static stretching and a couple of jogs back and forth and then start throwing a baseball at 60 feet.   What was even more annoying was on days they didn’t start they warmed up with the rest of the team which usually included a thorough dynamic warmup.   It has never made any sense to me that on the days they didn’t play the were more warmed up than the days they actually performed their sport. 

I’ve even seen pitchers warm up more for their running program on their “off days” at the professional level.  When I would bring this point up to coaches they would always answer with “They’re on their own.  They know what they need.  It’s whatever they usually do.”   The problem becomes that many of these kids come from not really having a structured program at the high school level.  So they just do what they did prior to games in H.S. 

Our starting pitchers at TCU have a specific warmup prior to their start centered around their movements and needs as an athlete.   It begins with a general body warmup but progresses to increasing movement and mobility throughout the hips, thoracic spine, and shoulder as these areas become highly important in the throwing athlete. 

We start out around the hips creating movement on the front side to the back side.  From there we will move into our thoracic spine progression.  Towards the end of our warmup we move up the kinetic chain to the glenohumeral joint and create warmth and mobility here.  Our kids are sweating heavily by the time our 12 minute session is completed. 

When I first began implementing this warmup with our staff it wasn’t uncommon to see our starting pitchers velocity up by 2-4 mph. 

The problem was that they previously weren’t preparing their body for movement, and explosive movement at that.   Even though they had thrown for 20 minutes their bodies weren’t really that prepared.

Good Rant from a Reader – The Biggest Loser Cont.

It’s been a busy couple of days.  I’m finishing a couple different blogs on the continuation of the shoulder series asa well as one on why everybody thinks they’re a better strength coach than you. 

In the meantime here is a great repsonse I got from a reader on the post last week about the Biggest Loser. 

New Old Posts

The Biggest Loser!!!

It’s a great rant and I appreciate Nick sending it in.  

Preface: I would like to preface this rant with the statement that any activity is better than sitting down on the couch especially if said sitting involves a TV and if that TV is tuned to the Biggest Loser.

Being in health care I especially appreciate shows that inspire the general public (which is 67% overweight) to do something to improve their health. I do have a huge problem with the way the material is presented as realistic and healthy when this is the furthest from the truth. Nobody, employed or unemployed, has the money, the time, or medical insurance to support the unsustainable “lifestyle” presented on the show.

6 hours of workouts mostly consisting of monotone cardio, hamster-like workouts where the contestants are screamed at and criticized (disguised as encouragement and tough love). The self esteem of these contestants is beyond tanked; this makes the most viable solution to scream in their face when they are maintaining a heart rate a sneeze away from a heart attack. Could you sense the sarcasm? I was laying it on pretty thick.

 There is a reason why people over 300 pounds (let alone 450) don’t run marathons. Most of these people have been overweight for many years. A result of prolonged obesity is trashed knees, shredded hips, an overworked and undernourished cardiovascular system, hormone imbalances, and oxidative stress that rivals any nuclear reactor. The old saying goes that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Bob and Jillian are unhinging these peoples’ jaws like a damn anaconda and forcing them to eat the pachyderm head first by having them run a marathon. If endorphins released during exercise are not enough to mask the pain created by exercise this is an evolutionary signal to stop exercising (not to struggle through the pain and say something hinting of failure for the camera).

 When you weigh 350 pounds diet is the issue 100%. Not 80% or 75%; it is 100%. These people burn more calories sitting in 2 southwest airlines seats than the average 180 pound male could physically burn doing hill sprints in a weighted vest. I will agree that exercise creates more of a caloric gap between intake and burn in these folks, but I just have one question. Is it really worth the risk? Why not clean the gluten, processed foods, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and other dumpster-worthy toxic waste they people are consuming in livestock quantities before we force-feed them more of the processed foods because they sponsor the show and take the “fat burners” made by Jillian? If we taught people that the thing under their nose is a mouth and not a vacuum cleaner and to eat quality over quantity, I would venture to guess these people would shred weight like crazy. If they hit a plateau down the road when they have lost 50-100 pounds and have systemic inflammation under control and when their heart isn’t in v-fib every time they think of a treadmill; throw in some long slow distance walking (in good shoes) or no impact water movements to spare their already arthritic joints to get over that hump.

 Moderation is the key to sustainable living, but moderation is far from entertaining. Has anyone checked the Vegas over/under odds on when they actually kill one of these people?

Venting accomplished,

Askey

TGIF!

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!!!

Bear of a Weekend

Well college football season is finally here.  We have a big game coming up this Saturday against the 22nd ranked Oregon State Beavers.  It’ll be at the house that Jerry Jones built.  I’m excited for the game not only because it’s gonna be a big one but that’ll mean I won’t have to spend all day on Friday’s at the Cowboys Stadium watching practice, or actually taking the tours for the umpteenth time.  Frogs will be on ESPN at 6:45 pm Saturday evening on ESPN. 

Well I couldn’t leave everyone all weekend without learning something, so here’s another article of mine that was recently posted on EliteFTS.com.  Hope you enjoy it. 

More Is Better?

And to leave everyone with a smile on their face I figured we’d end it with decent mascot video.  I know I missed my calling in life because I’d love to be  the one inside those inflatable mascots.  Oh well, I’ll stick to strength and conditioning for the time being.  Have a great weekend.  GO FROGS!!!

In Memory of Charlie Francis

Charlie Francis, the world-renowned sprint coach passed away this past week from Mantle Cell Lymphoma.  Charlie’s concepts were and still are a huge influence on the programming of my athlete’s training.  He has given the world of track and field, strength and conditioning, and anything related to sports performance a great deal. 

Ben Johnson and Charlie Francis

The background on Charlie Francis, for those who may be unfamiliar, is he was Ben Johnson’s sprint coach.  He was the coach who was busted when Ben Johnson was caught doping in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.  There is much speculation as to how Ben tested positive and Charlie even wrote a book on the topic called Speed Trap. 

Over the course of almost a decade of programming training I have changed many things and several in part due to CF.  I use to be a full-on advocate of four-day training weeks utilizing an upper / lower split, with sprint days mixed in on Monday’s and Thursdays, much like the majority of college football programs in the summer use.  Charlie was the initial influence on me to look into a three-day training split.  Since that time I have been influenced by several other sources as well as the body’s own physiology to fully understand the benefits of the three-day split that I utilize, but it all began in chatting with Charlie on his forum.  

He has always been the source for me when it came to speed training.  There is relatively little information out there on the topic of speed development; or good information for that matter.  Charlie was a huge advocate of Eastern Bloc training, and understood the drawbacks of Western methodologies.  

A few of Charlie’s concepts that have stuck with me:
Periodization – Vertical Integration
One of the more effective methods of periodizing all facets of training.  Each element is present in differing volumes throughout the year.  They are never removed from the training only increased or decreased according to the time of year, season, etc.  This is one of the large drawbacks to Western Periodization. 

VERTICAL INTEGRATION

Recovery
He was one of the first coaches to be an advocate of recovery methods.  The off days for his athlete’s training were always recovery based.  This is where tempo runs come into play.  Tempo runs are training of submaximal intensity designed to aid in recovery of the body after a high intensity training day.  These runs are always done at 75% or less intensity.  They are great for focusing on the technical aspect of sprinting.  Charlie advocated them for their general conditioning effect, and the ability to increase capillarization.  By increasing capillarization athletes could stay warmer, longer during rest periods between training runs or at competitions.  

He was also huge on soft tissue work.  They utilized massage extensively with the sprinters he trained.  He perfected that art as it relates to sports performance in my opinion.  They had different variations of massage for the differing needs of the athlete, whether it be stimulatory, recovery based, or for actual soft tissue manipulation. 

Central Nervous System
Possibly the biggest influence to me was CF’s knowledge and importance of the CNS on training and performance.  He never trained the central nervous system on back to back days.  Speed was developed by training at 95%+ effort and being rested.  He believed in a high / lo concept of training.  Athletes would train high intensity on day 1, then low intensity / recovery on day 2.  It was an every other day concept or even several days of rest; never back to back days of high level training. 

Speed Work
The idea that speed work isn’t 10×100 can be attributed to Charlie.  Like I said earlier, there isn’t much information on the topic of maximal speed development.  Speed is developed by being rested and sprinting at 95%+ speed / effort.  He didn’t believe in doing anything in the 75%-95% zone of intensity when it came to sprinting.  Runs in this zone were too fast to aid in recovery and too slow to develop speed. 

RUNNING VELOCITY

His concepts on speed training and the overall development of the athlete were second to none.  These few concepts really don’t do him justice as I could go on and on about his training philosophy.

Although he will always be remembered for the drug scandal that rocked the Olympics, he will forever impact the future of sports performance training.