Individualized Training for Recovery

I think that one of the most important areas of sports training that is being overlooked is how the athlete body feels.  The athlete’s body is always right.  You as a coach may think you know what’s going in inside, but in reality it’s always your best guesstimate.  Knowing how your athlete’s body is responding to the training, practices, school work, etc is a tough challenge, and it’s toughest during a long season of competitions.  No two people are the same.  Hence, no two people respond to training the same.  This especially becomes tough during the in-season stage of athletics.  We know that most football training programs have different programs for red-shirted players vs. senior starters, but what about a sport like baseball where often times no one is red-shirted and everyone has a chance to play on a given day. 

Throughout the in-season our baseball players utilize a system of ranking how their body feels that day, their nutrition, and sleep the night before.  They do this every day so we can see changes throughout the season in their ability to adapt to all the stimuli that are present.  When we have a long stretch of away games, players will always be fatigued and unable to recover fully before their next training session.  Should the player that has played in 45+ innings  that week and flown 1,000 miles across the country be on the same program that our backup centerfielder who hasn’t played in a month.  Obviously not.  By ranking their recovery, players are allowed to custom tailor their workout to how they feel and how their body is adapting to the loads.  If a player feels terrible and has marked low numbers, they have the freedom to choose an alternate exercise in a de-load fashion, or choose an alternative set and / or rep scheme.   A player may have 5 listed sets of an exercise, but the last 2-3 are optional.  If a kid isn’t feeling it, then he can opt of of the last sets, and continue on his workout.  Everything in the in-season training can be adjusted based on how our athlete feels.550859365_uMfcw-M

Getting to this stage in the training requires lots of communication and trust between the sport or strength coach, and the athlete.  All of our athletes know the importance of recovery, and restoration in their overall program.  This system would be difficult to implement if our players didn’t understand their training, and what and how to achieve enhanced performance.

Now obviously there are problems with this system as anything.   Coaches will always have those few athletes who will opt out of every optional set of training all the time.  Or put down false numbers so they don’t have to do the whole workout.  This can and does happen but knowing your athletes inside and out, as well as open lines of communication can help to curtail these instances.

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Thoracic Spine Mobility

All Fours - Single Arm Rotations - Start
All Fours - Single Arm Rotations - Start

One of the t-spine mobility exercises we always put into our warm-up is All Fours – Single Arm Rotations.   It allows for extension and rotation of the t-spine, which is extremely important for any rotational athlete.  Immobile t-spines can not only create problems up and down the spine, they can cause oblique injuries, and serious shoulder problems.   Teaching and mobilizing thoracic spine extension and/ or rotation is of great importance in all throwing / rotational athletes including golfers, pitchers, quarterbacks, etc.   Generally, we do x5 reps per side.  On each rep we will stretch at each end of the movement for one count.   We do not want movement to occur in the lumbar spine.  All rotation should occur in the mid and upper back.  Coaching cues that I use are to try to touch the elbow to the opposite armpit, and rotate up as far as possible.  This is a great prep movement that leads into our T-Spine series.

All Fours - Single Arm Rotations - Finish
All Fours - Single Arm Rotations - Finish

New Sports Performance Training Blog

The following is a new sports training blog.  It will include performance enhancement information geared towards novice, intermediate, and advanced athletes.  I will constantly try to keep the blog updated with the latest information as to what we are doing with our athletes and what I would recommend doing with yours.  I hope to be able to use this as a platform to reach coaches, athletes, and parents who have questions about the training that they are doing.  I constantly get asked about our program / programs here at TCU, and will now be able to utilize this as a means of keeping others informed.  If you have questions please feel free to contact me through this site or my email at z.dechant@tcu.edu.