Sports Psychology with Dr. Ariane Machin – The Barbell Life 345

The difference between a good athlete and a great athlete is often their mindset.

It’s the same with coaches. The difference between a good coach and a great coach is often their ability to understand the mindsets of their individual athletes. (Because every athlete is unique!)

So it’s frustrating to me that sports psychology has this stigma surrounding it. It’s personal to me… because my whole life was absolutely changed by sports psychology.

And I’ve seen how sports psychology has totally transformed the performance (and the lives) of some of my athletes. In fact, one of the great sports psychologists we’ve worked with is on the podcast today. So give this one a listen!

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LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Why my entire life was changed by sports psychology
  • The source of HUGE problems in sports and feelings of self worth
  • Why some athletes don’t need help on the platform but need psych help AFTER the competition is over
  • Are PEDs really due to bad psychology?
  • The reality about sports that hits everyone hard
  • and more…

Assessing an Athlete’s Readiness

Coaching athletes is the most difficult endeavor I have taken on in my adult life.

Being an athlete is a lot simpler than coaching twenty or more individual athletes. Each athlete is unique in their:

  • Perceived exertion
  • Ways of dealing with stress
  • Abilities to recover
  • Discipline to recover (sleep, nutrition, etc.)
  • Nutritional habits
  • Personality (for example, some will communicate and some won’t)

Athlete testing and monitoring is just a way of gathering information. Your exact protocols for dealing with the information is where the art of coaching comes in. I have an entire class on athlete monitoring this semester, so you can rest assured you will also be getting your fill of knowledge. In this series, we will go into detail about topics such as:

  • Basic athlete readiness
  • GPS tracking
  • Velocity
  • Force plates
  • Detailed data tracking via excel
  • Wearables: the good and not so good
  • Psychological factors

Today we are going to start with basic athlete readiness because all of you can benefit from this knowledge starting Monday morning. Although it’s basic and easy to gather the data, it’s some of the most important data you can receive for your athletes.

Here’s why it is so important. Most of the research performed over the years on programming and periodization was collected in athlete populations in countries like Russia with state sponsored programs where athletes have perfect situations: food, sleep, recovery, etc. The same countries are also known to be riddled with performance enhancing drugs.

Does that mean we should ignore their data, and therefore ignore their programming suggestions? No way! Like with most research, you extrapolate the pertinent information and leave behind the impertinent. First we have to realize that our populations in America, much like the rest of the world, have jobs and/or school. That means they have stress outside of the weight room. They have exams, personal relationships, demands at work, and genetic psychological difficulties.

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Load and Response

When we write a program, most of us are great at taking into consideration the increasing stress implied by the program. However, many of us neglect the other stress in athletes’ lives. One thing we have to remember is that the acute response experienced by our athletes is training load plus life load. Therefore:

Training Load + Life Load = Acute Response

Training Load Considations:

  • Volume – this is simply the weight lifted times the repetitions times the number of sets. This can be tracked in the weight room or on a field of practice like football
  • Average Intensity – average percentage of one’s 1RM handled in a given period
  • Relative Intensity – can be defined as the weight you are using for X amount of reps, relative to the maximum weight you can perform X amount of reps for
  • Frequency – how often one trains or performs a given movement
  • Duration – how long one trains or performs a given movement
  • Injury
  • Diet
  • Sleep

Life Load Considerations:

  • Work
  • Study
  • Relationships
  • Stress
  • Life Events
  • Genetics to handle each

Accumulated ‘acute response’ leads to chronic response. The goal of most training programs is to produce an overreaching response in each athlete’s program right before a predetermined taper. This creates a supercompensation response. But without proper recovery, overreaching becomes overtraining. Then you have a problem that could equal months of a setback or an injury. Now let’s talk about the simplest way to prevent any of this.

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Daily Training Readiness

The easiest way to prevent overtraining is to assess your athletes’ daily readiness. Now there are some complicated and expensive ways, and there are some inexpensive non complicated ways.

Complicated and expensive daily readiness tracking:

  1. GPS – this is one of the latest instruments used in the strength and conditioning world. It tracking an individual athlete’s running speed, distance run, their position on the field, their heart rate, and their body’s work rate.
  2. Force Plate – for high force output sports, some coaches use a force plate to assess force output in movements like an isometric midthigh clean pull or isometric squat from a particular height.
  3. Inertial Measurement Unit – this measures the acceleration and angular velocity of an object along three mutually perpendicular axes. IMUs measure these quantities based on the physical laws of motion.
  4. Velocity Based Training – This measures the velocity of a barbell or person. Velocity is simply the amount of time it takes to cover a specific distance. An easy way to use velocity for daily readiness is to track the velocity of a certain percentage of an athlete’s 1RM in a given movement. If that velocity is 10% less than normal, it’s time to abort. If the velocity is higher than normal, consider pushing things a bit.
  5. Wearables – these monitor biodata including heart rate variability (which is a look at the sympathetic nervous system). Here’s an article that I wrote all about the topic: Diving into Heart Rate Variability. Wearables also monitor sleep resting heart rate, sleep quality, and respiratory rate.
  6. My Fitness Pal – this app allows athletes to track total macronutrients against the amount they should actually be consuming. The app also takes a look at activity levels and calories lost from heat.

Over the coming months, I will dive deep into each of the aforementioned systems, but today I want to give all of you insight regarding some very simple and inexpensive ways to monitor your athletes. I will also give you some insight as in what to do with the information.

Ask Your Athletes

Daily communication is so important. This is where it’s so important to be more than some data collector. You have to sincerely care about the people you are coaching. I like to ask the following questions on a daily basis:

  • How did you sleep?
  • What have you eaten today?
  • How’s school? Any tests?
  • How’s the girlfriend or boyfriend?
  • How’s life?

The goal is to get them talking. Now the problem is this information is very subjective. However, I can also assess their facial expression and their body language. Together with their feedback and body language, I can get a pretty good idea of their daily readiness. I can either decide to intervene immediately, or I can choose to watch them warm up. I can then determine how much I am willing to alter their program based on all data points:

Subjective data points:

  • Body language
  • Verbal responses to readiness questions

Objective data points:

  • Quality of movement in warm ups
  • Velocity of movement
  • Intensity used

For example, if an athlete gets to 70% of a given movement and appears uncoordinated, is looking tired and worn in his or her body language, and answered your readiness question by explaining they were up late studying for a major exam – then that’s a good day to back off, perform some low eccentric bodybuilding, and go home to get some extra sleep and recovery. It’s that simple, but for some reason a lot of coaches struggle with communication and observance of others.

Vertical Leap or Grip Test

A vertical leap is a very common high velocity movement that is used by coaches of athletes from power driven sports like weightlifting or track and field to assess their athletes. The key is obtaining that data from athletes during peak conditions. Then test the vertical leap under the same conditions for the daily test. For example if the original data was taken after a ten-minute warm up, you will need to perform a ten minute warm up prior to the daily test.

If the athlete’s vertical leap is 10% lower than normal, the coach might consider altering the daily plan. Some coaches adjust programs if the daily marker is 5% lower than normal. It really relies on the perception that you intended during the exact period of the training plan. Once again, if 15% lower than normal, I recommend aborting the session all together by performing some low intensity bodybuilding and then going home to sleep, eat, and recover. You can do this exact measurement with a grip test as well.

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These are just a few ways that you might assess the daily readiness of your athletes. The art of coaching comes into play with the actions taken from the data. Some coaches might decide to push through to incite an overreaching response. Some might have the athlete perform some bodybuilding and then go home and recover. Some might lower the volume and intensity slightly and then have the athlete continue the training session. Some coaches might have the athlete abort the session all together, go home and rest. That’s what makes a coach an artist. I just want to give all of you some more tools and skills to sharpen your game a bit. Over the next few weeks, I intend on taking this series a lot deeper. I hope that you all will come along on the ride.

Fuel – Nutrition and Your Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 344

Anyone who is serious about their fitness knows their nutrition has to be dialed in.

You can workout for hours every day with the perfect program, optimal technique, and the mindset of a champion – but you will be wasting your time if your nutrition is poor.

So today we get to several of your questions on nutrition – as well as some other questions about injuries, programming, and more.

This is a podcast you don’t want to miss.

FUEL: Mash Elite Nutrition

Find the Nutrition Plan that Fits You.

Whether you are an elite athlete or an average Joe...

Whether you are someone who hates counting calories or you are a fanatic about tracking every tiny detail...

Mash Elite's new resource will give you the nutrition tools you need to make fast results without guesswork, stalled progress, or unbearable restrictions.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Gaining as an ectomorph
  • Olympic lifting for track and field
  • Learning how to write programs
  • Nutrition for busy people
  • Dealing with multiple back injuries
  • and more…

Hang Clean vs. Clean from the Floor

The clean is one of the most discussed lifts in the strength and conditioning world. I have written countless articles about the clean, and I have an entire book dedicated to everything about the movement.

One of the statements you might hear floating around in several strength and conditioning circles is that hang cleans are easier to teach and just as effective as a full range of motion clean from the floor. Is that true? Well, I have to give everyone’s favorite answer: “it depends.” While we’re discussing this, I will also tackle the topic of clean pulls in relation to full cleans.

My goal is to arm you with the scientific facts, so you can better make a decision for your athletes. A coach must be armed with the basics of biomechanics, physics, anatomy, and physiology. This knowledge will help them discern the information they are going to receive from mentors and peers. I don’t want any of you to assume that just because one of your go-to coaches says something that the information is automatically true. If that’s the case, the industry will never get better. I don’t want any of the coaches I mentor to take everything I say as gold – just like Louie Simmons or Coach Joe Kenn don’t want their coaching followers to take everything they say as law. It’s simply the information we have extracted from our own experience and studies. Of course based on the results of our athletes, we are mainly doing things correctly. However, I believe strength and conditioning still has a way to go.

Benefits

Let’s get into it. First, we need to go over why strength and conditioning coaches choose to use the clean in their arsenal of exercises. Let’s take a look at the benefits of a clean:

  • Power= Force x Velocity – moving moderate loads at a high velocity through space
  • Rate of Force Development (RFD) – this comes with improved motor unit recruitment and improved rate coding (the speed of which the neuromuscular system recruits maximal motor units. We will dig deeper, so don’t worry.)
  • SAID Principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands
  • Develop proprioception – movement through space
  • Mobility

These are just a few, but I feel I have made a solid point. The clean is a lot of bang for your buck. We will look at each benefit and compare a few of the favorite versions of the clean with the full movement clean. The goal is to arm you with the knowledge necessary for choosing the proper tool for the job. That’s the main point really. All movements are simply tools in our tool boxes. Like any good builder or carpenter, we have to know which tool is good for the job.

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Power = Force x Velocity

Let me make this as simple as possible. Force equals mass x acceleration. Louie Simmons has made it his life’s work to make sure we all know that. Let’s look at the relationship between force and velocity. First, the mass component of force is inversely proportional to velocity. That means when the mass goes up, the velocity goes down and vice versa. Acceleration is equally proportional to velocity, since acceleration is a measure in the change of velocity.

On the field of play, athletes are normally only charged with the duty of moving their own bodyweight as quickly as possible (unless they’re throwers or strength athletes). Velocity is superior in almost all athletics except for powerlifting and aerobic sports. Therefore, the velocity at which an athlete is moving a certain weight is crucial. This is where the clean from the floor is superior, and I will explain why.

Impulse is an equation in biomechanics that looks at the duration of time a force is applied. Bear with me as I explain because I promise to bring this back to a simple analogy. Here goes:

  • Impulse = Momentum
  • Impulse = Average Net Force x Unit of Time Applied or Impulse = Σ Δt
  • Momentum = Mass x Velocity
  • Therefore: Average Net Force x Unit of Time Applied = Mass x Velocity

Now I will bring it back to layman’s terms. The longer you apply a force, the increased duration of time will create more and more velocity. Once again, mass has an inverse relationship with velocity – meaning velocity decreases as mass increases. What’s the point to all of this?

Obviously with a hang clean or clean from the blocks you won’t be able to create as much velocity as with a clean from the floor. The athlete has more time to apply force to the initial pull from the floor, creating more velocity and momentum on the bar. If velocity is the main goal of your program or the specific block of programming, you might want to consider performing at least some cleans from the floor.

If power equals force x velocity, each athlete will create more power from the floor. I believe this to be important, but not necessarily the end-all. The clean is an expression of power, but doesn’t necessarily mean the expression of power gives an athlete the ability to produce more power on the field. Dr. Bryan Mann performed some pretty significant studies showing the squat to be more proportional to increases in power where the 40-yard dash and vertical leap are concerned. I have found in my own tracking of data that increases in strength with the back squat if kept steady with increases of power in the clean together equal maximal gains on the field of play.

Some might think that just doing clean pulls will be an alternative to get the same velocities as the clean from the floor. Not so fast! In my friend Coach Wil Fleming’s new book Velocity Based Training for Weightlifting, he explains some research that he performed with his athletes. He found that the clean pull was 15% slower in velocity than a full clean at the same weight (usually 88-90% of an athlete’s 1RM for the clean). He also found that the clean high pull was 10% slower. One consideration might be the hand release clean pull, which was only 3% slower.

The problem is in the brain. The brain realizes that deceleration is inevitable when there is no commitment to go under a barbell. Anecdotally most athletes will tell you weights that normally feel light will feel much heavier during clean pulls. I can attest to the same thing. This doesn’t mean that clean pulls are worthless. They are still important for developing strength in the different positions required to perform a clean. A clean deadlift is important to athletes for developing strength at the hip and isometric strength in the spinal extensors required for massive collisions. Are you getting the theme? It’s all about understanding the application of different exercises (the tools in the tool box).

Rate of Force Development

Now before some of you break down in tears because you only program hang cleans or cleans from blocks, let’s discuss a principle that probably favors your style of programming. Force is important, but the rate at which someone can apply a maximal or a high rate of force is more important in most athletic events. Velocity is important, but there is something more important to consider. How quickly can an athlete get to top velocity? That’s a look at acceleration, and once again brings us back to force. Now that I have confused the heck out of you, I will bring this back to simple terms.

Rate of force development is the rate at which the contractile elements can produce force, and is affected by rate coding, maximal motor unit recruiting, muscle fiber type, and attachments. The entire pulling phase of a clean is typically about one second on average. Obviously, the entire pulling phase from a hang clean or clean from the blocks is a much shorter time. That allows the athlete to work within time zones more applicable to their sport. For example, I want you to think about the position an athlete is in before a tackle, the load phase of a vertical leap, or joint angles in the start position of a sprint.

It’s important to practice motor unit recruitment in the same time zone as will be needed in a particular sport. A motor unit is motor neuron (nerve) and all the muscle fibers that it synapses (connects) to. The intended adaptation of strength training is maximal motor unit recruitment. The more motor units that are recruited lead to more force. However, rate coding is the speed at which the neuromuscular system recruits maximal motor units, which translates into maximal RFD. Improvements in this area come with time as those neuromuscular junctions (synapses) become stronger and more efficient with the frequency of signaling. Muscle fiber type plays a role in this as well, but I need to discuss the next point before diving into that.

Specific Adaptations of Imposed Demands (SAID Principle)

Simply put, your body will adapt specifically to the demands that one applies to the body. If you train fast, muscle fibers will adapt, causing a certain group of muscle fibers to mimic or conform to fast twitch fibers. With that being said, you can make an argument for both the full clean and the hang clean. The full clean allows for a faster velocity, recruiting fast twitch fibers and over time causing an adaptation of other hybrid type fibers to mimic more of the fast twitch fibers. (Watch Andy Galpin’s 55 Minute Physiology on this topic.)

This is why overspeed training has validity for jumps and sprints. However, hang cleans and cleans from the blocks are better for improving rate of force development in the specific time zones and specific angular displacements of the joints in use (hips, knees, and ankles). Also the hang clean is more specific to the vertical leap due to the counter movement, and the clean from the blocks is more specific to the joint angles of a start in a sprint.

Developing Proprioception

Proprioceptors are the nerves in the joints, muscles, and tendons that give feedback to the brain on joint, muscle, and tendon position and each of their rates of change. Basically this gives the brain feedback on where the body is in space at any given moment. The better the body gets at this process will allow the athlete to move through space more efficiently. That’s why most weightlifters are incredible athletes with the ability to do whatever they want with their bodies. If you’ve ever hung out with my athletes, you have watched them walk on their hands, perform backflips, and rep out muscle ups. You could make an argument that a clean involves more total movement, making the proprioceptors more efficient – but I believe both the hang clean and clean from the blocks are just fine for improving this neural pathway.

Mobility

This quality isn’t talked about enough. In the bottom position of a clean or hang clean, the athlete will be required to reach maximal range of motion at the hips, knees, and ankles. This range of motion is important for joint health because synovial fluid is one of the only ways that joints receive nourishment. Synovial fluid is only released during end ranges of motion, so a health joint needs to be able to move through the entire range.

When it comes to sprinting, the recovery leg has to be able to completely flex at the knee to allow for a shorter moment of inertia to experience maximal angular velocity at the hip joint. If you watch any amazing sprinter, you will see their heel right on their glutes during the recovery phase. This is my argument for including full range of motion cleans and squats in an athlete’s training even though quarter squats and power cleans might be more specific.

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There it is. The answer to the debates that float around popular strength and conditioning circles most of the time is going to be: “it depends.” This is why I vehemently despise absolutes. Assessment and application are the two traits that separate the top coaches from the posers. I want you young guys to arm yourselves with a massive arsenal of tools. I want all of you to have assessment tools that will allow you to coach and program in a way that will specifically answer the challenges those athletes face. I hope this article provided some science to aid in that application.

Strongman and Weightlifting with Alec Pagan – The Barbell Life 343

A few years ago I was coaching Alec Pagan as he competed in weightlifting.

But in record speed, he has flipped the script to go after the sport of Strongman… and he’s taking over.

On today’d podcast, we break down his journey – as well as what makes him so successful as a Strongman coach.

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Strongman - Functional Fitness - Endurance Cardio

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LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • What makes his Strongman approach so different… and so successful
  • Flipping over the desk at Pan Ams
  • “The most annoying thing about international weightlifting is pretending your competitors aren’t cheating”
  • Double standards in men’s and women’s Strongman
  • Fixing lifters’ backs and the incredible “Frankenstein” clean
  • and more…

Rotational Power for Athletes

In this article I am going to try and explain rotational power in the simplest of terms.

Most articles from strength and conditioning experts are written in terms of linear force and power. Louie Simmons has made the force equation the most popular of all biomechanical equations: Force = Mass x Acceleration. Fly by night strength coaches use this equation (incorrectly most of the time) to explain everything, which is the main motivation for me to develop content explaining all the other elements of biomechanics that are also important.

Torque = Force x Moment Arm

A great starting point when discussing rotational biomechanics is to explain torque. Torque is the ability of a force to cause rotation on a lever.

Torque is the rotational cousin of the force equation. Torque is the driving force for human movement. Muscles in conjunction with bones, ligaments, and tendons are responsible for movement. Muscles shorten, causing the tendons (a tendon is a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone) to pull on its corresponding bone. This creates a rotational movement around a joint.

An example would be the quad tendon that crosses the knee becoming continuous with the patellar tendon attaching to the tibia. When the quadriceps shorten, they pull on the quadriceps tendon, causing the patellar tendon to pull on the tibia producing knee extension. All locomotion is created by torque at the corresponding joints.

So even if you are in a sport like weightlifting or powerlifting which are linear in nature, you still have to understand torque and the elements of rotational power. Let’s take a look at the two components of torque: force and moment arm.

Moment Arm: The moment arm of a force system is the perpendicular distance from an axis or rotation to the line of action of a force.

Force: Torque is dependent on the amount of force, angle of application of force, and of course the moment arm.

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We are going to go over several scenarios where rotational power is important. Moving forward, it’s important all of you understand there are a few biomechanical terms that must always be considered in regards to rotational power. Let’s look at them up front, so you will understand the rest of the article more easily:

Length and size of Moment Arm or Moment of Inertia: When it comes to overcoming a resistance, the length from the force to the joint trying to overcome the force is proportional in regards to difficulty. The farther away = more difficult to overcome.

However, when it comes to producing torque, a longer moment arm produces a larger rotational force aka torque. The farther down the tibia that the patellar tendon inserts will proportionally create a greater torque making it easier to overcome an external force. Another example is a longer bat will produce a greater torque when striking a baseball.

Moment of Inertia = 𝝨m*r²: Simply put the moment of inertia arm being rotated during rotational power. In baseball it is the bat and the arm combined. When throwing a punch, it is your arm. During sprinting, it is your leg rotating at the hip. You get it.

With moment of inertia, you have to consider the overall weight aka the mass, but as you can see the length is even more important. I know that because it is squared. We will go over this a bit more – especially in the sprint recovery section. The technique in various sports will take moment of inertia into consideration in regards to increasing and decreasing angular velocity.

Relationship between Impulse and Momentum:
Σ Δt = I* Δω
Σ Δt = I*(ω f − ω i)

impulse = change in momentum
Where
Σ = average net force acting on an object,
Δt = interval of time during which this force acts,
I = moment of Inertia of the object being accelerated,
ω f = final angular velocity of the object at the end of the time interval,
and ω i = initial angular velocity of the object at the beginning of the time interval.

Ok let’s put this in layman’s terms. The longer that I can apply force to something is directly proportional to the angular momentum that I can produce. Since the moment of inertia is a fixed amount, really what impulse is directly affecting is the angular velocity. The longer that I can apply a torque will proportionally increase the angular velocity of the object. That’s why an athlete’s range of motion and technique are so important.

Rate of Force Development (RFD): When it comes to sports outside of powerlifting and strongman, RFD trumps overall ability to produce force. If someone can back squat 227kg/500lb, they are at least producing a little over 2,225N. That’s a lot of force. However, now that we know true rotational power is formed from applying torque over a period of time, we know that only applying that 2,225N of force for a short time isn’t going to produce the angular momentum that we are after. Now if that athlete can recruit the motor units to produce 2,225N of force instantaneously, they have optimal range of motion, and solid technique, then you have a powerhouse.

RFD is King in Weightlifting!

Now if you are an athletic performance coach, I hope you are starting to see that how you train is more important than the exercises chosen. Specificity is key. If you want your athletes improving their rate of force development, velocity and intent are a big part of the equation. There is one more important point that I hope you are starting to understand:

Assessment and Mobility

Assessment is king!

If you are working with a baseball or softball player, you need to assess their scapula movement, shoulder ROM, thoracic spine ROM, hip mobility (especially internal/external rotation and abduction), rate of force development, angular velocity/momentum, and ability to produce overall force. It’s important that you understand how to assess mobility. It’s helpful to have something like GymAware to measure velocity, and force plates to measure force and RFD unilaterally.

You will also need to have a way to measure posture and the strength of his or her decelerators. If an athlete is powerful, mobile, and technically sound and yet hurt all the time, they are of no value to any team. Therefore another key to understand as athletic performance practitioners is this:

Availability is king!

I had a chance to work with Dr. Lawrence Gray, D.C. early in my career – and to date this was the best thing I could have done to improve as a practitioner. Up until this point, I had only focused on performance, mainly my own. He had been my go-to sports medicine doctor during my entire powerlifting career, which led to multiple world records and world championships. Learning assessment and treatment with him is a tool that every athlete I have worked with since has benefitted from. Personally, I wish the strength and conditioning industry would practice an apprenticeship format with part of the career path being time spent with a doctor like Dr. Gray.

Durability and availability will get you on a field of play quicker than any other attribute. The opposite will get you a quick exit from the sport. Rotational sports are riddled with injury. If you want to look like an expert, spend some time understanding deceleration, posture, and correction, then you will immediately be in the top 1% in my experience. That’s why so many high profile athletic performance practitioners seem to be lacking in their ability to increase power and strength. You don’t have to be that good at those things if you can keep athletes healthy and on the field. However, if you can do both, then you become invaluable.

Here are a few simple videos that you can use to start your assessment game:

Flexibility:
https://youtu.be/Ot6Vpu75zAA

Posture:
https://youtu.be/OwsMB1B6-kE (Forward head)
https://youtu.be/fb7gOr0edwM (Shoulder Internal Rotation)
https://youtu.be/tgim4WWeAy0 (Rounded Back aka Kyphosis)
https://youtu.be/mi1dPRlmRoA (Anterior Pelvic Tilt)

Now let’s put a few of these principles to action!

Pitching a Baseball: Why do you think that the majority of pitchers are long and lanky? Remember, Impulse is the ability to produce a force over a period of time. The longer that you can produce a force will lead to greater velocities on the baseball. That’s why the wind up and delivery are so important. Check out this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEpdoAZiHWQ

After watching that video, you will understand my little section on assessment. By the way, my next article is going to be all about assessment, so get ready. The video shows the importance of ROM on impulse and torque. It also shows the importance of force development – and yes, the importance of being strong. Hopefully you are starting to understand the importance of traits like ground contact time, true plyometrics, and velocity. That’s why my relationship with GymAware is so important. (Use Code: ‘MASH5’ to get a 5% discount on either of their products)

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

Lifting Technique: When it comes to lifting weights, you have to consider the external torque you will be overcoming. You will also need to consider the internal torque your body is capable of producing at the individual joints. When it comes to the external torques on the body, there are three important points to consider:

  • The force produced by the mass of the object you are lifting and gravity
  • The direction of that force which is always vertical in weightlifting and powerlifting
  • The perpendicular distance from that vertical line of force and the axis of rotation of the joint being considered

This is why it’s so important to keep joints resisting the external load as close to the line of action as possible. If you have ever performed a clean or deadlift, then you probably know how much heavier the barbell seems after allowing your butt to fly up faster than your shoulders. This biomechanical mistake in weightlifting or powerlifting increases the demand at the hip and any intervertebral joint of the back. Here’s a video that will clarify: https://youtu.be/2wyAVMt3ng4

Leg Recovery During Sprinting Mechanics: I hear coaches debate sprinting about as often as I hear coaches debate lifting technique in weightlifting. They talk about the start position, use of blocks, shin angle during the acceleration phase, arm action, and so much more. One of the big keys that I believe to be low hanging fruit is action of the leg during the recovery phase. I am talking about what happens when the foot has struck the ground propelling the body through the air, and the active leg has complete hip, ankle, and knee extension behind the body.

Now it’s time to recover the leg and start the process all over again. A major key is to shorten that moment of inertia as much as possible. If you watch the Olympic level sprinters, you will see their foot brush their butt shortening the moment of inertia as much as possible. This action will maximally limit the resistance at the hip, which now we know will increase velocity. During angular momentum, angular velocity is inversely proportional to the moment of inertia meaning the moment of inertia goes up and velocity goes down and vice versa. Here’s an image to further clarify:


Image Courtesy of Spikes Only

I hope that I have made rotational power a bit simpler for all of you. As athletic performance professionals, we really do have the opportunity to make huge impacts if we understand a few principles in biomechanics. If we perfect our abilities to assess, we can find low hanging fruit that can have massive impact with little stress on the body. The key is putting a little time up front understanding these principles – and then like anything else practice, practice, and practice some more. The cool thing is that once you grasp the concept of biomechanics, all of it becomes proportionally easier. It becomes a game much like a puzzle, but this game will lead to gains.

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