Fastpitch Friday Ep.38 Softball: Managing Medicine Ball Progressions

We all know medicine ball work is great for developing rotational power. Despite that, many coaches get hung up on deciding what drills to program. This week I discuss my personal philosophy on how I go about choosing specific drills for my softball players. Check it out below!

 
 

Below is a small list of frequent mistakes athletes tend to make with medicine ball work, specifically with the rotational scoop and shotput toss.

***Many players could struggle with one or more of these items below***  

Not aggressive with their lower half

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Poor Direction

  • Rotational Med Ball Shotput from a knee 
  • Create chalk lines where their foot should land 

Weight Transfer or Tempo

Shin Angle/Sitting into hip

 

 

 

Fastpitch Friday Ep.37 Shoulder Health | The 6 Staples of Shoulder Care

Subpar shoulder health is often the primary reason pitchers will miss games. A recent study by Shanley et al compared injury patterns in high school sports, reporting that 80% of all girls playing softball reported an injury, with shoulder injuries being the most common. 

Nonetheless, here are 6 essential strategies to help improve shoulder health for the long run. 

 Routinely Get The Shoulder blades moving

Healthy shoulder blade movement includes adduction, abduction and having the ability to go wherever the humerus goes. With exercises such as the dumbell bench press or floor press, the shoulder blades are pinned down not allowing fluid movement of the shoulder blades. Now, the bench press is a great exercise to help build strength and even proprioception for beginner lifters but you need to make sure for every "glued" shoulder blade movement you have at least two exercises that help groove good scapulohumeral rhythm such as rows or landmine presses.

Check out these quick coaching cues to help clean up common mistakes people make when rowing. 

 
 

Strengthen The Serratus

The serratus is a small muscle that originates on the upper eight ribs and inserts into the medial border of the scapula. In many athletes, this muscle tends to be weak which can hurt one's ability to successfully get up overhead or even manifest into anterior shoulder discomfort or pain down the road. 

 I'm a huge fan of this muscle because many (not all) softball players I work with have flat thoracic spines, rounded shoulders, and anteriorly tilted shoulder blades. The job of the serratus is to keep the shoulder blade snug to the rib cage to allow for good upward rotation to take place.  

On another note, an added benefit to adding in direct serratus work is that many of the serratus exercises you perform will need to be in more of a thoracic flexion allowing the athlete to gain some good curvature to the thoracic spine. 

 
 

 

 

Challenge The Cuff In Various Ways

The rotator cuff is a batch of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. Its primary job is to keep the humerus centered in the joint while minimizing movement too far anteriorly, posteriorly, superiorly and even inferiorly. 

There are four basic ways to challenge the cuff. 

Eccentrically: controlling or decelerating a load

Concentrically:  controlling a load through external rotation 

Isometrics: creating constant tension for a specific amount of time (one second) relaxing and repeating
 
Reactive Ability: manual perturbations or bottoms up kettlebell carries. 

Here is a quick video on how to perform some of the most common rotator cuff drills I tend to use. 

 
 

 

Get On All Fours

Bodyweight movements like bear crawls, birddogs, push-ups, and inchworms not only challenge the entire body when done correctly but allow you to gain upward rotation, thoracic flexion, and crush the serratus! These movements are great to use in the warm-up since they are simple to perform and you don't need any equipment. 

 

Daily Soft Tissue Work

Here's a quick analogy my good friend Scotty J Simpson uses to explain the importance of soft tissue work. 

"Daily soft tissue work is like doing the dishes. Every single day you use dishes. If you wash the dishes after you use it when your finished at the end of the week you won't have a stack of dishes staring at your face. If you routinely use dishes and not wash them they can pile up quickly." 

Softball is extremely repetitive in nature and odds are your pitching or throwing almost every single day. A high throwing volume can cause muscle tissue to become dense and fibrotic (dishes stacking up). Performing daily soft tissue work (washing the dishes) helps enhance tissue quality and improve joint range of motion.

If you liked this weeks Fastpitch Friday feel free comment below, share it with friends, family or coaches. 

 

 

 

 

Fastpitch Friday Ep.36 Building Your Backside: The Key to Unlocking Your Athletic Potential

wikipedia.org/

wikipedia.org/

Here are a few of the most dominate athletes in their sport.

Tennis: Serena Williams
College Softball: Kelly Barnhill
Baseball: Aaron Judge
Football: Odell Beckham Jr. 

What is one thing all of these individuals have in common? 

You guessed it! They all have a strong posterior chain! 

The posterior chain plays a paramount role in unleashing one's athletic ability. When these muscles are strong they can help you run faster, jump higher, throw harder, and hit bombs. 

In spite of this not to many people place a large enough emphasis on glute and hamstring training besides using primary exercises such as squat and deadlift variations. If people trained their glutes with as many variations as they tend to train their biceps and triceps I'm sure we would see fewer injuries and more powerful well-rounded athletes. 

Here is a quick breakdown of what the posterior chain is, its role in sports and some new variations you can add to help make your backside stronger. 

What are some of the main muscles that make up the lower posterior chain? 

  • Gluteus Maximus: one of the main extensors of the hip. 
  • Hamstring Group (long head of biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus). 

What is their role? 

To simply put it, these muscles are responsible for creating hip extension. In order to create hip extension, one must first be in some degree of hip flexion. Some practical athletic examples would be a sprinter starting out of the blocks, a wide-receiver jumping to catch the football or even a softball batter gearing up for the next pitch. 

What Consequences can happen if they're weak? 

One reason hamstring injuries occur is due to the fact that the glutes are either weak, inhibited (they have a hard time activating) or both. When this happens the hamstrings have to do twice the work to try and make up for this lack of hip extension. This is called synergistic dominance. 

How can I make my posterior chain stronger? 

  • You can start performing squats and deadlift variations that are appropriate for your training age. 
  • Throw in some glute activation drills in your warm-ups such as (lateral stepping with band around knees, clamshells and glute wall march iso holds) 
  • Lastly, switch out your 4x15 bicep and triceps routine and do some extra sets and reps to attack your glutes and hamstrings and the end of your training session. 

Here are some of my go-to supplementary variations. 
 

DB GOBLET SQUAT WITH BAND AROUND KNEES

Squat variations with a resistance band helps train the glutes through their primary roles: hip extension, abduction, and external rotation. 

  • For most people set up with a moderate stance width with the toes pointed slightly out 
  • Push your knees out agains the band. Don't let your knees cave in 
  • Brace with your core and push down into the ground the entire time 
 
 

REAR FOOT ELEVATED DB RDL

This particular RDL variation will smoke your glutes and hamstrings and get the extra benefit of working on single leg stability. 

  • Place your shoelaces on the bench and make sure a majority of your weight (90/10) is on your front leg
  • Keep your shoulder blades locked down with your lats
  • Really add an extra glute squeeze at the lockout  
 
 

FROG HIP THRUST OFF BENCH

This exercises I stole from Bret Contreras. He explains "Essentially, you’re flexing the knees, abducting and externally rotating the hips, posteriorly tilting the pelvis, and flexing the lumbar spine, which takes the hammies and erectors out of the equation and shifts the burden almost entirely onto the glutes." 

  • Place your shoulders on the bench
  • Make sure the bottoms of your feet are touching and facing each other
  • Brace with your abs and squeeze your glutes the entire time 
  • If this gets to easy, place a band around your knees 
 
 

 

Start constructing your backside! 

Your posterior chain is not only essential for powering athletic ability but helping athletes stay healthy and decreasing injuries. Start adding a few extra accessory glute and hamstring exercises to help you dominate life on and off the field. 

 

 

Fastpitch Friday Ep.34 The 1-Leg Hip Thrust: Cues and Frequent Mistakes

The 1-Leg Hip Thrust is by far one of the most underrated posterior chain exercises out there because it look's too simple. No joke, at least once a day I will demonstrate this exercise to an athlete and they respond by saying "that's it?!". Approximately 2 minutes later there doing the they look like a baby fawn trying to walk for the first time. Simplicity is often overlooked due to the fact people want to dive right into fancier exercises without mastering the fundamentals. 

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