September at Sparta means a transition from our busy summer months working with high school and college athletes to preparing for the professional baseball players that train through the winter. This transition is always a good time for self-reflection; what is working and what we can improve upon. One of the areas that we have really grown in our understanding this year is differentiating between lateral and rotational athletes.
With this new understanding comes the challenge of becoming more specific at our prescriptions for athletes who need to be more rotational versus more lateral based on their sport and position. Today, we will look at one of the movements that we use to bridge the gap between these two Sparta Signatures.
Through our ability to test athletes on the force plate and track their physical progress over the course of their careers, we have recognized the trend of Sparta’s program developing the rotational movement signature. This is great for our pitchers and power hitters, however we are challenged to find ways to make sure the EXPLODE variable does not drop too low for our rotational athletes, and make sure the EXPLODE stays high for our lateral athletes.
One of the keys for rotational athletes is the ability to create dissociation of the hips and torso. Dissociation is the ability to create opposing rotation between body segments. This creates twisting forces, torque, that results in powerful “whip-like” movements. Every athlete needs the ability to dissociate the hips and torso, but each athlete needs this ability in varying degrees. Field athletes must dissociate in order to flip their hips during agility and change of direction, while rotational athletes must dissociate in order to throw and swing.
What we see in the different types of athlete’s Sparta Signatures is the amount of dissociationthat is needed. Athletes with weak EXPLODE will have too much “slack” and their movements which results in excess lag time between the hips and torso. Athletes with extreme EXPLODE will be too stiff and will be limited in their range of motion.
The base rotation is a great movement for teaching athletes the principles of dissociation and preparing the body for more challenging rotational tasks. This movement can be coached with a slightly different intent for athletes with low or high explode. For low explode athletes, we emphasize quickness, bracing, and integration through the torso. For high explode athletes we emphasize increased range of motion, body control, and accuracy.
set up with the feet squared straight ahead and the shoulders braced at a 45 degree angle
use the elbow as an “anchor” to create rotation, flipping the hips 45 degrees and back to the start
maintain the base relationship between the feet, and avoid the “scissor” action
When performed correctly, base rotations leave no doubt about the importance of dissociation and trunk control. This is a great warm-up and preparation for medicine ball work as well as agility and change of direction. When you fully understand the movement principles and needs of each athlete, you are also able to individualize the coaching cues to each athlete’s needs.
The result? The convergence of the art of coaching with the objective evaluation and tracking of athletes.