July 14, 2014

    Less is More: How to Not Train and Get Better

    Up to this point on the blog, we’ve focused on athlete case studies where we (or one of our partners) has used a specific prescription to alter an athletes Sparta Signature. The Signature shift usually results in that athlete becoming healthier, more injury resistant or a position specific performance gain. In this post we’re going to explore what happens when an athlete’s Sparta Signature doesn’t change that way you’d like (or expect) it to.

    An NFL quarterback came into training camp with the Signature seen on the left (above). This is a Signature that is more typical of (and more suited to) a lateral athlete. Ideally, there is a more rotational Signature for a quarterback and so prescriptions were provided that would strengthen his posterior chain muscles, increasing his DRIVE and improving his ability to finish movements.  After two solid months of a rotational prescription, he scanned again and you can see his Signature above on the right. It is almost exactly the same, with no improvement to drive at all. In addition, this players’ teammates presenting the same initial movement signature were given the same prescriptions and saw marked improvements to DRIVE on their second scan. We were stumped.

    One of the added benefits of software is crowd sourcing, particularly the anonymous, shared database our software houses for over hundreds of thousands of athlete Sparta Signature trials. Such robust software can compare athletes anywhere facing similar challenges. In this case, it was a group of athletes in a completely different sport who provided the answer. We have noticed that some of our collegiate pitchers have trouble attaining a rotational Signature when their teams have particularly strict and traditional conditioning practices. Baseball teams seem to be adopting a more modern approach these days, but for a long time it was fairly ubiquitous for pitchers to do a lot of long distance running to increase stamina, despite the clear detriment to performance on the mound. We asked if this quarterback was doing extra training not part of the teams prescriptions. It turned out that he was riding the stationary bike every night for 30-45 minutes, attempting to put in some extra conditioning work. Bike riding is an anterior chain stimulus and was most certainly negatively affecting his ability to change his Sparta Signature to a more rotational one.

    As we have have explored in previous posts, it’s very hard to know whether your prescriptions are having the desired effect unless you can limit the amount of variables. Dedicated athletes have been putting in extra work for years, believing that going above and beyond will make the difference when they are on the field. While the hard work and commitment of such athletes is always appreciated by coaches it’s important to remember that that extra work may actually be hurting them.

    Click to read the Dordt University Success Story

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