Thursday, February 17, 2011

Inside the mind of a strength coach

As a strength coach, I'm constantly having to evaluate the cost-benefit of a particular exercise or pairing of exercises with regards to training athletes.  Again, our number one goal (as a performance coach) is keep our athletes free of injury, and then make them stronger with the little time we have with them each week.

There's a lot that goes on "beneath the surface" that I don't think a lot of people realize when it comes to delivering an effective strength training program for someone.  It's way more than just saying "squat, deadlift, and bench press, and do it for 3 sets of 10" like most people may think.

Anyway, at SAPT, Chris Romanow is the other coach I work with.  Chris is also the S & C coach for the George Mason Baseball and Softball teams.  The other day he posted this on the SAPT website, and I thought it would be interesting for (perhaps the few) those of you here who care about what goes on "inside the mind" of a strength coach sometimes:

"I was asked today by the GA at Mason why I haven’t back-squatted the baseball or softball teams since they’ve been under my watch.  My feelings are as follows:

When I do the cost to benefit ratio of the movement (back squat), especially at this point in the year, there just isn’t enough benefit to outweigh the potential risk or cost I could potentially incur by selecting it (and some will say they never back squat their overhead athletes).  Understand that proper positioning of the hands during a back squat requires a significant amount of shoulder external rotation (especially with close grips), and abduction of the humerus (especially with wide grips).  Because either position poses a risk to the shoulder (especially those abused by throwing maximally overhead); the first with regards to anterior instability and the latter with regards to rotator cuff and biceps irritation, I’m not about to roll the dice.  Consider that most overhead throwing athletes possess some degree of labral damage, are at a higher risk for impingement, and possess god awful scapular upward rotation and thoracic mobility: you’d have to be feeling pretty sassy to program the back squat.    

Note that I am working diligently to improve their structural shortcomings because I do intend for them to back squat at some point in their yearly preparation…but probably not until next semester. 

Or maybe not."

Hopefully this was interesting - to some extent - for those of you out there that care about the seemingly minute details that make a large difference.  I may try and do more of these installments in the future....


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