Home 2018 November

The Truth About Dodgeball and Tag

Today's guest post comes from Lee Taft, creator of the Certified Speed and Agility Coach (CSAC) offering, which is on sale for $100 off through the end of the week. I'm a big fan of this resource and would strongly encourage you to look into it if you work with athletes in any capacity. Anyway, enjoy the post! -EC

If we listen to those making the decisions to eliminate dodgeball and tag in Physical Education (unfortunately there are some PE professionals not doing their best, so it appears these games are useless or harmful) we might come to the conclusion they are correct in doing so. But, if we edit the purpose and role of these "types" of activities, we see just how WRONG they are.

1. Dodgeball should be the culmination of a well thought-out and progressed throwing, catching, and agility unit. Students from primary grades on should learn how to properly throw, hit still targets at various heights and angles, and catch a ball coming at them from different angles and speeds (in primary grades, sometimes we just want kids to be able to touch the ball as it comes near them to develop tracking and limb location).

2. We need to progress to throwing at a target in which the target is moving, AND when the student who is throwing is moving, AND when both the target and student is moving. This teaches leading and directional aiming skills. And, it teaches students to predict intersection points.

3. We need to use a type of ball that takes fear out of catching, throwing, or being hit. There is nothing wrong with getting hit by a ball. It teaches kids how to protect themselves from objects coming at them. It sharpens their reflexes/reactive abilities. It trains their feet, core, and vestibular system to quickly protect through bending, twisting, jerking away, ducking, dodging while maintaining spacial awareness and balance. These strategies are very important to acquire and develop at young ages!

4. Catching is a fundamental tracking skill that allows for advancements to sports requiring a racquet, stick, or bat. When kids learn to catch, they are creating awareness of limb length to reach length. This, in turns, allows them to make adjustments to their limb length plus an implements length (e.g., stick, bat) and an oncoming ball in order to strike or catch it.

5. Tag teaches problem solving with regards to several factors. These factors are how much speed is needed to solve a problem of tagging or not getting tagged. When their speed isn't "good enough," they now select abilities of creating angles that can "even the playing field" and solve their problem. They use fakes, and spins, and change of pace to elude - as well as tactics to avoid being faked.

6. Games that involve avoiding being struck by a ball or tagged by a classmate drive to the heart of the CNS. It requires the student to learn from their environment and problem solve. These activities are primitive in nature and TAKING THEM AWAY ERODES at these primitive skills that give us foundational movement skills, tracking skill, timing skills, targeting skills, and evasive skills. When we lose touch with these skills (or abilities) we subject these potential future athletes to being exposed on the playing fields with less athletic armor.
Stop looking at these types of activities as useless. They carry a huge primitive foundational movement and developmental package. Use them in favor of our kids.

As I mentioned, Lee's certification is actually on sale through the end of the week for $100 off the normal price. If you're looking for top notch direction in coaching movement training with your athletes, look no further. You can check it out HERE.


 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/9/18

I hope you've had a good week. To kick off your weekend on the right foot, I've got some good reading from around the strength and conditioning world.

First, though, I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I'll be speaking at Pitchapalooza near Nashville in early December as part of an awesome lineup. You can learn more HERE.

Maximum Strength Training for Tennis: Why You Should Do It - Matt Kuzdub authored a great guest post for EricCressey.com a few months ago, and this was another recent post of his in the tennis world. Much it it could be applied to other sports as well.

Your Glutes Probably Aren't to Blame for Sore Knees, but They Could Still Be Stronger - Here's a solid dose of reality with some actionable strategies from Dean Somerset.

5 Great Analogies for Training Baseball Players - A big part of getting results is clearing communicating with athletes, and analogies are an invaluable way of doing so. This article outlines some of my favorites for working with a baseball population.

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Exercise of the Week: Bent-over T-Spine Rotation with Hip Hinge

I wanted to introduce you to a new exercise we've been playing around with lately. I created the bent-over thoracic spine rotation with hip hinge because I was looking for a way for athletes to avoid compensatory movements as we worked on thoracic spine mobility in the standing position. Essentially, you'll often see folks with limited thoracic spine mobility move East-West with the hips or laterally flex through the spine as they try to find motion in spite of their limitations. By pushing the butt back to the wall, we effectively block off compensatory hip motion (and work on a better hip hinge pattern at the same time).

Key coaching points:

1. By having the eyes follow the hand, you get some cervical rotation to help things along.

2. Make sure the upper back is moving and you aren't just "hanging out" on the front of the shoulder. This is especially true in a throwing population who may have acquired anterior shoulder laxity.

3. We'll usually do eight reps per side. This can be included as a single set during a warm-up, or for multiple sets as fillers during a training session (we'll often plug it in between medicine ball sets).

4. This is a better option for those who have active range-of-motion limitations to thoracic spine rotation, as opposed to passive limitations. In the case of the passive limitations, athletes are better off with things like side-lying windmills, where they have assistance from gravity (instead of having to compete against it).

To learn more about how we assess, program, and coach around the thoracic spine (and entire shoulder girdle), be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/3/18

I hope your weekend is off to a good start. It's been a while since I published a compilation here, so there was quite a bit to sift through. Here's a little recommended reading and listening from around the 'net.

10 Tips for Better Sleep - This solid article from the crew at Examine.com includes a lot of strategies that are easy to implement.

Kelly Starrett on Building the Mobility WOD Empire - I'm a big fan of both Kelly and Mike Robertson (who interviewed him), so this podcast was a win/win for me.

How Environment Shapes Training Success - An interaction with a client earlier this week reminded me of this post I wrote up last year.

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Assessments You Might Be Overlooking: Installment 6

It's been quite some time since I published an update to this series, but some recent professional baseball initial offseason evaluations have had me thinking more and more about how important it is to take a look at lateral flexion.

In the picture above, I'd say that the athlete is limited in lateral flexion bilaterally, but moreso to the left than right. You'll also notice how much more the right hip shifts out (adducts) as he side bends to the left; he's substituting hip fallout for true lateral flexion from the spine. The most likely culprit in this situation is quadratus lumborum on the opposite side (right QL limits left lateral flexion).

As you can see from the picture below, the triangle shaped QL connects the base of the rib cage to the top of the pelvis and spine.

Stretching out the QL isn't particularly challenging; I like the lean away lateral line stretch (held for five full exhales). This is a stretch that can be biased to target the lat, QL, or hip abductors.

That said, the bigger issue is understanding why a QL gets tight in the first place. As Shirley Sahrmann has written, whenever you see an overactive muscle, look for an underactive synergist. In this case, the right glutes (all of them) are likely culprits. If the gluteus maximus isn't helping with extending the hip, the QL will kick on to help substitute lumbar extension. And, if the gluteus medius and minimus aren't doing their job as abductors of the hip, the QL will kick in to "help out" in the frontal plane. This double whammy has been termed a Left AIC pattern by the good folks at the Postural Restoration Institute, and they've outlined many drills to not only address the apical expansion (which creates length through the QL), but also bring the pelvis back to neutral.

Taking this a step further, typically, those with very overactive QLs will also present with limited thoracic rotation (in light of the QL attachment on the inferior aspect of the ribs), so you'd be wise to follow up this stretch with some thoracic mobility work. The athlete in the example at the top of this article had the most limited thoracic rotation (both active and passive) that I've seen in any pitcher this offseason.

That said, here's a good rule of thumb:

If you have a flat thoracic spine athlete with limited thoracic rotation, look at pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, and quadratus lumborum. If horizontal abduction (pec) and shoulder flexion (lat) both check out well, go right for QL tissue extensibility (as measured by lateral flexion). It will be absolute game changer - particularly in rotational sport athletes.

If you're looking to learn more about how we assess, program, and coach at the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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