Home Posts tagged "Derek Kambour"

The Best of 2020: Guest Posts

I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2020, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. Progression Strategies for Back Hip Loading - In this article, Cressey Sports Performance - MA pitching coordinator Jordan Kraus shared some strategies for improving back hip loading in the pitching delivery. Once you read it, however, you'll recognize that these strategies are universal for progressing this important competency for any rotational sport athlete.

2. Arm Care: Why Are We Still Talking About Down and Back? - Eric Schoenberg, who serves as a physical therapist at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida, discusses one of the most misunderstood cues with respect to upper extremity health.

3. Taking Proteus Motion for a Spin - Last December, we brought in a new technology - Proteus Motion - to Cressey Sports Performance – Florida to try out for the offseason, and we integrated it at CSP-MA shortly thereafter. It goes without saying that we found some excellent benefits, and in this guest contribution, physical therapist Tanner Allen elaborates on them.

4. 4 Training Principles to Make the Most of Your Speed Work - With so many people getting outside to sprint in light of gyms closing during the pandemic, it was a good time for CSP-FL coach Derek Kambour to reflect on important training approaches to help them all move efficiently.

5. Sandbag Training for Baseball Players - We've been using sandbags a lot more in our training these days, and it's largely due to the influence of physical therapist Dan Swinscoe, who delivered an awesome inservice to our staff on the topic. Here's a guest post from Dan that highlights the how and why of using sandbags.

I'll be back soon with more highlights from 2020.

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Exercise of the Week: Bottoms-up Kettlebell Arm Bar

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach Derek Kambour.

The Kettlebell Arm Bar is an exercise you will commonly see performed in facilities across the country. Admittedly, it was an activity that we stayed away from for a period, mostly because of the population that we work with and the vulnerable position it could put them in. Many of the high-level pitchers that come to us have experienced anterior shoulder pain. Obviously, these symptoms could be present for a number of reasons, including a loose anterior capsule, labral tear, cranky biceps tendon, nerve-related issues, rotator cuff issues, or a most of other challenges. Regardless of what is causing the symptoms, one of our jobs as performance specialists is to make sure that we are making appropriate exercise selections and not provoking any of these symptoms. What we have found over time with the Kettlebell Arm Bar is that – when executed in a specific manner, at the right time, with appropriate loads – it gives us a lot of return on investment and has not provoked any of these symptoms with any of our athletes.

Many coaches utilize this exercise with their athletes for reflexive shoulder stability (irradiation) and rotary core stability benefits, which can be useful reasons to include them in a program. However, we can also use this activity to accomplish other important training outcomes if it is performed the way that is shown in the video below:

As physical therapist Bill Hartman has done a great job of demonstrating (and be sure to check his stuff out), when we can use internal forces (air pressure, fluid volumes, etc.,) to our advantage in order to help reshape the ribcage and improve scapulothoracic mechanics, that is where we can potentially restore shoulder range of motion without working directly on the joint. Certainly, there are manual interventions that may be necessary, but if we can assist in re-establishing normal joint mechanics with movement alone, I think that is extremely valuable. While many of our throwing athletes possess plenty of external rotation on their throwing shoulder (though we do sometimes see those who have limitations here as well), most will possess very limited internal rotation, especially after a long season. With this movement paired with specific breathing sequences, you can potentially improve shoulder motion in both directions. Traditionally, this movement was thought of as purely a “stability” exercise, but it just goes to show that how you implement or coach the exercise matters.

You may be wondering how heavy this exercise needs to be loaded. My simple answer to this is that if you struggle to breathe during the exercise, there is a good chance it’s too heavy. In that case, keep the goal the goal, and go down in weight. The kettlebell can be held in the normal position (bell is sitting on the outside of your wrists) or, as seen in the video, you can utilize the bottoms-up position to challenge the movement further. We typically like to use the KB Arm Bar in either the warm-up, or paired with medicine ball work for 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps/side.

About the Author

​Derek Kambour serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to joining the staff, Derek completed an internship at CSP-FL in the fall of 2018. Prior to joining the CSP-FL team, Derek coached a variety of athletes and clientele at performance facilities in New Jersey. He graduated from Montclair St. University with a degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Derek is also a competitive powerlifter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach Derek Kambour.

At Cressey Sports Performance, we utilize several kettlebell windmill variations. A while back, Eric covered the regular standing version HERE. Today, I’d like to cover the half kneeling position, as I think there are some technical elements that should be highlighted in order to get the most out of this exercise.

Often, you’ll see this activity performed similar to the downward portion of a Turkish Get-Up, where the individual is in a half kneeling position, with the back hip in an externally rotated position, and then they will hinge back into that hip as they reach towards the ground, all while holding weight in an overhead position. While there is nothing wrong with this execution – especially if the goal is to challenge the individual’s ability to stabilize load in an overhead position while improving the ability to hinge – I do believe there are some ways we can coach this activity in a specific manner to get more out of it. I originally saw the execution of this exercise from Dr. Pat Davidson, so all credit goes to him for showing how to get more from this activity. This is an awesome transverse plane core exercise that helps individuals learn how to load their hip in the frontal plane. If you are an athlete trying to improve your ability to get in and out of a cut, or a pitcher looking to improve back hip loading or accepting force on the front hip, this could be a great exercise to include. Below is a demonstration that gives you a general understanding as to how we coach this exercise.

When performed in this manner, folks are getting a lot more than just overhead stability benefits. Here are some of the key components of this exercise explained further:

1. Setting up in a solid half-kneeling position is going to be essential when executing this variation. To ensure that the individual is in a good position, we like to have the individual drive the back foot into a wall, especially for those who have never performed this exercise before. The wall allows the individual to feel their hamstring and glute to gain better control of their pelvis on the down side hip. The wall is not always needed, but it can certainly help. The front foot should also be pressed into the ground as well.

2. Once set up in this half kneeling position, the KB can be pressed overhead. It is important to note, this exercise does not need to be loaded very heavy at first. We often start folks with a 15-25lb. kettlebell and they are absolutely smoked by the time they are done with their set. Sometimes, I will have the person I am working with perform this with no load, as it allows them to focus on the more important aspects of the exercise.

3. Before the individual reaches for the ground, they should be shifting into the front hip. Many times, when someone goes to perform this hip shift action, they will lose control of their pelvis and go into an anteriorly oriented position. Be sure that you, or the individual you are coaching, executes the shift while maintaining a subtle tuck of the pelvis.

4. As the individual begins to rotate and reach for the ground, it is important to keep both arms long. While they are slowly reaching towards the ground with the bottom arm/hand, they should be trying to maintain that hip shift without any movement of the front femur. The most common movement fault seen with this exercise is the inability to maintain control the front leg as the hips shift laterally towards the front side. The front leg should not move front to back or side to side, and it may be beneficial to think about pushing the knee in towards the midline. If done correctly, they should feel their adductors working significantly.

5. Most of the time, I will instruct the individual to reach down until the palm of their hand touches the ground, and that is as far as I will have them go. Some individuals are pretty mobile and can get their forearm all the way down to the ground. I’m fine with this as long as everything else checks out and they are feeling the desired musculature.

6. To get even more out of this activity, we can add a respiratory component to challenge this position further. Once the hand reaches the ground, the individual should get a full exhale out, and closing the side of the ribcage that is down. After a full exhale out and maintaining that bottom position, the individual can then inhale into the side of the ribcage that is up (trying to get air into the upper chest wall). After they have achieved maximal expansion in this area, they can exhale out again as they come back up into the starting position.

We will typically have our athletes perform this exercise for 2-4 sets of 6-8 reps per side as an accessory exercise towards the end of the session, or as part of their movement prep before their strength training. Once they’re proficient with it, we might load it up more and use it as part of a first pairing on an upper body training session (similar to how we program Turkish Get-ups). Give it a shot!

About the Author

​Derek Kambour serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to joining the staff, Derek completed an internship at CSP-FL in the fall of 2018. Prior to joining the CSP-FL team, Derek coached a variety of athletes and clientele at performance facilities in New Jersey. He graduated from Montclair St. University with a degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Derek is also a competitive powerlifter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Exercise of the Week: Birddog Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini, with a video assist from CSP-FL coach, Derek Kambour. Tim was one of the contributors on our Cressey Sports Performance Innovations resource, a collaborative effort of the CSP staff. It's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight; just head to www.CSPInnovations.com and enter coupon code APRIL2020.

The Dumbbell Birddog DB Row is a very humbling rowing variation and has been helpful for our clients to lock in their horizontal pulling technique. This exercise doesn’t require as much cuing from us due to the internal feedback the client gets as the set goes on, but it is important to coach the correct set-up position before the client begins the row.

Some of the benefits of the Birddog Row:

1. Core Demands: This rowing variation requires great anti-extension and anti-rotation core control. Once you get the DB off the ground it’s important to pause and establish proper core position so you don’t rock side to side. If you’re having trouble keeping technique its best to lower the weight first and see if this clean up your form.

2. Hip Extension: Adding on to the core component of the row, maintaining a neutral spine and getting quality hip extension add a unique demand no other rowing variation can offer. In clients who are naturally in lumbar extension (arching of the lower back), the contralateral aspect of this row can help separate hip extension from lumbar extension.

3. Slower, Controlled Tempo: One of the main flaws you see in horizontal pulling is excessive range of motion at the top where the shoulder dumps forward into anterior tilt (over-rowing). To perform this exercise well, you have to slow down the rowing portion which gives great sensory feedback leading to better technique. This will also improve scapula protraction at the bottom portion for better shoulder mechanics.

4. Better Arm Path: Because of the alignment with the bench, you naturally have to leave some space between your arm and your ribs otherwise the DB will hit the bench on the eccentric or concentric portion of the row. This self-teaching benefit eliminates keeping your arm tucked in too close to your side.

5. Improved Cervical Position: It's very common in rowing variations to see cervical extension (head tilted up) or flexion (chin to chest) as compensation patterns mostly because there is no balance component to traditional rows. The birddog row has unique balance demands that add needed focus from the lifter. This leads to more of a neutral cervical spine position (double chin) to help improve balance.

We typically program this exercise for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps per side.

To cover a wide variety of training and coaching concepts, I'd encourage you to check out CSP Innovations; it's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight with coupon code APRIL2020 at www.CSPInnovations.com.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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4 Training Principles to Make the Most of Your Speed Work

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach Derek Kambour. It's timely, as Lee Taft's Certified Speed and Agility Coach course is on sale for $150, and it's mandatory viewing for each of the coaches on the CSP staff. Lee's had a profound effect on our movement training progressions, as you'll see below. Enjoy! - EC

With the current global pandemic, you’re seeing more and more people training outside. I don’t think I’ve seen this many people going for walks, going out for long distance runs, and even sprinting since I was in elementary or middle school (before the internet became popular). Many of the athletes that we’ve been training at Cressey Sports Performance have had to adjust their training due to not having access to our facility. The majority of them will not have access to equipment and will have to address other elements of their training to maintain a training effect. One of those areas is their sprint work. Since many athletes will be shifting their focus away from heavy strength training and more towards sprints and movement based work, I thought this would be a good time to go over some key principles for athletes and coaches to think about when it comes to getting the most out of their sprint work.

1. Posture/Position

This is usually the first thing we look at when developing an athlete’s speed capabilities. This is an athlete’s foundation when it comes to speed. Simply put, if an individual can’t demonstrate appropriate posture and maintain good proximal position, then nothing else is really going to matter. There are a bunch of ways that you can go about addressing an individual’s posture. At CSP, we really like to use a variety of wall march drills. These drills are basic, but they’re great for allowing athletes to get a feel for ideal postures and positions. We will use certain variations depending on what the athlete needs to work on. For all these variations, we’re looking to see around a 45-degree angle where the head and neck is in a straight line all the way down to the foot/heel that is on the ground. The four primary variations that we will use include:

a. Glute Wall March ISO Holds – this is first variation that we will use with athletes as an introduction to acceleration posture and projection angles. This gives them a feel for proper position and provides context for further progressions that we may use. We’ll often prescribe 3-5 reps/leg with each rep being a 5 second hold.
b. Glute Wall March ISO Holds w/Mini-Band – This is a great variation to further challenge the postures and angles that we addressed with the first variation. The addition of the mini band will challenge the athlete’s ability to maintain position and gives the athlete immediate feedback on their ability to achieve hip separation.
c. Glute Wall March 1-2’s – Eventually, we want to make this drill a little more dynamic. Again, we’re looking to reinforce posture with the added challenge of maintain position while going through a rapid limb exchange.
d. Wall Load & Explode – I really like using this variation for emphasizing the horizontal projection angles required for linear acceleration.

Usually, it won’t take long for athletes to master these wall drills. Eventually, we want them to progress to more dynamic movements such as marches and skips where maintaining good posture becomes a bit more challenging. If an athlete demonstrates the ability to maintain positional integrity during basic marches and skips, we’ll progress to an arms overhead variation for both. For our purposes, we’ll have most of our athletes perform arms overhead marches and skips for the added benefit of getting shoulder flexion and upward rotation for our throwing athletes.

2. Arm Action

Along with posture, arm action tends to be one of the lowest hanging fruits when it comes to improving acceleration mechanics. I’m not a huge fan of spending a ton of time on arm action drills. Usually, effective verbal cues will do the trick when it comes to improving arm mechanics. With acceleration, we’re looking for much longer arm action where the backside arm is close to or at full extension, and the front side arm is closer to the chin or possibly the eyes, depending on the athlete. This longer separation is required in order to help propel the mass forward, and it goes along with the longer ground contact times you see with acceleration. Again, I usually rely on verbalizing this to athletes through simple cues, but I do like this Arm Action Series that I stole from Lee Taft (you can see it HERE). I’ll use this series with athletes during their warm-up or in between sets of their actual sprint work if I feel as though they need a better “feel” for their arms in a more specific body position.

Arm action is usually a pretty quick fix. If it is a major point of emphasis and something that the individual has clearly been struggling with, then be sure to be a stickler about it when it comes to dynamic warm-up activities such as your marches, skips, etc.

3. Direction of Force Application

With acceleration, we are looking for maximal horizontal force application where the projection angle is roughly 45-degrees, like the angles that are explored during the wall drills that I mentioned earlier. This projection angle is largely going to depend on where the athlete applies force or where their foot strikes into the ground after completing the first step. If we are talking about starting from a staggered 2-point or 3-point stance, when the athlete takes off, we are looking for a piston-like leg action where the back-leg comes through and punches forward and then quickly punches down and back into the ground. What I’ve found is that an athlete’s speed, whether they are running a 10, 20, or 40-yard sprint, is going to be dictated by the first two steps. An athlete that can nail the first two steps of acceleration, is going to set himself up for a pretty successful sprint. This isn’t always easy to do, especially for younger athletes.

Reinforcing good leg action during marches and skips is a good place to start. You will often see athletes get too cyclical with their leg action where their heel comes too close to their butt. These are typically the individuals who will strike the ground out in front of their hips, leading to them "popping up" on initial acceleration. My go-to for athletes who have a hard time striking down and back is incorporating band resistance. I’m a big believer that in order to go fast, you sometimes need to slow things down and give athletes the time to get a feel for good position and what their body is doing. This is what band resistance essentially does. I’ll use this tool on marches, skips, and, one of my favorites, A-runs. I love using A-runs to teach the piston-like leg action and to help athletes with striking the ground under their center of mass.

There are times when athletes will execute proper leg action during these lower level activities, but then they can’t figure out how to transfer it to their sprint work. In this case, I’ll either a) have them perform these activities in between sets of their actual sprint work instead of just having them done in the beginning of their warm-up, or b) have them perform whatever sprint variation they are doing with band resistance and then immediately come back to that sprint variation without band resistance.

When I’m first introducing sprint mechanics to an athlete, I’ll usually play around with what starting position works best for them and where they feel most comfortable. Some athletes may prefer a lower position (3-point start) whereas other athletes (especially taller athletes) may prefer a variation where they initiate the sprint from a slightly higher projection angle (falling start).

4. Elasticity

Elasticity or elastic strength is arguably the most important trait or physical quality when it comes to sprint performance. Elastic strength refers to the ability to produce large amounts of force in a short period of time. There have been numerous studies that show how elite sprinters can put tremendous amounts of forces into the ground at a much faster rate compared to non-elite sprinters. How do we train the ability to put force intro the ground at a high rate? Sprinting is the most obvious answer, but this can also be accomplished through fast stretch shortening cycle plyometric activities as well. The nice thing about developing elastic strength is that it doesn’t require any equipment.

When preparing an athlete to sprint, we want to prepare specific tissues through plyometrics in a progressive manner going from least intensive to most intensive. Along with many of the dynamic warm-up activities mentioned (marches, skips, A-Runs), we like to use 1-leg Medial-Lateral Line Hops as a low-level activity to prepare the tissues of the lower leg. The middle ground can be used for activities like Pogo Jumps, Hurdle Jumps variations, and Depth Jump variations. Prior to sprint work, I like to transition to plyometric drills that address specific technical elements that translate a little more to sprinting, my favorite being bounding. With bounding, you’re developing an athlete’s stiffness, elasticity, coordination, and timing.

Hopefully, this will give some ideas as to how you can improve your sprint training as we continue to make it through this difficult time. Be safe, everyone!

Note from EC: If you're looking to learn more about Lee's approach to programming and coaching speed and agility work, I highly recommend his Certified Speed and Agility Coach course. The information is top notch, and it's on sale for $150 off through Sunday. You can learn more HERE


About the Author

​Derek Kambour serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to joining the staff, Derek completed an internship at CSP-FL in the fall of 2018. Prior to joining the CSP-FL team, Derek coached a variety of athletes and clientele at performance facilities in New Jersey. He graduated from Montclair St. University with a degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Derek is also a competitive powerlifter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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