Home Posts tagged "Rotational Power"

Variation Without Change

I can recall the late Charles Poliquin speaking many years ago about the concept of "Variation Without Change."

When I first heard this phrase, I believe he was referring to the stimuli needed to induce muscular hypertrophy. If you wanted bigger lats, you might do chin-ups (supinated grip) for a month, then neutral grip pull-ups for a month, then regular (pronated grip) pull-ups for a month. Simultaneously, the focus might shift from sets of 8-10 reps to sets of 4-6 reps.

The principle was simple but effective: if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. However, subtle variations to the approach - without throwing the baby out with the bath water - were important for providing for longer term adaptation while not developing overuse injuries or mind-numbing boredom.

To me, "variation without change" is a subcategory of periodization. The overall training priority might be adjusted from one mesocycle to the next, but some of the exercise categories can remain relatively consistent. Medicine ball work is a good example; we use it in a variety of ways throughout the year.

In-season, for a right-handed pitcher, we might do left only rotational med ball scoop tosses to counteract some of the crazy imbalances that can emerge in such a unilateral dominant sport.

In the early offseason, we might utilize anti-rotation drills to give athletes reminders on where to find rotation without being so aggressive that it beats them up at a time of year when they should be recovering.

As the offseason progresses, we can get to more drills where we attack rotation - and then build in sequencing that incorporates momentum.

Finally, as the season approaches, we can make the drills more open-loop by having athletes either respond to a "go" command or have to "receive and release:"

As you can see, all of these exercises fall under the same broad heading, but are each categorized slightly differently. In our recent podcast with Bill Parisi, we discussed how pronounced fascial changes take 18-24 months, so you need variety to keep athletes engaged while still incorporating these long chain, multijoint movements at varying speeds and loads.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have a few new articles to dig deeper on the topic of rotation. In the meantime, however, I would strongly encourage you to check out my new Medicine Ball Master Class. I created this new resource in collaboration with Athletes Acceleration, and it’s on sale for 20% off through this Sunday at midnight. It includes over 50 exercise demonstration videos, as well as my rationale for including them. Just visit www.CresseyMedBall.com and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout.

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Accidental Strength and Conditioning Success

I often joke that some of the biggest training successes of my career came about when I was trying to develop one athletic quality, but actually wound up accidentally developing something else that yielded a great return on investment. Medicine ball training might be the absolute best example of this.

Back around 2007, I started implementing high-volume medicine ball training: both rotational and overhead work at least three times per week with our baseball athletes. There was some decent research on how it could positively impact throwing velocity and bad speed, but I found the training protocols in those studies to be really underwhelming. It was just a lot of “three sets of 10 reps” monotony and relatively basic and unathletic drills. by getting more creative with exercise selection, I felt that it would yield bigger returns on power development while keeping athletes more engaged. And, it accomplished both goals.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was also simultaneously creating much better movers. You see, all that medicine ball training was chipping away at some important adaptations we needed in the fascial system to prepare athletes for elasticity in more extreme positions of rotation. By manipulating load, the extent to which we pre-loaded, and where we sat on the force-velocity curve, each rep was helping athletes to develop adjustability, something that’s crucial to withstanding the unpredictable nature of many sports.

And, the truth is that what we learned from training with medicine balls, gave rise to open mindedness in similar avenues. The Versapulley allows us to train higher load, lower velocity rotation with more eccentric overload. 

Proteus allows us to train both high and low load rotation with a concentric focus.

Rotational work on traditional functional trainers seems to be a happy medium between the two. I’ll have their place, but you just need to know what to train.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have a few new articles to dig deeper on the topic of rotation. In the meantime, however, I would strongly encourage you to check out my new Medicine Ball Master Class. I created this new resource in collaboration with athletes acceleration, and it’s on sale for 20% off through this Sunday at midnight. It includes over 50 exercise demonstration videos, as well as my rationale for including them. Just visit www.CresseyMedBall.com and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout.

 Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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Exercise(s) of the Week: Making the Most of Rotational Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach Andrew Lysy.

The 1-arm Cable Rotational Row is a versatile exercise for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s a beneficial rowing variation for baseball players who have flat thoracic spines and struggle to get the scapula rotating around the rib cage. This rowing variation focuses more on the protraction and/or upward rotation of the scapula compared to retraction of the scapula, which is what you’d typically see in a conventional rowing exercise.

Another benefit of the rotational row is the ability to teach proper front hip loading and proper hip extension throughout the same exercise. Where you angle the cable is going to determine how much you load your front hip and how much scapular upward rotation you’ll be getting.

There are three main 1-arm Rotational Cable Row exercise variations that we use at CSP regularly:

1. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Eye Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular upward rotation and less on hip flexion.

2. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Chest Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular protraction and hip flexion than the eye height setting.

3. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Lowest Setting: This variation is going to focus more on hip flexion than the rest of the variations, because the cable pulls you into your front hip.

These variations are typically programmed in the beginning of a training session with power as the main focus. I’d suggest easing into the exercise at first, mastering the form before moving the weight faster. We typically program these exercises for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.

About the Author

Andrew Lysy was a right-handed pitcher at Rowan University, where he graduated with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. He was a former Cressey Sports Performance – Florida intern and is now a full time Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Sports Performance – Massachusetts. He can be found on Instagram at @ALysyStrength.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Making Movement Better with Bill Hartman

We're excited to welcome physical therapist Bill Hartman to this week's podcast. Bill discusses how his approaches to training and rehabilitation have evolved over the years, and emphasizes the importance of range as a professional rather than early specialization. We converse on the common mistakes made with training rotational sport athletes, and delve into more complex topics like infrasternal angle and sacral positioning.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How Bill became involved in the world of rehabilitation and how have his practices evolved since he first entered the field nearly 30 years ago
  • What tools have remained consistent throughout Bill’s professional career and how his perspective has changed despite this consistency
  • Why Bill is still constantly tweaking, adapting, and refining his processes as a physical therapist and how he is working to master his model and find true efficiency in his craft
  • Why professionals should be wary of specialization and should avoid limiting their perspective to the insights of one profession
  • Why the common hierarchical perspective of movement rehabilitation doesn’t capture how we truly drive adaptation in individuals
  • How coaches and rehab professionals alike can start at the ideal outcome and work backwards to create an actionable plan to drive change
  • Why asymmetry may actually be the recipe for elite athletic performance
  • What infrasternal angle is and how this measurement is utilized as an assessment tool
  • What specific insights does infrasternal angle give us for rotational athletes and their capabilities to move efficiently for their sport
  • What the two types of infrasternal presentations are and what action-based plan Bill has for dealing with each respectively
  • Why the dynamics of the rib cage are more important than static infrasternal angle presentation and how professionals can observe an individual's capacity for movement at the core of the body
  • Why the position of the sacrum is an overlooked factor for analyzing optimal movement
  • What sacral position demonstrates to professionals about an individual’s movement profile
  • Why quality training isn’t about changing someone but rather about reinforcing what someone was meant to do
  • Why exercise selection is vital for transforming athletes into the best version of themselves and how professionals can create programs for individuals that match their movement capabilities
  • How much strength is too much strength for athletes and how the dosage of training can drive adaptations that actually make an individual worse at their sport
  • Why defining the amount and rate of force production needed for a sport is essential for properly training athletes of the sport and how these insights set the parameters for training strategies
  • How blind exercise prescription and an overemphasis of strength training are limiting the capabilities of rotational athletes and what Bill’s big rocks for creating elite throwers are
  • Why more strength training is not always better and what key performance indicators professionals can monitor to maintain progress and limit the negative effects of training
  • Why strength training is not inherently bad, but professionals should be more particular about its implementation
  • What Bill’s key competencies for high level learners are and how you can be the best learner possible
  • What three books all performance professionals should read
  • What research Bill would like to see done to progress the field
  • You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillHartmanPT and and Instagram at @BillHartmanPT. You can also learn more about him at www.BillHartmanPT.com.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Taking Proteus Motion for a Spin

Today’s guest post comes from former Cressey Sports Performance intern and current physical therapist, Tanner Allen. I asked Tanner to take the lead on our work with Proteus this offseason, and he does a great job of summing up our initial experiences below. Enjoy! -EC

In December, we brought in a Proteus Motion unit to Cressey Sports Performance – Florida to try out for the offseason. It goes without saying that we found some excellent benefits, and I thought I’d use today’s blog post to dig in on them. First, however, I think it’s important to appreciate what Proteus is.

Proteus Motion uses electromagnetic brakes to produce resistance that the user must overcome to move the arm or beam. This futuristic cannon packs a heavy punch of technology. Utilizing biofeedback and tracking technology, Proteus enables athletes to optimize their movement patterns and power development. It allows you to train within the freedoms of your own movements while providing resistance continuously in a manner different than you'd experience with cable machines, barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells - because the impact of both gravity and specific planes of motion are reduced and eliminated, respectively.

The only other place on earth an individual can experience this 3D resistance is in water. In fact, the machine was named after Proteus, the son of the sea god Poseidon in Greek mythology. The quality that links water and the Proteus machine is the ability for an individual to move fluidly throughout every movement that they may perform. The main handle attachment of Proteus is unlike traditional grips and enables the user to sync multiple movements together in a natural and organic way. As soon as you step up to the machine for the first time, you can move the arm in any direction to get a feel for the continuous resistance which is unlike any other resistance training you have ever done before.

Currently, we are using Proteus as an adjunct to conventional training involving our Arm Care and Med Ball programming. This gives our clients variable training environments to aid in motor learning, control, and carryover between common exercises and movement patterns. Below, I’ll demonstrate a few examples of exercises that we are performing with our clients:

Arm Care/Scapula Stabilizer strengthening, consisting of: D2 Flexion and Extension, Horizontal Abduction, External Rotation while simultaneously transitioning into Internal Rotation and lead arm stability during swing.

Med balls and Rotational Core Variations: Rotational Chops, Chop and Lift, Rotational Shotput, Split Stance Anti Rotation Chops as well as many others.

One of the foundational principles coached regardless of training method is the appropriate activation of your core during extremity movements for optimal stability and force transfer. Something that we notice with first-time users is the lack of awareness that they have throughout rotational control and power, which typically causes the athlete to lose their balance backwards during their first couple repetitions. Once an athlete’s neuromuscular system kicks in and maximizes full-body engagement, they make the needed adjustments to maintain balance appropriately during exercises. This challenge to the neuromuscular system eventually improves the client’s ability to properly sequence movements and create/transfer force, which subsequently improves the power production numbers Proteus tracks.

The sky is truly the limit with Proteus as the potential for possible exercises and movements is endless, making this exercise machine a potential one-stop-shop for workouts. This machine can be utilized for sports-performance training due to decreased restrictions on natural movement patterns or for an extremely effective total body routine, as you can seamlessly flow from one exercise to the next. This machine also allows easy resistance adjustments during a workout through Bluetooth controls for on-the-fly changes. The weight ranges from 1-35lbs, making it versatile for warm-up routines prior to powerlifts, sport-specific skill drills or training peak power production in multi-planar movements. The Proteus can also be extremely beneficial during rehabilitation due to visual feedback and tracking capabilities.

The Proteus also offers a wide range of metrics that can be tracked for each individual user to assess progress. This is helpful for re-assessments following an individual’s program, tracking improvements throughout the off-season, following an injury during rehabilitation or assessing fatigue during a periodization period. You can track power output (Watts), Acceleration, Deceleration, Endurance, and Consistency looking at the client’s ability to reproduce a specific movement. The pictures below provide you with a visual of what a post-test report might look like.

The report provides you with an in-depth analysis of your performance, comparing movement patterns or exercises bilaterally. It allows you to determine specific trends an athlete might have in fatigue or recovery management, helping the provider make necessary changes to programming. Results can be determined based on a single repetition, or a 3D graph can be created overlaying multiple repetitions. A cool feature included is the visual feedback of an entire motion throughout the length-tension curve, allowing you to assess strengths and weaknesses along the total path of motion pictured above. Moving forward, from a testing standpoint, we see ourselves using it extensively with:

a. objective measurement of shoulder strength tests in a standing (and therefore more functional) position

b. measuring rotational power - but peak and in terms of side-to-side comparisons

On this second point, there's a lot to be said for the ability of Proteus to slide into a relatively untapped portion of the force-velocity curve. Looking at this old video from EC, you can see that it could fit anywhere in the speed-strength to strength-speed aspect of this continuum - almost like a medicine ball that you can load more - but have to apply force over a greater distance. And, because it's concentric dominant action in nature, it could be trained frequently without making athletes really sore.

As you can see, Proteus is a versatile machine with broad application in peak performance training as well as rehabilitation and testing. It measures and tracks data on hard-to-measure patterns to assess an athlete’s progress, provide biofeedback, and train rotational sport athletes along the force-velocity curve in a safe way. We look forward to diving into the Proteus system’s capabilities even more in the future. We have only just begun to tap into the potential and vast capabilities of Proteus with testing and programing at our CSP-FL.

If you're interested in learning more, check them out at www.ProteusMotion.com.

About the Author

Tanner Allen received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine in 2019. After graduating, he completed an Internship at CSP-FL in the Fall of 2019. Tanner enjoys working with athletes of all ages and backgrounds on a continuum from rehabilitation following injury through sports performance training. He graduated from Valdosta State University in 2015 with a degree in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Speed Training with Lee Taft

We’re excited to welcome speed training expert Lee Taft to this week’s podcast for an awesome discussion of baseball movement competencies and how to coach them. Lee is highly qualified to work across all sports, but I've found his work to be particularly impactful in the baseball world. CSP-MA Director of Performance John O'Neil takes the lead as a guest host as well.

This is a timely podcast, as Lee's popular Certified Speed and Agility Specialist course is on sale for $150 off this week. I'm a huge fan of Lee and this resource - so much, in fact, that it was filmed at Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts. It's now required viewing for all our staff members. You can check it out and take advantage of the great discount HERE.

Show Outline

  • How Lee developed into the coach he is today
  • How Lee approaches youth athletic development
  • What the 7 movement patterns of speed are and how these principles translate into sport specific results
  • What is a lateral run step is, how Lee teaches it, and how it’s different from a traditional crossover step
  • How can base stealers optimize their setup to maximize acceleration
  • Why an initial step back with the lead leg is not a bad move first move for a base runner and why observing an athlete’s center of mass is more meaningful when addressing acceleration
  • What the upper body’s role is in creating efficient running patterns and how the arms specifically work for baserunners when stealing
  • How can infielders can improve their setup and defensive start position
  • Why the traditional defensive mindset of get your glove on the ground and be as low as you can is the wrong strategy for optimizing a player’s athleticism
  • How initial hand position and the movement of the arms work to propel the body out of the start position to fielding the ball
  • How outfielders can refine their defensive setup
  • How the incorporation of a split step into a defensive player’s approach can create a quicker initial move to the ball and help to expand a fielder’s range
  • What minute but key movement competencies Lee incorporates into athletes’ training, including the dissociation of their upper and lower half and learning to run an opposite direction your eyes are looking
  • How Lee incorporates curvilinear speed work into his athletes’ training
  • How deceleration isn’t emphasized enough when discussing qualities of position players
  • What the common compensations Lee sees in baseball players’ running mechanics are
  • What mistakes coaches are commonly making when teaching and training speed in the game of baseball
  • What principles Lee prioritizes when incorporating conditioning into athletes’ training
  • How Lee would implement conditioning into a baseball program’s training calendar and how he would apply his conditioning principles to specific scenarios like managing a pitchers’ workload between starts
  • What the priority training qualities are when working to train power in hitters
  • What med ball fake throws are and why are these specifically useful when training hitters
  • You can follow Lee on Twitter at @LeeTaft and Instagram at @LeeTaft.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Exercise of the Week: Bounce Drop Heiden with Medicine Ball

The Bounce Drop Heiden with Medicine Ball combines two of our favorite Heiden (frontal plane plyometric drill) progressions:

1. Dropping from elevation to increase eccentric overload (and increase storage of elastic energy)

2. Holding a med ball as a counterbalance to improve hip loading

Some key coaching points:

1. Don't let the knee slip into valgus (knees collapses in) on landing. A strong sagittal plane landing position should be following by power production laterally. You're loading the glutes in the sagittal plane and then unloading them in all three planes (especially the frontal plane). Don't put the knee in a vulnerable position to get these benefits.

2. The arms should not be rigid. In other words, holding the medicine ball shouldn't restrict a fluid arm swing.

3. Don't race through ground contact. The goal is to use the increased eccentric pre-loading to enable you to produce more force. There is a happy medium between spending too little time on the ground and shortchanging yourself vs. spending too long on the ground and wasting elastic energy. This video demonstrates that sweet spot well.

4. This is a late offseason progression for our advanced athletes. Don't give it to an untraind 14-year-old who's never lifted weights. They can start with regular Heidens (no elevation) and other landing and jumping progressions.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Optimizing Rotational Power with Dr. Greg Rose

We're excited to welcome Dr. Greg Rose to this week's podcast to talk about evaluating and training rotational power across multiple sports. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How Greg’s professional journey began as a young, aspiring engineer and how becoming involved in the world of golf persuaded him to leave engineering and become a doctor of chiropractic
  • How Greg became involved with Titleist and, in turn, the Titleist Performamce Institute
  • How Greg led the way for the incorporation of motion capture technology with athletes
  • How TPI has evolved to include other sport specific coaching tools like OnBaseU
  • How Greg’s interaction with Tom House evolved into a more comprehensive interaction with a variety of rotational athletes
  • What it really means to move efficiently as a rotational athlete
  • Why individuals need to be careful when analyzing movement from single still shot photo or snapshot of data and how professionals can apply a systematic approach for understanding and improving movement
  • How coaches can utilize all the tools in their toolbox to understand the what, how, and why a person moves a certain way
  • How collecting data should drive intervention rather than just being descriptive
  • How coaches can influence the learning experience for their athletes and how strategies like external vs internal coaching ques and random and blocked practice influence how an individual learns
  • What research says about the impact of external and internal coaching ques on performance and how coaches can better understand when to use each of these strategies with an athlete
  • How does considering a sport’s window to excel allow coaches to better prepare athletes for success
  • How to approach long term athletic development, with particular focus on critical windows for developing certain qualities
  • Why talent identification can’t be truly trusted until after a child’s growth spurt and how being a early or late bloomer influences an athletes athletic development
  • How Greg conceptualizes developing rotational skills with young athletes
  • What books anyone in the rotational sport world should read
  • You can follow Dr. Rose on Twitter at @OnBaseU and on Instagram at @OnBaseU.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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Making Sense of Rotational Medicine Ball Progressions

If you've followed our work at Cressey Sports Performance for any length of time, you know that we're big fans of training rotational power with medicine ball variations. With that in mind, I wanted to use today's blog to outline some of our strategies for introducing and progressing these exercises in our programs.

Step 1: Stationary Anti-Rotation - These exercises teach bracing on the front leg and emphasize thoracic (upper back) rotation. The split-stance anti-rotation medicine ball scoop toss is a good example.

Step 2: Stationary Rotation: These exercises emphasize hip loading, force transfer, and thoracic rotation delivering the arm, but the base of support doesn't change much (if at all). The rotational medicine ball shotput is an example.

Step 3: Momentum Rotation - These exercises teach athletes to create and utilize momentum as they work into the front hip (imagine riding a bike into a curb). The step-behind rotational medicine ball shotput is an example.

Step 4: Eccentric Pre-Loading Rotation: These exercises teach athletes to get in and out of the back hip while better making use of the stretch-shortening-cycle (think of keeping the head behind the belly button as long as possible). The step-back rotational medicine ball scoop toss is an example.

Step 5: Eccentric Pre-Loading with Momentum Rotation: These exercises combine the previous two categories to try to make things as athletic as possible. The 2-hop to rotational medicine ball scoop toss is a good example.

With this progression in mind, it's important to recognize that athletes need to earn the right to move from one step to the next. Steps 3-5 are far to advanced for 13-15-year-old athletes who have very little body awareness or foundational strength. And, aggressive progressions may be potentially harmful in even advanced athletes if they aren't prepared for the extensive hip-shoulder separation that takes place. Even with our professional athletes, I'll start athletes with the earliest stages in the progression during their initial off-season training programs.

Also, whenever I post about medicine balls, I invariably get the question: what brand do you prefer? I'm a fan of the Perform Better Extreme Soft Toss medicine balls, as they provide the right blend of durability and rebound. The overwhelming majority of our rotational medicine ball work is in the 4-8lb range.

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Exercise of the Week: Knee to Knee Rollover Medicine Ball Stomps

If you've followed my writing for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of using medicine ball training for power development with our athletes. We have both rotational and overhead variations - and sometimes, we have drills that combine the two. Enter the knee-to-knee rollover medicine ball stomp.

Key Coaching Points:

1. Don't rush the back hip rotation; rather, sit into that hip for what seems like an uncomfortable long time. This allows hip-shoulder separation to occur.

2. Minimize lower back arching.

3. Be firm into the ground on the front leg. Some individuals will stiffen up on that front leg with more knee extension, while others will be slightly more flexed.

4. Perform 3-4 reps per side.

5. We utilize this exercise several months into the offseason after we've had a chance to optimize overhead and rotational medicine ball technique with less complex drills. Athletes have to earn this one.

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