Optimizing Rotational Athletic Performance

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A rotational athlete is an athlete whose sport specific skills rely on the proper execution of the rotational movement pattern. Although all sports require rotational movements, there are certain sports where the rotational demands are higher than others such as Tennis, Baseball, Lacrosse, Golf, and Volleyball. Athletes who play these sports must prioritize proper training of the rotational movement pattern to prevent injury and perform at a high level. 

To achieve high quality athletic movement the development and progression of a specific series of 5 movement and performance components must be followed:

1) Mobility
2) Stability/Motor Control
3) Strength
4) Power
5) Sports Specific Skill

Today we are going through how to follow this process to develop the rotational movement pattern…

Rotational Mobility:
Rotational mobility consists primarily of ankle, hip, shoulder, and thoracic spine mobility. Each of these joints/segments of the body must have adequate range of motion in all planes of motion to allow for efficient rotation and prevent over-compensation at other areas like the lumbar spine (lower back), knees, elbows, and even wrists.

Stability/Motor Control for Rotation:
Stability and motor control for rotation starts with training anti-rotation, anti-extension, and anti-lateral flexion of the lumbar spine. This will develop the abdominal muscles and allow them to stabilize properly to prevent excessive motion of the lumber spine during rotational movements, which is a major cause of low back injury for rotational athletes. When a rotational movement is completed the key is to keep the lumber spine stable and rotate through the ankles, hips, thoracic spine, and shoulders. Planks, Side Planks, Pallof Presses, Bird Dogs, Dead Bugs, Cable Chops, Cable Lifts, Cable Rotations, and Farmer’s Carries are all great options for beginning to develop these qualities.

Strength Development for Rotation:
Strength development for the rotational athlete begins with the same principles of strength development for any athlete. Once an athlete has adequate mobility and stability, they need to build their Hip Hinge, Squat, Lunge, Push, and Pull movement patterns with exercises like Double and Single Leg Deadlifts, Double and Single Leg Squats, Forward Lunges, Lateral lunges, Overhead Presses, Cable Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Dumbbell Bench Presses, Push Ups, Pull Ups etc. 

The specific exercises chosen and HOW they are prioritized and practiced (meaning sets, reps, intensity, and volume) for each athlete may differ depending on their sport. 

For example, a tennis athlete may be better suited focusing on less sets (3-4), lower intensity/weights, and higher rep ranges (10-15) in most of their workouts since a lot of their sports demands are about muscular endurance and stamina vs a baseball player who is likely better off focusing on more sets (4-6), more intensity/weights, and lower rep ranges (2-8 reps) as their sport requires more power production. Both approaches will likely be used for both athletes but the proportions within a training week will differ. 

Power Development for Rotation:
Closely intertwined with strength development, power development for the rotational athlete consists of the multi-directional speed, agility, and plyometric training techniques that allow an athlete to take the force production they have gained from developing their strength and express it with velocity hence the Power equation (Force) x (Velocity) = Power. Exercises like Double and Single Leg Jump Landings/Decelerations, Lateral Bounds, Broad Jumps, Squat Jumps Pogo Jumps, Depth Jumps, Medicine Ball Throws and Slams are all great options. For rotational athletes the medicine ball may be the most important power training tool. The variation of medicine ball throws that can be practiced provide a plethora of options that can help increase rotational power production. 

Sports Specific Rotational Skill:
This last component is all about going out and practicing the actual sports specific skills that an athlete needs to execute at a high level to be successful at their sport. If you are a baseball player go practice throwing, swinging, and sprinting the bases. If you are a tennis player go work on your serve, back hand, and crossover step. If you are a volleyball player go practice spiking, digging, and your jumping approach. If you are a lacrosse player go work on shooting, face offs, and your moves to go by a defender. If you are a golf player go and practice that swing! They key here is to go and practice your skills, so you can carry over the improvements you have made the 4 previous components right into your game.

This process and progression of developing these 5 components is the path to becoming an elite performance athlete or simply being able to enjoy a sport or activity without having to fear injury. Check out our Instagram page @power.hp for videos of the exercise examples in the article.

Are you a young athlete determined to maximize your athletic potential? We are holding a workshop “Optimizing Rotational Athletic Performance” on November 17th at 12pm where we will teach you how to develop these components and practice the exercises and training techniques mentioned above. You will leave the workshop equipped with a brand-new perspective on how to train to optimize your performance and prevent injury. We only have space available for 10 athletes so if you feel this workshop would benefit you attend fill out the form below now and we will be in touch to get you registered. See you soon!

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