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Hamstring Stretch Series: 9 Exercises To Loosen UP (Includes Ankle, Hip, and Wrist Mobility!!)

I find 95% of my hitters have tight hamstrings, which includes both baseball and softball players.  Hence this hamstring stretch series.  Interestingly, the other 5% have spent at least 3-5 years in Martial Arts, Gymnastics, Dance, and/or Swim.

It’s painful for me to watch one of my High School hitters significantly bend at the knees to pick up a ball from the ground because their hammys resemble tight piano strings :-/Hamstring Stretch Follow Along for Hitters

We all laugh, but tight hamstrings can be just the canary in the coalmine to DANGEROUS injury waters ahead.  In other words, our body is fantastic at sending “signals” warning us to address dysfunctional movement, but we’re terrible at heeding those warnings until it’s too late.

Well, if your hitters have tight hamstrings, then consider yourself WARNED!!

Besides above hamstring stretch follow along, you may want to check out this post titled: “15 Ways to Prevent Injury, Minimize Damage, & Rehab Knees”. And if you’re dealing with an injury right now, then click the following post link titled: “Speedy Recovery: Ice Bath Benefits Now What They Seem?”

 

What I have for You…

I sent the above hamstring stretch follow along for hitters video to all my local hitters, and am now sharing with you coaches and parents.  In this hamstring stretch series, in addition to targeting tight hamstrings, we’ll be working on ankle, hip, and wrist mobility.  The following 9 exercises are included in this video:

  1. 3 position wrist mobilization
  2. Seated single calf
  3. Seated Seza
  4. Pigeon
  5. 3 position Frog pose
  6. Standing pancake
  7. Raised toe single leg forward fold
  8. Seated pancake series: strap lat, walking, bounces, sweeps, break then, hang
  9. Couch stretch

The above hamstring stretch follow along should take about 40-mins, demonstrates each stretch, and includes how long to hold each stretch for.  These are a compilation of stretches I pulled from GymnasticBodies.com, and their mid/front split stretching series.

Remember, you’ve been warned!  Don’t let your hitter become a statistic 😉  Move better to perform better, and make sure we’re swinging smarter by moving better…

Breathing Technique For Hitting A Baseball: Why Hitters Shouldn’t Breath Like “Normal”

 

Before we get to the breathing technique for hitting a baseball (same for softball), consider this…

Breathing is one of the most commonly dysfunctional movement patterns today.  In other words, nowadays “normal” breathing IS dysfunctional!

Breathing Technique For Hitting A Baseball

Photo courtesy: MobilityWOD.com YouTube video

Why?  Here are a few reasons off the top of my head – you could probably think of others:

  • High levels of stress hormone cortisol throughout the day because of constant bombardment of mind numbing hamster-constantly-on-the-wheel technology (phones, video games, etc.),
  • Overuse training – doubling training efforts without doubling recovery efforts (dangerously over scheduled youth athletes), and
  • Injuries to certain areas of the body, playing a one-sided dominant sport (i.e. baseball and softball), and imbalanced training (without proper flushing of waste by the lymphatic system), can build a shorter breathing pattern, which can cause a constant drip-drip-drip of the fight or flight response throughout the day.

One of my hitter’s dad asked me what physical training I recommend outside of a busy baseball and football schedule, and I said either Yoga or Pilates.  I HIGHLY disagree with most hitting coaches putting ORGASMIC emphasis on explosive, Olympic, Cross-fit, or whatever else type of performance training out there.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for physical training geared for performance, but corrective maintenance training SHOULD precede performance – if we want healthy moving athletes.  If you put fresh 80,000 mile tires on a Lamborghini with a misaligned front end, then you’ll be lucky to get half the miles out of the tires!  Also, the tires won’t be your only problem.

Let’s connect what an effective breathing technique for hitting a baseball means to hitters…

World renowned strength and conditioning coach Brett Jones says this about “anatomical” versus “biomechanical” breathing in a post titled, “How Your Breathing Relates to Your Movement”:

“Anatomical breathing match refers to the natural matching of the inhalation and exhalation with extension and flexion of the spine/body. Extension facilitates inhalation and flexion facilitates exhalation. As the body gets compressed (flexion) exhalation dissipates the pressure and extension assists in opening the thoracic area to assist in inhalation. In addition, anatomical breathing can be used in stretching where the exhale is used to enhance the relaxation into a stretch.

Whereas, in the biomechanical breathing match we flip those actions. Inhaling to increase the intra-abdominal pressure during flexion and exhaling to improve muscular action and stability during extension. Biomechanical breathing match is key to being able to handle loads through the body during performance. During a dead-lift, kettle-bell swing or a kettle-bell military press the biomechanical breathing match allows us to amp up our strength and stability.”

The video above demonstrates this biomechanical breathing technique for hitting a baseball.  I’ve had quite a few of you ask about this, so here you go!  The description says the above YouTube video is about…

“Identifying and correcting low back extension loading issues through the correct sequence of breathing. If we can get our athletes to breath better across all movements and under load, performance will improve.”

Dr. Mark Cheng, one of my many favorite strength and conditioning coaches, says:

“When you truly own a movement pattern, strain isn’t part of the picture.”

There are a couple other resources I’d be estupido not to mention that plays right into improving breathing technique for hitting a baseball:

The above video is only 3-min and 41-secs, so there won’t be any breathing technique for hitting a baseball notes.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the REPLY section below this post…

Move better, perform better.  Enjoy!

The Biggest Lie In Teaching Hitters How To Run Faster & Move Better

 

David Weck: "Head Over Foot" Technique, Side Bending, & Pulsers

David Weck demonstrating the “Head Over Foot” technique, side bending, and Pulsers. Photo courtesy: WeckMethod on YouTube

The purpose of this post:

  1. How to make hitters faster, and
  2. How to apply David Weck’s “Head Over Foot” technique and “Pulsers” to hitters?

Most sprint coaches will teach athletes to get faster by using a “braced core” (instead of a Coiling Core), and “hip to lip” arm action.  This is DEAD WRONG, and one of the biggest lies in teaching athletes to run faster and move better.  These coaches aren’t understanding the basics of human locomotion.  Consider the following…

 

How to Make Hitters Faster

Here are a few notes from the video above:

  • To balance on one foot most effectively, we need head over “ground” foot.  Try balancing on one foot bending spine and head far outside or inside ground foot.  You can probably balance, but not as effectively as head over foot.  Under the body’s “plum line”.
  • We want the forces transferring cleanly throughout body.  When you don’t land balanced (head over foot), compensation is the end result.  Back pain has been linked to head not being over foot.
  • Side bending is key to rotational power, and is what most coaches DO NOT understand or choose to ignore.  Imagine throwing without a side bend.

Watch this Facebook video from David Weck looking at how the runner moves “head over foot”, and side bends while stealing second (You can also CLICK HERE to see an interview I did with David Weck here)…

Which brings me to how to train this.  CLICK HERE for a Facebook video post where David Weck explains the how of his sprint “Pulsers”.  And CLICK HERE to get the “Pulsers” at David’s website (I don’t get a commission on this, by the way).

 

How to Apply David Weck’s “Head Over Foot” Technique or “Pulsers” to Hitting

Do you consider yourself a think-outside-of-the-box type of person?  Please sound off in the Comments below, on how you can apply this technique or Pulsers with your hitters (thanks in advance!!)

New Hitting Model – This Is The Future Of Teaching A Swing…

Josh Donaldson using Geometry in his Swing

Note the angle of Josh Donaldson’s back leg (Geometry). Photo courtesy: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The objective of this presentation was to give a technical speech to a non-technical audience.

Sorry, the video and audio aren’t the best, but I think you’ll get the overall message.

Also, I’ve provided the powerpoint slides I used for this presentation (CLICK HERE to download from Google Drive).

You may find it quite helpful to follow along with the slides during the presentation.  PLEASE NOTE: in each section, I do skip to the images in that section to help illustrate a point.

We discussed the following:

  • Move better, perform better,
  • Use movement tests,
  • Match the Pitch-Plane with Geometry, and
  • Knock snot out of the ball with Springy Fascia.

Below is the basic outline of the speech…

ENJOY!

 

Move Better, Perform Better

  • ‘Governor’ truck engine story
  • Repetitive movements/position shape your body
  • “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe” Mobilize & Stabilize

 

Use Movement Tests

  • Following “rules” to human movement – GRF, FoMo, Ang Mom, Centrip/Centrif, springy forces
  • Gorilla Grip
  • One-Joint Rule
  • Un-Weighting

 

Match Pitch-Plane with Geometry

  • Define Pitch-Plane
  • Importance of Back Leg Angle
  • Attack Angle + Ball Exit Speed

 

Knock Snot Out of Ball with Springy Fascia

  • Define springy fascia – tension/compression forces
  • Seen the biggest jumps in average Bat Speed with spinal engine experiments
  • Showing numbers – 6-mph
  • Downhill shoulder angle – 4-mph
  • Finger Pressure – 3-mph
  • Hunched Posture – +4 Attack Angle