Pointers for Spring Practice
BASEBALL PERFORMANCE GROUP – WHY WE EXIST
Dr. Michael Chivers, Dr. Stephen Osterer
In 2007, Baseball Canada produced a valuable resource on long term athletic development (or LTAD) for baseball. The 92-page document provided an excellent model for improving the quality of player development guided by expert opinion and scientific literature.
It outlined the need for increased awareness of LTAD principles within the Canadian baseball community and some necessary steps to get there. Highlights included amendments to training based off of physiological age, months of competition vs training, preventing early specialization and windows of trainability, just to name a few. The document is well written, informative and a good macroscopic view of the long term athletic development process.
It is imperative to also be considerate of the narrower picture in order for our athletes to reach their long term development goals This requires an athlete centered model that integrates the roles of the sports specific coach, the therapist, the physical preparation coach (or strength and conditioning coach), the pitching coach; while still being guided by LTAD principles. How we diagnose, treat, train, and interact with our players daily accumulates into a long term product.
Ideally there would be integration amongst all of those involved in the athlete centered model. More often than not, selfless volunteers make up the majority of coaches, who have limited resources and time to study biomechanics, exercise physiology, and functional anatomy.
The baseball community has a bit of a reputation for dogmatic thinking and sticking to out dated principles. In the therapy and strength and conditioning world, for example, theories and techniques change every year based on new research. What was relevant 20 years ago may not be relevant today.
Let’s look at just a few examples of traditional and commonplace practices that highlight why we need a solution.
Off-season training that begins without a comprehensive physical assessment.
Without a physical assessment we are unable to identify susceptibility to injury or our weakest link for prioritization in development. A lack of pain does not necessitate no problems. Simply picking up where you left off becomes increasingly more problematic as you get older.
Making biomechanical changes without understanding the physical demand of such change.
A pitching coach must have an appreciation of what mechanics predispose us to increased stress on the pitcher. For example, excessive contralateral tilt of the trunk places more strain on the throwing shoulder.
Randomly prescribing an arbitrary number of sprints, or poles, at the end of practice. Conditioning is a multifactorial process that requires an understanding of exercise physiology and strategic implementation. This is not accomplished by running poles.
So what’s the solution? That is where we at Baseball Performance Group (BPG) fit in.
Our mission at BPG is to help every athlete we encounter achieve their full performance potential. We will close the gap between the sports specific coach and the other contributors in an integrated model by providing credible and scientifically grounded information regarding the improvement of baseball performance.
Our website is coming soon! We will be providing guest articles to the readers of Canadian Baseball Network. If you have a topic that you would like to see, please let us know!
There is always great debate around sport science and specific applications to sport. We are not necessarily supporting the opinion of the authors but certainly respect them both as wiser than the editor.