Over the course of the past two years that I have had Proteus Motion I have been able to perform hundreds of Cressey Performance Tests on baseball players. The Cressey Performance Test was designed by Eric Cressey and looks at whole body strength, power and acceleration in various movement patterns especially relevant to baseball. Over that time I have noticed some common trends among the athletes that I have assessed. Today I wanted to discuss the three most common weaknesses/deficits among high school baseball players and how these findings relate to the typical training programs that these athletes are performing.
1. Lack of core strength: The core is by far one of the most common areas of weakness on the Proteus Motion testing. The rotational core movement tests on Proteus are essentially evaluating your ability to transfer energy from the lower body, through the core and out ot the upper body which is essential for hitters and pitchers. Many athletes are surprised by this finding as they typically perform some form of core training during their workouts. However, many times this training is
incomplete in getting the maximum carry over to sport. While exercises such as planks, bridges, Supermans, sit ups and other common 'core' exercises have their place, these exercises alone are not sufficient for producing strength and power required for sports performance. Often times these exercises involve high repetitions/hold times. However, this alone is not the type of training that will create strength and power adaptations for rotational athletes. It is ok to train higher intent exercises with heavier weights and lower reps as well as exercises focused on maximum speed production with the focus on transferring energy from the lower body through the core to the hands. These will have a higher carry over to sports performance. Examples of these types of exercises would be exercises such as isometric holds, anti rotation chops, chops/lifts with cables or bands, farmer's carry and various medicine ball exercises. The Proteus is also an excellent tool for training this.
2. Lack of training outside the sagittal plane: The majority of exercises performed in a typical
strength and conditioning program at school involve the major compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, shoulder presses, lat pulldowns, olympic lifts, etc. All of these
exercises are performed in what is known as the sagittal plane of motion, which consists of these forwards and backwards movements. There is nothing wrong with theses exercises and they are great foundational compound movements to build foundational strength. However, sport occurs in all planes of motion including the frontal plane (side to side movements) and transverse plane (rotational movements). Baseball especially occurs in these other planes of motion. Many of the traditional programs at school do not perform very many movements in these other planes of motion and explains why athletes often do not perform as well on these tests. However, more importantly they are leaving some potential significant performance gains on the table by doing so.
3. Lack of Single Leg Training: As mentioned above a lot of traditional training programs involve compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats and various olympic lifts. There is nothing wrong with this and they absolutely are beneficial to building lower body strength. However, lower body training should also consist of single leg training including but not limited to
various forms of lunges, lateral squats/lunges, single leg deadlifts, single leg squats and more. In my Proteus motion testing it is not unusual to see an imbalance between an athletes lower body power on two legs vs one. In general these numbers should be fairly close. However, many times I will see an athlete perform well off of two legs and struggle with their single leg power. For hitters this isn't as big of a deal, but for pitchers this could be very important. Measures such as the single leg lateral bound has been shown to have a greater correlation to throwing velocity versus a vertical jump. Training on one leg and in various planes of motion will help get more carry over to the movements of sport.
Another common deficit: Athletes who are strong, but slow:
Another trend that I will see among athletes are players who are strong, yet slow. These are athletes who are beasts in the weight room who may have big deadlift, squat and bench numbers, yet doesn't seem to translate to the field in their exit velocity or pitching velocity. While mechanics can certainly contribute to this imbalance, often times the training programs are a significant factor as well. These athletes typically spend the majority of their time chasing strength and muscle mass and don't spend enough time training speed and acceleration which will help balance out their power profile to allow them to better express this strength on the field.
Recommendation: Get tested on Proteus. What gets measured gets improved. Each of the aspects mentioned above are somewhat difficult to test with traditional measures. While strength numbers can be an indication of progress with these movements, it is also important to be tracking power and acceleration as well in these patterns. Proteus is one of the only tools that can provide this type of information to help track progress as well as direct future programming. Going through the testing protocol periodically throughout the year can be very beneficial in spending your training efforts on the right things.