Skill/Athletic Performance Pyramid

Here’s a few images to ponder. ¬†Something very similar to this was shared with a group chat that I was in¬†several years ago, so I re-created some¬†poor versions of them on Paint since I couldn’t find the originals.

My interpretation of this¬†“Performance Pyramid” is that the optimal athlete/mover trains with the intent to develop the following abilities (in order of importance):

  1. Foundation of Strength (primarily strength-endurance and quality of movement in areas such as squatting, stepping, lunging, pressing, reaching, etc.)
  2. Functional Movement (performance level of foundational movements, such as how much output/force is produced in a squat, 40-yard-dash time, vertical jump, etc.)
  3. Skill (“knack” or actual ability to perform a skill or sport)
Sports Performance Pyramid
Optimal –¬†Skill built upon large foundation of functional movement and even larger base of foundation strength. ¬†Most likely to perform a skill safely and to be able to dedicate as much time as possible to train skill to reach elite levels.
Sports Performance Pyramid Skill
Very skilled, poor foundation – Highly developed amount of skill built upon a very poor athletic base. ¬†Most likely to suffer injuries due to lack of strength endurance, not training to¬†correct imbalances caused by performing skill, etc. ¬†(Sadly is very common due to the “private lesson” and “travel team” epidemic in youth sports, as we’re seeing highly skilled but un-athletic children.
SPM Func
Skilled and able to move functionally, but poor foundation –¬†Highly skilled and able to perform at a high level in performance-based tests of maximal strength, but very low levels of foundational strength/strength-endurance. ¬†Injury is highly likely and is usually surprising since the athlete “looks” strong, but actually just functions well despite poor base/foundation.
SPM No Skill
Great foundation and functional movement, no skill – Me at basketball. ¬†A coach’s dream. ¬†Hard worker, strong, fast, resilient, excellent at picking up towels and handing out waters to the taller and more skilled players. ¬†Could safely spend hours upon hours practicing to develop the skills required to perform sport at elite level (if I wasn’t 5’8″).

Intermediate: Baseball Program

First thing first, “sport-specific” training is a catchy marketing term; all true forms of ¬†training will prepare you to perform better in all aspects of life, both physically and mentally. The following program is an adaptation of the¬†Training Foundation: Intermediate, with additional movements added into the program and an extra routine to be performed post game/practice. ¬†If you want to do more (perform a sport safely at a high level), then you earn more. ¬†¬†In this case, the “more” is additional training (lucky you).

Also, notice that there¬†is also no differentiation between off-season, pre-season, in-season, and post-season training – the body will always adapt and you won’t be “too tired” or “too sore” if you’re taking care of the dietary/sleep/rest bargain on your end. Enjoy ūüôā

Note: Completing the test in the Training Foundation: Beginner is a must before progressing to this program


Pre-Test for Intermediate: Baseball Program

Found in Training Foundation: Beginner

Once you can complete the following for time, all without failure, staying in position, etc., with 3-5 minutes of rest between each movement, you can move onto this Intermediate level training program


(Step 1: If possible, get spine checked by a principled Chiropractor)


Weekly Plan

  • Session A – Days 1 & 4
  • Session B – Days 2 & 5
  • Session C – Day 3¬†(& Day 6 is optional)
  • “Off” (which means move a lot on your own) – Optional Day 6, Off Day 7
  • *Note: Can perform multiple sessions per day, but must be spread out more than 6 hours apart
  • **Note: If plan has to be split into multiple sessions for time constraints (not recommended, but it happens), resume where you left off and keep order the same

Training Session A

Suggested Movement Prep (completed in order with as little rest as possible between movements):

60 second Calf Jumps; 30 second Wet Dogs; 25 Farmer Burns/Pulses; 30 second Wet Dogs; 30 second Calf Jumps; 30 second Calf Jumps Рmax height

Training Movements (3 min rest between each movement):

Methodic

  • 3 minute Hold
  • Immediately upon finishing hold, perform 10 Altitude Drops of each movement (Resting/top position to bottom position at maximal speed)
  • 3-5 min rest between each set

Training Movements

Est. total time: 60 min

Training Session B

Suggested Movement Prep (completed in order with as little rest as possible between movements):

1 minute¬†Calf Jumps;¬†3-way Neck Moves¬†&¬†3-way Spinal Moves¬†–¬†15 each way; Neck – Head Nodding (Flexion/Extension), Ear to Shoulder (Lateral Bends),¬†Rotations; Spinal – Toe Touches, Lateral Bends, Rotations; 10¬†Spinal Rolls; 1 minute¬†Calf Jumps

Training Movements (3 min rest between each movement):

2 sets:

Hip Circles, 150 each leg, each direction (i.e. 100 counter-clockwise on left leg, 100 ccw on right leg, 100 clockwise on left leg, 100 cw on right leg).  Rest 1-2 min between each direction.

2 sets

2 sets

1 set

1 set

5 min or 300 Cross-Crawl (CC) Supermans

Est. total time: 65-70 min

Training Session C

Suggested Movement Prep (completed in order with as little rest as possible between movements):

Training Movements (3 min rest between each movement):

2 sets:

5 minute Standing Straight Leg Raise Hold, each side (no rest between sides)

3 Sets: EDI Squat (Bar up to 3/4 bodyweight for weight only)

  • 10 seconds Deep Squat hold, 10 Squat Reps, 10 second hold, 10 squats, 10 second hold, 10 squats
  • Rest 3-5 minutes between each set
  • (note: each set will total to 30 seconds hold, 30 squat reps)
  • *Squat can be Back, Front, or Zercher
  • **If no bar, perform 3 sets of hold 10 second Bottom Parallel Position Unloaded Squat into 10 Squat Jumps

4 min Push Up (Top Position) Hold

6 sets:

3 sets

  • 30 Glute Ham Raise, Altitude Drops
  • 3 Russian Twists, each side (3 seconds in lowering phase, 1 second pause, explosive back to top)
  • Rest 2-3 minutes

Full¬†3-way Neck Hygiene¬†&¬†3-way Spinal Hygiene¬†(Rep scheme is¬†“Age Before Beauty”¬†Methodic), Followed by 15¬†Spinal Rolls

  • Neck – Head Nodding (Flexion/Extension), Ear to Shoulder (Lateral Bends),¬†Rotations
  • Spinal – Toe Touches, Lateral Bends, Rotations
  • Reps each way is current age i.e. 28 years old = 28 reps each way‚Ķ Stop at¬†40 ūüôā
  • 15¬†Spinal Rolls

8 sets:

Est. total time: 65-75 min

 


Post-Game/Practice Training Session

(*Or 150¬†Front Delt Rebounds¬†each side, 150¬†Lateral Delt Rebounds¬†each side instead of Holds. ¬†Athlete’s choice.)

Est. total time: ~20 min


Explanations for Each Methodic



Test for next group of movements

PLEASE REVIEW THE FOLLOWING: YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN PARTICIPATING IN ANY EXERCISE OR EXERCISE PROGRAM, THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF PHYSICAL INJURY. IF YOU ENGAGE IN THESE MOVEMENTS OR IN THESE EXERCISE PROGRAMS, YOU AGREE THAT YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK, ARE VOLUNTARILY PARTICIPATING IN THESE ACTIVITIES, ASSUME ALL RISK OF INJURY TO YOURSELF, AND AGREE TO RELEASE AND DISCHARGE PRINCIPLE SIX FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OR CAUSES OF ACTION, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN.

From the Vault: Post-Game/Practice Baseball Training

Had a few old baseball teammates/guys I coached ask about post-game/practice training that I would recommend.  In the two years that I played in Europe/Australia after college, I never stretched, did cardio, abs, foam rolled, etc.  Rather, the plan was always to:

  • perform simple movements with minimal/no equipment and with game-like intent
  • add as much strength-endurance as possible at¬†the greatest¬†muscle length possible (since a muscle will try to shorten when it¬†fatigues)
  • train to balance both sides of the body after performing high volume one-sided actions (like throwing and swinging)

On top of the training that I was performing every day in the AM (which sometimes meant as late as 2-3pm), I would perform the following, in order, in about 20 minutes, either in a clubhouse setting or in the outfield/bullpen.

I can probably count the days that I missed in four seasons on both of my hands. ¬†Maybe it was compulsive, but I hung my hat on a few things. ¬†First, complexity is the enemy. ¬†The body responds to simple things performed with intent and consistency. ¬†On top of that, if I was more sore or tired after a particularly long practice or if I had thrown/pitched, I would add more shoulder work (Statue of Liberty‚Äôs,¬†Front Delt Rebounds,¬†Lateral Delt Rebounds, to name a few), not subtract. ¬†If we choose to perform a sport, then we have to train at a level that is above¬†anything that we would experience in that endeavor. ¬†In this case, that’s getting strong as hell so you can perform the task of throwing 200+ throws, 200+ swings, etc., multiple days per week, for months at a time, and do it safely while getting stronger throughout the season.

Just a few things to keep in mind.

Overlying Principle of Strength Rehab/Training Programs

Principle: ALL injuries are caused by the body’s inability to absorb force

You can stop reading now if you get it. In case you want it broken down further, here we go…

Musculature is the primary force absorbing structure in the body, and failure to absorb force properly could occur if:

  1. muscle is not strong enough
  2. muscle can’t fire at the appropriate time
  3. there is interference of transmission of signals from nervous system to musculature (could cause reasons #1 and/or #2 to occur)

If musculature is not able to absorb force properly, an injury could occur in that structure, or in another structure (i.e. soft tissue, other muscle, outer bone).  So, an injury may end in a different area that it began, since everything in the body’s system is connected (i.e. dysfunction in lower leg/foot leading to knee/hip/low back/upper extremity injury).

Principle applied to strength rehab/training

Once injury is no longer acute (think freshly sprained ankle, no fracture but very swollen, can’t walk on it for first 2 days, etc.), stop the specific activity that caused the injury (i.e. running, overhead throwing), then:

  1. train the muscle(s) to be strong enough to absorb force at an appropriate level during a related movement
  2. train the muscle(s) to fire at the appropriate time during a related movement
  3. remove interference from the nervous system

With the majority of the training being extremely slow eccentric-style holds, the goal is to actively get a muscle group that may have shortened (maybe as a protective mechanism after an injury) to get back to a greater length, and most importantly, to get strong at that new joint angle/range-of-motion so that the body knows what to do in this position.

Action

Generally, the formula that gets the best long-term results is:

Lots of Movement x Intent x Nourishment x Time

Note: there are no specifics, no deadlines, just the principle

An example, with instructions

Alex has recurring knee pain, which has also lead to hamstring pulls over the years.  Training movements displayed weakness in his foot/lower leg, which could have caused an injury that ended in his knee and hamstrings (since an injury can end in a different area than it begins). Strength rehab/training program calls for:

Lots of movement: (1st progression of building a huge foundation of strength-endurance.  Can address reasons #1 and #2 of muscle not doing its job.)

Day 1:

  • 3-Way Spinal/Neck Moves, “Age Before Beauty”,¬†10 each way
  • 5 minute¬†Calf Raise (Top Position) Hold
  • 5 minute Standing Straight Leg Raise Hold
  • 3 minute Lunge Hold, each¬†leg
  • 250 or 5 min of Cross-Crawl Supermans

Day 2:

  • 3-Way Spinal/Neck Moves, “Age Before Beauty”,¬†10 each way
  • 1 minute on, 1 minute¬†off Standing Calf Raises x 5 sets
  • 5 on, 5 off, 10 on, 5 off… Up to 40 seconds¬†Lunge Hold, each¬†leg
  • 250 or 5 min of Cross-Crawl Supermans

(Q: Why so many reps?  Usually takes ~3500 repetitions of something for it become habit/done without thinking about it, so rehab is a bitch, by nature)

Ideally, movement progression would be from training to absorb force in position, to absorbing force repeatedly (think catching bottom position of a push up, etc.), to creating force quickly and repeatedly (think catching bottom position of a push up immediately pushing back up to starting position in as short a time-frame as possible).

Intent: Determine the reason why you want to be healthier, pain-free (i.e. so you can continue to hike with spouse, have sex, play a sport, etc.) and then train with that cue/signal in your head.  If training will help return to a competition, train at the same emotional level at which you would compete.

Nourishment: Think good thoughts, eat real food, sleep/nap, breathe in and out of your nose, get outside (or Vitamin D3 for our Scandanavian readers), believe in the process, etc. ¬†And, since I’m studying it in school, principled Chiropractic care to clear any possible nerve interference to musculature (among other things) in the nervous system (can address reason #3 or muscle not doing its job properly, and potentially¬†also #1 and/or #2).

Time: Body will heal on its own terms, whenever it‚Äôs ready, without breaking any sort of physiological laws.¬† Don’t try to shortcut nature, and know that¬†consistency trumps almost everything. ¬†(Refer to Chiropractic Principle #6)

Here’s a few related notes (or refer to Training Manifesto for similar points)

  • No one else will ever ‚Äúheal‚ÄĚ you.¬† Be wary of people¬†who claim that they accomplished something that your body accomplished through either time, your hard work, nourishment/training/rest/diet/good thoughts (unless you actually worked with God, a disciple, etc.). ¬†You’re the real winner here, son/daughter.
  • There’s no magic bullet, and trying to trade off short-term results will bite you in the ass in the long-run
  • Injuries aren‚Äôt corrected by altering/fixing mechanics, nor are they caused by bad mechanics
  • All training should be restorative in nature
  • The level of disturbance going into the body has to be greater than the level of disturbance which caused the injury
  • This is all our best guesses.¬† Everything works until it doesn‚Äôt.

Morning Spinal Routine

Upon waking, usually after (or while) a hot¬†shower (if afforded such a luxury), perform the following movements, starting at 10 each way, and eventually working up to performing¬†the¬†“Age Before Beauty” Methodic¬†(reps each way is current age i.e. 28 years old = 28 reps each way… Stop at 50 unless you’re really ambitious¬†ūüôā )

Breathe in and out of your nose, and throw on some music if you feel the need to help ease into your day.  Seize the carp.

Side notes:

  • 10 reps each way takes ~2-3 minutes, 20 takes ~4-6 min, 30 takes ~6-12 min, etc.
  • If, after one week, any range of motion in particular is painful (not sore) from a muscular standpoint, my amateur advice/opinion is to either
    • A) see a principled Chiropractor (if possible), or
    • B) move that joint for 5:00 straight, building to a greater comfortable range-of-motion and with greater speed/control of the movement by the end of a working set
  • Add 5:00 straight (or 300+ reps each way) of Cross Crawl Supermans¬†for a full spinal training that you an incorporate into any complete strength rehab/training program

Please review the following: it is¬†strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. ¬†You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise. ¬†Principle Six is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition. ¬†You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in these movements or in this exercise programs, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Principle Six¬†from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Principle Six’s¬†negligence.

Types of Strength

Strength Endurance – The ability to maintain muscular force over a period of time (i.e. developed with movements like Lunge hold performed for 3-5 minutes, 300 repetitions of a Cross-Crawl Supermans with intent, etc.)

Maximal Strength – Actual strength output (1-rep-max (1RM) of a lift)

Relative Strength – Amount of force created per pound/kilogram of bodyweight (1RM divided by body mass)

Isometric Strength – Maximal force generated without change in muscle length/against an immovable object (manual holds, or, as an example, maximally bench pressing bar up into immovable pins)

Eccentric Strength – Yielding strength (i.e. “negative” or “lowering” portion of a movement causing muscle to lengthen. ¬†This is the case in most holds done properly as you “pull” down into the greatest range of motion and fatigue to greater joint angles)

Absolute/Potential Strength –¬†Main factor determining the speed of a movement (i.e. reason why a dude is still really fast in one sprint despite not training/sprinting in months)

Explosive Strength – Creating a high amount of force in a short time (developed primarily through plyometrics)

Starting Strength – Ability to quickly begin producing force (beginning of a concentric contraction without an eccentric contraction beforehand)

Acceleration¬†Strength – ¬†Ability to quickly reach maximal force (catching and repelling falling loads, a la “Rebounds” and “Altitude Drops”)


What type of strength do I need?”

For all humans, strength endurance (the ability to maintain muscular force over a period of time) is, in my amateur opinion, the most important and what needs to continually be added to in the foundation.

Strength endurance can be quantified in a lot of different ways,¬†but more generally speaking, all injury is caused by the body’s inability to absorb force. ¬†With muscles acting as the primary force absorber in the body, they must be able to turn on and do their job on their own (independently) and with their neighboring muscles (inter-dependently) for prolonged and sustained¬†periods of time. ¬†To build other “types”¬†of strength without a huge base of strength endurance is like putting a sports car engine in a golf cart. ¬†Building a huge foundation, honoring the amount of time that it takes (years), and continually adding to it will allow you to do your activity, hobby, or sport of choice in a safer manner and at a higher level.

Training Foundation: Advanced

Advanced programs are, as the name suggests, for the advanced.¬† At this point, after following an Intermediate program for 6+ months at a bare minimum and building a huge foundation of strength endurance, starting strength, etc., one‚Äôs base could be sufficient for more advanced protocols.¬† True development and progressions to reaching ‚Äúadvanced‚ÄĚ levels take anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on which source you reference, and it is only now that some skill-specific goals should be considered when writing a program (i.e. preparing for military combat, Olympic sport competition, NFL combine, etc.). ¬†Below is a rough example of a plan:

Pre-Test for Advanced Program

Found in Training Foundation: Intermediate

Once you can complete the following for time, all without failure, staying in position, etc., with 3-5 minutes of rest between each movement, you can move onto this Intermediate level training program

Weekly Plan

(Step 1: If possible, get spine checked by a principled Chiropractor)

Perform next session in order, taking one day off every 7 days (if necessary)

Training Session A

3 Sets: EDI Squat

  • 10 seconds Bottom Position, Max Load
  • 10 reps Speed Russian Lunge
  • 10 sec hold Max Load
  • 10 reps Russian Lunge
  • 10 sec hold Max Load
  • 10 reps Squat Jumps
  • Rest 3-5 minutes

3 min Standing Hamstring Hold

2.5 min Lunge Hold, each side

3 sets:

  • 2 min¬†Push Up (Bottom Position) Hold
  • 20 Hanging Leg Raises
  • Rest 2-3 min

100¬†Statue of Liberty’s, each side (2 lb. DB)

5 min or 300 Cross-Crawl (CC) Supermans

Training Session B

  • 100 TFL’s, each side
  • 100 Standing Leg Curls, each side
  • Single Leg Calf Raise, 5 min each leg
  • GHR Alt. Drops to 10 second hold, x 50

2 sets:

  • 30 seconds One-Arm Scapular Pull Up (each side)
  • 50¬†Front Delt Rebounds
  • Rest 2 min

2 sets:

  • 30 seconds One-Arm Scapular Pull Up (each side)
  • 50¬†Lateral Delt Rebounds
  • Rest 2 min

2 sets:

  • 30 seconds One-Arm Scapular Pull Up (each side)
  • 50 Bent-Over Lateral Rebounds
  • Rest 2 min

3 min Preacher Barbell Curl

12 sets:

  • Speed Russian Lunges, 20 seconds
  • Rest, 30 seconds

Training Session C

  • Lunge Hold: 5 on, 5 off, 10 on 5 off, up to 55, rest 3-5 min, other leg

3 Sets: EDI Glute Ham Raise

  • 10 seconds Bottom Position
  • 10 reps
  • 10 sec hold, 10 reps, 10 sec hold, 10 reps
  • (will total to 30 seconds hold, 30 reps)
  • Rest 3-5 minutes

3 Sets: EDI Push Up

  • 10 seconds¬†Push Up (Bottom Position) Hold
  • 10 reps
  • 10 sec hold, 10 reps, 10 sec hold, 10 reps
  • (will total to 30 seconds hold, 30 reps)
  • Rest 3-5 minutes
  • Last set of final¬†set of push up reps, rep until failure or 25 reps

3 min Scapular Pull Up Hold

Full¬†3-way Neck Hygiene &¬†3-way Spinal Hygiene¬†&¬†Spinal Rolls¬†(Rep scheme is¬†“Age Before Beauty” Methodic)

  • Flexion/Extension, Lateral Flexion, Rotation, Spinal Rolls (links above)
  • Reps each way is current age i.e. 28 years old = 28 reps each way‚Ķ Stop at 50 ūüôā

300 Cross-Crawl (CC) Supermans

Training Session D

5 minutes each hold, 3-5 minutes rest between sides and holds

  • 1-Leg Squat Hold, each side
  • Lunge Hold, each side
  • Standing Hamstring Hold
  • Push Up (Bottom Position) Hold
  • Barbell Curl
  • Scapular Pull Up Hold

good luck


PLEASE REVIEW THE FOLLOWING: YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN PARTICIPATING IN ANY EXERCISE OR EXERCISE PROGRAM, THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF PHYSICAL INJURY. IF YOU ENGAGE IN THESE MOVEMENTS OR IN THESE EXERCISE PROGRAMS, YOU AGREE THAT YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK, ARE VOLUNTARILY PARTICIPATING IN THESE ACTIVITIES, ASSUME ALL RISK OF INJURY TO YOURSELF, AND AGREE TO RELEASE AND DISCHARGE PRINCIPLE SIX FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OR CAUSES OF ACTION, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN.