The Two Headed Beast: Your Goals and My Goals for You
Everyone sees the hundreds of feet a baseball travels after connecting with Giancarlo Stanton’s bat, or the pitch that just left Aroldis Chapman’s hand and clocked in at 105mph. Every athlete who wants to start training has hopes to be the next guy that fills those shoes, but how do you get there? The first step is realizing that it’s a process and a journey. Having that mentality that we get 1% better every day is crucial, but realizing that those improvements might not show immediately is part of the journey. Being able to listen to what an athlete wants out of their training, and then helping them understand what they need to get there is a challenge that requires listening on both ends. I’ve heard this situation phrased a few different ways, one of them being “your goals vs. my goals for you.” I love this phrase but I can’t think of a better way to say it than calling it the two headed beast.
Technology and social media provide young baseball players with a constant stream of videos and articles about their idols on how their swing or what their pitching motion should look like. This is all great information, and can be utilized to help us steer players in the right direction, but there are elements behind the scenes that those idols do that helped make them what they are today. This is where the two headed beast comes in. I want to deal with the first head, being able to listen to everything an athlete wants out of their program.
At the beginning of this past Strike high school program, we took a poll to see what areas our athletes want to improve in. Out of the seven options they were given (Strength, Flexibility, Endurance, Stability, Power, Speed, and Agility), the three that were picked the most were power, strength, and speed. This comes as no surprise as everyone wants to be bigger, faster, and stronger, and these terms allow athletes to perform at very high levels. The statistics from this poll also bring me to the second head of the beast. Those three big terms are crucial for our development as baseball players, but they also bring me back to the question of how do we get there?
I believe that young athletes aren’t fully aware of what the other concepts from our poll bring to the table in terms of helping us make improvements. Stability had the least amount of votes from our poll, and I think that it could be one of the most misunderstood by our athletes. Another concept that wasn’t in our poll, but I think is equally important, is mobility. These two terms combined allow athletes to get into certain positions and start getting stronger in those positions. Therefore, without mobility and stability, our strength and power improvements go out the window. I say this because if we start adding weight through certain movements during our strength/power phases, and we can’t stabilize the weight through full ranges of motion or we have mobility issues and can’t get through full ranges of motion, then the whole process falls apart.
This is one of the many reasons we incorporate yoga into our Strike programs. On top of the correctives and mobility work that we do during our time in the weight room, our yoga program has allowed our athletes to become more mobile, learn how to stabilize the body while getting into different positions, and become more flexible as a whole. Baseball is such a unique sport that the training side of things needs to incorporate every one of these terms and more. The strength, size, and power are vital, as everyone knows the bigger and stronger guys stand out, but strength with the loss of mobility defeats the purpose. For example, getting bigger and stronger, but losing the ability to retract the scapula can be detrimental in both our ability to get in the right positions either hitting or throwing a baseball.
As a trainer, helping our athletes understand the need to maintain and increase our mobility or to make sure that our stabilizer muscles in our shoulder can withstand the amount of force put on them during the throwing motion can be crucial to athletes’ buying into our program. Our strength gains are going to happen, and our power and explosiveness is going to increase. That is another thing for us to remind our players, but there is a why behind every exercise and movement that we do. I truly believe that the more we can give athletes a better understanding of what they need, the more they can buy into our program, and the more success they enjoy.