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Episode 113: Power Generation for Sport

Video Highlights

- The skill of generating power.
- Two versions. One for the lower body and one for the upper body.
- Details on how to incorporate this drill into your program.

Hey everybody, Dr. Cobb with you.  Today what we’re going to take a look at is power generation for sport, utilizing one simple drill, one simple concept.  It’s awesome!

One of the things that we look the most at at our Skill and Style course, which is a course where we look into the mechanics, and neuromechanics if you want to call it that, of sports performance is an idea called sport movement primitives.

Basically what that means is that there is a consistent pattern of movement that we see across high-level sports performance. What we do in that course, we break it all down and go okay how do we teach this to clients and how do we work on it for ourselves?

Today what I want to do is show you one of those really simple concepts that when you understand it can start to pay huge dividends for you as an athlete and also if you just happen to work around the house, maybe you’re chopping wood, maybe you live somewhere where it’s cold.

The idea that we’re going to look at is something called lag. In other words, body lag. What this basically revolves around is the idea that when I’m trying to create force with my body there’s a couple different ways that I can do it. I can do it as kind of a unified whole which is the hallmark of an amateur or I can use what’s called spiraling movement where one joint adds to the next and adds to the next and wind up creating a lot more force for the same amount of effort, which is what we see professionals do.

What I’m going to show you, I’m going to show you a couple kicks on the bag here.

I’m going to show you an amateur version first and then one that emphasizes better mechanics. The concept here is that as an athlete if I want to create a lot of force if I’m going to move my leg to hit the bag here’s the first version. It’s the amateur version. Everything’s going to move together.

It looks impressive a little bit and it makes a big sound and the bag moves but if you want my body you can see everything moving as a unit. My shoulders, hips, and foot are all starting at the same time.

What we want to emphasize instead is what we call lag. This time, as I set up for the kick what I’m going to do is I’m going to create rotation of my upper body first and intentionally let this leg stay back here for a little bit longer. Now the timing is very subtle and it’s in the milliseconds but it makes a huge difference. Now watch the difference. Upper body is going to start and now we have a very different looking and different sounding kick with a lot more force behind it.

That comes from a couple simple exercises.

If you’re an athlete, let’s say you’re a golfer or tennis player, what I’ve just demonstrated very, very important but you have to do it with your upper body. If you’re a soccer player or martial artist, you have to do it with your lower body.

Let me take you through the basic drill progression for both areas. What you’re going to do, you’re going to get nice and tall. You’re going to step into a lunge, all right? You can see in that kick I started in the lunge position. I’m going to get into an anterior 45 lunge making sure that I’m in a nice tall spine position and we’re just going to do 2 things.

I’m going to rotate my body away and as I rotate my body away from my rear leg I’m going to push my rear leg back a little bit. In other words, I’m going to intentionally make it go a little further behind me. In other words, I’m pushing it into the floor. I’m rotating this way, pushing my leg back that way.

What you’ll typically feel with this is a contraction in your butt but you’ll also feel this kind of weird stretching sensation, if you want to call it that, or mobilization though this area. As you work on this and begin to perfect the technique it will help your coordination to go okay here’s my rotation with my upper body and now I can let my lower body follow.

All right? That’s the version for the legs.

The version for the upper body is very similar. Let’s say I’m a baseball player and I want to throw the ball harder with my right arm. What I’m going to do, again get nice and tall. I’m going to get into that same lunge position or a throwing position. I’m going to set my arm behind me in what we call our big “L” shape and then the basic mobilization is very simple.

I’m tall, I’m here, I’m going to rotate my body to my left as my arm stays behind. You can see it looks like this weird little stretching motion that I’m doing. I plant my arm and rotate my body away. Plant my arm, rotate my body away. Once again, you’ll feel that mobilization through the shoulder but also through the spine.

Seems very, very simple but there’s a lot of internal mechanics going on with these particular sets of drills. What I’m going to recommend is very simple. If you’re an athlete, you play golf, you play tennis, you play baseball, you play soccer, you do martial arts, these 2 simple looking drills can be game changers for a lot of people.

The way to incorporate these into your training sessions is to look at them as a skill-based drill which means that I need to do a low number of repetitions at any one training session but do them a lot.

I typically try to get my athletes to accumulate somewhere between 40 and 60 repetitions of this per day, usually in groups of fives. You go okay that’s 60 divided by 5, carry over 2. Twelve sessions throughout the day, 5 reps, and it doesn’t take very long, just maybe 5 or 10 seconds per exercise.

You just start plugging it in though the day. What will usually happen over the course of 1 to 2 weeks is when you go back out to the driving range, you go back out to the courts, you’re going to see a subtle but important change in your mechanics which will equate to a lot more power.

All right guys, to summarize here’s how this is going to work. We have one exercise for the lower body, one for the upper body. Let’s look at the lower body one first.

We’re going to get into a lunge position. It’s usually going to be an anterior anterior 45 lunge. It’s a pretty simple idea. Get nice and tall, rotate your body away from the back leg. Rotate away from the back leg. Once you’re rotated here you then want to push the back leg into the floor as if you’re pushing your heel toward the wall behind you. You’re trying to do those things at the same time. Rotate away as the leg stays behind. We creating the lag for the leg. That’s exercise 1.

Exercise 2 for the upper body, very similar. I’m going to get into my throwing position or my serve position or whatever my upper body mechanic skill is. Again, I’m just going to show it in this lunge position. I’m going to get into a lunge position, make a big “L” with my arm and bring it back as if I’m rotating it getting ready to throw or hit. From here, freeze the arm, rotate the trunk away. All right? Plant the arm, rotate the trunk away. One more time. Plant, rotate away.

Those are, again, the very simple basics of the exercise and in terms of application here’s what you want to do. Imagine doing this for maybe 5 to 10 seconds at a time.

This is a skill so I don’t want you to get tired doing this. Just accumulate maybe 5, 6 repetitions at a time and do that multiple times throughout the day. What will usually happen is if you can get somewhere between 8 and 12 times a day of doing this within 1 to 2 weeks you’re going to see a prodigious increase in your power out on the field.

As I said, everything that we do in Z-Health applies across the board so even if you’re not playing a sport, the ability to create more power and more oomph in something that you need to be able to move or push or throw, for any reason, this is still a worthwhile drill for you.

If you have any questions about it, let us know.

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