Golf, hockey, tennis, baseball, and softball are just a few of the many rotational sports out there.
The most important quality to train for these sports is very rarely rotation.
Let’s put it this way. Power is developed by displaying strength quickly. What is faster than swinging out of your shoes to hit a fastball? Not a whole lot.
Rotational athletes are great at rotating. If they aren’t then they have two fates: 1. They will get better by practicing the sport or 2. They probably do not have a long career in said sport.
There are many other aspects that they can train to develop power. I will absolutely use rotation to train these athletes for a couple of reasons.
Most rotational athletes only turn towards one direction. Right handed golfers do not take a lot of practice swings left handed. This means that the body will become a little bit imbalanced. Working on rotation to both sides is extremely beneficial to create some kind of symmetry.
We can also use rotation to find better ways to rotate. When left to their own devices, most athletes will not rotate through their T spine. Once they figure out how to they can move and perform a lot better. Training rotation can yield some important improvements in mobility.
Other aspects of fitness are also really important. One consideration goes back to how we defined power. Power is the ability to display strength quickly.
The key is the word strength. Without strength there is no power.
This is why strength is important as a foundation for other athletic qualities.
You can’t change direction fast if the legs cannot slow the body down, you cannot throw hard with a weak arm, and you sure aren’t launching slap shots without some strength.
Rotational power is developed in the legs and then transferred into the upper body. Mastering exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges is insanely important for power production.
When athletes can start talking about 2x bodyweight deadlifts and 1.5x bodyweight squats we know that there is enough of a strength baseline to add other qualities.
The body also must have a stable core to allow efficient rotation. If the torso cannot stabilize then energy will be lost instead of transferred into the activity.
Training the body to resist movement will allow it to rotate well. Using exercises like Pallof presses and cable chops teaches the arms to move while the torso doesn’t.
If someone has the stability of a belly dancer and goes to swing a bat, the swing will not hold any of its power.
The time of year is also important to look at training rotation. If the season has already started, then it is a safe bet that the athletes will get plenty of rotational reps in during practice and games.
Right after the season is also not the best time to be trying to train tons of rotation. It is too early in the off season to prioritize that kind of power development. Athletes are much better served to start packing on the strength.
Power training should start in the late offseason/pre-season. Power is a quality that is quickly developed (compared to strength). 4-8 weeks of power training is often sufficient enough for athletes that have spent the required time to get strong.
When athletes get stronger, power will automatically get better without actually training it. Even if you are not focusing on it, it will get better.
Strength is the true foundation and power is just a layer on top of it.
For athletes that spend most of their time rotating, they must be strong to begin with. Without strength, power will be layered onto nothing.
Training rotation has a place for these athletes but it is not the most important quality.
The weight of bats, sticks, and clubs is often light enough for the players to take some real hacks. This is an ideal situation for power development to take place. The best part is that it happens during normal play which means that it will be easily maintained.
Training rotation is important but not the most important quality for rotational athletes to train.