Any time we are talking about rotational athletes, its as though we just found a wild Kangaskhan. Everyone starts drumming up these elaborate strategies for training rotation like it is biochemistry formula.
Training athletes for baseball, softball, hockey, golf, and lacrosse can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Most of these athletes need to be explosive, fast, quick, and strong. Those are qualities that match most athletes which means similar strategies will still work.
The obvious thing that comes up is rotational power. Everyone immediately thinks that these athletes need a ton of rotational training. They really need less than you think at certain times of the year.
The biggest difference in training rotational athletes from your field/court sports is the injury risk that comes with repeated violent rotation. Backs, shoulders, and hips will sometimes need special attention.
1. These athletes train plenty of rotational power through their sport.
Lets use golf for an example. Swinging a golf club as hard as possible is going to develop more power than rotating with the cable machine.
A lot of power development is taking place when an athlete is in their sport. It is going to be very difficult to improve that quality when they are getting a lot of reps in already.
The only exception is someone who plays the sport but maybe not more than 1-2 times/week like a recreational golfer.
2. Rotational Power training should take place when they are not playing or practicing
If a baseball player is trying to improve their power output once the season starts, I would be very concerned about their production.
On the other hand, an athlete that comes in with great bat speed will have a better chance to maintain that over the course of the season.
Using medicine ball throws and other power development means would take place before the pre season. This would allow them to actually get the benefits from the training and then have some time to reinforce it through practice.
3. Incorporating opposite side work is probably a good idea year round through
Using medicine ball throws in the opposite swing direction can be beneficial for reversing some of the wear and tear a season can bring. It can also be funny to watch athletes struggle with their off side.
Counteracting some of the imbalance caused by repeated swings in one direction can be used at any point in the year and not just before the season. At the very least take the bat or club and swing the opposite way.
4. Rotational training is not very effective with bad technique
Slap shots come to mind here. You could be strong as an ox and train perfectly all offseason. If you cannot actually shoot the puck properly, none of that matters.
Technique is a huge part of translating out of sport training to practices and games. If it needs to be addressed take care of it since it will always be a limiting factor.
Athletes with great technique can usually get away with lacking strength or power until they want to play at higher levels.
5. Rotational power training is not effective with heavy weights
I have seen athletes do rotational throws with 20 lb med balls.
They are wasting their time.
The throws are not powerful, the ball is moving very slowly, and it is probably causing some kind of compensation to deal with the weight of the ball. Personally, I don’t like anyone to use more than 6 lbs for power training and a lot of young athletes are best off with 2 lbs.
6. Rotational training should not mimic the sport
I cannot comprehend why some people try to turn the gym into their sport. There is no sense in attaching a golf club to a cable machine to make a resisted swing. It will slow down the swing and change the mechanics of it, which are two things that we do not want.
Instead, we can do chops, lifts, Pallof presses, and other movements on the cable machine. If you must, then just swing a golf club like a normal person.
We are in MA so we have a true winter here with snow and all that noise. I get that we can’t just go and hit balls in December. That still does not mean that we should be using makeshift equipment to sabotage our efforts in the process.