Dr. Peter Gorman Resources

 It Starts with an Athlete
(8/14/2018)
 
   

It Starts with an Athlete


By Dr. Peter Gorman


As another year of amateur baseball slowly comes to a close, it is a time for rest, and it is time for reflection. The big wins, the heartbreaking losses and all the games in between….one common goal will exist amongst all players preparing for next year, the desire to improve.

Before we can begin mapping out the upcoming off-season training schedule it’s important to recognize where you were, where you are and where you’re going; physically, mentally and yes, in terms of skill. In considering our approach to performance we will discuss first and foremost, and that process starts with the athlete, not the ballplayer, the athlete.

Have you ever heard the following?

• He’s not seeing the ball well.
• You’re starting your swing late.
• He has more range to his left than his right.
• I got a bad jump.

There were moments of failure over the course of the season that didn’t originate from a lack of skill, but rather because there were inefficiencies in our ability to recognize, process and react to given situations? Baseball requires all position players, to be able and agile in all directions for effective play. Baseball requires all pitchers to have optimal balance, timing and coordination, to ensure the effortless release of the ball. Baseball requires all batters to have exceptional eye for detail, and speed of processing so that even the fastest pitch…remains hittable.

To reach this type of optimal performance, every player must be evaluated for strengths and more importantly, every player needs to be evaluated for weaknesses. You are only as strong as your weakest link. To help every player achieve their type of ability, we are creating both subjective and objective development protocols so that asymmetries can be identified and eliminated. By combining subjective tests with objective measures, we can cover all the basics of athletic movement and paint a very precise picture of who you are and what you need to do to improve as you train. Of course, all players will also train their own sport-specific movements, but whether you are an outfielder, pitcher, or a shortstop, you will have the solid foundation needed to one-day reach your potential.

As the National Governing Body of the sport, USA Baseball is focused on understanding the health of our participants across the nation. With the use of equipment such as OptoJump, GYKO, WITTY, and more we can now detect movement efficiency to a millisecond of accuracy, both on and off the field. By precisely understanding movement, asymmetries can be identified and eliminated so that injuries can be prevented, compensations can be eliminated, and the mentorship of our game’s great trainers and coaches will be delivered to a more able generation of athletes. We’re committed to working with other organizations across the amateur game who’ll follow our lead in first identifying the gaps in an athletes’ potential, and then provide the curriculum necessary to foster longer, healthier careers.

Through this series of work, we aim to help you prepare your athletes for success whether they be big league players or big-league citizens. We’re committed across the entire spectrum of human performance and we believe in the athlete in all of us.


Dr. Peter Gorman is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is widely referred to as the developer of heart rate monitor technology and owns seven major patents in the United States and Canada. He was named President of Microgate USA in 2010 and became an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in 2012. He later joined CourtSense, developing innovative and logical progression that helps athletes attain symmetry and better coordination. Dr. Gorman has previous experience working with the United States Military, as well as sports leagues and franchises around the world including those associated with Major League Baseball, FIFA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the United States Olympic Committee.


 On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!
(8/14/2018)
 
   

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!


By Dr. Peter Gorman


We’ve all heard this before. But this simple phrase is actually missing a step. In between GO and the actual motion is an entire series of cognitive events that create a time gap between perception and achievement. This time gap is known as your reaction time.

In this example, the athlete must Recognize the given stimulus (GO), Attend to what he recognizes, Decide on what he is attending to while suppressing any distractors, Accept what he has decided on, and then finally React to what he has accepted. This cognitive process of steps can be referred to as the athlete’s RADAR and will largely affect how quickly the athlete will be able to react to a given stimulus. The longer it takes the athlete to process, the longer it will take them to react and, ultimately, perform.

Baseball is the ultimate true agility sport, where reaction time is key. Every movement on the field is elicited by a stimulus, which in itself is the definition of agility. Whether it is a fielder moving for the ball, a batter swinging or not swinging at the ball, the pitcher deciding on throwing the ball or the base runner advancing or staying, every single movement is decision based. To make each movement as effective as possible, decisions must be made extremely fast. This decision speed is known as the Speed of Processing (SOP) of the brain.

No matter how well trained the athlete is physically, if their speed of processing is slow, they will be slow. It does not matter how fast the athlete is in a 60-yard dash – it is all lost if they cannot think quickly enough to stop, go or slide at the right moment while running the bases. Baseball happens fast – a 95 mph fastball reaches the plate in 413 milliseconds, and it takes 250 milliseconds to unwind the kinematic sequence and swing. This leaves only 163 milliseconds to recognize and understand the pitch. Recognition and understanding are a double-decision in our cognitive process. If the player’s double-decision time is slower than 163 milliseconds, he is set for failure, no matter how great his physical ability.

By increasing speed of processing, the THINK aspect of the game, you will greatly improve your ability to make the right decisions at the right times, thus greatly increasing your overall skill. Luckily for all of us, speed of processing can be trained just like any other skill. There are many cognitive training platforms to choose from, though it is highly recommended that all athletes only choose platforms that are supported by true evidence-based, peer-reviewed papers.

Baseball is a game of moments that must be executed quickly and precisely. Let’s make sure that while we are honing our physical skills to the point of excellence, we are not overlooking the training of our cognitive ability.


Dr. Peter Gorman is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is widely referred to as the developer of heart rate monitor technology and owns seven major patents in the United States and Canada. He was named President of Microgate USA in 2010 and became an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in 2012. He later joined CourtSense, developing innovative and logical progression that helps athletes attain symmetry and better coordination. Dr. Gorman has previous experience working with the United States Military, as well as sports leagues and franchises around the world including those associated with Major League Baseball, FIFA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the United States Olympic Committee.


 Capacity: Physical and Neurological
(8/14/2018)
 
   

Capacity: Physical and Neurological


Sport Performance Lab
By Dr. Peter Gorman and Dr. Anne Shadle


The ability to compensate is known as an athlete’s capacity, or resistance to change. Capacity has foundation in both the physical and neurological aspects of performance and should be analyzed in an environment that equals or exceeds game speed. This article will explain both the physical and neurological sides of capacity and how they can impact performance.

Physical

The center fielder is running into catch the ball and pulls his hamstring. On the very next play the shortstop ranges left for the ball and as he does, pulls his groin. How many times have you heard a coach say, “I can’t believe what happened to my athlete. He was in the best shape of his life, and while performing a simple task on the field, end ups with a season ending injury.”

Yes, some injuries are instantaneous- for example if you were running, stepped on a rut and twisted your ankle. However, most injuries are accumulative in nature. What this means is that asymmetries are slowly created in the movement cycle, until the athlete can no longer compensate. Then, just like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, the athlete’s ability to compensate is exceeded and an injury occurs.

Why tell an athlete that their movement screen looks good on a static forward lunge, knowing that an athlete’s capacity to compensate might be fooling the examiner? Does looking good mean that the athlete is going to perform well? Does the good-looking lunge guarantee that as the athlete accelerates at game speed, they will also have equal leg speed, equal acceleration left and right and equal contact and flight time? The 30-yard sprint (in an OptoJump system) performed by USA Baseball is a Game Speed test that exceeds an athlete’s capacity to compensate. In less than five seconds, this test can answer many important questions on lower extremity imbalance. Once the imbalance is shown to exist, THEN employing various movement screens can help pinpoint the cause.

It was not until increased demand and exertion was applied that imbalances appeared, and potential injuries were brought to light. Knowing that athletes harbor varying degrees of capacity to compensate for their imbalances, we have to test the athlete at the highest demand possible so that we are looking at the true athlete and NOT the compensatory process. This high demand testing is designed to exceed an athlete’s capacity, thus eliminating the compensatory ability to mask asymmetries and imbalances. Remember, we never want the game to be the evaluator. Often in this high-tech world, many are still marveling at an athlete’s sprint time, not knowing if the fundamental movements are symmetrical or not. It is all about capacity…we must identify and correct all asymmetries so that they do not accumulate and eventually result in injury caused by simple and/or complex game movements.

Neurological

Ted Williams, known to many as the greatest hitter of all time once said, “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” Handling stressful conditions, controlling emotions, suppressing distractors, and quick speed of processing are just a few of the neurological functions that the wonderful game of baseball will constantly test in the game. What we find is a person can be prepared physically to perfection, but performance will suffer if their brain is not functioning at its optimal capacity.

We now know in neuroscience that the amygdala is the emotional center of the brain. Every region of the brain can function normally or in standards of deviation above and below normal that affect its function. Without diving too deep, we have also learned that the amygdala has two other sub regions that control emotions. As heartrate increases the amygdala can change its firing pattern. This will allow emotions to change and, in some cases, rage, thus creating a more indecisive and inefficient player. All players must know that training their brain is as important, if not more so, than training their body.

Each region of the brain can deviate from normalcy, lessening overall brain balance, function and capacity. At the same time brain speed can slow, which in effect also lessen the athlete’s capacity to perform optimally. As the brain goes out of balance, this can reflect itself in personality changes, or one’s ability to command life’s situations. The way your body can slow and go out of balance, your brain can also slow and go out of balance. As the brain slows, it effects its processing speed and reaction time will increase, in turn effecting all aspects of performance. It is obvious that if an athlete has tremendous brain speed capacity, they would be able to compensate for a longer period of time before a serious condition is recognized. Anytime we determine brain speed is slowing, we must ask the question why, and make sure that we identify the problem. The answer may be as simple as improving hydration or getting a better night’s sleep. If a more serious condition is developing, it is always better to understand it early on, so that the most precise and effective treatment can be given.

Much like increasing demand and load can unearth imbalances physically, the same can be done neurologically. To make sure that we are identifying, nourishing, and balancing the brain properly, we recommend the BrainHQ.com cognitive platform. Brain HQ has numerus validated, peer-reviewed published papers which ensures that their cognitive trainings are as effective as possible. Designed by brain scientists, Brain HQ exercises have shown to improve a host of cognitive abilities directly related to sports performance like reaction time, processing speed, visual acuity, attention, and memory. Improvements in cognitive abilities and capacity can not only lead to more effective and efficient on-field performance, but also transfer to life’s daily tasks.

At USA Baseball, we take pride in not only assessing the physical attributes of our athletes, but also the neurological side as well. Evaluation and attention to both the physical and neurological attributes of the athlete is highly recommended in any sport. By being more aware of your physical and neurological strengths or weaknesses, all athletes will be better prepared to help reduce injury and reach their own unique OPTIMAL performance.


Dr. Peter Gorman is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is widely referred to as the developer of heart rate monitor technology and owns seven major patents in the United States and Canada. He was named President of Microgate USA in 2010 and became an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in 2012. He later joined CourtSense, developing innovative and logical progression that helps athletes attain symmetry and better coordination. Dr. Gorman has previous experience working with the United States Military, as well as sports leagues and franchises around the world including those associated with Major League Baseball, FIFA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the United States Olympic Committee.

Dr. Anne Shadle, Ph.D., is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, is a certified consultant in Sport Psychology CC-AASP and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology registry. She also serves on the Athlete Advisory Committee for USA Track and Field (USATF) and currently is the President-appointed committee chair for Psychological Services for USATF. She is heavily involved with coaching education and certification for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and USATF. Shadle received her Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska, where she also ran track and field. She was a two-time National Champion in the mile and 1500 meter distances before going on to run professionally for Reebok and compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials.


 The Art of the Steal
(8/14/2018)
 
   

The Art of the Steal


By Dr. Peter Gorman


We all know that baseball is a game of moments. One of the greatest moments in recent memory is Dave Roberts stealing second base in the bottom of the 9th of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, with the Boston Red Sox trailing the New York Yankees 3-0 in the series. The act of stealing a base, whether it is first to second, second to third, or the improbable stealing of home, is an art form compromised of various components. To be done effectively, the athlete has to make sure each component is as efficient as possible. All too often, there are reports where, even though the athlete has the fastest time in the 60-yard dash, he is not “good” at stealing the base. How can this be? Shouldn’t the fastest man always be ahead of the tag? Well, let’s take a closer look at this special art.

Stealing a base requires the most precise agility that an athlete has to offer. Agility is defined as a stimulus that causes a physical change. Here the stimulus is the pitcher moving to the plate and the physical change is the baserunner REACTING accordingly. In the art of the steal there is both cognitive and physical processes that must be effectively executed for success. Let’s see how this process evolves.

Stealing Part 1 is based on reaction. Physical reaction is a five-step process, the first four of which are all cognitive:

1. First is RECOGNITION. Here the athlete recognizes the fact that the pitcher has lifted his foot to the point of no return, thus allowing him to go.
2. Once recognized, step two is ATTENTION. The athlete must attend to what he has just recognized.
3. Step three is DECISION. The athlete must now decide as to whether or not the foot is high enough and he will also suppress any distractors from this process.
4. Step four is ACCEPTANCE; once the decision is made the athlete now has to accept his decision into his cognitive process.
5. In step five, this acceptance results in the physical movement of REACTION.

To be efficient in the cognitive process, the brain’s speed of processing must be as fast as possible. Speed of processing, if inefficient, can create delays in movement and must be evaluated and trained accordingly. This speed of processing requires tremendous eye for detail, exceptional focus and refocus, enhanced useful field of view, and an inherent ability of understanding the game of baseball itself. All of this is easily trained in an efficient cognitive program. So, if the target is to steal the base, then the athlete should have good Recognition-Attention-Decision-Acceptance-Reaction (RADAR).

Stealing Part 2 brings us to the physical ability of explosiveness. First, we must understand the power, execution of power, and dynamic control of each leg. With training, power should be increasing, execution of power or ground contact time (GCT) should be decreasing, and dynamic control should become more efficient over time.

Next, foot mechanics are extremely important. Should the athlete push off from the outside of his foot? Should the athlete push off from the inside of his foot? To determine this, the athlete can be tested in various push-off positions with the speed of the third crucial step recorded and compared. The speed at the third step provides a pure explosive interpretation of the athlete’s ability. Bear in mind that the athletes are only going 90 feet, or 30 yards. When running, there is an explosive phase, a transition phase and an elastic phase. In looking at tapes of the Olympics, it appears that Usain Bolt has tremendous acceleration and elastic ability. It always seems that he captures all of his opponents from behind. In baseball there is not as much distance to cover, therefore athletes need to make sure their start explosive phase is as efficient and as effective as possible.

Once going, the athlete has to make sure that his left to right acceleratory ability is equal to his right to left acceleratory ability. There is no room here for a favorite side. A pure “dual exhaust” athlete is ideal. Understanding the speed and contact time of each leg, flight time and acceleratory ability of each leg is important, and any fundamental flaw that is noticed should be corrected. The trick is recognizing the weakness, which is easily done with present day technology.

So, in review, the art of the steal requires recognition with efficient brain speed of processing that leads to effective reaction, enhanced by a pure explosive ability that is carried through by two legs functioning symbiotically in their acceleratory ability. All of this cognitive and physical ability can be easily measured and trained but requires dedication and determination.


Dr. Peter Gorman is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is widely referred to as the developer of heart rate monitor technology and owns seven major patents in the United States and Canada. He was named President of Microgate USA in 2010 and became an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in 2012. He later joined CourtSense, developing innovative and logical progression that helps athletes attain symmetry and better coordination. Dr. Gorman has previous experience working with the United States Military, as well as sports leagues and franchises around the world including those associated with Major League Baseball, FIFA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the United States Olympic Committee.


 Travel: The Ultimate Demand on Performance
(8/14/2018)
 
   

Travel: The Ultimate Demand on Performance


By Dr. Peter Gorman


For the pros, there is a natural course of events: Winter training programs lead to Spring Training; Spring Training leads to Opening Day; and Opening Day marks the beginning of an extensive home and travel schedule. The schedule for the amateur, though maybe not as extreme, is remarkably similar: Winter training programs leads to spring training and play, usually in the form of scholastic play or local leagues. The end of the spring season leads to the start of travel leagues. For many, these travel leagues can be in state, or ultimately regional and beyond.

As anyone in the game knows, travel magnifies demand. This allows stress and fatigue to slowly settle in and affect performance and play. Travel can be as simple as loading the van and going to the next town or city, or it could mean a road trip to the next state and region. For many, travel also includes planes and time zone changes.

For coaches, trainers, and players, this added dimension of travel demand must be closely watched and managed. Specifically, the effects of travel should be monitored with regard to the hidden components of performance: Balance, Timing, Coordination, and Cognition.

Balance is the critical component of all movement.
Timing is the moment-by-moment movement of the body.
Coordination is the symmetrical execution of this movement.
Cognition is the neural switch that controls all movement.

As vulnerable as these factors are during regular training and play, they become even more vulnerable when the dimension of travel is added to the program. There is an old saying – “Out of sight, out of mind” – which means that we tend to forget about things that are not always visible or present. This is especially true for athletes, who often take the aforementioned hidden components for granted. As a player steals second base, we do not usually comment on his balance or coordination, but rather on his speed. Or, when a pitcher reacts and picks a player off first base, we do not usually commend his effective cognition or speed of processing, but rather his quick movement and reaction time.

Underlying every movement of every play of every game is decision-based movement. As we have already pointed out, decision is cognition, and its efficiency is based in speed of processing. Think slowly, and you will play slowly. The same is true with balance, timing, and coordination – when they are working, we see an able and agile athlete and do not think twice as to why that is so. It is only when they are not working – when a player is limping, for example – that any attention is brought to them.

This approach to understanding the hidden factors of performance assumes that the factors are either working, or not; that they are either on, or off. This is far from the truth, however, and must be addressed. None of the hidden factors is an on/off mechanism. Each and every one has a level of efficiency. Each and every one is quietly affected by travel. The problem is that we do not measure them on a frequent, consistent basis. By the time we SEE the problem, the player already has the problem, and it is too late to prevent it. This is unacceptable and must be corrected, especially for all travel teams.

The culprits of travel (vibration, fatigue, time zone change, environment, etc.) must be identified and corrected. The following is a simple recovery program to help combat the effects of travel.

1) Proper breathing: When trying to recover and combat fatigue, every breath the athlete takes is extremely important. Every breath should help to oxygenate the athlete effectively. Increasing tidal volume and tidal capacity of the lung is key. To do this, the athlete must make sure that as they breathe in, they allow their stomach to relax and go out. Many people, however, do the exact opposite, and it must be corrected. It must be noted the diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration; to exercise it properly, keep your shoulders relaxed as you move your stomach.

2) Hydration: Most of our muscle is water, and proper amounts of water are needed for efficient function. Forget the standards like eight 8-oz. glasses of water per day – every athlete is different and must be addressed accordingly. Check the color of your urine – urine must be clear and plentiful. Any yellowing is a step away from proper hydration.

3) Cross Crawl exercise: Babies thrive by crawling, and athletes must learn to crawl to help with coordination and timing. This exercise can be performed standing or lying on your back. Looking straight ahead, arms at the side, bring your left arm back as you bring your right knee to your chest. Then bring your knee back straight without allowing any external or internal movement. The arm and leg MUST move together. As you become efficient at this maneuver, you can increase your speed.

4) Trigger Point Reduction Therapy: The soleus calf muscle is the second heart of the human body. Start here with a handheld foam roller. Then proceed to quadriceps, hamstrings, arms, etc. Those little bumps and sore spots are trigger points and must be removed by rolling them out.

5) Balance: Practicing your balance will help to restore and improve it. This is essential for effective play. Practicing balance for three minutes after the trip and three minutes before play will help dramatically.

6) Brain speed: When on a long bus or plane ride, train your brain. Remember to effectively see and understand a 90mph ball your brain speed must be 250ms or faster. Training faster brain speed will have profound effects on all aspects of the game.

7) Stretching: A good program is essential, especially when travel demands arise. The hamstring stretches, and pigeon stretch are key to the lower body. The Appley scratch maneuver will help the upper body. These stretches are merely the core, and other stretches can be added as time allows.

Obviously, there are other corrections that can be made, but this simple program covers the bases in order to ensure effective and efficient play by all. The whole idea of this simple check program is to identify any imbalances early, before they have time to manifest as dysfunction and injury. Any inefficiency in these factors can cause a reduction in performance, without the athlete even being aware of it.

Every child/athlete has the right to balanced and symmetrical growth, and it is our job to ensure it. This is a simple screen to help provide that for all, no matter how far your travel brings you.

Wishing everyone healthy and safe play,

The Performance Staff at USA Baseball



Dr. Peter Gorman is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is widely referred to as the developer of heart rate monitor technology and owns seven major patents in the United States and Canada. He was named President of Microgate USA in 2010 and became an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in 2012. He later joined CourtSense, developing innovative and logical progression that helps athletes attain symmetry and better coordination. Dr. Gorman has previous experience working with the United States Military, as well as sports leagues and franchises around the world including those associated with Major League Baseball, FIFA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the United States Olympic Committee.