Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend the Perform Better Summit in Providence, RI and was constantly putting pen to paper in an attempt to bring as much to my training as possible. One of the most fascinating lessons I picked up at the conference was from Greg Rose of Titleist Performance Institute. During Greg's hands-on session, he showed us four power tests he uses with his athletes, how they relate to performance, and what they reveal in the athlete.
Important note: for male athletes, use a 4kg med ball and for female athletes, 2kg.
Test #1 - Seated Med Ball Chest Pass
This is a common exercise that I have used with hundreds of athletes, both as a test and in training. Have the athlete sit on a plyo box (about 18" seems to be right for most people), and throw the med ball as far as possible while keeping their hips on the box the entire time. Distance in feet = #1
Test #2 - Supine Chop Throw
Begin in a sit-up position while holding a med ball, arms extended overhead on the ground. Perform a crunch/sit-up/chop throw, while keeping feet and hips on the ground throughout the throw. Distance in feet = #2
Test #3 - Vertical Jump
Nothing fancy here, a standard counter-movement jump for height. Feel free to use whatever equipment you have at your disposal - Vertec, Just Jump, etc. Height in inches = #3
Test #4 - Rotational Shot Put
Similar to the MB chest pass above, this is one of my favorite upper body power exercises (though, as a former thrower, I always hesitate when labeling it as a shot put...feels wrong on some level). With the athlete in an athletic stance, body perpendicular to the direction they will be throwing, have them throw as far as they can. There is no step into the throw or jump while throwing, the feet can turn and the back leg can come forward, but remember this is a test - tests are only beneficial if executed properly. Repeat with each arm. Distance in feet = #4
Here is where things get interesting, those numbers should all be connected. #1, #2, and #3 should all be equal or close to it, and #4 should be about 1.5 of the other numbers. For example, if an athlete has a 20" vertical, they should have a chest pass and chop throw distance of 20', and their shot put distances should be right around 30'. This shows a well balanced power profile of an athlete. If one or two of these numbers are below this ratio, it shows where training should be modified to improve total body power.
This is another demonstration of the body being a single unit instead of a collection of pieces - everything is connected. If you want powerful athletes, be sure they are powerful throughout their body and not just in common movements. If an athlete can generate sufficient power with their legs (let's say a 30" vertical), but are unable to transfer that power to their upper extremities (due to weak core/rotational power), their performance will suffer. We will always be limited by our weakest link, these tests can help reveal and remedy those weak links and improve performance.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, FMS-1