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Former Major Leaguer Buddy Biancalana On How To Prevent Sports Injuries

by Todd Civin

The following story has been written by former Major League baseball player, Buddy Biancalana, who is co-founder of PMPM Sports. As a 1st round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals, Buddy played Major League Baseball with the Royals and Houston Astros. As the starting shortstop for the 1985 World Champion Royals, he received the highest number of MVP votes of any position player.

His notoriety was catapulted by appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Today Show." After retiring from Major League Baseball, Buddy served as a Minor League In field Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization as well as a Minor League Manager for Tampa Bay and the Philadelphia Phillies. He has instructed or managed many players, who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues.

How to Prevent Sports Injuries-By Buddy Biancalana

Sports science, like all sciences, has made significant advances over the years. These advances include a more thorough understanding of how an athlete should train to prevent injuries and how to more quickly recover from injuries.

But there is another area that should be closely examined that will enhance a trainer's ability to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. This area is the relationship between the mind and body and how the mind affects the body.

The mind, of course, controls the body. When an athlete is playing exceptionally well, that exceptional playing first has to start in his mind. When a player fails to perform well, that failure can also be traced back to the mind. Choking in the body first starts with choking in the mind. This is well known.

At Perfect Mind-Perfect Motion,  we have made a significant discovery of how someone thinks, can have a significant impact on preventing injuries. This understanding will take sports science to a more comprehensive understanding of the connection between the mind and body, and will make a trainers job that much more valuable to an organization.

Before I address this fascinating area, let me relate a common example of how powerfully the mind controls the body. There are times, when a pitcher throws a bullpen session, and is not at all tired. There are other times, in identical conditions, where he throws the same amount of pitches in a pen, in the same sequence and is very tired when finished. Why the discrepancy in fatigue?

This discrepancy, surprisingly enough, has more to do with the mind, than the body.  It can be traced back to the processes in his mind that produced motion in his body. In the first pen, our pitcher was able to access a deeper level of his mind, and in the second pen, he was not able to access a deeper level.

By deeper level, I am referring to more silence in the mind. Great athletes are able to experience more freedom in their motion in pressure situations, because they are able to experience more freedom and silence in their minds.

Getting back to our two pitchers throwing pens, the feeling of being tired or not being tired cannot be explained by the physical conditioning of the pitcher. Remember, we are examining two identical situations, with no difference in the variables. The underlying reason why on one day, he was tired and why on another day he was not, had to do with how he was thinking.

How he was thinking is a very abstract phrase. It is a new concept in looking at a pitcher’s motion and why it can help prevent injuries. What does how he was thinking mean? It means what it says. It does not mean what he was thinking, it means how he was thinking.

It means there was very little mental energy spent during his thought process. It does not refer to the content of his thoughts, but from what level of the mind those thoughts were generated. This minimal expenditure of mental energy is directly correlated to the amount of physical energy it took to produce a pitch.

When a pitcher (or hitter) is somehow able to expend minimal mental energy in producing a motion, it will have an extremely beneficial impact on preventing injuries. It does this by allowing all the muscles that produce motion to operate in unison with one another.

Think of a pitching or hitting motion like a symphony. In order to produce a harmonious symphony, all the instruments have to be in harmony with each other. If any instrument is not in harmony with it's fellow instruments, it will not produce the most pleasing sound.

It is no different in a pitchers motion.  One reason injuries occur, is because muscles often work against each other. They are not operating in harmony with each other.  For instance, with athlete's shoulders and hips being much stronger these days because of increased training, if the two are not working in unison, there is a tug of war created, that will lead to an increased chance of an oblique pull.

Though this tug of war between the hips and shoulders are felt in the body, the reason why there was a tug a war in the first place, is because there was a lack of silence in the mind.  Essentially, the body did not have the most intelligent signals coming from the mind to produce a harmonious motion. One cannot blame the muscles for this. One has to identify the origin of how muscles move in the first place, and that is of course in the mind.

We have a program that teaches players how to send more intelligent signals from the mind to the body. We are able to teach a player how to think very quietly. We are not concerned with what he is thinking, but how he is thinking. We are able to systematically set up in a player's mind, the same type of thinking that occurs, when a pitcher throws a full pen and walks off the mound as if he had just taken a walk on the beach.

One of the ways we are able to accomplish this, is for him to focus on the inaction in a pitching motion. The inaction being the time before he throws and the time after he throws. We call this being in the gap. When a player is in the gap, his mind is infused with silence and freedom, and therefore his body will be infused with similar qualities. This will allow all the moving parts to work in more unison and help prevent injuries.

I am including comments from some of the Major and Minor League players, with whom we've worked, about how being in the gap can reduce injuries.

Bobby Keppel—Minnesota Twins

  • “This was my healthiest year”
  • “Never needed to ask for a day off to rest my arm”
  • “Body working more in unison when in the gap, therefore will always reduce injuries”
  • "Will reduce oblique injuries for sure”

Nick Green—Boston Red Sox

  • “Everything is so fluid when in the gap”
  • “Body works in more unison”
  • “Don't feel any strain or soreness when in the gap”
  • “Everything works as it's suppose to”
  • “Will definitely reduce oblique injuries”

Rocky Cherry—Boston Red Sox

  • “When in the gap, the body just flows easily”
  • “When not in the gap, I feel more tension in the muscles”
  • “Everything works in more unison”
  • “Easier to find the correct arm slot”
  • "Less effort will always reduce injuries”

 


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