Sliding within the Atlanta Braves organization is no longer limited to movements at the bases. It’s now an important tool in the Braves’ weight room. Thanks to the continued improvements in slide board technology slide board training has become an integral part of the year-around training program for Braves’ players. The slide board is a relatively low-tech, low-impact tool that allows players to improve balance, increase stability, correct structural weaknesses, improve strength, increase local muscular endurance and improve metabolic conditioning by simply changing the movement pattern, varying the speed and range of movement, increasing the duration of work, altering the work to rest interval and/or adding external resistance.
There are four exercise routines in the Braves’ slide board program. Players are encouraged to perform one routine per workout (see attachment).
Routine #1: The first routine consists of three exercises, two performed on the slide board designed to improve lateral movements and one on a stable surface to improve glute/hamstring function.
- Side-Side Slide. This lateral movement exercise can be used for warm-up, to increase inner thigh strength or to improve metabolic conditioning. For warm-up, players will usually slide at a moderate pace for 3-5 minutes. For strength, they will start with 5×3 to each side and build up to timed sets with 2-3 minutes rest. For conditioning, they will start with 5 sets of relatively high intensity work using 60:120 second work to rest intervals and gradually add more sets or reduce the rest interval.
- Lateral Lunge. This exercise is performed with a bootie on only one foot. It’s designed to increase hip mobility, improve hip and groin strength and improve core stability. Start with body weight and gradually increase resistance by holding a weight at chest height and/or wearing a weighted vest. For strength, start with 3×12 to each side and build up to timed sets with 2-3 minutes rest. Intensity can be increased with the use of DBs and/or a weighted vest.
- Straight-Leg Glute Bridge. This exercise is performed on the floor with one leg extended straight out from the hip. The exercise is designed to strength the glutes and hamstrings in their role as hip extensors. Start with 1×8 on each leg and gradually work to 3×8 on each leg. Beginners can start with a double-leg glute bridge and gradually progress to single-leg bridges.
Routine #2: The second routine consists of three exercises designed to increase strength in the hips, quads and hamstrings.
- Isometric Hold. The first exercise is an isometric split-squat hold with the lead foot on the ground and the rear foot on a slide board. Placing the rear foot on frictionless surface of the slide board forces the body to engage both the prime movers and the stabilizer muscles. Start with 3 sets of 30-second holds on each leg with 2-3 minutes rest between sets.
- Goblet Squat. The second exercise, goblet squat, is performed on a stable surface to ensure proper technique and safety. It’s a good option for improving core stability and hip strength and mobility, especially for those who can’t squat with perfect technique and in situations in which a squat rack is not available. Start with 3×12 with 2-3 minutes rest between sets and gradually reduce reps as you increase sets, load and rest.
- Hamstring Curls on Slide Board. This is a good exercise to increase strength in the hamstrings in their role as extensor muscles of the hip. Because it is a difficult exercise for beginners, start with 1×10 of eccentric only movements and then progress to 1×12 of concentric only movements. When players can perform each of these movements in isolation, put them together and do 3×5 of concentric / eccentric movements with 2-3 minutes rest between sets and gradually progress to 3×12.
Routine #3: This routine has only two exercise and both involve the slide board. The first exercise uses lateral movement in the frontal plane and the second uses flexion and extension movements in the sagittal plane.
- Side-Side Slide. This is the same exercise used in Routine #1 and can be used for warm-up, to increase strength or improve conditioning as explained above.
- Reverse Lunges. This exercise is performed with the lead foot off the slide on a stable surface and the rear foot on the slide board. All of the movement is performed with the rear leg and foot. The exercise is designed to improve balance, increase stability while targeting the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Start with 1×12 on each leg and progress to 3×12 with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets. The intensity of the exercise can be increased with the use of DBs and/or a weighted vest.
Routine #4: The fourth routine consists of two exercise performed on a slide board. The first exercise is an isometric exercise hold in the sagittal plane. The second is a dynamic exercise in the frontal plane.
- Isometric Hold. This exercise is performed in a split-stance position with both feet on a slide board. The objective is to simultaneously increase strength and stability in the hips extension and hamstring muscles of the lead leg and the hip flexor muscles of the posterior leg. Start with 30-second hold with one leg forward, rest of 1-2 minutes and repeat with the opposite leg forward. Gradually build to three 30-second holds on each leg with 2-3 minutes rest between sets. Intensity can be increased with the use of DBs and/or a weighted vest.
- Abduction on Slide Board. This exercise is designed to increase strength in the muscles that abduct the legs at the hip. It also enhances range of motion in the frontal plane as well as core strength and stability. Players start with the feet together, slowly let the feet slide apart and then pull them together (adduction). Start with 1×12 and gradually build to 3×12 with 2-3 minutes rest between sets. Intensity can be increased with the use of DBs and/or a weighted vest.
Click the link below to view the Atlanta Braves Slide Board Routines
Rick Slate, MS, CSCS-E is the Director of Strength and Conditioning, Atlanta Braves Baseball