“It is in the transfer of training that the learning and improvement of technique and likewise the development of the related or other physical qualities (abilities) take place.Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk, Transfer of Training, Vol.1


In September 2010, during the second game of the season, junior quarterback, Troy Green, suffered an avulsion fracture of the medial epicondyle of his right elbow while throwing a pass in the second half of a football game. He had been experiencing pain in his throwing elbow on and off since the eighth grade. Initially, his coaches thought he had a “problem with his mechanics,” but they were never able to diagnose and/or fix the mechanical root cause of the pain. Then during the summer of 2010, in the process of learning a new offense that utilized much more passing than Troy was used to, he overused his arm. This, coupled with poor mechanics, caused him to sustain a stress fracture of the medial epicondyle of his throwing arm diagnosed by sports orthopedist Marc Pietropaoli, MD. After extensive consultation, including world renowned sports orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews, it was elected to allow Troy to continue throwing. However, Dr. Andrews warned that if Troy continued to throw through the pain, he could suffer an avulsion fracture. Dr. Andrews stated that he had seen medial epicondyle avulsion fractures in baseball pitchers but never in a football quarterback. Unfortunately, Troy did indeed eventually avulse his medial epicondyle. On September 13, 2010, Troy underwent surgery by Dr. Pietropaoli of Victory Sports Medicine & Orthopedics to place a screw in his epicondyle to line it back up and allow it to heal properly.

This January Troy had the screw removed from his elbow and was allowed to start training his upper body gradually. He wasn't able to throw until March. That is when I (his physical preparation coach) was fortunate enough to call upon the efforts of Dr. Yessis to help find out the root mechanical cause in Troy’s throwing and come up with a program to improve him.

Programming and organization

Dr. Yessis places the biodynamic structure of the athlete for their sport in the forefront and then from a biomechanical perspective is able to analyze the athlete to find out what has to be improved to make his skill of execution more effective. He then programs the training. Dr. Yessis is able to break down the total technique into its smallest components and develops special exercises that improve and strengthen those particular actions.

I have found this to be truly amazing because it has cut down the total volume of Troy’s training. He has improved in his speed, agility, and throwing thus far without spending any time fully sprinting, performing any agility drills, and throwing.

Dr. Yessis’s biggest teaching point is the importance of coupling strength and technique together. Improving technique alone can enhance performance. An increase in strength doesn’t necessarily equate to better performance. Strengthening specific joint actions of the technique used in the sporting act (dynamic correspondence) will then make the athlete stronger and also improve his technique. In no way am I undermining the importance of general strength, but that can only take you so far. Unfortunately, strength gain and athletic performance improvement aren't linear.

“The specific motor potential of an athlete depends on the total quantity of mechanical work that can be produced by his motor system, transforming the force of muscular contractions into the specific movements, which compose the competition exercises. Thus, to increase the athlete’s motor potential, it is necessary to increase the force generating capacity of the muscles involved in the execution of competition exercise. —Dr. Yuri Verkhoshanksky, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches

Project continued

Since our visit with Dr. Yessis, he has torn down Troy’s throwing motion, and Troy has been working really hard building it up from scratch. Within the first five minutes of working with Dr. Yessis, he was able to point out the key mechanical flaw as well as many related flaws that Dr. Yessis said contributed to Troy’s elbow injury. I have to admit that we were amazed at how accurate Dr. Yessis’s diagnosis was. Dr. Yessis was able to not only point out the flaws, but he was able to show us technical movements and special exercises to fix each particular joint action of Troy’s throwing motion (weight shift, hip rotation, shoulder rotation, arm cocking, medial rotation, and follow through).

For example, one particular mechanical flaw of Troy’s throwing was that he never separated his hips from his shoulders during the throwing, so he was unable to generate much power from his lower body. Dr. Yessis stresses the importance of this separation in order to create a summation of forces. By rotating the hips while keeping the shoulders back, the obliques are placed on an eccentric stretch. Thus, when the hips decelerate, the shoulder girdle begins to rotate, creating a whipping action. The axis of rotation for the shoulder girdle is through the left shoulder, which produces a long force arm.

“The hip rotation is a key action in throwing. It should occur as weight shift ends and before shoulder rotation begins. Keep these movements separate and combine them sequentially so that as one action ends the next action begins. —Dr. Michael Yessis, Build a Better Athlete.

In order to help Troy unconsciously learn this separation, Dr. Yessis had Troy perform this technique using the part/whole method (working on the part and then incorporating it into the whole). To improve the strength and the speed of the separation/rotation of the hips from the shoulders, Troy is performing special exercises (special preparatory and special developmental) with the active cords. This has improved Troy’s throwing tremendously in a short period of time.

Dr. Yessis also created the T-bench medial rotation exercise to duplicate the arm action as it occurs in the throw and a specialized exercise that forced Troy to get the hips around before the shoulders. The latter exercise was performed with active cords as was the exercise for weight shift. There are quite a few other exercises that Dr. Yessis created that work the muscles as they are used in the throwing action.

For Troy’s running and acceleration mechanics, Dr. Yessis observed that Troy lacked sufficient knee drive strength. The knee drive is the joint action of the hips after the ankle joint extension during the push off to drive the thigh forward by the hip flexors. The greater the strength and speed of the knee drive, the greater the stride frequency as well as greater force for whipping out the shin for the pawback action (greater stride length).

In order for Troy to improve the knee drive, special exercises are used to duplicate this using active cords with the leg (knee and hip) starting behind the body. In Dr. Verkhoshansky’s books, particularly in his new book (Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches) on page 53, he shows an illustration of “swing leg flexion with the take off leg extension from the hip joint.”

Dr. Verkhoshansky explains how the principle of dynamic correspondence is applied in "selecting local special strength training means finalized at increasing the working effect of key movements of competition exercise." This illustration is an example of how to increase the knee drive action for running. Yet, for some reason, coaches who view Dr. Verkhoshansky as one of the top minds ever in the sports science field disregard this and other particular dynamic correspondence exercises for whatever particular reason.

For many years now, Dr. Yessis has preached the significance of this exercise for improving running speed with active cords, which allow you to safely and gradually apply an appropriate level of external resistance. For whatever reason, very few have ever listened. I think one reason could be that the exercises are very cumbersome to perform. It was probably good in the 1970s, but Dr. Yessis, with his expertise in biomechanics and kinesiology, has modernized these exercises with the use of active cords. These exercises can be seen in his second edition of Explosive Running.

I have used these with my other athletes, particularly the ones who ran like Fred Flintstone, and have found that they've improved their running mechanics and speed significantly, taking tenths off their 40 times.

With the season quickly approaching, Dr. Yessis is ramping up Troy’s training. Some of the special exercises will then serve a different role as the program intensifies and readies Troy. The knowledge that I have learned from Dr. Yessis in this short period of time has helped me to develop better programs for my other athletes. Head coach Tim Green, Troy, and I have been blown away with the results thus far.