American Development Initiative Content

The American Development Initiative provides all constituents of the game with valuable resources to help in the growth, development, and maturation of youth baseball players everywhere. Putting the athlete first means providing accurate, validated information that can help direct an athlete’s training program, coach’s teaching environment, or parent’s guidance along the developmental track.

Providing trusted resources allows the ADI to provide the most useful information to those seeking the ultimate development-based experience for their athletes.

Circadian Rhythm

Often referred to as a person’s “Biological Clock,” Circadian Rhythm is the body’s intrinsic 24-hour cycle of regulating when to eat, sleep, wake and other biological processes. Research has shown that interruptions in a person’s Circadian Rhythm can affect these physiological processes, along with performance in competitive athletes.

Below are research articles identifying the effects of interrupting an athlete’s Circadian Rhythm – mainly “jet lag” and travel – can have on performance:

Circadian Rhythms, Athletic Performance, and Jet Lag – British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1998

“Rapid air travel across several time zones exposes the traveler to a shift in his/her internal biological clock … The most commonly experienced symptoms are sleep disorders, difficulties with concentrating, irritability, depression, fatigue … Competitive athletes are also exposed to the additional negative consequences of a shift from the optimal circadian window of performance. A brief summary of the possible negative effects of jet lag on athletic performance and potentially alleviating strategies is given.” Read more »

Circadian Rhythms and Enhanced Athletic Performance in the National Football League – American Sleep Disorders Association and Sleep Research Society, 1997

“Circadian rhythms produce daily changes in critical elements of athletic performance. We explored the significance of performing at different circadian times in the National Football League (NFL) over the last 25 seasons. West Coast (WC) NFL teams should have a circadian advantage over East Coast (EC) teams during Monday Night Football (MNF) games because WC teams are essentially playing closer to the proposed peak athletic performance time of day. These results support the presence of an enhancement of athletic performance at certain circadian times of the day.” Read more »

Injury Prevention

One of the hottest topics in sports today centers around injury prevention and keeping athletes safer and healthier, regardless of sport. While there is no formula for 100% success, much research has been dedicated to identifying risk factors associated with injuries, and best practices that parents, coaches, and trainers should be aware of that can decrease the chance of preventable injuries in their athletes. 

Below are research articles addressing injuries in youth athletes and practices that can be implemented to avoid them:

An evidence-based review of hip-focused neuromuscular exercise interventions to address dynamic lower extremity valgus – Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015

“Deficits in proximal hip strength or neuromuscular control may lead to dynamic lower extremity valgus. Measures of dynamic lower extremity valgus have been previously shown to relate to increased risk of several knee pathologies, specifically anterior cruciate ligament ruptures and patellofemoral pain. Therefore, hip-focused interventions have gained considerable attention and been successful in addressing these knee pathologies.” Read more »

Preseason Shoulder Strength Measurements in Professional Baseball Pitchers: Identifying Players at Risk for Injury – American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2010

“Preseason weakness of external rotation and Supraspinatus strength is associated with in-season throwing-related injury resulting in surgical intervention in professional baseball pitchers. Thus, preseason strength data may help identify players at risk for injury and formulate strengthening plans for prevention.” Read more »

On-the-Field Resistance-Tubing Exercises for Throwers: An Electromyographic Analysis – Journal of Athletic Training, 2005

“Athletes who throw commonly use rubber-tubing resistance exercises in the field setting to assist with warm-up before throwing. Yet no researchers have described which muscles are being activated or which exercises are most effective during rubber-tubing exercises used by throwers for warm-up … Performance of 7 exercises (external rotation at 90° of abduction, throwing deceleration, humeral flexion, humeral extension, low scapular rows, throwing acceleration, and scapular punch) resulted in the highest level of muscle activation of all muscles tested … The results suggest that these exercises are most effective in activating the muscles important to the throwing motion and may be beneficial for throwers during their prethrowing warm-up routine.” Read more »

Motor Learning and Skill Acquisition

Motor learning refers to the processes associated with introducing and learning of skilled tasks through practice, experience, and/or repetition. Vital to the growth and development track, the implementation of research-based instructional and training strategies for athlete skill acquisition can help parents, coaches, and trainers turn scientific information into improved, skillful performance. 

Below are research articles identifying the importance of effective motor learning and skill acquisition environments and techniques:

Attentional Focus and Motor Learning: A Review of 15 Years – International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2013

“Over the past 15 years, research on focus of attention has consistently demonstrated that an external focus (i.e., on the movement effect) enhances motor performance and learning relative to an internal focus (i.e., on body movements). This article provides a comprehensive review of the extant literature. Findings show that the performance and learning advantages through instructions or feedback inducing an external focus extend across different types of tasks, skill levels, and age groups. Benefits are seen in movement effectiveness (e.g., accuracy, consistency, balance) as well as efficiency (e.g., muscular activity, force production, cardiovascular responses).” Read more »

Sports Specialization

A growing trend in American sports today is the notion that an athlete needs to dedicate all of their focus and energies into one specific sport only – often referred to as “Sports Specialization.” The research, however, shows that youth athletes playing only one sport year-round are more often prone to higher injury rates, they don’t play sports as long, and are more likely to receive college scholarships. 

Below are research articles identifying common notions and potential pitfalls of sports specialization:

Patterns of Specialization in Professional Baseball Players – Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2014 

“The current study was a survey of 708 minor league professional baseball players on the ages at which they began to specialize in their sport. Results indicated that most players sampled a diversity of sports up through late adolescence. Only 25% of players specialized before the age of 12 and the mean age of specialization was 15 years. Furthermore, those who specialized later were more likely to receive college scholarships.” Read more »

Early Sport Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks – American College of Sports Medicine, 2010 

“Year-round training in a single sport beginning at a relatively young age is increasingly common among youth … Limiting experiences to a single sport is not the best path to elite status. Risks of early specialization include social isolation, overdependence, burnout, and perhaps risk of overuse injury.” Read more »