Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

I’ve been informed that my video about Blackburns is too “long” and “boring” and that I’m “monotone” in the video. So I’ve decided to post these photos of the Blackburns positions for easier and less boring viewing. For a written explanation of what Blackburns are and what they’re for, click here. And yes, I’m aware that I have freakishly long alien arms.

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One of the sillier notions regarding the act of hitting a baseball is the idea that batters should “swing down on the ball”. I remember having this cue drilled into my head as a young hitter, and I still hear it from time to time nowadays. The reasoning that coaches give for this is the fact that a downward swing angle will create backspin on the baseball, which will help the ball carry farther, whereas an upward swing path will create topspin, which will result in less distance.

In fact, there’s even a batting tee endorsed by Ken Griffey Jr. called the Instructo Swing, which forces players to hit down on the ball. If you don’t have a downward swing path when using the Instructo Swing, you are rewarded by smashing your barrel into a piece of blue metal.

That's a homerun swing if I ever saw one...

That’s a homerun swing if I ever saw one…

But if we look at Ken Griffey Jr’s real-life swing, do we see that kind of downward swing angle? If you’re good at reading context clues, you already know the answer.

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First, a little background information:

Balance is one of the most important things when it comes to designing a sound strength and conditioning program. For example, if a program includes 3 pressing exercises, it should also include 3 pulling exercises to maintain strength balance across the body. If somebody performs a ton of bench pressing without any rowing-type exercises, the mucles in the chest will become bigger and stronger, but the muscles in the back will not. Over time, this discrepancy in strength between the chest and back will lead to, at best, poor posture and, at worst, an injury. Since nobody wants to be injured, it’s typically a good idea to make sure that you try to balance movements in your strength and conditioning program.

This concept isn’t confined to pushing and pulling, however. Every movement at every joint should -in theory- be balanced. This, of course, is assuming that no imbalances exist to begin with. If somebody does have an existing strength imbalance, or they play a sport that requires repetitive movement (e.g. throwing), they should adjust their program to account for these issues.

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One of the biggest gripes I had while playing baseball in college was that our in-season training program was trash. By the time May rolled around everybody was skinny, weak, and threw a good 4-5 mph slower than at the beginning of the season. I noticed this during high school ball too, but I didn’t understand why it was happening. I figured that if you trained all offseason, that strength would just stay with you during the season. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Once I got to college and started learning about the body and training, I realized that improper training methods during the season were what was causing this steady decline in performance over the course of the year. That, combined with a hefty dose of long-distance “conditioning” runs.

Here’s 3 big mistakes that people often make when training in season. I’ve omitted “Doing Nothing” because frankly, that should be common knowledge by now.

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Even with all the strength training my athletes do in the offseason, I always tell them the most effective way to develop throwing velocity is just throwing a baseball (or softball). That’s not to say that strength training isn’t important; building strength in the offseason allows players to exert more force and minimize injury risk during the season. But all the leg, core, and rotator cuff strength in the world will do you no good if you can’t figure out how to apply your strength properly when throwing. Enter: long tossing.

In my opinion, if you’re a baseball or softball player and you’re NOT long tossing, then you’re stunting your development as a ballplayer.

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Here’s another article of mine, published today on Stack.com. Baseball and softball players need to follow this advice.

Click here to check it out.

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