Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to throwing velocity is mobility/range of motion. By increasing mobility in certain areas of the body, you can unlock the ability to throw with higher velocities without even touching a weighted ball or dumbbell. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t train with weights or throw weighted balls if you’re looking to increase your velocity, but if you’re not following a good stretching program that improves range of motion in the RIGHT areas, you’re likely leaving valuable MPHs on the table.

With that said, here’s 5 stretches you can do right now that will help increase your throwing velocity.

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The start of the spring season for youth baseball is almost upon us, and high school and college baseball have been going strong for a few weeks now, so this seems like an appropriate time to talk about a few common problems that baseball and softball players can run into during the season. These are all fixable problems, but if left unchecked they can lead to injuries down the line, so it’s a good idea to get out in front of these issues and try to prevent them before they start.

Youth baseball players, especially those in their late tweens/early teens, may be at a higher risk of injury due to an increased load placed on their bodies during the season. Around age 12, these athletes start playing longer seasons on bigger fields, with additional demands from fall ball to consider as well. Also, these athletes typically don’t participate in good offseason training programs to prepare their bodies for this kind of load. When you take young, unprepared athletes and subject their bodies to a much heavier load than they’re used to, injuries have a tendency to occur.

However, we know that baseball players tend to suffer similar injuries/lose mobility/lose strength in basically the same areas, which means that we can be proactive and address these potential problems before they start, thereby greatly decreasing the likelihood that a baseball player will suffer an injury. To that end, here are 5 exercises/stretches you can do to keep yourself healthy throughout the season:

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Although the sports world has largely accepted strength training as an effective way to improve sports performance, there are still a few hard headed old-schoolers who refuse to believe that increasing strength will improve athletic ability. This is a ridiculous notion. Baseball coaches seem to be the most reluctant group to acknowledge the benefits of strength training. Often, this is due to the incorrect beliefs that lifting weights will make you inflexible (it won’t), or hurt you (it won’t if you do it right). But some coaches simply don’t believe that weight lifting will improve any aspect of sporting performance, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Yeah, being strong has nothing to do with being good at sports. Just ask Bo Jackson.

Yeah, being strong has nothing to do with being good at sports. Just ask this weakling named Bo Jackson.

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When I was younger, around 10 or 11, I remember always hearing my Little League coaches say “practice makes perfect.” Sometime around 1998, the phrase morphed into “PERFECT practice makes perfect,” because practicing like garbage clearly isn’t going to positively impact your game, but if you practice having perfect form and giving 100% on every rep, you will move along the line in the long, slow trudge towards perfection. Now obviously, perfection is not really attainable. Therefore, there is no such thing as “perfect practice.” But there is something to be said for maintaining a certain level of purpose and concentration during practice, as repetition will contribute to establishing muscle memory and thoughtless good mechanics. If you have to think about what you’re doing during a throw or swing, your attention will be divided and your performance will suffer as a result. By performing thousands of reps with good mechanics, you build a base of muscle memory so that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing.

So what happened at my Little League practices after our coach had just finished telling us about the importance of perfect practice? We went into the outfield to throw knuckleballs at each other during warmups. Of course. (more…)

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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Here’s another of my articles that was published to Stack today:

http://www.stack.com/2013/05/29/baseball-lifts/

baseball fielder

One problem that we ran into a lot last offseason at Next Level Sports Performance was that we had a lot of athletes in the gym, and not enough equipment for everybody to use. This year, thankfully, we’ll be expanding and buying more equipment/plates/dumbbells, so this hopefully won’t be an issue anymore. However, last year we had to do a lot of improvising due to limited equipment. For starters, our dumbbells only went up to 50 pounds, and we only had 2 of each. We had four 45-lb plates, and 2 each of 35s, 25s, 10s, 5s, and 2.5s. With up to 6 athletes in the gym at a time, this quickly became a problem.

The majority of the time I spent writing programs was dedicated to figuring out how to best utilize our resources, while making sure everyone got the work that they needed. I’d say out of every hour I spent programming, 40 minutes of it was dedicated to figuring out creative ways to make use of what we had, without shortchanging anybody.

If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t have access to the gym equipment you normally use, you can use these methods to still get a good workout in. Or, if you’re looking to add some variety to your workouts, you can substitute these exercises into your current program.

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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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