Posts Tagged ‘sports performance’

I had an awesome weekend in Franklin, Tennessee at Pitch-a-Palooza. Needless to say I learned a lot, but as I was thinking about the weekend on the flight home, I had 3 big picture thoughts that stuck out to me.

The baseball world is changing, and it’s starting to change (relative to the history of baseball).

With 22 MLB organizations in attendance, it is clear that baseball is finally starting to change for the best. Clubs are thirsty for knowledge and are willing to look outside the box to get an edge. I met a few pitching instructors from various organizations that are baseball lifers (played pro ball now coach pro ball) that said if they aren’t willing to learn about sabermetrics and explore different teaching methods they would be pushed out. I almost teared up hearing this!

The number of college coaches there was simply amazing as well. One thing that Kyle Boddy has said quite a few times is that change in baseball will start from the bottom, so seeing so many college coaches there is even more encouraging for the future of baseball.

The best example of this is the weighted ball training. College programs adopted weighted ball training much earlier than the professional organizations. As players from the college programs that used weighted balls got drafted, they wanted to continue the program so the organizations could no longer squash it once the population was big enough.

Coaching is getting less and less mechanical, and much more movement driven.

Listening to Rick Strickland and Eugene Bleecker talk about the process they go through their evaluation and teaching process set this light bulb off for me.

It just makes too much sense how they explained teaching movement first and mechanics second. That is an extreme simplification of what they do, and I certainly don’t want to undermine how good they are at their job. But this is the way baseball instructing is going, and it’s beautiful! Seeing the before videos of a tight, mechanical swing transform into a free, athletic swing pumps me up.

Professional development can come outside of your immediate field.

The two main reasons I went to Pitch-a-Palooza were to make connections and be exposed to different coaching philosophies.

The baseball world is very small, so going to an event like this is worth its weight in gold for networking alone. Everyone that I spoke to was extremely friendly and willing to share their knowledge. I heard some great stories and learned a lot from conversations in between presentations and at the Saturday night hot stove.

Only 3 presentations were directly related to the strength and conditioning field, but many dealt with movement, communication, and/or teaching methods. Where I used to dismiss information that didn’t pertain to my niche, I now appreciate any outside the box thinking from any profession. For instance, Tony Robichaux (Head Coach of Louisiana Lafayette), presented entirely on how their team throws bullpens.

While this has zero effect on my job, I appreciated the different methods he used and it made me question if there are ways I could improve my program but haven’t simply because it would go against the status quo.

All in all it was an amazing weekend. I can’t wait to go back next year and if your career has anything to do with baseball I would highly recommend going.

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It seems like every sport is a year-round-sport now. Ten-year-old kids are playing similar schedules to professional athletes. The mentality seems to be if you aren’t playing on three travel teams and your school team, then you are falling behind.

Parents read about Bryce Harper playing 100 games per year and having teams fly him to tournaments at a young age and think that’s the blueprint for little Johnny to be the next phenom.

Harper SI Cover

The thought of taking time off the primary sport to play a different sport or to focus your time and effort into training is ludicrous. How will the scouts see your child if he/she doesn’t play on that special 12u team?

The shame of it is most athletes would benefit immensely from some sort of off-season strength program. It doesn’t do any good for a right-handed pitcher that is a high school junior and tops out at 80 MPH to play on a fall travel ball team and go to showcase events. Any college or professional scout will put their gun away and cross him off the list after 5 pitches. Trust me, I’ve been there. That athlete would be much better served spending 6 months getting after it in the gym and utilizing a long toss and/or weighted ball program.

Baseball Scouts

On the flip side, some athletes do need to spend more time practicing their particular skill. For example, if there is a pitcher that throws 98 but can’t find the strike zone, improving his deadlift probably isn’t the answer. Or if you have a golfer that crushes the ball but can’t putt, their time would be better spent on the putting green rather than doing medicine ball throws.

We have seen athletes on both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes we have to encourage athletes to leave the gym and go practice. Most of the time we are trying to educate the parents and the athlete that time spent in the gym now will lead to better results later.

There is a fine line for every athlete. It is very easy to get caught up trying to be the best right now, but foolish to do so when that hinders the future. It is important to realistically evaluate yourself every so often and make sure you are improving your weaknesses. Parents, have a trusted coach assess your child to prevent any bias from getting in the way of constructive criticism. Taking a break from competition to train may be the best decision you could make for your athletic career.