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Oates Specialties

  1. Behavior of the Lead Leg

    I wrote a blog last year that described how a pitcher should use his lower half during his delivery. That blog dismissed the other approaches that many coaches take while teaching pitching mechanics such as “drop and drive,” “tall and fall,” and the “up-down and glide out.” The best way to describe the appropriate use of a pitcher’s lower half is “load while moving forward.” Elite pitchers actually stay taller/straighter with their balance leg at the beginning of the delivery, but as they move down the mound the angle of their back leg increases, meaning their lower half generates a greater load as the forward movement toward home plate occurs. Here are a few pictures of this loading. Continue reading →
  2. The "I've Got It Now" Mentality

    People often try to categorize athletes into two types. There are the talented “freaks” born with endless natural ability that never seem to have to work very hard to perform amazing feats. And then there are the rest of us. Those who didn’t throw 90+ mph as a sophomore in high school or blast 400+ foot home runs at 16 years of age. Fortunately, those people are wrong. There is another group of athletes too: those athletes who work their butts off to improve and over time become elite athletes. The people who try to categorize athletes into just the first two groups I mentioned above often take the approach that throwing 90+ mph is simply a God-given ability that can’t be taught. At some point, I’ll address just how wrong that type of thinking is and why that philosophy is really just a crutch. This post, however, primarily addresses those athletes who have worked hard to reach their athletic goals, although it also has some use to those fortunate athletes who are supremely talented from a very young age too. Continue reading →
  3. Running Poles: A Waste of Time

    Long distance running, such as running poles, has been discussed, blogged about, and been the topic of much debate in the baseball community. It seems as though most of the leading minds in baseball have reached a consensus that long distance running does nothing to help a pitcher. Yet here I am, writing a blog about this same topic. But there is a reason why I decided to do it. Long distance running, and running poles specifically, is still used by many coaches throughout the nation as a form of conditioning. Even some coaches I know very well and have frequent discussions with about training athletes for the specific demands of baseball still require their athletes to run long distance. It is really sort of unbelievable, but I suppose old habits die hard. Continue reading →
  4. Efficiency in Athletic Movement

    All athletes, regardless of their sport, ultimately seek to become a more athletic version of their current self. They want to be able to run faster, jump higher, throw it harder, and hit it further. One of the most important factors that will help athletes achieve this is to become more efficient with their movements. Efficiency is critical because in order to become a superior athlete, there can’t be any wasted movements. Every single movement that an athlete makes during any activity should be contributing directly to helping that athlete achieve the intended goal of the movement. Efficiency in an athlete’s mechanics has two great nemeses—time and tension. These two factors, if allowed to creep into an athlete’s movements, will prevent an athlete from being as mechanically sound as he could be, and will result in decreased performance levels. Let me address time and tension separately. Continue reading →
  5. The Texas Baseball Ranch's "Big 6"

    Coach Ron Wolforth at the Texas Baseball Ranch has established what he considers to be the “Big 6” for his athletes at the Ranch. The “Big 6” are the 6 elements Coach Wolforth believes are most critical for a pitcher to master in order to be exceptional. In my last blog I discussed the first critical element out of the 6—pain. Pain must be eliminated before an athlete can push himself harder on a consistent basis and make improvements, such as better velocity and command. Pain is a giant hurdle to any athlete’s ability to be successful. But once the pain is diminished, and eventually extinguished, a pitcher has other aspects of his game that need to be targeted and improved. The remaining 5 elements that athletes who train at the Texas Baseball Ranch focus on are: throwing 66% of off-speed pitches for strikes; fastball velocity at 3-5 mph faster than competitive peer group; Improving recovery time between outings; Improving the mind set; and having personal integrity. Continue reading →
  6. The Texas Baseball Ranch's Approach to Pain

    In my last blog I discussed why paying attention to pain is so critical in order for athletes to diagnose the cause of the pain. If an athlete can figure out the root of the pain then he can start working to correct the issue in order to diminish the amount of pain felt, which in turn will help to improve the athlete’s performance on the field. It is because of this that Coach Ron Wolforth has made pain the first of his “Big 6” at the Texas Baseball Ranch. The “Big 6” are the 6 elements that Coach Wolforth has labeled as most important to an athlete if he wants to succeed. I will discuss the other five components that encompass the Big 6 in upcoming blogs, but today I am just going to focus on the first—Pain. Continue reading →
  7. Pain: Your Body’s Way of Talking to You

    We have all experienced pain at some point in our lives. It can be a sharp, shooting pain that brings you to your knees, often referred to as acute pain, that is generally of short duration. Or it can be a dull, numbing pain, often called chronic pain, that is an ongoing condition and generally doesn’t make you stop what you are doing, but is an ever present discomfort. Continue reading →
  8. The Greatness of Failure

    After you read that title you might have thought, “WHAT??” Don’t get me wrong, failing at something is no fun. It hurts, it can be humiliating, and it can be demoralizing. But these things all focus on the short run—the now. They do not aptly describe how failure can affect a person in the long run. Failure can mold a person. It can chisel a person’s character in a valuable way. Continue reading →
  9. What's Your Goal?

    One of the most common interactions I have with coaches and players goes something like this: “Brian, I just got home from the Texas Baseball Ranch (or bought Coach Wolforth’s DVDs) and I am at a loss as to what workouts/drills I should implement and, accordingly, what equipment to buy. Coach Wolforth uses almost all of your equipment at the Ranch (or on the DVD), but we only have a limited amount of time to implement some of the workouts/drills and I don’t know what items are best to purchase. What do you think are the most critical pieces of equipment I should get to help myself/my players? What would you buy if you were just starting out? What was most helpful to you when you were playing?” Continue reading →
  10. Advice to Athletes Attending a Showcase

    Although I realize that most showcases are probably now over as the summer is starting to wind down, I couldn’t forego the opportunity to address this topic. This blog stems from my attendance this past weekend at the Perfect Game Showcase held at the Ballfields at Craigs Ranch in McKinney, Texas. I went to watch Garrett Wolforth play, but what I saw led to a discussion with Coach Ron Wolforth about the way 95% of the kids in attendance played. Continue reading →