Visit to Hanover High School in VA
Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Mechanicsville, VA, a suburb of Richmond, to visit with Coach Hunter Hoy at Hanover High School. Since Hanover High School opened 8 years ago, their baseball program has become a dominant baseball force in Virginia, culminating with an appearance in the State Championship game 2 years ago. Due to the success of his high school program, I was very interested to see the types of workouts and practices Coach Hoy implements for his players.
As I quickly found out once I arrived in Mechanicsville, Coach Hoy is an avid student of the game and had material from just about everyone who has published work regarding baseball. He likes to take information from different sources and apply them simultaneously, which helps to make his practices unique but extremely beneficial.
Although he does like to learn from a multitude of sources, the biggest influence on his workouts clearly came from the Athletic and Combat Pitcher Programs by Ron Wolforth. The main reason I visited Coach Hoy, besides wanting to talk with a very knowledgeable coach, was to watch a summer workout with many of the Hanover High School players, ranging from upperclassmen to incoming freshmen.
The workout began with all of the players using High Density Foam Rollers to help loosen up their muscles, specifically looking for any tender spots which they could focus on before they began another demanding workout. Following foam rollers was a series of plyometrics and dynamic stretching exercises. Those of you familiar with the Combat Pitcher Program would know this activity as "Verstegen's."
Once the players were sufficiently warm, Coach Hoy had his players run 10-15 yard sprints starting on their back, stomach, and in a lead off position, waiting until they heard "Go," at which point they had to make it through the line as quickly as possible. The purpose of these sprints were to focus on the players being as quick and explosive as possible, whether getting to their feet and through the line or the first 10 yards when stealing a base. While running, the players were paired up so that every sprint was a competition with each player being told their time from start to finish and then recording it in a notebook.
After the running I followed the players to the team shed which was full of workout equipment. The guys then pulled out this equipment and carried it to the school's sand volleyball pit. The players removed their shoes so that they would be performing all of the exercises barefoot. I loved that they did this because as I mentioned in a previous article discussing feet/ankles it is a phenomenal way to strengthen the lower limbs.
In the sand pit the guys, still paired up like they were during running, rotated among numerous stations which included, a large diameter 1 1/2 inch 100 foot rope; a large tire for flipping; a sledge hammer which they pounded a tire with; a 14 lb handle medicine ball against a wall; a PVC pipe filled with water which they held while doing lunges; and a Target Glove Set which includes a Focus Mitt and Bag Gloves.
The players targeted all areas of their body during this circuit. They worked their shoulders, grip, and core while doing arm swings with the Large Diameter Rope. The upper body was also utilized when pounding the sledge hammer into a tire on the sand. The core was trained with the 14lb medicine ball during the wall series, while the lower body was targeted when holding the water filled PVC pipe during lunges. Meanwhile, the Focus Mitt and Bag Gloves work on upper body quickness and explosiveness.
Coach Hoy used the Sport Timer to measure these exercises which were all done in 8 second increments. This way the athletes target their fast twitch ATP energy system, the one relied upon during a baseball game. The Sport Timer is a great tool because it is accurate to one thousand of a second and can be programmed for precise count up or count down stopwatch functions. The Sport Timer has a loud audible beep to start and stop the countdown which is important as it allows all athletes no matter how close to Coach Hoy to clearly hear it even when in the middle of an activity.
After these demanding but incredible workout circuits the players headed back to the field to do their throwing specific warm-ups. At this point many sets of Oates Specialties Tubing, Shoulder Tubes, Super-Pro, and an Exercise Plyometric Ball with dumbbells were brought out as the players used them all to prepare for the long toss which they were about to do. The long toss lasted around 20-30 minutes as the players were careful to take it out nice and easy and then pull the ball down on a line as they brought it in.
After reflecting on this off-season workout I can easily see why Hanover High School has one of the leading baseball programs in the state. Coach Hoy implements cutting edge workouts for his players. While many programs stick to conventional training methods such as weight room lifts and long distance running, Hanover players are put through a rigorous, explosive training program which is sport specific. This helps to prepare them for the demands of the game of baseball both by targeting specific movement patterns and the correct energy system used during competition.
I would encourage all of you out there to become as active a learner about the game of baseball as Coach Hoy and to utilize every piece of information you can get your hands on. If we can get players to train smarter, more efficiently, and specifically for the game which they are playing, the results will be overwhelmingly good. Injuries can be reduced, performance enhanced, and players will have the chance to play at levels they thought they never had a chance at reaching.
Until next time,