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Tag Archives: athletes

  • Can Everyone Train and Reach 90 m.p.h.?

    Those of you who are familiar with the Texas Baseball Ranch know the success it has had helping athletes make incredible gains in velocity—of course, Oates Specialties equipment aids these athletes in reaching their goals. Coach Ron Wolforth has adopted a mantra whereby he believes that every single athlete that walks through the Texas Baseball Ranch’s doors (actually, it’s a gate) can reach the 90 mile-per-hour threshold. This is quite the opposite from the old world baseball people that believe you either have it or you don’t—essentially, you either have been blessed with the genetics to throw harder than the rest of society or you haven't. I (obviously) think that the latter thought process is simply a coping mechanism as a way for people to try and make up for their shortcomings—whether it’s a coach that can’t help his players increase their velocities or a player who isn’t willing to work hard enough or isn’t willing to learn enough in order to improve his velocity.

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  • A Student of the Game vs. A Fan of the Game

    I was recently on the road and had an opportunity to catch up on some of Coach Ron and Jill Wolforth’s audio CDs that Inner Circle members receive once a month on a variety of topics. I highly recommend becoming an Inner Circle member for those of you wanting to stay up to date on Coach Wolforth’s philosophies and to hear him and Jill discuss some of the most cutting edge topics in the game. The topic of this blog comes from one of Coach Wolforth’s discussions on his Inner Circle audio CDs.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Neuromuscular Pathways: Why they're important to Athletes

    As soon as you begin research involving sports training or innovative new training regimens it is common to read about what the training does for your neuromuscular pathways. I had a basic idea as to what this means but I knew that I was uninformed of the science behind it and I figured others might be as well. So I decided to devote an article to this important topic.

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  • Strength Training: Trap Bar Deadlift

    On several occasions I talked about improving flexibility, mobility, and stability in athletes. While I believe these are the most important areas for athletes to concentrate on in order to stay healthy and improve performance there is another aspect of training that I have not talked about much—power.

    Power is important to athletes in all sports but the reason I haven’t really addressed it much to this point is because it is the one area of training that seems to be targeted by ALL coaches. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in a weight room forced to do mindless repetitions with as much weight as I could possibly move. Because of this, most athletes need to concentrate on other aspects of training.

    Athletes in different sports need to train specifically for the movements and demands of their sport. Offensive linemen, for example, need to have a great deal of linear upper body strength and therefore an activity such as a bench press is great for training that. Other athletes do not need that type of strength and therefore the bench press offers limited benefits for a rotational game such as baseball.

    The biggest problem with most strength programs for sports is that they are not tailored to that sport. The root of the problem stems from the fact that many coaches are football coaches and coach baseball and other sports on the side. While not every lift or exercise in the weight room is beneficial to all athletes there are certain exercises that can be utilized that universally benefits athletes.

    One such exercise is the deadlift. The deadlift is great because it is an explosive movement that targets the lower half. Specifically it targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. These are large muscle groups that control a great majority of movements that an athlete makes. One reason the deadlift is such a great exercise is because it requires the athlete to generate strength and power in a lowered position before he springs upward with the weight.

    Here is what Eric Cressey, renowned strength coach and owner of Cressey Performance, had to say about the benefits of the deadlift: “…the deadlift is the single, most effective movement for training the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, adductor magnus, and lumbar erectors). The posterior chain is of paramount importance to high-level performance…The glutes and hamstrings are all fast-twitch fibers with a lot of strength, speed, and size potential—potential you’ll never realize without deadlift variations.”

    Athletes are frequently in a lowered, crouched position and are required to explode up into the air. Think of a shortstop jumping for a line drive, a receiver leaping for a pass, and even to some degree a pitcher as he is generating his pelvic load and then explodes toward home plate.

    Here is a video of Eric Cressey himself demonstrating a deadlift.

    Deadlifts are an explosive exercise that an athlete can use to target his fast twitch muscles.  One of my biggest problems with a lot of weight room training is that it is not explosive and doesn’t help athletes become quicker and more athletic. But after watching Eric perform deadlifts it is apparent that the exercise is a fast and explosive motion. It targets the same muscles used when running, jumping, and other activities that require the athlete to go from still to full speed.

    Many of you may have noticed that the bar Eric used was not a normal straight bar but instead is open in the middle for the athlete to stand in. This product is called the Olympic Trap Bar. It is superior to a straight bar because it creates more room for the knees to pass through while recruiting the legs and glutes and helps to protect the back. It is much easier to keep good form while standing in the middle of the Trap Bar as opposed to using a straight bar. I highly encourage you all to try and implement using the Trap Bar into your workouts.

    As with all exercises, especially weight room exercises, it is important that the athlete use proper form. Proper form consists in part of keeping the shoulders back, abs tight, and back straight. But before you perform deadlift exercises it is important to discuss proper form with a strength coach or somebody knowledgeable in weight training.

    Until next time,

    Brian Oates

  • Objective Measurements for Athletes

    Objective measurement. Those two words are extremely important if you are seeking to enhance your skill and ability in any sport. What do I mean by them exactly? I'm talking about athletes measuring and recording everything they do. This idea is certainly nothing new in regards to athletics. For decades coaches have been timing 40 yard dashes, recording the amount players are able to lift in the weight room, and all sports keep statistics. However, this is only brushing the surface of what I mean by measuring.What I am referring to is measuring more than just an athlete's performance in games, or a player's speed or strength once every few months. I mean keeping a daily recording of any and all activities an athlete does in preparation for their sport. How do you measure all of the different activities an athlete does in practice and workouts? Its not as difficult as you might think.

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  • Over-Coaching

    I want to stay on the theme of athleticism and explosiveness and address what is killing many athletes' ability to become athletic. It often boils down to the fact that too many coaches are "over coaching" their players. This is something that has been happened in baseball for many years now.

    Coaches are breaking pitching and hitting mechanics into many tiny parts and teaching each of these micro positions individually hoping the athlete can piece them together to create an athletic, explosive 90 mph fastball or a screaming 400 foot line drive. This is not the right way to go about producing it.

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