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Tag Archives: deliberate practice

  • Fire vs. Poise - By Coach Ron Wolforth

    Is it any wonder young athletes are confused, frustrated, hesitant and/or unsure?

    On one hand they routinely hear from their coaches, instructors and parents that it is absolutely imperative to do things with passion and emotion. They have to act with fire, fervor and enthusiasm.

    On the other hand, they are also continually exhorted to keep their heads about them when the game gets tight. They are advised to be cool, calm and play with poise and self control.

    So what is it?  Passionate or Coolheaded?  Emotion or Poise?  Fire or Self Control? 

    The obvious answer is… “It just depends”.

    The challenge is… it depends upon ‘what’ exactly?

    The late Earl Nightingale may have offered us a clue when he said “History tells us, when it comes to excellence and superior performance, the path is clear. Identify what a majority of people do in any specific endeavor and then do the exact opposite. ‘Mediocrity’, by definition, is conventional thinking condensed down into a universal, standard operating procedure. Excellence then, in contrast, is behavior that is uncommon, atypical, extraordinary and unique.”

    So the next question then becomes, “If fire and poise are both critical to success, how do we assist our young people in understanding when to unleash their passion and when to be imperturbable and stoic?”

    Keeping Nightingale’s insight in the front of our mind, let’s look first at what is commonplace. 

    At practice and at training, the typical interaction and behavior is businesslike, pedestrian, routine, mundane, repetitive, unremarkable and monotonous. 

    In a game on the other hand, when the scoreboard is turned on, the behavior is considerably different.  In the heat of competition, energy gets ramped up significantly.  We see angst, tension, intensity, heightened emotions, celebration and reveling from both coaches and players. 

    So what do we at the Texas Baseball Ranch® suggest?

    We endorse training and practice to involve a great deal of high energy… to have angst, tension, intensity, passion, celebration and intentional emotion. 

    We recommend that behavior in games should exude poise, control, focus, composure and presence of mind.  Especially as the game gets to its most critical moments, exceptional performers are able to manage their emotions, remain present and execute their skills based upon the specific demands of the game.   

    In short: 

    In Practice / Training: Ramp the intensity, energy and emotion WAY up. Whenever possible, compete with consequences. Continually and constantly celebrate and reinforce what you want to see more of.   

    In the game: Remain focused, cool, calm and collected.  Manage your emotions.  Be strategic, intentional and purposeful.  Stay level headed and remain in the present moment. 

    This is EXACTLY the opposite of what occurs all around the baseball universe every year. 

    We believe having fire, passion, emotion and enthusiasm is indeed critically important to success.  It is our belief that emotion is even more important during the daily grind of practice and training. If athletes become accustomed to handling pressure, anxiety, tension, conflict and emotion during their regular work, they will be far better prepared to remain reticent and unflappable during moments of intense duress.

    Botton Line: Be uncommon. In practice, when everybody is sleep-walking and going through the motions, be fiery and intense.  When everybody is amped up in the heat of competition, instead be calm, unflustered, clear-eyed and level headed.       

          This will not happen by accident.  It must be on purpose.

       – – – – – – – – – –

    ATTENTION Coaches – Did you miss our Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp?   Don’t worry, you can still order the event DVDs which include all 17 presentations featuring Brent Strom (Houston Astros), Derek Johnson (Cincinnati Reds), Dewey Robinson (Tampa Bay Rays), Vern Gambetta (GAIN), Dave Lawn (Univ. of AZ) plus nine others including the entire TBR staff.  You’re definitely going to want these for your library.  Go to www.coachesbootcamp.com or give us as call and we’ll get you set up!

    ATTENTION Pitchers – There are only two opportunities remaining to get to The Texas Baseball Ranch® and participate in an Elite Pitchers Bootcamp before the start of the 2019 season.  Those dates are Dec. 28-30 and Jan. 19-21 (Martin Luther King Holiday).  This is the perfect way to get a jump start on the 2019 season and your competition!  To learn more or register go to: https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/epbc/

    SPECIAL 1-Week Session –  We are offering a special 1-week training session (Dec. 17-21) for college (and high school) players who’d like to get some extended training in over the winter break.  It will follow a similar format to our summer program.  You must be a Ranch Returner to participate in this particular session.  For more information or to register, call The Ranch office at (936) 588-6762.

  • Practice vs Training By: Coach Flint Wallace

    Practice and Training are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.

    Every baseball team and player practices, but not all of them train.

    Let me explain what I mean…

    Practice is what we universally call anything that involves throwing, hitting, throwing a bullpen, taking ground balls and fly balls, etc.

    Practice is defined as, “Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it”.

    Most practices are just designed to engrain or imprint a player’s current level of skill, so they can just perform that skill more routinely.

    The issue is that this is often the only development a player receives.  There is little or no portion of their time dedicated to training.

    Training is defined as, “The act, process, or method of one that seeks to improve skill, knowledge, or experience in a certain area”.

    Training would be things like working to increase bat speed, throwing velocity, running speed, fielding range, etc.

    Practice is applying what you learned.  Training is learning how to improve something or do something new.

    Practice is about getting enough reps in so you can perform your skill instinctively.  Training is about being able to perform that skill better than you could before.

    Practice is about successfully performing a skill over and over.  Training is about pushing until you fail.

    Practice is often about looking good.  Training often looks ugly.

    Practice is often about being efficient.  Training is about improvement.

    Practice is often the same old routine.  Training is about change and adaptation.

    Understand that top-level players train, they don’t practice.

    So please don’t mistake practice for training, but make sure every rep of every drill or exercise is working towards improving.

    Until Next Time… Keep Getting After It!

     

    At The Texas Baseball Ranch®, we can help you determine the specific areas you need to focus on in you’re training.

    We have three dates remaining in our 2018 Summer Elite Pitchers’ Boot Camp schedule.

    Learn more about these exciting, information packed 3-Day events at
    http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/elite-pitchers-boot-camps/

    OR

    If you’d like to spend more time with us this summer, check out our Extended Stay Summer Intensive Program.
    http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/tbr-summer-program/

  • If Babies Could Talk First, They Might Not Learn To Walk! - by Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS

    Until I met Frans Bosch at the 2014 Texas Baseball Ranch Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp, my coaching style was unremarkable and, in retrospect … suboptimal.  It was what I call TWT coaching.

    Tell the player how to do something.
    Watch them do it.
    Then, tell them how to do it better.
    And, when they don’t get it right, label them “uncoachable” and move on.

    It’s typical …

    and it’s highly ineffective.

    According to Bosch, one of the world’s most preeminent experts in skill acquisition and motor learning science, “The body shows remarkably little interest in what the coach has to say.”

    That’s because when learning and refining movement skills, a couple of truths exist.
    First, you cannot repeat a movement. Every repetition will result in a subtle deviation from the previous trial. “Repeatable mechanics” are a unicorn! Instead of being a guy who “repeats” his mechanics, you should strive to be a world class, in-flight adjuster to the deviations you make. And those adjustments have to occur subconsciously — without thought. You see, when we measure the amount of time it takes for a neurologic impulse to travel from the brain to the muscles and back up to the brain again, it becomes clear that there isn’t enough time for any adjustment in the pattern to occur by way of conscious thought.

    Our players are required to perform skills that don’t allow time for thinking. Therefore, we can no longer continue to coach them with methods that demand conscious thought all the time.
    “On your next pitch, I want you to focus on …”
    “Ok, on this one, you need to think about …”
    “When you get right here in the motion, you need to concentrate on …”

    Listen to us!! Can we please stop? There’s no time for thinking, or focusing, or concentrating!!

    Trying to enter a motor learning domain via a cognitive input is a futile endeavor. If words, verbal cues, and cognitive thoughts are the primary means of coaching, they can interfere with learning and erode performance.

    When you were a baby, and you learned to walk, we couldn’t use verbal cues to teach (thank goodness). Instead, we used one of the six different motor learning techniques we use at The Florida Baseball Ranch® to elicit the necessary movement pattern. we created a safe environment and gave you a goal — “Come to mommy (or daddy)”. Then we let your infinitely intelligent body self-organize until you accomplished that goal.

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
    If babies could talk before they could walk, they might not ever learn to walk! As parents and coaches, we’d probably screw them up with verbal cues.

    We get banged on a lot about self-organization. Critics call it “FIO (figure-it-out) coaching” and when they do, it shows a gross misunderstanding of skill acquisition and motor learning science. Self-organization is far more complex than traditional explicit, verbal cue-laden coaching. It requires a lot more creativity and thought than “TWT coaching.”

    Here’s an infographic showing some the various ways we can influence a movement pattern without using verbal cues.
    Choosing and executing the right technique, on the right athlete, at the just the right time, and under just the right conditions — that is the art of master teaching.

    This is what I’ll be speaking on at The Florida Baseball Ranch®/Dutch Baseball Skill Acquisition Summit on Sep 8-9. I’ll be joined by several of the leading skill acquisition scientists and the most progressive thinking coaches, physical therapists and athletic trainers in the business. The scientists will lay out the theory and the coaches will show you exactly how you can implement it into your practices.

    It will be the first time ever that skill acquisition science will be applied specifically to baseball on such a grand scale.

    To Learn More or To Get Signed Up, Click Here.

    We can’t wait to see you at The Ranch®

    Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS
    CEO, The Florida Baseball Ranch®

  • Knowing What to Do vs. Doing What You Know - By Coach Ron Wolforth

    There is a process to success.

    First we must ‘know what to do.’  Many of us simply don’t know the many possible steps to becoming a more athletic, explosive and durable pitching athlete. We flounder around dabbling in long toss, long distance running, weight lifting, hiring a personal pitching coach, throwing our weekly bull pens, trying to tweak our mechanics…hoping beyond hope that when we wake up one morning in February…we will have gained 7 mph and are now a stud and heading to DI or the draft board.

    Unfortunately, for the vast, vast majority of pitchers, said program isn’t the final click in the combination lock which is constraining all that untapped potential they were searching for.  The conventional paradigm is just more of the same.

    As we say EVERY DAY at the Ranch,

    “If you do what everybody else does, you’re going to get what everybody else gets…which isn’t much.”

    “If you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always have gotten…and how’s that working out for you?”

    Although that makes perfect sense to 95% of the population, still there is the seductive thought that you could still be one of the rare ones who is exempt from such maxims.

    My comment to my son or daughter when they appear to be seduced down that slippery path of hoping to be exempt from the rules the rest of us have to follow: Even if you are one of the lucky ones and are truly blessed and gifted…you know in your heart, true success is long term.  It’s sustained and built over time.  It’s not a one shot thing.  Look at people who win the lottery – 84% of those winning the lottery will be back to their original state in 10 years.  They never learned or developed the discipline it takes to keep winning.  So even with their gifts or incredible blessings…they simply couldn’t sustain it.  On the other hand…work your way incrementally to becoming a millionaire…they can take your millions away…and in time…you’ll make your millions back.  Maybe no better case may be made for ‘knowing what to do…and then actually doing what you know’.

    Then we must ‘Do what we know.’  The ultimate success of students here at the Ranch inevitably comes down to how well and how often they do what they know.

    Knowledge is only potential power.  It becomes true power only when the knowledge is followed by action.

    That’s why I always seem to return to the ‘burning desire’ component.  For most of the young men I run across…they are interested in getting better…they hope they get better…they’d really like to get better.  But it is not a burning desire for them.  And in that case, no theory, no information nor any technique will be the ultimate answer.  

    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    If you have that burning desire, The Texas Baseball Ranch® is the place for you!  We’ve got a couple different options for you this summer.

    Come for 3 days or stay for several weeks…

    Our 2018 Summer Elite Pitchers’ Boot Camp dates have been set.
    Learn more about these exciting, information packed 3-Day events at
    http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/elite-pitchers-boot-camps/

    OR

    If you’d like to spend more time with us this summer, check out our Extended Stay Summer Intensive Program.
    http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/tbr-summer-program/

  • What’s the Goal Here? The First 5 Crucial Questions Surrounding Any Activity. By: Coach Ron Wolforth

    In 2003, Paul Nyman coined a definition that has become a centerpiece for us here at the Texas Baseball Ranch® for the past 14 years.

    Nyman refers to it as the Bernstein Principle: the body will organize itself based upon the ultimate goal of the activity.  It is derived from the works of the father of biomechanics, Nikolai Bernstein, a Soviet Neurophysiologist.

    14 years later it remains unassailable. Bernstein has actually become a verb of sorts at the Ranch. To Bernstein something at the Texas Baseball Ranch® implies we have a very clear goal, and we are acting in full accordance with that goal and not letting anything interfere with our efforts to achieve it. While the ultimate goal of this specific exercise certainly can and often will change or evolve, our commitment to our current stated goal at this moment must be unwavering. Distraction, diversion or interference must be kept to a minimum if we wish to grow and develop ahead of the rate of our competitive peer group.

    I find so many athletes and their parents confused, conflicted and/or bewildered regarding their personal development. They lack clarity and without clarity you are hard pressed to find conviction.  And without conviction... one cannot find consistent, exceptional performance at the higher levels of competition.

    But I personally believe the Bernstein Principle has merit way beyond the sports arena.

    On a regular basis, I believe one should have a built in personal dialogue loop that in almost every important endeavor undertaken... frequently asks 5 basic questions.

    #1. What's the specific goal here? (Perhaps even... what is the ULTIMATE goal here?)

    #2. Why is THIS goal so important to me?

    #3. What are the specific obstacles in my way to achieving THIS goal?

    #4. What are the dangers along this path to the achievement of THIS goal?

    #5. Who or what resources do I need assistance from to achieve THIS goal?

    For example:

    Debating whether to try to develop a slider instead of a curveball? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to take part in a velocity enhancement program? Ask the 5 questions!

    Deciding on the specific strength/stability or mobility/ flexibility program and process to use. Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to transfer schools? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to ask a girl out on a date? Ask the 5 questions!

    Most athletes simply can't answer those questions clarity, self-actualization and self-awareness are too often lacking in their day to day world.

    So they get distracted. They drift off course. They get confused. They get angry. They get frustrated.  They get disheartened and disillusioned.

    As famous mountain climber Alison Levine shared in a TED talk regarding the lessons she learned from climbing Mount Everest:

    "Fear is absolutely' OK... it's normal.  It is complacency that will kill you."

    In my opinion, it is the same with skill development.

    Here's to you developing the habitual inner dialogue of a high performer. Practice utilizing the 5 questions as often as you can in your daily life. I promise you that your productivity will increase.

    Until next time,

    Stay Curious & Keep Fighting the Good Fight

  • What’s the Goal Here? The First 5 Crucial Questions Surrounding Any Activity. By: Coach Ron Wolforth

    In 2003, Paul Nyman coined a definition that has become a centerpiece for us here at the Texas Baseball Ranch® for the past 14 years.

    Nyman refers to it as the Bernstein Principle: the body will organize itself based upon the ultimate goal of the activity.  It is derived from the works of the father of biomechanics, Nikolai Bernstein, a Soviet Neurophysiologist.

    14 years later it remains unassailable. Bernstein has actually become a verb of sorts at the Ranch. To Bernstein something at the Texas Baseball Ranch® implies we have a very clear goal, and we are acting in full accordance with that goal and not letting anything interfere with our efforts to achieve it. While the ultimate goal of this specific exercise certainly can and often will change or evolve, our commitment to our current stated goal at this moment must be unwavering. Distraction, diversion or interference must be kept to a minimum if we wish to grow and develop ahead of the rate of our competitive peer group.

    I find so many athletes and their parents confused, conflicted and/or bewildered regarding their personal development. They lack clarity and without clarity you are hard pressed to find conviction.  And without conviction... one cannot find consistent, exceptional performance at the higher levels of competition.

    But I personally believe the Bernstein Principle has merit way beyond the sports arena.

    On a regular basis, I believe one should have a built in personal dialogue loop that in almost every important endeavor undertaken... frequently asks 5 basic questions.

    #1. What's the specific goal here? (Perhaps even... what is the ULTIMATE goal here?)

    #2. Why is THIS goal so important to me?

    #3. What are the specific obstacles in my way to achieving THIS goal?

    #4. What are the dangers along this path to the achievement of THIS goal?

    #5. Who or what resources do I need assistance from to achieve THIS goal?

    For example:

    Debating whether to try to develop a slider instead of a curveball? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to take part in a velocity enhancement program? Ask the 5 questions!

    Deciding on the specific strength/stability or mobility/ flexibility program and process to use. Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to transfer schools? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to ask a girl out on a date? Ask the 5 questions!

    Most athletes simply can't answer those questions clarity, self-actualization and self-awareness are too often lacking in their day to day world.

    So they get distracted. They drift off course. They get confused. They get angry. They get frustrated.  They get disheartened and disillusioned.

    As famous mountain climber Alison Levine shared in a TED talk regarding the lessons she learned from climbing Mount Everest:

    "Fear is absolutely' OK... it's normal.  It is complacency that will kill you."

    In my opinion, it is the same with skill development.

    Here's to you developing the habitual inner dialogue of a high performer. Practice utilizing the 5 questions as often as you can in your daily life. I promise you that your productivity will increase.

    Until next time,

    Stay Curious & Keep Fighting the Good Fight

  • What's the Goal Here? The First 5 Crucial Questions Surrounding Any Activity- By: Coach Ron Wolforth

    In 2003, Paul Nyman coined a definition that has become a centerpiece for us here at the Texas Baseball Ranch® for the past 14 years.

    Nyman refers to it as the Bernstein Principle: the body will organize itself based upon the ultimate goal of the activity.  It is derived from the works of the father of biomechanics, Nikolai Bernstein, a Soviet Neurophysiologist.

    14 years later it remains unassailable. Bernstein has actually become a verb of sorts at the Ranch. To Bernstein something at the Texas Baseball Ranch® implies we have a very clear goal, and we are acting in full accordance with that goal and not letting anything interfere with our efforts to achieve it. While the ultimate goal of this specific exercise certainly can and often will change or evolve, our commitment to our current stated goal at this moment must be unwavering. Distraction, diversion or interference must be kept to a minimum if we wish to grow and develop ahead of the rate of our competitive peer group.

    I find so many athletes and their parents confused, conflicted and/or bewildered regarding their personal development. They lack clarity and without clarity you are hard pressed to find conviction.  And without conviction... one cannot find consistent, exceptional performance at the higher levels of competition.

    But I personally believe the Bernstein Principle has merit way beyond the sports arena.

    On a regular basis, I believe one should have a built in personal dialogue loop that in almost every important endeavor undertaken... frequently asks 5 basic questions.

    #1. What's the specific goal here? (Perhaps even... what is the ULTIMATE goal here?)

    #2. Why is THIS goal so important to me?

    #3. What are the specific obstacles in my way to achieving THIS goal?

    #4. What are the dangers along this path to the achievement of THIS goal?

    #5. Who or what resources do I need assistance from to achieve THIS goal?

    For example:

    Debating whether to try to develop a slider instead of a curveball? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to take part in a velocity enhancement program? Ask the 5 questions!

    Deciding on the specific strength/stability or mobility/ flexibility program and process to use. Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to transfer schools? Ask the 5 questions!

    Debating whether or not to ask a girl out on a date? Ask the 5 questions!

    Most athletes simply can't answer those questions clarity, self-actualization and self-awareness are too often lacking in their day to day world.

    So they get distracted. They drift off course. They get confused. They get angry. They get frustrated.  They get disheartened and disillusioned.

    As famous mountain climber Alison Levine shared in a TED talk regarding the lessons she learned from climbing Mount Everest:

    "Fear is absolutely' OK... it's normal.  It is complacency that will kill you."

    In my opinion, it is the same with skill development.

    Here's to you developing the habitual inner dialogue of a high performer. Practice utilizing the 5 questions as often as you can in your daily life. I promise you that your productivity will increase.

    Until next time,

    Stay Curious & Keep Fighting the Good Fight

    If you are a Ranch alumni we have a special holiday training session available- reply to this email to find out more.

    There are 2 opportunities remaining for players to join us this winter,  find the dates and more information at www.texasbaseballranch.com/elite-pitchers-bootcamp/ 

    We also have our annual Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp scheduled for Dec 8-10, you can register or purchase DVD's at PitchingCoachesBootcamp.com

  • 5 Major Changes and Upgrades at the Texas Baseball Ranch® by Ron Wolforth

    Based upon the works of Dr. Frans Bosch and Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, the Ranch training systems have significantly shifted toward the awareness of how the brain is being influenced and shaped during each training session and how our practice sessions are either developing/ optimizing or inhibiting with/ interfering with our athlete’s ability to adjust and adapt during competition. It has become painfully obvious to us that the traditional standard practice fare almost always represents a real limitation to an athlete’s ability to adjust.

    Therefore we utilize the concept of Differential Learning and Deliberate Practice in almost every single facet of our training. Our clients systematically enhance their ability to adjust, adapt and overcome…it’s baked into the training cake. It’s part of what they do every day…Practicing Adjustment.

    1). The Multi-colored Pad and Khaos balls are our newest training tools for a process we refer to as Khaos Training. By constantly changing the target and the size, weight and texture of EVERY Ball on EVERY Throw, 1) the brain is actively engaged and 2) The body learns to organize itself quickly and effectively over time.
    k-target-and-khaos-balls
    2). By staggering the distances of our Advanced Command Trainers and utilizing V Flex in our command series and charting our sessions, we have seen dramatic improvements in our athlete’s ability to adjust and engage the brain during otherwise mundane training sessions.

    command-trainer-v-flex

    3). We utilize many of the concepts of Jozef Frucek, Martin Bosy and Fighting Monkey™ and their paradigm of Earthquake Architecture.

    fighting-monkey

    4) We have expanded and improved our utilization of such tools as the Bell Club, Wrist Weights, Shoulder Tube™, Mini Bands and the Durathro™ Baseball Training Sock, *Take special notice the video screen in front of the athletes (red circle) playing slow motion and regular speed segments of elite, world class throwing athletes, focusing in on the specific movement segment the athletes are trying to reproduce*.

    throwingsockand-miniband

    5) We have modified our strength development and corrective exercises to focus on coordination, synergy, variability, malleability and strength specifically at end ranges of motion. Literally everything has at least a component of adaptability and adjustability to it.

    training-tools


    Note from Robert Oates:

    Would you like to learn more about how elite pitchers are developed and how Oates Specialties equipment is used to improve elite athletes? If yes, then I encourage you to attend the Texas Baseball Ranch Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp. For the past 13 years, this experience has been the annual highlight of my year.

    The always remarkable content offered at the event is from world class presenters, and the networking opportunity with people who live and breathe pitching always proves to be invaluable. From the program shown below, it is evident this year’s event will also be extraordinary.

    Coach Wolforth has given us the opportunity to offer you a $50.00 registration discount. Just enter the code OATES (be sure to use all capital letters) in the registration form found at www.CoachesBootCamp.com.

    This year’s Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp is slated for December 7 -10 (Friday through Sunday, with a bonus day on Thursday). Gunnar, Drayton and I will be there and hope to see you there as well!

    Robert


    The 2017 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp

    For the first time ever the UPCBC will be held in the brand new 4700 square feet theatre and assessment center. (At the Ranch we refer to it as the BIG RED BARN). This allows us a temperature controlled theatre in an awesome facility for the lecture presentations AND immediate access to our two 3600 sq ft training barns for any break out and hands on sessions. In our opinion this property is the ultimate venue for an event of this nature.

    redbarn-at-tbr

    The Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp Agenda:

    Bonus Day: Thursday, December 7: You get insider access to all the latest methods we use with our MLB, college, and younger athletes at The Ranch.
    Boot Camp: Friday - Sunday, December 8-10: Three full days of expert sessions, Q&A, and camaraderie. Learn from your peers, make new friends, and form valuable new connections to further your career as a coach.

    Coach Wallace will talk about the efficient utilization of the Lower Half- both the back hip and glute as well as lead leg disconnections…and The Ranch process of Deliberate Practice in creating systematic gains in Command.
    Coach Kaday will discuss the Power Core 360 and how we enhance torque as well as increasing an athlete’s awareness of synergy, coordination and the summation of force.
    Coach Massey will talk about Recovery and how to dramatically improve it in your pitching athletes with some very simple steps.
    Coach Wolforth will discuss a myriad of topics- from simple ways to better engage the brain at practice for almost immediately higher levels of performance at game time; to the developing real leaders that actually make a difference inside your ball club and organization.

    And Our Guest Lecturers include:

    Jonathan Armold: Minor League Pitching Coach, Texas Rangers
    Brian Cain: World Renown Peak Performance Coach
    Jon Huizinga: Baseball Coach with a holistic training approach emphasizing fuel/nutrition.
    Jeff Krushell: Human Performance and Development Expert & Major League Baseball International Consultant
    Stephen Osterer: Doctor of Chiropractic at Totum Life Science
    Tim Nicely: President V-Flex Technology
    Martijn Nijhoff: Studied Under Frans Bosch; Talent Coach for Knbsb
    Gary Reinl: Author of "Iced - The Illusionary Treatment Option"
    Randy Sullivan: P.T and owner Florida Baseball Ranch®

    For More information or to Register: www.CoachesBootCamp.com

  • Rethinking Your On-Deck Warm Up Routine:

    An age old baseball tradition is for hitters to warm up in the on-deck circle with some type of heavier than normal bat. It could be that the hitter adds a donut to his bat or perhaps he swings with two bats in his hands.  Below is what you often see on Major League on-deck circles.

    But is a weighted bat (or other instrument) in the on-deck circle really a good idea? The research on this topic screams one answer: NO!

    Let me back up for a second. I have often touted the benefits of the overload/underload training principle. The overload principle is defined as the application of any demand or resistance that is greater than those levels normally encountered in daily life. The body is amazing in that it has the ability to adjust to the demands of physical stress placed upon it. When you stress the body in a manner it's unaccustomed to, the body will react by causing physiological changes in order to handle the stress in a better way the next time it occurs.

    For example, athletes have found great success in increasing their velocity by training with the TAP Extreme Duty Weighted Balls. The weight of these balls force your body to sync up and utilize the most efficient movement patterns in order to deal with the added weight. Similarly, utilizing the overload/underload principle when training an athlete’s swing can be effective if done properly. One problem though is that there are very few training implements that allow a hitter to train in the same plane and same movement as a baseball swing.

    Oates Specialties specifically added the Speed Chains to its line of products a number of years ago because of its unique ability to train a baseball athlete in explosive rotational movements that are very similar to those required when swinging a bat during a game. The Speed Chains are unique in that they allow the athlete to rotate explosively while loaded with weight. Take a look at this post and the video below if you want to learn more about the Speed Chains.

    One important concept to keep in mind though is that overload training slows down the body’s movements. The point of overload training is to place higher/heavier levels of stress on the body’s muscles which will force those muscles to adapt. This is a tremendous training program for the offseason. However, the overload principle is most effective when it is paired together with the underload principle. Underload training involves demands or resistance lighter than those levels normally encountered. The purpose of underload training is to accelerate the muscle firing in order to make fast twitch muscles work at top speed. While overload works on strengthening the movement/muscles, underload works on quickening the movement/muscles. Strength combined with speed is the key to athletic success.

    Now let’s circle back to the on-deck activities of hitters. These hitters are loading up the weight of their bat mere seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. Most hitters do so because of the sensation that their regular bat will feel lighter after swinging the loaded bat. Unfortunately, this sensation does not translate into a faster bat speed. Swinging a heavier bat actually trains your body to move slower. Your arms, shoulders, and hip rotation are all moving at a slower speed because of the additional weight. We know this both intuitively (we are swinging a heavy implement so the speed necessarily decreases) and from studies on the topic. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article that shows the decrease in bat speed after practice swings with a heavier bat.

    When trying to hit a 90+ mph fastball, we don’t want a slower bat speed. We want to have the maximum amount of time to identify the pitch and its trajectory before pulling the trigger and swinging. Plus, a batter’s bat speed correlates directly to the distance the ball travels. For example, studies show that an 85 mph fastball hit solidly on the sweet spot by a bat swung at 70 mph will travel 400 feet. But that same ball struck by the same bat at 80 mph will travel approximately 450 feet. So our objective at the plate should be to make solid contact with the fastest possible bat speed. Oates Specialties carries the Swing Speed Radar so that athletes can focus on improving their bat speed because we should all know by now that if you don’t measure it, you can’t accurately improve it.

    Accordingly, contrary to common thinking and baseball tradition, warming up with a weighted bat is actually priming the athlete to move slower, not faster. Slower is not better when a fastball thrown at 90 mph can reach home plate in approximately 0.42 seconds and the batter must identify the pitch, the velocity, the trajectory, and whether to swing in an even shorter time frame. So I encourage you to stop warming up with weighted bats on the on-deck circle or pregame. Instead, your focus before an at bat should be to prepare your fast twitch muscles to be ready to fire at top speed. This is best accomplished by using a lighter than normal bat, as your body will actually be moving at a faster rate of speed than it does with your regular weighted bat.

    So while it may blow your mind and go against traditional baseball thinking, the best thing you can do before stepping into the box is to leave that donut on the ground, grab a lighter bat than the one you will step up to the plate with, and let a few swings rip. This will wake up your fast twitch muscles and you will be ready to turn on that 90 mph fastball on the inner half of the plate.

    Until next time,

    Brian Oates

    brian@oatesspecialties.com

     

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  • Being Successful With Your Off-Speed Pitches - By: Gunnar Thompson, NASM-CPT, PES, CPPS

    With season in full swing, you may have discovered a few things that you could improve on. One of these might be your off-speed pitches. Whether it is your curveball, slider, change-up, or split finger, I believe some of the tips I learned while playing could help you with your arsenal of off-speed pitches.

    The first thing I tried to do with my curveball and change-up was to have the same or similar grip compared to my fastball. For me, I could throw my fastball and change-up with the exact same grip (I struggled mastering this with my curveball). This meant I spent less time fumbling with the ball in my glove to get the grip necessary for the pitch. I learned this from a former teammate who was drafted several times and ultimately pitched in the Big Leagues. He was able to throw his fastball(two seam and four seam), slider, and change-up with the exact same grip. It allowed him to focus only on his wrist placement and executing the pitch (not whether his grip for that pitch was just right). This made complete sense to me because it eliminated any concern about tipping pitches or getting that “perfect” feel for the pitch. Why wouldn’t you want to have less to worry about?

    The second thing that helped me establish the most consistent spin with my curveball while keeping my arm healthy was “pre-setting” the pitch.  This meant my curveball would be set into supination (palm facing toward the body) or for my change-up it would be set into pronation (palm facing away from the body). I would have that position set in my glove, and it would not change during the delivery. I did not try to manipulate spin by trying to snap the curveball or “break it off”.  By presetting the position, it allowed me to get consistent spin which enabled me to better control the pitch, and there was not the added stress of late rotation of the wrist which would have put more force on the elbow.

    In addition to the above, every time I threw an off-speed pitch my focus was to throw it as hard as I possibly could. This allowed me to get more spin for tighter later movement, and by throwing the pitch with the same arm speed the hitter could not recognize that it was an off-speed pitch.  Too often pitchers slow their arm speed and/or delivery when throwing off-speed pitches which is a dead give a way to the hitter that something other than a fastball was coming.  Ultimately, I wanted the same intent on a breaking ball or a change-up as I had with my fastball.

    Last, I used tools to help me create additional spin and to learn how to use the spin to command the pitch. I specifically used two tools. The first were weighted balls. I would use the Extreme Duty Weighted Balls, which don't have seams, to try to create spin. I found that after creating spin on a NON-SEAMED ball, I was able to create a lot more spin with a seamed baseball. Also, the weight of the balls made it easier for me to simulate intent, but my arm speed was still slow enough to work on the release. The second implement I used was two baseballs taped together on top of each other. I would throw this to see the axis of the rotation. If you do not know what axis of rotation is on your pitch, it is incredibly hard to predict where it will end up. I knew if I had more of a 12-6 rotation that day, I would need to aim higher and directly above the mitt. If it was more of a 1-7 movement than I would adjust and aim above and to the left of the glove (I am left-handed). This was crucial for my control.  Although it was not around when I played, I would have also implemented the Baseball Training Sock. The Baseball Training Sock allows you to throw your off-speed inside the sock. You cannot see where the ball would end up, so it would have promoted more feel of the release for me. I was a little inconsistent on the feel of my breaking ball from game to game, but I truly believe this implement would have made me much more consistent.

    I hope you are able to take one or more of my experiences training for off-speed pitches and implement it into your training. At the end of the day, I tried to find the simplest way to train and improve my off-speed pitches, and I hope you do the same.  There is so much importance put on the fastball for good reason, but having two or three plus pitches is better than one.

    Be Unique and #BeELITE

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