Category Archives: Baseball Training

Success Story: Cameron Repetti

Huge congratulations to Cameron Repetti, one of our HS baseball athletes, who has taken some big strides towards accomplishing his goals this summer. In just under 3 months of taking pride in his athleticism, and arm here at Champion’s QUEST, Cameron has already tacked on 2 MPH (pushing to 87) to his fastball and has no signs of slowing down. He is being recognized as a top prospect both in the field, at the plate, and on the mound at every showcase and event he attends. It is clear that Cam has a very polished game with strong tools to go a long with his raw power. With this, of course, is coming a lot of interest and attention from coaches at the D1 collegiate level. What’s scary, Cameron is only going into his sophomore year! The hard work and dedication, is helping Cameron separate himself from the pack, and he still has a lot of work ahead of him.3994-purple-15

Recently, Cameron attended the PG West Coast Underclass showcase, and stood out as one of the best prospects on the field. He was ranked at the top of the prospect list for the event with some very positive notes. “Repetti has lots of tools on both sides of the ball and is very projectable at 6-2/175. He topped out at 87 mph and showed lots of bat speed and easy power from the right side of the plate.”

With multiple more years to continue refining his craft, and athleticism, he has a very, very bright future indeed. As he continues to develop his posterior strength, rotational based core strength, and lateral agility he is going to continue to add to his already impressive, raw power. I am very excited to continue watching Cameron develop and mature as a ball player. 

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

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Success Story: Chris Morgan Throws No-Hitter

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Chris Morgan: Flashed dominant stuff against Jordan High School at Blair Field over the weekend. He threw a complete game no-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts.

Huge Congratulations to Chris Morgan on his scorching start to the 2016 spring high school baseball season. Chris is a left-handed pitcher at Western High School and has been training at Champion’s QUEST for a little over 3 months now. He has a tremendous appetite for learning, growing, and self improvement. He has worked very had both on the field, and in the weight room to improve his functional strength, mobility, and mechanics. What I am most impressed with about Chris, however, is how he hard he has worked to shift his mental approach to the game. Here at Champion’s QUEST it is all about the process. If you learn to control ONLY the things you are capable of controlling, the results will come. In the case of Chris this is clearly evident. In his first two starts for Western, Chris has combined for two complete game shutouts, including a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts, and a 1-hit shutout with 9 strikeouts. This display of dominance is a testament to him, the hard work he has put in, and his passion for the game of baseball.

What’s scary about Chris, is he is just getting started with what he is capable of achieving as an athlete! The sky is the limit for him, and I have no doubt that he is hungry for more. I greatly look forward to being apart of his journey as he continues to fine tune his body, mechanics, and approach to the game. I can only imagine what his continued work ethic, and drive will produce, as he continues to mature as a ball player.

Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI
USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

Why is “Core” So Important? Part 2

Where we last left off, I introduced the topic of Core training, and why it is so important for rotational based athletes. The idea is that we use the body as a “giant whip” from the ground up to propel ourselves or an object with maximal force. The legs can be considered the big “V8 engine” that is responsible for starting the acceleration process. This emphasizes that a large amount of force is being pushed through the ground. From there, the core is next to engage and represents the connection point between the lower and upper extremities. Without a strong connection point, the energy will sub-maximally be transferred, and thus the athlete will not maximize their potential power.

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At 5’10” 170 lbs, Jamie Sadlowski is a prime example of how a powerful core can propel an athlete. He has won two World Long Drive Titles, despite being “under-sized” for the sport. 

Before we touch on the specifics of proper rotational strength training, however, we have to understand how we approach this from a functional standpoint. The “Joint-By-Joint Approach” is something I explicitly follow when it comes to training athletes to be functionally stronger. This approach explains how each joint from the ground up must alternate between mobility and stability. For instance, the ankles must be mobile, the knees stable, the hips mobile, etc. When an imbalance occurs in this chain and a joint inappropriately either loses or gains mobility, the other joints in the chain will inappropriately have to compensate for the imbalance. This, undoubtedly, can lead to injuries. With this in mind, as we work up the chain, this approach demands that the Lumbar Spine must remain stable, while the Thoracic Spine must exhibit mobility.

This is such an important concept when it comes to rotational strength development. It is all too easy to put an athlete in a position where they are putting rotational stress through the Lumbar Spine. A prime example of this is a “Russian Twist.” How can the athlete possibly complete this drill without mobilizing the Lumbar Spine? The emphasis of tapping each side of the body forces the athlete to reach, round the shoulders, and inherently round their spine. The stress and “work” of the movement works its way down the rounded spine and falls directly on the Lumbar section. Even worse, the athlete is usually encouraged to use a medicine ball, which creates an added load and adds to the stress of the Lumbar Spine. So, while the athlete is gaining strength in the appropriate rotational based core muscles, they are promoting an imbalance in their mobility.0

This leads us to the absolute truth, that rotational based core training must promote rotational specific strength, AND promote the combination of lumbar stability and thoracic spine mobility. Strength without range of motion is useless! In fact, strength without range of motion, is an injury just waiting to happen. Next time, we will continue to dive into the specifics of this very particular type of training. Every athletic movement pattern can be classified by both the strength of the movement, and the speed of the movement. Stay tuned as we go over progressions, and how to effectively program for power gains.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance

Why Is “Core” So Important? Part 1

1092672031_5a3196371cToday’s discussion is centered around core training for rotational athletes and why it is such a crucial aspect of athletic development. The definition, (and even translation) of “Core” has been lost in this digital age of fad fitness, and mis-information. The “Core” does not comprise of just the abdominals, but rather defines the entire thoracic region. In this discussion we will start by focusing on the the trunk. In later discussion we will get into the importance of the Gluteals, Lower back muscles, and pelvic/ hip muscle groups which all contribute to the efficiency of the core. The “trunk” consists of the Rectus Abdominus muscle group, Transverse Abdominals, Internal and External Obliques, Intercostals, Rhomboids, and Erector Spinae.

core-strength-for-golfingAs a society we have gotten caught up in the development of the Rectus Abdominus muscle group which almost exclusively works the sagittal (linear based) plane. If we are being honest with ourselves, we spend our effort on this muscle group for the classic “six-pack” look that will come from concerted effort. While an athlete with a “six-pack” will certainly look the part, and be very strong in that linear plane, they will undoubtedly have deficiencies when it comes to developing rotational force.

troutweb28s-webThe Core is the undeniable connection point between the upper and lower body. When we talk about movement patterns, and strength development, I always like to put it into perspective of how the athlete is developing force through the ground. Whether it is a sprint, a squat, a lunge, or a jump, from a bio-mechanical point of view we are looking at how much force is being produced in the ground, and in which direction it is established. The entire body is involved in this process, which is a point that is commonly over-looked.

Also, in terms of a rotational sport specific point of view, the entire body is used as a giant whip. The force is developed through the ground, up the legs, through the core, and finally out through the upper extremities. Without the engagement, strength, and ability to conduct this force effectively, the core serves as the weak link that is holding back the rotational athlete. Going back to how we defined “core,” this means the athlete needs to pay attention to the other smaller muscle groups (especially the external obliques) which are involved in producing rotational power. Not only do we want to build these muscle groups, but we want to do so through the transverse plane, and without engaging the lumbar spine.

example_hipsrotatingbeforeshoulders_timlincecum_2007_035The ability to maximally transfer energy from the legs through the core in a transverse (rotational) plane to the arms, is arguably the most important factor of development in rotational athletes. This ability can make a substantial difference when we start talking about power numbers and velocity gains. At Champion’s QUEST we focus on the details, which means there is no guess work in how we train our athletes. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will begin to spell out the details of this rotational specific core training.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USA-W, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance

The “Athlete” Pitcher: A Look At the Modern Power Arm Part III- Real Life Examples

In my opinion one of the true leaders of advanced arm strength development is exemplified at Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch, and their product does not lie. The likes of Trevor Bauer, Scott Kazmir, CJ Wilson and many others achieved success with the help of the ranch.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cleveland IndiansThe overall health and longevity of a prototypical pitcher from the ranch is best seen in their success story of Trevor Bauer. Although it is difficult to advocate a UCLA Bruin who toyed with our Trojan lineup for 9 innings when I was there in 2011, I cannot deny that I have a huge amount of respect for his un-wavering tenacity and approach to the game. Over the course of 3 years at UCLA trevor threw an unnerving 373.1 innings, which by many standards would have been considered arm abuse. Yet, he thrived week in and week out, and often would come back on short rest for big games! That was simply the way he was wired, and his extremely targeted workout regiment put him in the position to thrive as a true workhorse. I had the opportunity to experience the ranch a few years ago, and was immediately impressed by their simplistic yet structured approach to arm development. Not only did they cover the approach to long toss and the throwing program, but they had an entire program which encompassed mechanical training, short-burst plyo/ power training, the mental game, and a strong culture of motivation and confidence.

Scott KazmirThe biggest take-away I had while at the ranch, was the culture of throwing a baseball. Every day catch play is just as much a part of training as the work you put in at the gym. I learned that power throwing and power training need to coincide together. Training the body is only so good as how you train your arm, and vice versa. This culture also demands that the least strenuous day a pitcher faces during the typical in-season or off-season week should be the day they pitch. Injury prevention is only so good as the work you put in. It is naive to believe that rest and cardio alone can prevent the wear and tear of throwing every week on the mound. This approach certainly does not work in any other sport, and it will never work for a pitcher.

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Texas Baseball Ranch Pitchers Hard at Work

It is clear that over the course of 25+ years we have not progressed in our approach to arm training, and in many ways we have actually taken steps backwards. It is time to take more pride in the way we research, mentor, and ultimately develop young arms. The widespread culture of “throwing minimalism” is certainly not the long term plan of success. Rather, concerted work ethic combined with a clear and proven direction will develop the next wave of elite young power arms.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USA-W, TPI

Baseball Performance Specialist, Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy

 

Success Story: Tyler Cobb

When athletes work really hard, really good things happen. This is made evident and best exemplified in Tyler Cobb. Tyler is a junior left handed pitcher, and outfielder on the baseball team at Western High School. He is making tremendous strides in his athleticism and presence on the mound. Since starting in May of this year, Tyler has gained 17 pounds of lean body mass, improved his max rep pushup test by double (50 to 100), and improved in every other category across the board including agility, speed, power, and core strength.

Tyler is also now starting to see an increase in his velocity on the mound. By following a strict throwing regimen, and grueling scapular and posterior chain strength program, he is taking matters into his own hands. He truly is setting the example of what it takes to be an elite athlete, and what hard work can produce. Stay tuned for big things down the road as Tyler continues to progress and develop!

“Wow! You made quite the impression on Tyler! He’s not easily excited. After Wednesday’s private, he got in the car and said, “That was great!” He didn’t stop talking after that.  He gave us all the details and was thrilled to have some strategies/exercises to work on and use to improve his velocity. I also wanted to give an update on Tyler’s pitching performance from his game last Thursday. Tyler did really well in his one inning of work on the mound. He struck out two of three batters he faced confidently. I could tell from his warm up pitches that the ball had a little extra speed and he seemed comfortable throwing harder. We are going to work on the exercise plan that you established for him this week and set up another private with you next Tuesday if that works with your schedule. Thank you!” – Tonya & Nigel Cobb

Coach Kyle Richter

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance, USA Weightlifting