Category Archives: Baseball Training

The “Athlete” Pitcher: A Look at the Modern Power Arm Part 2 of 3, Scientific Basis

Where we left off, we talked about a pitcher’s general strength needs and how that ceiling correlates to Power development, which leads me to my next question…Why have we insisted on training pitchers for decades as endurance athletes? We are truly stuck in the stone-age when we send our pitchers out on a three-mile run, or tell them to go “run some poles.” We should demand more excellence in our approach going forward, and base it on scientific facts. The human musculoskeletal system is a true miracle. It adapts, reacts, and improves itself based on the demands we ask of it. Science shows us that it even displays the ability to become more proficient in the ways we train it. Don’t take my word for it, but rather take the word of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Three primary muscle fibers account for our skeletal-muscle system.

Muscle Fiber Composition Can Change Depending Upon the Needs of the Athlete

Type I- high level of endurance, while sacrificing the ability to produce high power.

Type IIa- balance of endurance and power, but lean slightly towards the side of endurance.

Type IIx– highest level of power output while sacrificing endurance in the long run.

NSCA Statement

“There is little evidence to show that Type II fibers change into Type I fibers as a result of aerobic endurance training, but there may be a gradual conversion within the two major Type II fiber subgroups-of type IIx fibers to Type IIa fibers. This adaptation is significant, in that Type IIa fibers possess greater oxidative (endurance) capacity than Type IIx fibers and have functional characteristics more similar to those of Type I fibers” (Essentials of Strength and Conditioning 129).

LHP Tyler Skaggs of the Angels hard at work in the gym.

In writing, and through research this shows that endurance training can actually change the physiology and structure of muscles. While they gain muscular endurance, they lose some ability to produce power. This is exactly the reason why we should go back to the chalkboard and re-assess the needs for a pitcher who is trying to develop velocity, aka power!

Coach Kyle Richter, USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance, USA Weightlifting

Please contact me with any comments, questions, or inquiries!        Champion’s QUEST Baseball Academy

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Baseball Success Story – Grant Atwood

GrantGrant Atwood is one of the most intuitive, respectful, and hardest working 10 year olds you will ever meet. Grant always comes to CQ ready to work hard and achieve his goals while pushing others around him to do the same. He joined the many others on their QUEST to become Champions 1 year ago, willing to train twice a week on both baseball skills and his athletic ability, improving immensely in both areas. Grant’s goals have been pretty straightforward; on the field he has wanted to make All-Stars, throw more base runners out as a catcher, and hit a home run while also wanting to improve his speed and strength. Grant has impressed all the coaches with his dedication towards his goals and constant effort to reach them.

Because of Grant’s hard work and determination it is hard to choose the area in which he has improved the most: his speed, strength, and agility have all improved vastly. OnScreen shot 2015-05-11 at 12.22.08 PM the field, Grant’s swing looks much more compact and powerful while behind the dish he has become much more agile.  His biggest testing improvements have been in his upper body strength, lower body stability, and agility. Grant has gone from 4 push ups to 35 push ups, from a little over 1 minute plank hold to a 4 minute hold, and his agility scores have all dropped by multiple seconds.

I know Grant has big things ahead of him in the future and I can’t wait to see where his path leads. With a long term goal of playing in the MLB, Grant has his eyes on the prize and foot on the gas pedal. It’s always great to hear about Grant’s accomplishments Grant5Kaway from the baseball field like bridging over to Boy Scouts, running his first 5k, and taking up swimming as well as seeing his improvements on the baseball field first hand. I always look forward to Grant’s constant quest for knowledge about his swing and the game of baseball as well as our conversations about how to fix the Angels. Keep up the hard work Grant, all of us at CQ are excited to see what your future holds!

Coach Logan

Tips to Improve Fielding

fieldingEvery infielder wants to improve their fielding, and while there are many drills to work on the mechanics of fielding, today I’ll highlight 3 tips on how to improve fielding by working on and changing your mental approach.

Tip #1: Attack The Baseball. This is a big one for younger baseball players. Not all of us have the ability to play on a major league quality field or throw 95 mph across the diamond, therefore most of us need to work on attacking the baseball  to cut distance from the runner and eliminate bad hops. Every step you take towards the baseball takes one step away from the runner and every hop you eliminate takes a possible bad hop out of the equation.

Tip #2: Pick Your Hop. While attacking the baseball, you should be focusing on giving yourself a good hop to field. Short hops and long hops are the easiest hops to field, while those mid hops or in-between hops are the ones that cause most errors. My college coach would constantly say there is no such thing as a bad hop, and while I fought him for a long time about that I eventually came to realize what he was saying: If you can pick out which hop you are going to field and eliminate those in-between hops, then the bad hops magically disappear. Attack the baseball, pick out a short or long hop to field, and make the play.

Tip #3: Be Confident. It’s true, the baseball always finds the player who wants it least. Don’t carry your at-bats to the field, and don’t carry your errors to the next play, inning, or game. It’s easier said than done, but if you dwell on the past you won’t succeed in the present. If you put in the time and effort during practice your play will show that, just go out, have fun, and let all that hard work pay off.

Coach Logan

Tips for a Successful Baseball Season

baseball field
With baseball season right around the corner, here are a few important things to remember and implement in order to have the most successful season possible.

1) Take care of your body

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending months and months in the offseason preparing your body for the season only to end up out of commission and watching your teammates from the sidelines. Many of us take our health for granted and only begin to take appropriate measures to ensure a healthy season after an injury holds us out. Simple, quick care can prevent most injuries while most injuries take long, complex care to repair. Develop a pregame warm up routine, or an in-between innings routine if you’re coming off the bench or out of the pen, to make sure your body is ready for action. After a game, take care of your arm with shoulder exercises or ice, and be sure to work on flexibility and mobility. Don’t let that sore arm/back/leg develop into something more serious and miss valuable time on the field.

2) Be confident, stay positive

In a sport where failure is a constant, staying confident in your abilities might be more important than your skill set. Baseball will chew up and spit out the most talented baseball player with no confidence, but reward the average player who believes in his abilities. Believe that all your hard work during the offseason will lead to success, regardless of your batting average or ERA. Don’t carry your strikeouts at the plate onto the field, or your errors on the field to the plate. Instead, develop a mechanism to cope with and learn from these failures to become successful the next time you are in a similar situation.

3) Continue to train

With baseball season spanning over a couple months and the most important games stacked at the end, it is imperative that you continue to train. Without continuing to work on strength, speed, and power you will be left with less athleticism and ability during these all important games, whether it be a weight roomchampionship game, CIF playoff game, or your last home game as a Senior. An appropriate strength and conditioning program will adjust the training frequency and volume appropriately to have an athlete peak at the most important time of the season.

4) Above all, have fun!

Most importantly, don’t forget why millions of athletes around the world play baseball, for the love of the game. Make sure to enjoy your friends and teammates as you begin your seasons journey!

– Coach Logan

Success Story: Tycen Sickles, Baseball Player

Tycen Sickles is a 15 year old baseball player here at Champion’s Quest Athlete Academy. Tycen started his training at CQ with the goal of making the Los Alamitos Freshman Baseball Team after not being selected for the study hall this past fall. With Tycen’s hard work and dedication I’m happy to say that Tycen made the Freshman team! It’s been really great to see Tycen’s continued determination pay off.

From September to November, Tycen improved in every testing category, with great improvements in his speed, agility, and strength. His biggest improvements were in his overall strength, with his plank going from 1 minute to 3 minutes and as well doubling the amount push ups completed! His agility scores all dropped over half a second, and his 20 yd sprint improved from 3.33 seconds to 3.13 seconds. With our next set of re-evaluations right around the corner I can’t wait to see how much more Tycen has improved!

With all of Tycen’s physical improvements, I believe his greatest improvement has come from his mental toughness. Tycen’s confidence has been steadily increasing, and he is now able to catch multiple games in a row without needing a break. I am very proud of Tycen and all the work he is putting in off the field, and I am very excited to continue to work with and prepare Tycen for the upcoming season!

Coach Logan Allen

Year-round Baseball: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

baseballWhile you won’t hear many complaints about weather here in Southern California, the ample sunshine and warmth can actually be detrimental to a young baseball player’s career. Year-round sun leads to year-round baseball, and while playing all year will have benefits for the player, the costs far outweigh these benefits. By playing more games and attending more practices, a player can greatly increase his technical skills and his knowledge of the game (if a good coach is in control of the team). However, more practices and games will directly cause muscular imbalance, overuse injuries, and athlete burnout, especially at a young age. Travel baseball has turned into a machine focused on winning and being flawless while it should be focused on developing fundamental skills and teaching athletes to appreciate the game they love to play. It has become its own culture, and while every sport is trending the same way with year-round competitions, the explosive and one-sided nature of baseball makes this a major cause for concern. Baseball practices consist of plenty of throwing (the single fastest motion in sports), standing around, hitting (more explosive rotation), sprinting in circles while only making left turns, some more standing around, and plenty of hard stops and starts. Not to mention it is one of the slower paced sports and a sport in which failure follows you everywhere, giving you plenty of time to focus on those failures. All of these ingredients add up for recipe that can cook straight into a disaster. However, adding and substituting some ingredients can create a finished product of a very well rounded athlete who can physically and mentally handle every curveball thrown at them.

Injury Prevention

Ever watch a throw in slow motion? If you haven’t, you should (pause at :30).

That much torque and stress placed at the shoulder and elbow will cause injuries and muscular imbalances, these being amplified if proper steps are not taken to minimize these ill effects. Elbow and shoulder problems are rampant, most often noted with the rise in Tommy John surgery over the last decade, (Youth Tommy John Surgery). Injuries of the throwing arm are overuse injuries; repetitive throwing causes microtrauma in the cartilage and tendons that are protecting our arm from detaching from the rest of our body. Without proper recovery, the microtrauma adds up until a tendon or surrounding cartilage reaches a breaking point and tears (resulting in Tommy John Surgery, SLAP lesions, ect.). Time to recover is necessary to let the micro-tears heal before turning into a big tear, resulting in major time missed for the athlete. And while we are doing a better job monitoring pitch counts, we are not limiting the amount of innings of baseball that stack up in a year-round schedule. Pitchers may only throw 60 pitches in one game, but what are they doing in the other 4 games of the tournament? Playing shortstop? Catcher? Uncorking violent throws from the outfield? Position players warm up before every game, throw in-between innings, and stand around for long periods of time before making an all out throw. Add in practice a couple of days a week, most days if you’re in High School, and all of this throwing adds up week after week. Other major components in reducing arm injuries include proper mechanics, reducing unneeded stress at the elbow and shoulder, and proper strengthening of the entire body. Strengthening of the entire body allows the baseball player to put himself in the proper mechanical position to throw and to better absorb the stresses placed on the elbow and shoulder. Preparing the body with a proper strength and conditioning program focusing on core strength, functional stabilization of the shoulder, and improving upon any muscular imbalances is necessary for all serious baseball players. Without a solid foundation injuries will happen and hinder an athletes long term development.

Take Control Of Your Future

It is becoming increasingly more popular for baseball players to specialize in baseball at a young age. There are many reasons to fight this trend. For one, with only baseball on the menu it is almost impossible to get the athlete to stop throwing a baseball for an extended period of time. Following the typical fall/winter/spring sports schedule accomplishes that goal, allowing an athletes body to naturally work out some of the imbalances procured during baseball season and give the arm a break. Playing other sports during the offseason, such as soccer and basketball, will also increase the athletes natural abilities ranging from but not limited to coordination, balance, agility, speed, endurance, and teamwork. Equally important to the physical aspect of baseball is the mental aspect. Baseball is a game of managing failure, not getting too high when things are going well and not getting too low when things are going bad. The more an athlete can learn from his/her mistakes and apply the knowledge for the next time the better. Playing a lot of baseball from a young age helps the athlete find a lot of success at a young age, but these athletes don’t have to deal with a ton of failure. As you move up levels, the sport gets increasingly difficult with failure becoming a constant. A lot of big time prospects don’t make it because they never learn how to deal with failure; they finally reach that level where they begin to fail regularly and don’t have a mechanism built in to handle all the failure. Playing multiple sports gives the athlete more experiences, more situations, more chances to cope with failure and enjoy success.

Training for Success

With High School CIF rules allowing coaches to have contact with players almost all year, and the unrelenting drive for travel baseball, older baseball players rarely take a break from baseball. Training is huge for these athletes, and they must take the necessary steps at a young age to prepare their bodies for the years of constant wear and tear that is staring them down. At Champion’s Quest, we work with athletes from the ground up, building a strong athletic foundation to carry them into the future. Come in and try a FREE clinic and start investing in your future today!

http://www.asmi.org/research.php?page=research&section=UCL