Category Archives: Champion’s Quest

Success Story: Volleyball Star on the Rise

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When Champion’s QUEST first opened the doors to youth athletes, the focus was all geared to helping the local Seal Beach Volleyball Club. Now we have been open for over fifteen years and have been able to help athletes in all sports with their athleticism. We have continued to provide the training for many young volleyball athletes in the Los Alamitos-Long Beach area and we are now working with a phenomenal athlete that is on the 14-1’s team for Seal Beach by the name of Grace Abdoo.

Grace started back in 2011 with our Summer Volleyball Camps and continued doing theunspecified-1 camps for the next couple of years. She joined our program as a full-time athlete in the Spring of 2014, which was a little less than a year after her older sister started the program. After doing three years of the Summer Camps along with seeing all the improvements her older sister was able to gain, her mother wanted to give Grace the same advantage her sister was gaining since she competes in a sport where height is an advantage. From her first evaluation back in the Spring of 2014, up to her most recent in the month of August, Grace has been able to increase not only her athletic ability but her confidence on the court.

Her Mother had told meIf you could have seen how she served in a game back when she was 12, and how she serves now, it’s night and day. Also, she doesn’t get nervous in big games, even if she knows a lot of people are watching. For example, when they made the finals at Junior Nationals early this year.

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CVBA Santa Monica Women’s B Tournament Winners

Earlier this month, Grace was able to win the California Beach Volleyball Association Women’s B Doubles Tournament. She started playing in unrated and B women’s tournaments this just year, just to get some experience playing against adults since she has been playing Beach Volleyball for just about three years now. Grace is currently a Freshman in the Pace program at Long Beach Poly High School and is a starter on their girls JV Volleyball team.

 

Grace has gained a lot over these past couple of years and she continues to grow in her athletic ability. She may not have the height most Volleyball coaches look for in their athletes but she makes up with tons of talent and ability on the court. Her game knowledge is a level above her peers and she will continue to grow in her sport from her coaches at LB Poly, Seal Beach VC and her Beach Volleyball Coach Misty May-Treanor.

Being a freshmen in high school comes with different struggles and I am very confident that Grace will have that mental strength to push herself beyond any situation that may be presented to her within the next four years. We at Champion’s QUEST will continue to provide her with a strong direction and guidance in her sport and life!

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Summer 2011

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September 2016

Article By: Coach Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1

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Long Toss: Building Better Throwing Athletes Part 2

101509_hamels_4001Last time we opened up a discussion about Long Toss, and touched on some surface level reasons why I believe it to be effective. Also, we discussed the importance of muscular balance in the rotator cuff, and posterior side of the body. This is vital to ensure health and progression in your throwing velocity.

Long Toss is designed to teach the throwing athlete how to be elite from both a command and velocity stand point. However, the approach has to be executed to perfection in order to ensure that you are seeing these positive results. To me, the best in the business with this execution is Alan Jaegar, who has established himself as an expert both on the long toss and arm care side of throwing progression. Ironically, the focus of long toss should not be strictly on throwing distance. If you only focus on the distance, you will likely find yourself trying to throw beyond the means of your mechanics. For this reason, the “stretch out phase” (where the athlete throws for distance) is designed to accomplish two things…

  1. Properly warm up and prepare the arm
  2. Develop feel from multiple release points

I believe number two is something that is commonly looked over. Long toss is extremely important for the athlete to learn the feelings associated with throwing from multiple different release points. Why is this important to develop this feel? It allows the athlete to make adjustments throw by throw, pitch by pitch. Also, developing this feel allows the athlete to trust their stuff, and throw the baseball instinctually, and aggressively, the way they should be!long-toss

Once the athlete reaches the peak throwing distance (always listen to your arm, and what it gives you each day), they then start what is known as the “pull down phase.”

The pull down phase is where the real work begins, and where the velocity gains will become a reality. By throwing with high effort, on a line to the target you are going to develop your velocity, period. This is going to occur from both physical and psychological changes. On the psychological side, the athlete is learning how to be an elite thrower, with elite command, at a high effort level. This is vital to success, especially with pitchers… because the better their stuff, the better their chance of success.

On the physical side, neuromuscular efficiency will increase due to testing their limits of muscular power. As with anything else that you attack from a power or plyometric training standpoint… if you want to move faster, you have to train your body by moving extremely quick! Your body has an amazing ability to adapt, as long as the athlete is moving with tremendous speed, in an instinctual state, and making positive adjustments on a rep to rep basis

Try this out yourself, and witness the transformation of your throwing athleticism that will take place within the first few weeks! Next time we will continue our discussion, and dive into some more important facets of arm health.

Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

Softball Star on the Raise

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We have a phenomenal athlete named is Tessa Hurley who has  a strong sports career in Softball ahead of her. She is a member of the Firecrackers 10U Softball team. It was back in January of 2014 that Tessa started our program here at Champion’s QUEST and she followed in the foot steps of her two older sisters that were also members of our program as well. She did have a couple of set backs due to injuries at her start but what 9-10 year old can go a full year without getting injured. Within this Summer quarter she was able to have big gains yet in our program. Her improvements have helped her team to a number of tournament first places and runner-ups, with this being her first full year on a travel team they were able to finish in the top 10 for PGF (Premier Girls Fastpitch) for their age group.

8softball.0605_0.jpgThis year, her team had  a very solid run and Tessa was a big part of their success with a 0.397 batting average and 57 runs batted in for the year. In PGF play she was able to again out perform most of her teammates with a 0.444 batting average and 3 runs batted in. Tessa is a full year younger than anyone on her team and will playing up a year with the same girls next year as she will move up to 12U softball as an eligible 10U player.

Everything that I have seen out of Tessa has nothing short of amazing. She has a strong solid arm that helps on the field getting that out on first. Her quickness is above any athlete her age and she is  very focused when in competition. There is a bright and solid future for her in Softball at the high school and collegiate levels. I wish Tessa and her other siblings the best in all that they do and will continue to work  with her throughout her high school career.

 

Article by,

Coach Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1

 

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Long Toss: Building Better Throwing Athletes Part 1

Long Toss is one of those topics in the baseball world that is highly debated for many reasons. On one side, it is argued that long toss puts un-necessary stress on the arm, while reinforcing bad mechanics, and ultimately does not translate to velocity on the mound. Today, I am going to start an in-depth series breaking down this throwing program, and explain why I am a believer. To me, there are so many factors that make long toss a beneficial addition to your velocity training program.53a8f307e9e23-image

First, let me start by saying that baseball is one of the more uninformed sports in the world today. This sport has relied on traditions, values, and methods for quite a number of years, many of which are simply not backed by science. One of those ideologies, which has run rampant, is this idea that every pitcher only has a set number of “bullets” to use over the course of their career. With this ideology, it is encouraged to do as little throwing as possible, and save your arm from its impending doom. To me, this is just the blind leading the blind. In what sport, category, or profession can you ever expect to “not practice” your actual craft, and make improvements/ set yourself up for injury prevention?! If you think about it from a sport by sport perspective, EVERY OTHER SPORT, endorses advancement by the act of throwing, kicking, or shooting rigorously within the same movement pattern, with the same equipment to achieve results. So why is throwing a baseball (In America) any different?CC Sabathia

To me, there is one American-specific condition that sheds a lot of light on throwing phobia, and it is the fact that we are completely front-side dominant. This front side dominance is a major contributor to most throwing related injuries, which would also explain why people are cautious to let kids throw the baseball a lot. We are obsessed with the “glamor muscles” on our anterior side of the body. This includes our pecs, biceps, abdominals, quads, etc. Where we have neglected our bodies as throwing athletes is on the posterior side. This includes the back side of our rotator cuff, scap chain, lats, rhomboids, glutes, hamstrings, etc. This imbalance is important because it shows that as a culture we have bigger accelerator muscle groups than our “brakes” will allow. One of the easiest ways to expose this imbalance is by testing the internal rotation strength versus external rotation strength of the athlete.


My personal testing of young baseball athletes has shown that there is an approximate 1:4 deficiency in the decelerators of the shoulder to the accelerators, which is culturally instilled. Sometimes, this gap is even more! I’ve had a number of athletes that were closer to 1:10! What this shows me, is that the great majority of American throwing youngsters are driving Ferraris equipped with Prius brakes. What happens when you don’t have the brakes to match the horsepower? You either have to cruise at a sub maximal speed or you’ll likely crash at some point. The same can be said for these young throwers. This also shines light on
exactly why there is a phobia with athletes throwing a baseball as hard as they can. If you push your body’s limits without the proper structural integrity, you are asking for trouble.

average-mlb-fastball-velocityI am a firm believer that in order to throw the baseball hard, you have to go out on a regular basis and learn to throw hard… BY ACTUALLY THROWING THE BASEBALL HARD. When you push the envelope in your catch play, you are not always going to be perfect, but as long as you are making sound adjustments mechanically, you are re-wiring your body to be a quicker, more efficient athlete. This is quality practice, and there are many factual reasons why long toss is one of the most effective ways to develop elite throwers. If you are looking for positive gains in velocity, long toss is certainly one of the answers. However, you need to make sure you start developing the balance and strength in your rotator cuff that will be demanded of you when you hit the gas pedal on your training. We will start hashing out the nuts and bolts of why long toss is so effective next time. In the meantime, gentlemen, start mixing in a back/ pull day every now and then. Those biceps aren’t going to help you throw 90MPH.

Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

Success Story: Andrew Stanley

It is always great to see the hard work pay off here at Champions QUEST. In fact, it is a daily occurrence! In the case of one of our young baseball athletes, Andrew Stanley, the 100008284_largehard work is paying off quickly! In less than a month and a half of work, Andrew has seen some incredible results, that are highlighted by his gains in speed, agility, and core strength. In two of the three agility tests, he has increased his efficiency by a full category, which is normally indicative of 1 year’s worth of growth! On his 5-10-5 Pro Agility, he shaved .42 seconds off his time, which is quite substantial for a 20 yard increment. He also has increased his plank hold time (core strength) from 32 seconds to 2 minutes. This test shows me that he is not only getting stronger physically, but also increasing his mental aptitude. I am quickly seeing a shift in his work ethic, demeanor, and ultimately his make up as an athlete. Keep up the hard work Andrew, and I look forward to seeing your continued growth. Always remember, the joy is found in the journey.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

“The Process”: Mental Approach on the Diamond Part 4

Over the last couple months here at Champions QUEST we have spent a considerable amount of time and thought dissecting the tangible action steps for ball players to take control of their mental game. We have talked about what the “process” looks like, and how a ballplayer should only focus on those things that are within their control. Today, I would like to add one more piece of the puzzle which is equally important, and that is routines. Routines are an essential part of the “wiring” process that allow athletes to stay repeatable. Repeatability is crucial for athletic confidence, especially when it comes to baseball, a sport that is centered around accuracy related results.

garciaparras20habits207-001In order to establish a routine, first the athlete must develop a plan. It is absolutely essential for the ballplayer to have a plan each and every time they step on the field. Baseball is a tricky game, because it requires a balance of strategy and instincts. For instance, if you step up to the plate as a hitter with the intention of “wingin’ it,” you are not giving yourself the best chance of success against an opponent that is trying to outmatch and outsmart you. Today we are going to talk about a sample mindset and approach for a hitter, which can be established through batting practice and game time experience.

  1. Step up to the batter’s box, and establish what you like to do to prepare before you enter. Once you realize what you tend to do (manicure the dirt, re-strap batting gloves, tap the bat on the plate, etc.), make it is detailed as possible. From there do the same exact thing every single time, for the same amount of time/ repetitions. As you do this enough, you will have to think about it less and less. This serves to tap into the same wired instincts that have made you the hitter you are today.
  2. Use a deep breath as your re-set button. There is scientific power in the deep breath, and how it impacts your body. Physiologically, it works to slow down your heart rate and reduce stress. For this reason, there is really no better cue for re-setting than a breath. From there, go back through your routine and back in to the batter’s box.
  3. Always sit fastball, and adjust off-speed. If you allow a fastball to beat you, you are setting yourself up to be dominated a number of different ways.
  4. Be ultra decisive. Either give a healthy hack or completely lay off. The better you get at reading spin out of the pitcher’s hand, the better you will get at deciding.
  5. One indication you are getting fooled may be your hands. If your hands are dropping as you step/ load, it likely means you are unsure of yourself or cautious. Force yourself to keep those hands up even on pitches you take!
  6. Be aggressive and hit the ball hard! PERIOD!evanlongoriatexasrangersvtampabayraysfah8ouxe91ol

By following an approach, such as this, you can ensure you are achieving one main objective… That every pitch you “check in for” you are becoming a better hitter. By sticking to an approach, you have the ability to learn from mistakes, and constantly refine your craft. You will absolutely still make mistakes, and get beat at times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an adjustment next time. The premise of hitting comprises of a a few important factors which consist of being..

  1. An excellent decision maker
  2. A strong athlete
  3. Efficient at swinging a bat
  4. A superior competitor

Again, the whole justification of taking pride in an approach is to help the athlete self-evaluate, and ultimately gain the confidence that comes from repeatability. From there, it is up to them to make sure that their “big picture” approach is sound. This means that from at-bat to at bat, they are completely acting in the moment, with disregard to the results they may or may not have achieved in previous at bats. This all serves to simplify things for arguably one of the toughest objectives in all of sports, hitting a baseball. Try this out for yourself, and pay careful attention to your development. Give yourself credit, when credit is due! Stick to the process, and reward yourself according to how well you execute as an athlete, not the outcome.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

Success Story: Caitlyn Koenig

Huge Congratulations to Caitlyn Koenig who has taken the Softball tournament scene by storm to start this summer. Last weekend Caitlyn played a vital role in the success of her club team (Corona Angels) over a 7 game tournament stint in Denver, Colorado. She IMG_2363batted .700 with an on base percentage of .850, and 4 home runs. In addition to the success at the plate, Caitlyn was equally impressive behind the dish and threw out several base runners.

Caitlyn attributes much of her recent success to the confidence, and strength she has gained in just a few short months of working at Champion’s QUEST. She has been very diligent with her training and nutrition regimen. She is an extremely talented young ball player, and I am REALLY excited to see how she will continue to progress as she puts in the hard work!

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance