Tag Archives: Baseball Training

Soccer Game Changer: Thomas Pighin

At Champion’s QUEST, we are always excited to hear from our parents about how much their athlete has improved and the changes that they have seen in their athlete since beginning their journey at the Athlete Academy. Sometimes the improvements are physical, other times the changes are mental but it is always amazing to hear when it is both.

thomas-pighin“I’ve seen Thomas become a more confident and competent soccer player. He only played one season when he was six and some loosely organized play at school. He wanted to try something other than baseball so we set him up with the CQ Soccer camp and a Coerver camp to help him at least have some soccer skills. I’m very happy with the conditioning Thomas is getting at CQ. His endurance has really increased and this is very important on the bigger soccer field. He has improved his speed, which had always been an issue for him. At school they are preparing for fitness testing and Thomas is well above most other kids. In fact he and Cameron (another CQ athlete) kinda leave the others behind.” -Chris Pighin

When Thomas comes to train at Champion’s QUEST, he attends the B.A.S.E, Soccer, and Baseball clinics to develop his athleticism along with the technical skills needed to excel in his games. Currently, Thomas plays forward, defender and goalkeeper for his AYSO-Cypress team. Thomas has short-term goals of improving his speed, strength and dribbling for soccer and a long-term goal of playing soccer professionally.

“He’s doing well so far with his team. Thomas has to play up because his birthday is three days before the cutoff so his friends are all U10 and he’s a U12. He’s hanging in there playing multiple positions, including goalie and forward and even scored the tying goal in a game. We will transition to baseball soon. One of the things I love about CQ is that he can get quality instruction in a variety of sports- along with conditioning. He’s excited to his re-testing this week and can’t stop talking about improving his scores!” -Chris Pighin

I’m also excited to see how much Thomas’ hard work has paid off and also to continue to follow his success on the soccer and baseball field. Keep it up Thomas!

Kyle Ertel Champions Quest

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Why is “Core” So Important? Part 3, Muscular System Development

Where we left off in the series of “Why is Core So Important,” we dove head first into a discussion centered around the bare bone essentials of functional joint mobility, and how it applies totrout rotational athletes. Now that we have an understanding of how to safely isolate the core in a transverse plane, let’s talk about the approach to building the athleticism of the muscular system in a more general sense. After understanding this process, we can then go into further depth for programming core training exercises.

Elite athletes have many similarities to high performance automobiles. For starters, both require proper fueling, equipment, and multi-faceted maintenance. As the “horsepower” of the athlete/ car increases, there is an absolute need for a stronger braking system. In the car world this means forking over 4 to 6 thousand dollars on top shelf brakes. For athletes this means developing the muscles responsible for deceleration. It is vital that the decelerators match the power output that the accelerators produce.

With these primary similarities in mind, let’s talk about how we “build” the muscular system from a car perspective. The first thing we have to do is build the engine, and brakes. Of course, we are going to build a V8 engine. The first step is to develop the coordination and mechanics of the movement pattern. This provides the athlete with the first wave of athletic gains. Coordinated movements not only increase the efficiency of speed and agility movements, but also the strength. Once we establish a foundation of coordination in the athlete, the next step is to establish a base layer of strength. The strength building phase is vital for the athlete, as it provides the ceiling for power development. During this strength building phase we have to pay critical attention to training the accelerator and decelerator muscle groups equally. This balance will set the athlete up for success, and injury free performance.

athletic-development-pyramid

The athlete can only increase their power to the level that their strength will allow. Once the athlete has built this strength foundation, and increased their ceiling of potential, the engine building phase has been completed. Next on the agenda, is to supercharge the V8 engine that was masterfully crafted. While the V8 engine is fast by itself, and has already provided a large increase in athleticism, there is still more horsepower to be gained! The athlete is now ready to be wired for power gains. Power training is best exemplified by quick bursts of movement with high force production. The objective of power training is to re-wire the muscular and nervous system to become highly efficient together. This involves training the athlete to produce a higher amount of force at a faster rate. Some examples of power training include olympic lifting, plyometrics, counter-movement drills, resisted ballistic movements, and assisted ballistic movements. Once the athlete has built their supercharged engine, and powerful braking system, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Although there are many similarities between athletes and cars, here is one big difference. The athlete can always continue adding to the strength, and power that they have already developed. The work never ends for the athlete, because we never settle for good, or even great. It is about utterly maximizing our full athletic potential! As you strive to achieve greatness, and maximize your abilities as a person and athlete, remember, the joy is in the journey.

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Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, 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

 

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

Success Story: JeVon Ward

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.38.54 AMHuge Congratulations to JeVon Ward for committing to play baseball at The University of Southern California. I couldn’t be prouder of his decision, and know that he will wear the cardinal and gold with pride. Jevon is a physical and projectable 6’5″ outfielder, and currently attends Long Beach Poly High School. As an athlete, JeVon has many strong tools, and is currently working hard to improve his speed, lateral agility, and power at the plate. JeVon, who is only a Junior this year, has a lot of room to grow as a ballplayer and as an athlete. I expect that he will continue to develop rapidly with a strong work ethic, and a hunger to maximize his potential. Keep up the hard work JeVon, and FIGHT ON!

SCCoach Kyle Richter, Baseball Performance Specialist

Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy

The “Athlete” Pitcher: A Look at the Modern Power Arm Part 1 of 3

What is the key to throwing a mid 90s fastball? This has seemingly been the question of the century when it comes to training pitchers to gain velocity. We live in an era that has accepted mediocrity, at best, in this realm of modern training. The number of pitching related injuries over the years have continued to rise, and with this we have only grown more cautious. The modern day view will reminisce on the days of Nolan Ryan and cringe at the idea of throwing a complete game with 150+ pitches. It is comfortable to demonize the “wreckless” approach of old, and say that we have progressed. Have we actually progressed? Or have we taken steps backwards? It is my opinion that we have largely accepted a culture that promotes arm weakness.

Long Toss

RHP Trevor Bauer (Now with the Cleveland Indians) warming up with his long toss routine before a start.

Let’s rewind to the the year 2009. I saw my velocity increase 6 MPH in one summer before my senior year of high school. Did I fully know what I was doing? Absolutely not! The only thing I knew was that I was unsatisfied and fueled by my desire to prove scouts and schools wrong who were doubting my abilities as a pitcher. I hit the weight room for the first time that summer and paired my training with an aggressive, or should I say “wreckless,” long toss program. I religiously played long toss with my dad every other day. My approach was simple, warm up my rotator cuff, and then stretch out until I was throwing as hard and far as I could. From there I would come back in keeping that same level of intensity until I was about 75 feet or so away from my dad. At that point I would spend an extra 20 minutes throwing absolutely as hard as I could. My dad was a champ, and his poor hand took a beating day in and day out. Not only did I see my velocity spike dramatically during this time period, but I also developed the ability to maintain it over the course of a game. My overall performance on the mound dramatically increased, and I found that my recovery was improving right along side my performance. This was just the beginning of my awareness. I knew that I was on a journey to discover the true path toward the ultimate training regimen for modern-day pitchers.

One of the elite power arms in the game today, Gerritt Cole consistently sits between 97-100 MPH

One of the elite power arms in the game today, Gerritt Cole consistently sits between 97-100 MPH

Throw really hard, so that you can develop the ability to throw really hard!! Could it possibly be that simple? Largely, I believe it is. For so long we have been stuck in the idea that strength and endurance alone can fill our craving for more velocity. While partly this is true, it does not provide the whole story. As an “athlete” pitcher, it is essential to have a strong foundation of functional scapulo-thoracic (upper-body), and rotator cuff strength. In addition to this, it is a bonus to have a solid foundation of lower body, and rotational specific core strength. This without a doubt provides the base we need as an athlete, and the ceiling/ potential to produce power. Strength is simply a prerequisite for power development, and power is something that must be trained. Power is defined explicitly as work divided by time, and also as force times distance. The commonality between these two equations is speed. Given that the average pitching delivery takes between 1-2 seconds, it is only common sense that we should focus on training pitchers with extremely high intensity for only a few seconds at a time, and dial in the work to rest ratio accordingly right?

Stay tuned…

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