Tag Archives: baseball

Success Story: Luis Escolano

Luis Escolano is one of our talented Senior left-handed ball players here at Champion’s Quest. His transformation as an athlete in this past year of work, has been exciting to watch, to say the least. At 6’4″ 190 pounds, Luis has an outstanding Pitcher/ Outfielder’s frame, and has proven himself to be uniquely explosive for his size. Since training here Luis has dropped his 60 yard dash time to 6.8 seconds, and increased his vertical jump by a whopping 6 full inches. Unsurprisingly, this has directly translated to his abilities out on the diamond.

100008991_largeCombine the work that Luis has put in to his lower body power, with his strength work on the posterior side of his body (THE ARM FARM), and he has done something that most people would say couldn’t be done. However, here at Champion’s QUEST we don’t focus on skepticism, just the task at hand. In one year Luis has developed elite level tools on the diamond… His bat is noticeably stronger, and on the mound he is 9 MPH harder with his fastball. To top it all off he has gained a nearly polished repertoire of balance, coordination, and mechanics in all aspects of his game.

It is amazing to see that the ambitious goals we set out to tackle a year ago, HAVE BEEN TACKLED. Even better yet, Luis still has a lot in the tank with his projectable frame, and it is certainly going to be an extremely exciting year to continue watching him grow. One thing I always say to my ball players is that if they put in the work that it takes to be elite, they will achieve what they set out to do, period. It becomes a matter of WHEN it will happen, not IF it will happen. Expect more good news as we follow Luis’s progress, as he is on the verge of breaking into the elite prospect scene. I hope that this inspires those who are reading this today. Big change CAN happen in a short amount of time, it’s just a matter of how bad you want it.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

 

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

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

“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

“The Process” : Mental Approach on the Diamond Part 3

In our last article, we had an in depth look at what the “process” looks like for a ball player. To recap, “the process” is all about controlling only the things that you can control. By understanding that results are out of their control, the athlete can focus in on the things that are important. These things that are important are hitting the ball hard, making quality pitches, putting their bodies in the right position to field on defense, and ultimately, staying completely aggressive with their approach and effort. clayton-kershaw9

Baseball was never designed to be a sport based on accuracy and analytics. If pitchers were only required to throw strikes, and hitters were only required to hit the ball into permanent unchanging gaps, then we could maybe put the heavy emphasis on stats that we do. However, Baseball is so much more than just ERA, batting average, hits, walks, strikeouts, on base percentage, and everything else we obsess over! This game is an art form, and chess match that pins competitors against each other in a ballistic, fast paced, ever changing setting with strict guidelines and a human umpire who can determine their fates. With this thought in mind, how do we set up a pitcher to have the best possible chance of success on the mound? 635982535697601028-ap-rangers-tigers-baseball-m

If you are a pitcher, it is not rocket science to know that “better stuff” (i.e. velocity, movement, spin, etc.) equals a higher likelihood of getting the batter out. This also means that a pitcher that is throwing 95MPH versus a pitcher that is throwing 85MPH can get away with way more mistakes, because the batter is stressed with reaction time. If a pitcher that throws harder can get away with more mistakes, from an odds perspective, doesn’t he have a better chance of getting the batter out? You may be saying to yourself, “well yah of course, unless he’s really wild.” Ok, well now let’s imagine this is the same pitcher that has the ability to throw 95MPH but the coach has asked him to “tone it down” and throw 85MPH with more strikes.

First of all, he is now trying to do something which he has never done in his life, which is throw the ball with less than 100% effort with high pressure to a small target. With that his mechanics will change, his approach will change, and ultimately he will lose confidence in throwing the ball over the plate with conviction. This is because he is now solely thinking about just throwing strikes, rather than competing as an athlete. This leads me to the big take away. The pitcher, no matta0qcber how hard he throws, will compete at a higher level and have higher success, if he is trying to put a hole in the catcher rather than just getting it to the glove. This is because…

  1. His “stuff” is better and therefore the batter has less time to react and adjust.
  2. He is allowing himself to throw the way he has HIS ENTIRE LIFE of playing the game. From an early age, he has honed his craft of playing quality catch in a relaxed state of mind without conscious thoughts, and the demands of high achievement and pressure. So quite simply, practice like you play, and play like you practice. 

I have said it before and I will say it again, baseball players are gymnasts on a diamond. This means that ballplayers have to play the game instinctually with full trust that their countless hours of preparation have established their skill set. If you go out onto the field and try to do something different, by appeasing a voice that is telling you to play it safer, you are only setting yourself up for frustration and suffered performance.

It is time to take a step back as a culture, and not only look at how we are mentally developing our youth ball players, but also how we choose to coach our older elite ball players. Next time we will talk about this mental approach from a position player/ hitting perspective.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

 

Success Story: Chris Morgan Throws No-Hitter

Chris morgan

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.

sadlowski-ecpc

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