Tag Archives: strength

Soccer Star on the Rise: Cameron Smalls

Cameron Smalls walked through the doors of Champion’s QUEST back in May of 2016 with goals of improving his speed, power, and agility. Cameron is a 10-year old multi-sport athlete, who plays soccer, baseball and basketball. His long-term aspirations are to play soccer or baseball in high school, college, and eventually professionally.fullsizerender-24

In just over 2 months of training, Cameron showed a 119% increase in his total athleticism. Cameron showed his biggest improvements in his agility, strength and speed. He lowered all three of his agility scores by 4 seconds. Cameron improved his linear agility from 15.39s to 10.69s and his lateral agility from 16.70 to 11.64, however his biggest improvement was shown in his single leg agility on his SST (shark skill test) by reducing his time from 12.59s to 7.88s! Single leg agility is crucial to soccer athletes as many technical aspects such as passing, trapping, dribbling, and shooting require one foot to be elevated off the ground while the other leg stabilizes the body.

cameron-smallsCameron also made huge strides in his strength as he improved his push up score from 45 to 51 repetitions in a minute and his pull up score from 4 to 7 repetitions! Cameron showed his biggest improvements in his core strength as he increase his plank hold time from 2:27 minutes to 4 minutes! Core strength is essential in soccer and other sports that require athletes to body up against opponents without losing their balance and center of mass.

All soccer athletes know how important speed is out on the field and it can be the difference between betting your opponent to the ball or gaining an extra step to be able to get off a shot on goal. Cameron improved his acceleration in his 10-yard sprint from 2.06s to 1.83s. He also showed improvements in his change of direction as he lowered his 5-10-5 test from 6.07s to 5.46s!

Cameron has recently joined the FC Premier club soccer team , where he plays for Coach Eddie Chavez’s 2005 flight 2 team. Cameron is a 2006 year birthday so he regularly plays against other soccer players who are a year older than he is to challenge him. At Champion’s QUEST, Cameron attends the B.A.S.E and Soccer clinics to develop his athleticism and skills out on the soccer field to compete against the older kids.

Keep up the hard work Cameron and I’m excited to watch your continued success!

Kyle Ertel Champions Quest

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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

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

Soccer Parent Testimonial: Moreno Family

 

Isabelle Moreno is approaching her yeIsabelle Morenoar mark here at Champion’s QUEST where she joined in November of 2015. Since Isabelle’s arrival she has made a 119% improvement in her athleticism. Isabelle has obtained a bigger goal to become the most feared player and is reaching that goal every day she trains.
Isabelle currently plays for soccer for NHB where they recently played in the West Coast Classic Tournament this past weekend.

Izzy has been regularly attending soccer clinics and power clinics to improve her athleticism to make her an even better soccer player. Her work ethic is continuing to show in her performance on the field. She is becoming the most feared player with her speed, agility, and strength. Her improvement in her athleticism is being noticed and is becoming a stand out athlete!

“Izzy played great in all 5 games at the West Coast Classic Tournament this past weekend. They played 2 games on Saturday and 1 Sunday to get into the Semi Finals. The Semi Finals and Finals were Sunday night and were hard fought games. Izzy had 5 assists and her speed, quickness, and agility were very noticeable and stood out all tournament even with a sore hamstring. She was able to dispossess the opponents almost at will and her strength definitely made a difference. Thanks for everything you guys do!” -Joe Moreno

Keep up the hard work Izzy! You are doing fantastic and I look forward to hearing more about all of your future success.

Angela Garcia Champions Quest

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