Tag Archives: training

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

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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

Why are F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S. Important?

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Many athletes see the value in fundamentals but do not have a system to keep F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S. present in their daily lives. F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S. are away of life, an approach and a constant reminder to do the basics to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a champion. Therefore, F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S. are important because it lays the foundation of success and it allows the champion athlete to master their sport.

Now lets’ take a closer look at the power of F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S

The “F” provides FOCUS and guidance.

The ” U” reminds the athlete that they must be UNIQUE and exhibit creativity.

The “N” shows that the athlete that everyday is a  NEW opportunity to pursue their purpose.

The “D” is the fuel in every athlete’s heart to keep the DREAM alive of being the best!!!

The “A”  is the  ABILITY TO ADJUST and then perform at the highest level.

The “M” is for the  MENTAL GAME because it is what makes great athletes great!!!

action-is-the-fundamental-key-to-success-quote-1The “E” reminds the athlete to maximize ENERGY levels in mind, body & spirit.

The “N” promotes self-motivation to say “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”.

The “T”offers TRUST  to coaches to listen, to accept teaching and perform with confidence.

The “A” shows on how ATTENTION improves performance,especially attention to details.

The “L” is the athlete’s foundation because if you don’t LOVE what you do, why do it!!!

The “S” is having  SUPERIOR SKILLS and setting the standard in your sport.

Now that you have a system of mastering your fundamentals, implement these power points in your daily program, play with confidence and remember that F.U.N.D.A.M.E.N.T.A.L.S. are the foundation of success!!!!

“Keep Living Like A Champion”

Coach Reggie Ward

Champion’s Quest Athlete Academy

Assistant Athletic Director

reggiew@championsquest.com

562-598-2600

 

 

“The Process”: Mental Approach on the Diamond Part 1

Who has seen the movie For the Love of the Game with Kevin Costner? For me, it is one of my favorite movies. It provides such a visceral experience of what it is like to be an established pitcher in the big leagues. At several points in the movhqdefaultie you get a glimpse of what it is like to pitch on the biggest stages, what his dialogues with his catcher/ teammates look like, and most importantly what his “self-talk” looks like. There are several points in the movie that really stuck out as being spot on, those points that you catch yourself saying “yah that is what it really must be like.” In one scene, however, “Billy Chapel” makes his way out to the mound at Yankee stadium and the place is rocking. He looks around and soaks in the raucous and screaming (hostile) fans. He then proceeds to get on the mound and say in his mind “clear the mechanism” and kind of glare into the catcher’s glove. At this point all the noise completely dies down, and the rest of the stadium sort of disintegrates into the background.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERSNow although I have never pitched on an MLB stage, I have pitched in a rowdy college stadium. What I can confidently say, is that the “clear the mechanism” scene is not reality. We are all human, we all have ears, we all have eyes, and we all battle nerves. For me, mental toughness is not some super-human ability to block everything out of your senses, but rather, the ability to redirect thoughts rapidly in a positive manner. It took me many of these moments, mostly post college, to come to the realization that the only way negative thoughts, feelings, comments, or words can affect a ball player’s performance, is if you allow it to change your physical action steps. What this means, basically, is never ever let negative thoughts change your physical play/ approach to the game. The human mind is extremely powerful. Mostly, your mind will work to help you stay “comfortable.” In a pressure-packed moment, adrenaline can either serve to help or hurt your play, depending on how you choose to act. Your mind will likely tell you to slow down, be cautious, stay square to your target, and demand you to “take control.” When this happens, it is absolutely vital for the player to stay on the attack, and trust the mechanics that have been engrained through countless repetitions. By staying on the attack, the ball player is making a conscious decision to play the game instinctually, to the best of their innate abilities.

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In a moment like this there is no time to think about “controlling the outcome,” an elite gymnast must simply trust that their hard work, muscle memory, and routines are enough, and GO FOR IT. The same can be said for ball players.

The beautiful (and tough) thing about baseball is that most of the game is completely out of the player’s direct control. You can make a perfect pitch to the exact spot you were determined to hit and one of three things can happen; You can have the result you expected, the umpire can take away your positive result, or the batter can best you. Baseball is not a game of connect the dots; It is intricate, multi-faceted, and always changing. With this in mind, it is all about controlling only the things you can control. Next time we will start talking about what this process looks like, and how to take ownership of your mental approach.

Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance

Success Story: Chris Morgan Throws No-Hitter

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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

Video: Parent Testimonial

Dion Schram, Father of Champion’s QUEST athlete Emi Schram, explains how Champion’s QUEST has helped Emi with her speed, agility, and power.

Check out Emi’s recent success here.  

Coach Angela

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contact Coach Angela Garcia to do a speed clinic or for soccer specific speed training

Soccer@ChampionsQUEST.com  562-598-2600

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.

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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