A Simple Way To Make Adjustments, Build Swing Tempo, AND Elevate The Ball That Works For Mike Trout & Josh Donaldson

I have a treat for you…

A “grab-bag” of golden nuggets…

The following 11 hitting tips come from my most popular social media non-HPL links of 2016.

To give you an idea,

I typically promote 1 non-HPL link per day on the socials, so that’s 365 links getting put in front of my 20K+ followers.

I get a front row seat to see what coaches think interesting and worth their time.

The following creme-of-the-crop link montage, is arranged in descending order, least clicks to the most.

You’ll find these somewhat of a random sort, but they all relate to hitting, albeit indirectly in some cases.

Happy learning!

 

#11: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: How Mike Trout Approaches Hitting

This is the featured video above.

Sean Casey interviewed Mike Trout during Spring Training of 2016, where Trout discusses his hitting routine…I jotted down 9 key notes for you:

  1. First few rounds he works on hitting to RCF,
  2. Stay up the middle,
  3. A few times hit the ball to LCF, to stay square with the pitcher,
  4. He mentions not getting too ‘chicken wing’,
  5. Tee work: set it high and ‘get on top of the ball’ (to counteract dropping the shoulder and barrel too much),
  6. 10-20 swings trying to hit a ground-ball every time,
  7. In games, sit fastball, react to off-speed and breaking balls,
  8. On top of the plate, back of the batter’s box, and
  9. Work up the middle in games.

All these tips are pretty solid…

…for Mike Trout.

When I posted this, and made a note that Mike Trout is definitely not looking to optimize hitting the high pitch in games,

AND

He’s most definitely NOT trying to ‘get on top of the ball’ in games (both in reference to tip #5 above)…

There were a few men on Facebook that got their panties in a bunch, saying I was calling Mike Trout a liar…yada, yada, yada.

If we look at Mike Trout’s Sabermetrics at FanGraphs.com, the reality is, he’s THE BEST at hitting the low ball…and THE WORST at hitting the high ball.

So WHY does he practice hitting off a high tee?

Another look at Mike Trout’s metrics, and we see he’s:

  • Well below average in Ground-ball percentage (39.6% v. league average is 44%),
  • Above average in Line Drive percentage (22.1% v. league average is 20%),
  • Above average in Fly-ball percentage (38.2% v. league average is 36%), AND
  • Well above average in his Fly-ball to Home-run ratio (19.6% v. league average is 9.5%).

What does this mean?

It’s a ‘what’s real’ AND ‘what’s feel’ sort of thing…

Because he’s definitely NOT trying to hit ground-balls in games (contradicting hitting tips #5 & #6 from above).

So am I calling Mike Trout a liar…

And, WHY would he practice like this?

Earlier, notice how I said,

“All these tips are pretty solid…for Mike Trout.”

No, I didn’t say that because Mike Trout is a mutant, and only Mike Trout can do that and get away with it.

When coaches say this, it’s a cop out.  It means they have no REAL clue what’s REALLY going on.

Here’s where I’m going with this,

And it’s VERY important…

And also WHY I made popular link hitting tip #11 the featured video…

What John Doe Coach missed in the interview was when Trout mentioned he has a tendency to ‘chicken-wing’ and ‘drop his back shoulder and barrel’ too much.

In other words, uppercut too much.

Mike Trout is using these seemingly counter-intuitive hitting tips to make adjustments to his swing’s extreme tendencies.

I’m not calling Mike Trout a liar.

He’s a friggin’ smart competitive athlete.

He knows himself and his swing, and makes the necessary adjustments to stay in the black, and not get too far in the red.

There’s no secret,

Mike Trout is trying to get the ball in the air.

It’s like the advice Lightning McQueen heard in the animated movie Cars, “Turn left to go right”…when attempting to correct a spin-out.

 

#10: Hitting A Baseball – “The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports”

CLICK HERE for this article by Axon Sports.

Some of the things you’ll gain by reading this:

  • “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.” – Warren Spahn,
  • Why “Keep your eye on the ball”, or “Watch the ball hit the bat” is humanly IMPOSSIBLE according to research, and
  • Awesome info-graphic breaking down the reaction time of a hitter.

 

#9: Hamstring Flexibility: 6 Tips to Loosen Up

CLICK HERE for the full article by GMB Fitness.

98% of my hitters are immobile in the hip.

And oftentimes, this comes in the form of tight hamstrings.

This is a great post looking into factors and strategies you can employ to improve the flexibility of your hitter’s hamstrings…and maybe yours 😉

 

#8: Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

This article was written July 28th, 2016 with a sub-head that reads:

“He’s gotta figure out how to elevate more despite pitchers giving him few pitches to elevate.”

This was when B.H. was struggling to lift the ball early in the season.

The article talks about how Harper’s dramatic launch angle change (down), led to a dramatic increase in his ground-ball rate.

The post discusses how pitchers are throwing him more outside and down in the zone.

The bottom line?

…Is that a ground-ball focused hitting strategy SUCKS!!!

It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball, if you can’t elevate, you’ll hit A LOT of worm burners that end up as outs at the higher levels.

#7: Are overbearing parents ruining the Westlake baseball program?

CLICK HERE for this LA Times post.

The parent and player behavior is probably not going to surprise you…

However, I want you to ask yourself the question as you read this,

“How did the coaches respond to the parents that clearly didn’t work?”

How could coach be more effective in dealing with parents in this environment, if a million dollar bet was on the line?

Look, maybe the athletes are spoiled brats, or maybe the coaches just don’t have an effective strategy for dealing with this situation.

In other words, don’t label the players or parents “mean” right away…

Be creative, brainstorm, and future pace how you’d handle this situation.

Because chances are, you will run across this scenario, in some form, in your lifetime.

#6: Clayton Kershaw UMPIRE VIEW of pregame warm up

You will get better at Pitch Recognition watching this video.

In the spirit of the playoffs, this video features arguably one of the best pitchers in history, Clayton Kershaw.

Do this for me…

Watch this video for a couple minutes, trying to pick up the “shape” of each pitch he throws, like what Perry Husband talks about in this article.

Then pick a series of pitches, see which pitch Clayton Kershaw signals to the catcher, look at his release, and close your eyes.

This would be like Dr. Peter Fadde’s video occlusion training featured in this post.

Then try to pick another series of pitches, don’t look at him signal to the catcher what he’s throwing, and test yourself.

This is such a cool game to do with hitters.

 

#5: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blasts 33 HR in 60 Swings in Home Run Derby in the DR (Round 2 November 2014) 

I know this isn’t Vlad G. the first, but there are a lot of similarities to their swings.  A few notes to look out for while watching him hit…

  • Toe-tap for timing
  • Aggressive move towards the pitcher with stride
  • Back foot stays sideways until follow through
  • Great knee action at landing (front), and during the turn (back)
  • Showing numbers to pitcher as close to landing as possible
  • Downward shoulder angle as close to landing as possible.

What do you see?

 

#4: Donaldson gives a hitting demo

Cool MLB.com interview with Josh Donaldson on developing timing and rhythm at the plate, with Sean Casey.

A couple notes from the video below:

  • Find out what’s comfortable for you
  • Leg kick: engaged into back hip not back knee
  • Leg kick: control when get front foot down
  • Being on time, not about getting front foot down on time
  • Soft focus on the pitcher, recognize pitch better at the plate ( stay relaxed)
  • Hit with music on, adds a smooth tempo to the swing
  • Watch Manny Ramirez setup to swing, “boring” rhythm at the plate (again relaxed mindset)
  • Put the work in (Sean Casey)

 

#3: Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

CLICK HERE for this FanGraphs.com post.

I included the following chart from this post on my Ground-ball RANT post

Fangraphs Ground-ball metrics

Most understand Line Drives MUST be the main hitting objective (for a majority of swings), however I want you to compare the Ground-ball metrics to the Fly-ball metrics from the chart above:

  • A 32-point increase in Batting Average with Ground-ball over a Fly-ball,
  • A 358-point INCREASE in ISO (or raw power) with Fly-balls over Ground-balls…AND
  • A 115-point INCREASE in weighted On-Base Average with Fly-Balls over Ground-balls, which according to FanGraphs.com…

“Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

So, WHY are we still teaching hitters to hit ground-balls, and NOT to elevate?  Beside situational hitting of course.

What’s more…

 

#2: Scooter Gennett and ground balls

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

I love the sub-header, which reads:

“Scooter Gennett’s offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

After careful metric analysis, Shawn Brody the post’s author, says:

“In my mind, Gennett should be closer to his 2014 level of production, which is something he could return to if he put the ball in the air more often.”

Hitting consistent ground-balls will land you on the bench at the higher levels, unless of course you have plus running speed.

In which case, analysis shows that any launch angle above 10-degrees, makes faster running speed irrelevant.

So, what if a hitter hits the ball just plain hard?

Maybe the following #1 link post from my 20K+ followers will shed light on that…

 

#1: Jon Lester shows importance of launch angleBackspin Tee: Launch Angles

CLICK HERE to read this Cubs.com post.

The great case study article discusses how Jon Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?

Quoted from the article:

“…(He ended up with four hits on the season in 71 plate appearances, a .065/.108/.065 line.) Part of it is that, like many pitchers, contact was an issue — Lester’s 42.3 percent strikeout rate was above the 37.7 percent average for pitchers.”

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?

Again, quoted from the article:

“…it’s because 19 of Lester’s 24 tracked batted balls failed to get above 7 degrees of launch angle. Sixteen of those 19 failed to even achieve positive launch angle, which is to say that he pounded the ball into the ground constantly.”

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle.  About 10-degrees positive will get the ball to the outfield grass…on the “big” field.

If the hitter has a negative or less than 10-degree positive launch angle, THEY WILL:

  1. Hit A LOT of worm burners,
  2. Strikeout more,
  3. NOT get many hits, and
  4. Professionally speaking, NOT make it past A-ball (if they’re lucky enough to make it that far).

Even if they’re lighting up the BES radar guns.

Here’s a BONUS link for ya…

CLICK HERE to read a Cut4 article highlighting Giancarlo Stanton hitting the hardest ball ever recorded by Statcast at 123.9-mph, but it was hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Here’s the lesson folks…

Line drives tend to be between 10-20 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Dingers tend to be between 20-40 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Of course, whether it’s over the fence or not will depend on the Ball Exit Speed.

It’s not enough to hit the ball hard.

Teach hitters to elevate.

Get barrel on path of incoming pitch.

Focus on striking bottom half of ball.

That, my coaching friend, is how to decrease strikeouts, mishits, and weak fly-balls…AND increase BA, ISO, and wOBA.

How To Get Wrist Flexibility & Strength For Hitters By Doing Gymnastics Training?

 

Wrist Flexibility & Exercises For Hitters

Handstand GymnasticBodies.com. Photo courtesy: GymnasticBodies.com

This post is for Coach David Michael Enciso (DME).

He mentioned having a couple girls that had stiff wrists, and was wondering about stretches.

To those that don’t know,

I’ve been doing Gymnastics body-weight strength training through GymnasticBodies.com over the past four months.

That link will give you $25 OFF their Fundamentals course.

I don’t get commission on that, I just think what Coach Sommers has put together is excellent training for baseball and softball players!

By the way, Coach Sommers was the former US Olympic men’s Gymnastics coach.

I’ve also recommended his program to quite a few of my hitting students and parents online and off.

I personally finished the Fundamentals 4-week course, and moved onto the Handstand course, which I’ve been working on for the past 2-3 months months.

However, I’d recommend my players completing the Fundamentals course first, then moving onto the Foundation courses, before moving onto Handstand.

In the video above, I show you all the wrist stretches and strengtheners that I do on a daily and bi-weekly basis for my Handstand training.

The wrist stretches alone got rid of a painful pinch on the backside of my right wrist (my throwing hand), that I’ve had for the last 5 years, at the bottom of the push-up position…the pinch was gone in 2-weeks!

Do the THREE stretches EVERYDAY as prescribed in the video,

AND

Do the FOUR exercises 3-sets X 5-repetitions each wrist, 2-3 times per week.

PLEASE keep me updated on any changes you find in your hitters, from these wrist stretches and exercises.

Make sure we’re swinging smarter by moving better 😉

Reader Question: “What flexibility work do you do with your trainees to enhance counter-rotation of the torso as the foot lands open?”

 

Andrew McCutchen 'Showing his Numbers' to the Pitcher

Andrew McCutchen ‘showing his numbers’ to the pitcher, while landing open with lower half. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

This questions stems from how I teach hitters to ‘show their numbers’ to the pitcher during the load, as close to stride landing as possible…

(see image of Andrew McCutchen)

But for this to work, here’s the kicker…

The hitter MUST land open with the bottom half…front foot open between 45 and 60-degrees.

This creates what some coaches call torque, or counter-rotation of the shoulders-to-pelvis…

These are basic walking mechanics of the spine…and is why, as your right leg swings forward, so does your left arm.

So how do we optimize this action with our hitters using flexibility and strengthening?

I’m about 8-weeks into an online gymnastics strength training course through GymnasticBodies.com myself.  I’ve finished their Fundamentals course, and currently working through their Handstand course.

GymnasticBodies.com Fundamentals Course Deal

Photo courtesy: GymnasticBodies.com

CLICK HERE to get $25 OFF full price of $100 for their Fundamentals course.  I don’t get paid if you purchase the course.  I just LOVE what they’re doing, and believe ALL hitters MUST be engaging in this type of mobility and strength training.

(PLEASE NOTE: I’m not sure how long this deal will be up, so jump on it!)

Why am I putting myself through this training?

#1: as my wife will tell you, this is a gross obsession of mine…sometimes bordering on OCD.

And #2: I wanted to pick up a few things about bodyweight training mobility and stability for my hitters.

One of my guiding principles is if you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

And if you’re a coach that takes mentoring young athletes seriously, then you MUST be subscribing to the same proactive learning principles.

So, in the above video, we go over:

  • Rotation v. Anti-Rotation (acceleration v. braking systems)
  • Rotation stretch – hold each side for at least 30-secs
  • Rotation strengthen:
    • Windshield Wipers – do 10 repetitions each side
  • Anti-Rotation strengthen:
    • Side Plank (anti-side bend) – start off with holding for 30-secs, then increase by 15-secs after mastery
    • 3-Point Plank (anti-rotation of pelvis) – start off holding for 30-secs, then increase by 15-secs after mastery.

ENJOY!

The Imbalance Risks Hiding In Your Swing

8 Exercises To Help Fix Hitting Imbalances In 16-Weeks

Chicks dig the Fiddler Crab’s GIANT lopsided (and colorful) hook. Photo courtesy: AnimalsTown.com

In this post, I want to answer the following reader suggestion for future content on the HPL  blog:

“Exercises for imbalances created by hitting.”

I include the following corrective exercise strategy in The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video DIY hitting course.

And part of The Feedback Lab online video lesson program is prescribing a formulation of these exercises depending on what I see that’s possibly limiting range of motion for my local and online hitters.

A little background on my 10+ years in the corrective fitness industry:

  • Certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM),
  • Certified with Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) through NASM,
  • Certified through the Functional Movement Screen (FMS),
  • Yoga certified through YogaFit, and
  • Youth Fitness Specialist (YFS) certified through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).

 

In Baseball & Softball, Imbalance is Not Only Tolerated, but Promoted

I was a right handed hitter and thrower for all 17-years of my playing career ending at Fresno State.

You don’t go to the gym and pick up a 30-pound dumbbell, do 100 bicep curls with your right arm, and then go home…do you?

People would think you’re nuts!

But think about what we have our players doing on the diamond…

How many swings and throws does a baseball or softball athlete take everyday, or at least every practice, without doing the same amount of repetitions on the opposite side to balance out?

It just doesn’t happen this way, right?! At least if we’re like most hitters that don’t switch hit.

My best friend and teammate, who was a switch hitter in college, would argue hearing me say this, but…

The ONLY advantage a switch hitter has over a dominant side hitter and thrower, like me, is a more balanced body.

The advantage IS NOT seeing a breaking ball “come into” the hitter.

Ted Williams and Babe Ruth did just fine batting left handed their whole career.  And I think Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, and Jose Bautista will do just the same batting right handed for the rest of their careers.

However, when it comes to body balance, all these hitters NEED to be doing something else to counter-balance the imbalance inherent in baseball and softball.

 

The Hitting ‘Governor’

What happens is what I call the Hitter’s ‘Governor Affect’.  Bus engines have what’s called a Centrifugal Governor in the engine to keep the bus from going too fast.

Here’s an example of how this works…

One of my other good friends who played baseball at Pepperdine, demonstrated this with his 2001 Chevy Silverado…

In the summer, we were in his truck driving to Calabasas for a party at his apartment with his roommates, when he said, “Watch this…”, and proceeded to put his pedal to the metal

I saw his odometer climb until it approached 90-mph on HWY-101, when the engine automatically down shifted, and I saw the odometer drop 20-mph in the matter of a few short seconds.  CRAZY!  At the time, I never knew anything like that existed.

Our brain does the same thing to our bodies when there’s a hip mobility, shoulder, or ankle mobility issue.  Sometimes there are more than one issue that needs to be addressed, in order to raise the limit of the brain/body’s own Centrifugal Governor.

 

How-to Fix an Imbalanced Athlete?

I’ve mentioned in a past post, the SIX most balancing disciplines to participate in are:

  1. Martial Arts,
  2. Gymnastics,
  3. Olympic Lifting,
  4. Yoga,
  5. Dance, and
  6. Swimming…

What if your hitters haven’t participated in any of these athletic endeavors for at least 3-5 years?

I’m presenting a 16-week corrective exercise program helping to make dysfunctional movement functional, in baseball and softball athletes, enabling them to move better, and as a result, will perform better.

This is NO joke!

Ask any bone Doc why they’re getting an increase in injured baseball and softball players over the past decade, and I bet you they’ll say overuse and imbalances.  Studies and research are showing that present day athletes spend 85% of their day sitting!!

AND, the sport of baseball and softball isn’t known to be the most active of sports.  Awhile back, I read another study that accumulated all the ‘active’ movement time in a 6-inning game, and I remember it concluding a total of about 4-minutes…

That was shocking to me!  I didn’t realize how ‘lazy’ my favorite sport was.

But that’s our reality, so we have to take care of our athletes…

Here’s the 16-week program to getting young athletes to move better, so they perform better (in order of highest to lowest priority)…

 

Weeks 1-4: Hip & Shoulder Mobility

Passive Leg Lower
  • Do once daily,
  • Weeks 1-2: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, AND
  • Weeks 3-4: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg…

8-Way Shoulder Circles
  • Do 2-3 times daily
  • Three circles clockwise and counterclockwise at each shoulder position
  • Keep reps slow and controlled…

 

Weeks 5-8: Rotary Stability (Braking Systems) & Core Stability

Bird Dogs
  • Do once daily,
  • Add band resistance if necessary,
  • Weeks 1-2: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, AND
  • Weeks 3-4: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg…

Super Plank
  • Do once daily,
  • Weeks 1: 1 set X 30-45 second hold,
  • Weeks 2: 1 set X 45-60 second hold
  • Weeks 3: 2 sets X 30-45 second hold
  • Weeks 4: 2 sets X 45-60 second hold, and
  • CLICK HERE for the Plank-Up progression if needed…

 

Weeks 9-12: Ankle Mobility & Glute Activation

Ankle Circles
  • Do 2-3 times daily
  • Three circles clockwise and counterclockwise at each ankle position
  • Keep reps slow and controlled and reach into those ‘corners’…

Single Leg Floor Bridge
  • Do once daily,
  • Add band resistance if necessary,
  • Weeks 1-2: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, AND
  • Weeks 3-4: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg…

 

Weeks 13-16: Hurdle Step & Squatting Patterns

Super Mountain Climbers
  • Do once daily,
  • Incline to regress OR decline to progress intensity,
  • Weeks 1: 1 set X 30-45 seconds,
  • Weeks 2: 1 set X 45-60 seconds,
  • Weeks 3: 2 sets X 30-45 seconds, and
  • Weeks 4: 2 sets X 45-60 seconds…

Squat Pattern Progression
  • Do once daily,
  • Weeks 1-2: 2 sets X 12 reps, AND
  • Weeks 3-4: 2 sets X 15 reps…

How to Become a Hitting Expert When You Come Across “That Guy” (Baseball Hitting Drills For Youth Included)

So, this is what I have to deal with on a weekly basis…

I also want to apologize in advance, this is a little bit of a rant.

Before going into the baseball hitting drills for youth, here’s some context,

It all started when I posted this image of Buster Posey in his ‘Float’ position on Twitter (CLICK HERE for Twitter thread):

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The caption I put over the Twitter image stated: “Hitting Misconception: ‘Keep the back knee inside the foot’. Buster Posey is ‘floating’ with his knee over ankle…”

This is when my conversation with @13tys started…

@13tys: his knee is inside his foot! No?

@hitperformlab (Me): nope, knee floating slightly off center of ankle.

@13tys: just showed the same pic to my 11yr old and asked him, reply “are you stupid? His knee is inside his ankle”.

(This is when I get the feeling that I was dealing with “that guy”)

@hitperformlab: he’s kind of bias don’t you think? Lol

@13tys: just showed the pic and asked. I usually use my 9 and 11 yr olds to call a spade a spade. They don’t know baseball politics.

@hitperformlab: it’s not the ideal angle, I’ll find another. You believe in keeping the knee inside at all costs?

@13tys: you don’t have to, but the further back it goes, the tougher u make hitting. Already tough enough w/o that much movement!

@hitperformlab: C’mon man! Had to prove to your 10yo I’m not “stupid” lol. Just did simple Google image search.

(Here are the two images of Buster Posey I posted to the baseball hitting drills for youth Twitter thread)...

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: www.BayAreaSportsGuy.com

AND

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: InWriteField.com

@13tys: still, we are looking at the same thing and seeing different things. To me, that knee is still not on top of the ankle.

(by the way, in the beginning of our Twitter conversation, I said “knee floating slightly off center of ankle”)…

@hitperformlab: let me get my 2 year old to comment on your comment lol

@hitperformlab: Posey is creating torque in his back hip. Also depends on the severity of the leg kick, Posey’s is about medium…hope this helps

@13tys: creating torque?? Seriously? This is y kids are so confused by their “hitting coaches” #keepitsimple

(Then like the “good American citizen” he is, posts a screenshot of the definition of “Torque”)…

@hitperformlab: I’m talking to you, not to kids. Read Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book The Supple Leopard.

@13tys: sorry, My experience and knowledge come from yrs in cages & video w/ the best hitters ever, some come from books on crossfit

@hitperformlab: book that’ll rock you’re isolated hitting world? Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers.

(Then there was radio silence…)

FIRST of all, if spending years in the cages AND analyzing video of the best hitters ever, magically made you know EVERYTHING you need to know about effective hitting, then we wouldn’t have the problem we do today with guys like this, coming up with effective baseball hitting drills for youth hitters.

“That guy” is a soaked sponge, and has reached his ceiling of knowledge when it comes to hitting.

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Alex Rodriguez Barrel Down

Baseball hitting drills for youth: Alex Rodriguez NOT keeping barrel above hands like he said. Photo courtesy: NewsDay.com

If experience, cage work, and analysis were the only standard of learning the swing, then we’d all have to accept what Alex Rodriguez shared about the secret to his swing during the 2015 World Series FOX Sports broadcast…

How he talked about keeping the barrel above his hands when hitting.  And we ALL know how well that little tip would help our hitters 😛

And SECOND, this “talking down to you” TWEETitude, is a sure sign of an inferior coach, nevertheless, a knucklehead for a human being.

Slightly off topic…

Read this Business Insider article titled, “4 behaviors are the most reliable predictors of divorce”.

Guess which one of the ‘4 horsemen of the apocalypse’ is the worst offender in marriages…

CONTEMPT (aka, the “talking down to you” attitude).

Okay, back on topic…

Look, if we as coaches don’t have a solid foundation in human movement principles, validated by science, then we’re pissing in the wind!  Without this foundation, conversations about hitting would model a Merry-Go-Round.  Many of you have experienced this ridiculous insanity in popular online hitting forums.

Look at this slow motion video of Buster Posey.  Look at the difference of the back knee position (over the ankle, slightly off center) at the 0:03 video mark, versus at the 0:09 video mark during the fall forward…

Here’s the holdup with hitting coaches, even ones I agree with on a majority of things,

They think that the back knee MUST stay inside the foot at ALL times.  So, they teach ALL their hitters to do this, often putting the hitter’s back knee in an unnatural and awkward position before Forward Momentum.

If you think this knee position is healthy, then CLICK HERE to learn how bad putting the knee into a ‘knee valgus’ position is to our youth athletes from FunctionalMovement.com.

In addition,

These same instructors may also suggest and teach there hitters that when the back knee gets over the ankle, that it’s a BAD thing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The shifting of the knee back over the ankle should have a purpose.  A couple baseball hitting drills for youth concepts:

  1. A timing mechanism that I like to call the ‘Float’, AND
  2. Creating torque, or stability, in the back hip.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’

A ‘Float’ is a timing mechanism the hitter uses just before falling forward.  It generally can be observed as a slight weight shift back towards the catcher before falling forward.

With the ‘Float’, the severity of the knee shift will depend on the leg kick.  The higher the leg kick, the more the shifting of the knee over the ankle may have to happen.

For example, Willie Mays didn’t have much of a weight shift (or Float) back, he just fell forward with a slide step:

However, watch slow motion video of Josh Donaldson, who has a high leg kick, and you’ll see him virtually ‘pause’ on one leg, before his fall forward:

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #2: Creating Hip Torque & Stability

Okay, so what is creating torque to stabilize the back hip mean?  Let Dr. Kelly Starrett, Physical Therapist and owner of San Francisco CrossFit, at MobilityWOD.com explain its importance:

Here’s a baseball hitting drills for youth coaching cue that I use…

Borrowed from Dr. Kelly Starrett, I say to my hitters “screw the back ankle into the foot”.  I also advise them to point the back toe slightly inward towards the pitcher at setup, and to keep it there while screwing the ankle in.  The keyword is slight, not a lot.

Take a look at this video of Jose Bautista fouling a ball off, and watch how he ‘bows’ his back knee in, but at about the 0:06 second mark (when he begins his fall forward), the back knee starts to shift back towards the catcher…his back hip and thigh bone are searching for stability after being put in an unstable internally rotated (knee valgus) position at setup:

Now, CLICK HERE to watch this video clip of Ted Williams, and keep an eye on the back knee action between the 0:06-0:15 video mark.  Sorry, this YouTuber disabled the embed code so I couldn’t embed the video here.

What did arguably one of the best hitters of all time do with his back knee prior to Forward Momentum.  Boy, didn’t it shift back over the ankle?!

How about this homerun hit by Asdrubal Cabrera (watch the slow motion chest view at the 0:41 second mark)…

One more video…

Check out Matt Kemp.  As you can see, he starts with his back knee inside his foot, then watch for his back knee action prior to Forward Momentum:

Now, is this making baseball hitting drills for youth more complicated, like Mr. @13tys said?

Heck no!  It takes about 5 to 10-mins to explain to my 7-year-old hitters, and they begin applying it in their swings.  Easy peasy.

So after looking at all this, here’s the point of my baseball hitting drills for youth rant…

Don’t get caught up drinking the cool-aid of other hitting experts, blowhards, or “That Guy” without questioning what they’re saying.  Remember, we aren’t just observers.  We’re amateur scientists in a way.

I don’t claim to know it all.  And am still learning.  But I know for a fact, I’m on a better road than “That Guy”.

Look, I don’t mind being challenged, but if you don’t back up what you’re saying with human movement principles, that are validated by science, then you’ll lose.  We aren’t debating baseball hitting drills for youth philosophies or theories…we analyze through the lens of validated science.  Physics, Engineering, Bodywork, Biology, Chemistry, and Biomechanics.

I DO NOT care what level you played or coached at.

I DO NOT care if you’ve digested a million hours of slow motion video footage of only the BEST hitters.

I also DO NOT care if you’ve logged more hitting lesson hours than it takes to fly to Mars!!

If you don’t understand the human movement “rules”, then you DO NOT understand high level hitting, or better yet, high level human performance.

I know this may upset some of you out there.  But I don’t care.  The days of being “That Guy” are numbered.  If you aren’t moving with us, then you’ll be left behind.  And that’s the truth.

Early Sport Specialization

Photo courtesy: ExpertTableTennis.com

I may be shooting myself in the foot on this one…

But I feel it is my duty to educate parents and coaches,

That today, early sport specialization is an epidemic among younger athletes.

And it’s caused by a paper tiger need to stay competitive.

Nothing fires me up more than coaches NOT allowing their players to play other sports throughout the year.

In this post, I’ll address these three things:

  • Smart Coaches Focus on Long Term Athlete Development,
  • Stop Early Sport Specialization, and
  • Why Early Specialization in Baseball or Softball May Be Dangerous to an Athlete’s Health.

 

Smart Coaches Focus on Long Term Athlete Development

I feel bad for oblivious parents in youth baseball and softball nowadays.  Their motivation to “catch-up” to the competition is HUGE because they don’t want to see their child sitting on the bench.  And rightfully so.

So, what is a parent to do?  Spend $100-200 per month on a travel team that promises tournament play every weekend, plus three practices during the week…all year long!  The goal is reps, reps, reps.  That’s how they see getting to the 10,000 hour mark of sport mastery.

I’m here to tell you this approach is VERY misled.

When I hear this, I see these parents spinning their tires.  Sure, they may get to those 10,000 hours, but at what cost?

And does it really take 10,000 hours?

You’ll find out shortly…

Be honest with yourself,

Do you subscribe to the 10,000 hour rule of “the more reps the better”, I talked about earlier?  You’ve read The Talent Code right?

Well, like 3-times NY Times best selling author, Tim Ferriss, says in the video above, most of the time people are spending their 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice”, practicing the wrong things.  In this since, it’s not how you study, but what you study that counts.

What do we study then?

Human movement rules that are validated by science.

It’s doing the right things, and then doing those things correctly.

So, what does Long-Term Athletic Development look like?

It’s diversifying an athlete’s movement background early on.  Let’s look at a Scandinavian Study that will shock you…

 

Stop Early Sport Specialization

Early Sport Specialization

Photo courtesy: IYCA.org

Wil Fleming from the International Youth & Conditioning Association (IYCA), which I’m a member of, put out a post that highlighted a recent Scandinavian Study that several researchers (Moesch, Elbe, Haube and Wikman) published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Sport Science.

The researchers asked elite athletes and near elite athletes to answer questions about their experiences in athletics regarding their training and practice throughout their career:

  • The near-elite athletes actually accumulated more hours of training than the elite athletes prior to age 15.
  • By age 18 the elite athletes had accumulated an equal number of hours training to the near elite athletes.
  • From age 18-21 elite athletes accumulate more training hours than near elite athletes.
  • Elite athletes said that they passed significant points in their career (first competition, starting a sport) at later dates than the near elite athletes.

What the Scandinavian Study suggests is early sport specialization was found to be a likely predictor of classification as a near-elite athlete.  According to the aforementioned IYCA article link,

“Despite much evidence that early specialization can lead to higher levels of burnout and dropout, many coaches still believe that the only way athletes can reach 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is to begin specialization at an extremely early age.”

What’s more…

According to David Epstein, in his book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletes, it’s a hardware AND software issue.  Not just nature OR nurture, but both!  You can’t have the latest greatest software on a 5 year old computer, just like you can’t have the latest greatest computer running Windows ’98.

Young athletes MUST develop the hardware early, between ages 10 and 15 years of age, which means playing other sports that aren’t one-side dominant like baseball/softball, golf, or tennis.  Ideally, Martial Arts, Dance, Gymnastics, Swimming, Football, Basketball, etc.

This updates the hardware.

Then, from 16 to 18 years of age or so, it’s smart to start specializing, so the athlete can update their software for that sport.  From David Epstein’s research, athletes that generalized early on, did better at the sport they specialized in later, than athletes that specialized in the same sport early on.  The latter may have more sophisticated software, but their running it on a 5 year old computer.

Here’s evidence, validated by science, that the 10,000 hour deliberate practice rule can be misleading.  The key is a well-rounded movement experience for young athletes, at least if you want to give them a better shot at achieving the elite athlete status.

This is Long-Term Athlete Development in a nutshell.

 

Why Early Specialization in Baseball or Softball May Be Dangerous to an Athlete’s Health

Tommy John Surgery

Photo courtesy: Health.HowStuffWorks.com

This was my story with baseball…

I played 17 years of baseball as a right handed hitter and right handed thrower.

At the time, taking reps on my left side, to me, was a complete waste of time.

Imagine going to the gym everyday and doing one hundred-fifty bicep curls with a 30-pound dumbbell using your right arm only.

This next statement will get me in A LOT of hot water with my switch-hitting teammates…

But switch-hitting DOES NOT give as big a competitive advantage that everyone thinks.  Of course, switch hitting from the standpoint of a coach writing a competitive lineup, or that switch-hitters are more balanced athletes from a human movement perspective, sure.  But not to the performance of the individual hitter.

Before you get upset, think about it…

Did Babe Ruth feel the need to switch hit?  How about Ted Williams?  Do you think Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, or Andrew McCutchen feel the need to see a breaking ball “come into” them?

No.

A hitter will collect data and make adjustments accordingly, whether they’re facing a righty or lefty pitcher.

Not only is baseball or softball one of the most imbalanced sports you can play, but it’s also one of the least active, next to golf.  I read or heard a study somewhere that analyzed the action in a 7-inning baseball game, and on average, a player will have 4-minutes of real activity.

Now, that’s saying something about the state of this sport!

Heck, want to know my thoughts on the increase in pitcher Tommy John surgeries?

Check out this post from Grantland.com titled, “The Tommy John Epidemic: What’s Behind the Rapid Increase of Pitchers Undergoing Elbow Surgery?”

Is the cause:

  • Low/high pitch counts?
  • The move to the 5-man rotation?
  • Faster arm speeds?
  • The angle of the elbow during the throw?  OR,
  • “Unnatural” torque produced by the body in an overhand throwing position (versus underhand)?

In the grand scheme of things, I believe it’s none of these.  The damage is being done much sooner than this.

The damage is being done when young athletes are choosing (or being forced, in the case of less informed High School coaches) to specialize in one sport.  The above bullet points are just the straws that break the camel’s back…or ahem, elbow.

I ask all my new hitters what other sports they play or participate during their hitting evaluation.  Here is a list of sports developing a diversified (GOOD) or specialized (BAD) movement athlete…

GOOD (well rounded sports):

  • Gymnastics (recommended),
  • Dance (recommended),
  • Martial Arts (recommended),
  • Soccer,
  • Football (everyone but kickers and quarterbacks), and
  • Basketball.

BAD (one-sided sports):

  • Baseball/Softball,
  • Football: kickers and quarterbacks,
  • Tennis,
  • Golf,
  • Volleyball (serves and spikes), and
  • Olympic Throwers & Shot Putters.

Okay, so what can you do if you’re a parent or coach stuck in this rat-trap?  Three things:

  1. On the 10,000 hour deliberate practice rule – it’s not about reps, reps, reps.  It’s not how you study, but what you study that counts.  Make sure the hitting information you’re learning is validated by science.  For coaching resources, look into the IYCA I mentioned earlier, and the Positive Coaching Alliance.
  2. Early Sport Specialization – DON’T do it!  The Scandinavian Study proved that young athletes who specialize early will most likely experience burnout and dropout, along with limit the level they can achieve in their sport.
  3. Higher Injury Rates – you’re making a BIG mistake when you decide to play only baseball or softball.  Make sure to play other balanced sports that I mentioned in the “GOOD (well rounded sports)” section above.
Coach Lee Taft

Coach Lee Taft: “The Speed Guy”. Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

“Rules are for the Obedience of Fools and the Guidance of Wise Men.” – Douglas Bader

This is the second in a 3-part interview series…

The more I coach youth hitters and athletes, the more I realize that coaching isn’t about coaching (or telling), but listening.  This year, I’ve really grown in asking my hitters and athletes better questions.

My next guest will get into this more in a moment, but for now, it’s my honor to introduce…

Lee Taft, known to most simple as “The Speed Guy”, is highly respected as one of the top athletic movement specialist in the world. The last 25 years he has devoted the majority of his time training multi-directional speed to all ages and ability. He has spent much of this time teaching his multi-directional speed methods to top performance coaches and fitness professionals all over the world. Lee has also dedicated countless hours mentoring up and coming sports performance trainers, many who have gone into the profession and made a big impact themselves.

Here’s Speed Coach Lee…

 

If you were to train me for four weeks for a HUGE tournament and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?

Functional Movement Screen

Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Photo courtesy: FunctionalMovement.com

With only 4 weeks to get you ready we are going to take a three pronged approach. First we will address the needs based off your assessment. I will assess you using the Functional Movement Screen, basic mobility and flexibility to test range of motion in key joints like; ankles, hips, T and cervical spine, shoulder, and wrists, etc…, and Athletic Movement Screen where we would look at acceleration in all direction, ability to get through hips, speed, and overall agility.

The second area we will train is speed and agility. The approach here is to improve explosive acceleration to be better at getting a jump offensively and defensively, overall agility so you can effectively move in any direction and open your hips to make a play.

The final area we would attack is strength and stability. I can make more improvement in your overall stability of the major joints, spine, pelvis in a short 4 weeks than I can in overall maximal strength- but I can make some some neuromuscular changes due to the strength training.

So here we go with a program…

Week #1-#4:

  • Monday’s will consist of corrective/stability exercises, linear acceleration, and total body strength training (based on experience the strength training will be technique based for four weeks but slowly increasing resistance).
  • Wednesday will consist of corrective/stability exercises, lateral and angular acceleration, and total body strength (vary the movement patterns. example; bend, vertical push, vertical pull, etc…so they are different from Monday).
  • Finally on Friday we will follow up with the corrective exercises and test to see improvement/ and stability work, reactionary agility where drills are based on the coaches signal. Athlete will learn to explode in all directions based on a command. Lastly strength training (again, movement patterns will change back to Monday’s patterns).
Lee Taft Speed Training

Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

If we move to an eight week program the biggest change will come in the strength training and corrective and stability work. The speed and agility will obviously focus on need and overall athletic movement. The strength training will shift from a basic 4 week introductory program to a 3 blocks…

  1. The first strength block would be 2 weeks and emphasize more of an eccentric approach to build force reduction.
  2. The second block would be 3 weeks and emphasis more maximal strength with a tempo that is much faster than the first block.
  3. In the third block I would emphasize more power development with a fast concentric tempo.

A philosophy of mine is to constantly be willing to change according to how the athletes are doing day to day. Baseball and softball athletes require constant supervision due to the explosiveness of the sport and the high repetition through the shoulder and core regions.

What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?

The biggest influences for me were my father and two brothers. They were coaches and teachers. What, I feel, makes me different is my strong background as a teacher. Today it is common to see performance coaches skip steps and coach to the DRILL versus focusing on the SKILL. My approach has always been to identify the skills that need to be improved and attach drills that fit the solution- not the other way around.

I think one of the major difference I have than many coaches is my willingness to watch and learn from my athletes. What I mean is I don’t just start teaching my athletes. I watch them move and allow them to show me what they do well and what dysfunction they have. This approach makes my teaching stronger because I don’t waste time on things that aren’t pertinent to their success.

Many of the training techniques I endorsed years ago were based on innate human movement. There are reasons athletes move the way they do. Much of it can be related to our nervous systems “Fight or Flight” reactions. This means athlete have innate reactions based on if they are being chased or chasing. In either case, the athlete will move into an acceleration posture as quickly as possible to make a play.

An example of this would be an infielder quickly accelerating after a bunt. You will notice how they reposition their feet into an acceleration posture. One foot will drop back (which I coined a plyo step). When this occurs the use of elastic energy increases the acceleration. There are many examples of this fight or flight reaction to help athletes move quicker and more effectively.

My approach of allowing these reactions to occur naturally then supporting the movement with proper posture build a more efficient athlete.

 

What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?

There are two primary resources I feel novice coaches should use. Complete Speed Training and Ground Complete Speed Training: Lee TaftBreaking 2.

Complete Speed Training is a resource coaches can learn about many areas of speed, agility, strength, power, conditioning, and warming up.

Ground Breaking 2 is an indepth look at multi-directional speed techniques and how to teach them. Both are great products for coaches to gain valuable knowledge into the world of speed and agility and more.

I think it is important for coaches to use resources that solve their needs from a foundational standpoint first. This means, don’t overshoot your knowledge level. Too many coaches try to be jack of all trades when simply understanding the foundational information will take them far.

 

What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in hitting? What are the biggest wastes of time?

One of the biggest waste of times is when I see dads bring the heavy bat for their 9 year old- I cringe. Far too often strategies that are used at the highest levels trickle down. When a young kid uses a heavy bat the timing of the swing is distorted. The swing, at a young age, needs to be built with timing and feel. When the bat is too heavy, even for training purposes, the swing changes from the feet all the way to the hands. The youngsters try to muscle the swing rather than using proper mechanics.

Thanks Coach Lee!

Here’s how you can stay updated with Speed Coach Lee Taft:

Please direct any questions or comments for Coach Lee below…

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Hey guys,

Welcome back to the third post of this series.

  • First we talked about timing your nutrients.
  • Then we went into the hormonal changes needed to take advantage of the “anabolic window” right after you train.

Those previous post give great context to this post, so make sure to read them. Then come back here.

 

You Want To Drop Bombs?

As a baseball player who understands the game, I know strength does not always equal skill. If you are reading this post, you are probably working extremely hard to achieve your goals, or you are coaching young guys who have big goals. Some of you have sons that just want to play in college. That is an awesome pursuit. You should have big goals. And you should pursue them with everything possible.

 

This Is What You Are Missing

Ask this question to players, “Do you work hard?” Across the board, everyone says yes. Every player assumes they are doing everything they can to achieve their goals. This holds true until you meet someone who works way harder than you.

Then you step up  your game, refocus and change your standards. Similar to the story of the 4 minute mile. Nobody thought it could be done, until Roger Bannister made it happen. Now 10+ people have run a 4 minute mile.

Once one guy pioneered it, it became possible to everyone. You have to be the nutrition pioneer for your team.  Pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This is how players change their teams and how you can change your future.

 

Optimizing Your Nutrition

Sports nutrition is a great example of a missing piece. If you get this right, everything in your game will benefit. You will recover faster, grow more lean muscle and output more power at the batter’s box. I can’t help you make contact, but I can dang sure promise you faster growth and more strength. So what should you do?

 

Do Not “Eat Right”

Do not just “eat right.” When someone tells you to eat right, but they do not define what that means, your action steps get diluted. Most nutrition advice is for losing weight, getting 6 pack abs and increasing overall health. Those are great things for the average person, but that’s not you.

You are a high performance athlete. You may take 100 hacks in the cage then go right to the weight room. You should optimize your nutrition as a high performance athlete. You can get a six pack later….

 

Post Workout Breakdown

The natural bad response to a workout leads to muscle damage that occurs during and after exercise, activates an immune response which causes muscle inflammation and pain to the muscles that further damages the muscle fiber.

This slows down the reconstruction and growth of the muscle fiber. Some amino acids like glutamine and other branch chain amino acids (also known as BCAA’s) are also depleted after exercise. These amino acids are used up in vital processes during high intensity exercise.

These negative responses to muscle damage can actually result in a net protein loss. The original intention of your training, to gain strength (and hit bombs), is not the natural reaction of your muscles. This potential reduction in muscle mass and strength can hinder your bat speed and hurt your performance goals. Nobody wants this catabolic response.

The Anabolic Switch

ana

There is good news. With proper nutritional intervention, the right nutrients at the right time, you can flip this catabolic state (breakdown) to an anabolic state (building). Which reduces the negative effects of muscle damage, and stimulates a greater protein production resulting in muscle growth and increased strength. The results: you get stronger and recover faster.

Your timing is vital. If not taken serious, you will not see the benefits. Literally “every minute matters.”

We discussed previously the vital importance turning on the anabolic switch after a workout. If you tried this, you should have seen a benefit already in your training. If you haven’t tried it, why not?

 

The 3 Stages Of Muscle Growth

The anabolic switch is the most important action step to take serious right now. Everything revolves around you making sure this happens. Keep in mind, you can set up your muscles and training before you train.  And you can optimize appropriate nutrition availability throughout the rest of your recovery process.

As an athlete who trains regularly, you will use muscle for energy, there is a spike in response, then you will initiate recovery. The Throw Cheese Nutrient System separates your muscle development into three different stages:

  1. The Power Stage,
  2. The Anabolic Stage and
  3. The Re-Build Stage.

The Power Stage

During this phase, the primary objective of the muscle is to release enough energy to sufficiently propel muscle contraction. Either during training or while you are pitching. Most players recognize the importance of consuming carbohydrates during training. Carbohydrates prevent the depletion of muscle glycogen (which extends your endurance) and helps maintain blood glucose levels (which delays fatigue).Throw Cheese Nutrition System

The Throw Cheese Nutrient System will tell you more than to just consume carbohydrates during exercise. Research shows, that when you consume carbohydrates with protein, specific amino acids and vitamins, you will experience greater gains than just consuming these nutrients separately.

You will be able to spare muscle glycogen (Your back-up energy storage) and accomplish greater muscle stamina, limit the rise of the hormone cortisol (Reducing muscle damage – I touch on hormones more later VERY IMPORTANT) and help prepare enzymes for faster recovery following your workout.

[Basically, your teammates will be wondering where you get all your energy to keep going and why you are growing so strong. In turn, you will quickly gain velocity on your fastball and have greater stamina on the mound.  After a awhile, you will acquire nicknames like “machine” and “super-man.” That is when it gets fun. You will smile and be thanking me.]

The next phase in muscle growth, the Anabolic stage…

The Anabolic Stage

This phase of muscle growth is the 45 minute window Throw Cheese Nutrition Systemfollowing a workout. With the right combination of nutrients, this phase initiates repair of the damaged muscle protein, and replenishes muscle glycogen stores (where muscle energy is stored).

Right after you finish a workout, your muscles are extremely sensitive to a hormone called insulin.  Insulin is key to muscle growth. Although this muscle sensitivity is high immediately after your workout, this sensitivity declines rapidly. Within a few hours your muscle cells can become insulin resistant (NOT good). If your muscle become insulin resistant you see dramatic slows in muscle glycogen recovery, muscle repair, and creation of new muscle. Don’t let this happen.

As you go through the Throw Cheese Nutrient System, you will learn why the consumption of carbohydrates during this 45 minute window is so important. You will learn about driving muscle glycogen recovery, muscle tissue repair and creation of new muscle (protein synthesis). Also you will learn how protein, consumed without carbohydrates, is less effective! And you will learn why specific antioxidants can boost muscle recovery.

The Re-Build Stage

This stage begins at the end of the Anabolic Stage and continues until your next workout. During this stage the muscle enzymes (proteins that speed up chemical reactions ) help increase the number of contractile proteins (what causes the muscle to flex ) and help increase the size of the muscle fibers (why you look so jacked). These enzymes also help replenish muscle glycogen storage (muscle energy storage) used up during the Power Stage.Throw Cheese Nutrition System

The Rebuild Stage is just as vital as the previous two stages. During this phase, you must continue to eat carbohydrates and proteins to maintain optimal muscle growth. Including the correct intervals between consumption. Protein consumed at the right time pays off with huge increases for any strength athlete. Especially pitchers looking to throw gas (Or as a hitter, drop bombs).

If you follow the Throw Cheese Nutrient System, you will be able to sustain a high “anabolic state”, restore muscle energy, repair the damaged muscle tissue, create new muscle, and see fastball velocity gains that will light up radar guns.

 

How To Maximize Protein Synthesis During  Recovery (The Rebuild Stage)

The amount of protein you consume each day is SO important to your overall muscle gain and muscle recovery. There are many studies that measure the exact amount of protein for athletes to maximize performance. Here are two mentioned in the Rebuild Stage…

Body Builder Study:

“In a 4 week study by Fern and associates, they found a greater gain in total muscle mass for body builders who consumed 3.3 grams per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight of protein versus those who consumed 1.2 grams per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight per day. So at first glance we see a higher amount of daily protein and a higher amount of muscle mass. But this study also showed a measureable amount of protein that was not retained. Most likely, the group that consumed 3.3 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight had exceeded the amount of protein that can be used for protein synthesis.”

Athlete Protein Study:

“A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology by Tarnopolsky and colleagues measured athlete’s entire body protein synthesis based on per day protein consumption. The athletes consumed either consumed .9 to 1.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Or they consumed an increased 2.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. In this study, they did NOT observe an increase in protein synthesis.

These examples are only 2 out of 5 examples shown in the rebuild stage. The great thing about studies like this, is you can learn from them and test them on yourself.

So how much protein should you consume each day?

It depends on your weight and your performance goals. A full comprehensive guideline for your recovery and macronutrient profile is laid out clearly in the Throw Cheese Nutrient System.

 

What Exactly You Should Do

You need to try out this course and start to implement the findings. Joey asked me to write these posts because he cares about you guys. He actually wants you to get better. After lots of discussion, it’s clear to me, you are all in good hands.

There is two types of responses to an educational course like this one.

  • Reaction 1 – Try it, learn and grow as fast as possible. See measurable improvement by measuring the right performance indicators and controlling your nutrient intake at the right times.
  • Reaction 2 – Uncertainty and hesitation. The first type of people succeed in baseball. The second type will continue to struggle and forever be scared to try anything.

 

How To Change Your Muscle Forever

The simplest way to know if you are doing the right thing for your athletic career, is to try it. Test it out. Call me out if you do not learn something. I believe in these courses and I know it will help you.

Click the link below, scroll down to the bottom of the page and buy the course and start to change your nutrition optimization today.

Throw Cheese Nutrition System

Pitchers Throw Cheese System

-Zach

P.S.: If you want more information about me, check out www.pitchersthrowcheese.com and sign up to my newsletter. Or email me at zach [at] pitchersthrowcheese [dot] com

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

P.P.P.S.: What are you waiting for, grab your own copy of the Throw Cheese Nutrient System–> Click here

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Last post, we talked about timing your nutrition. But why? How does changing a few minutes of nutrition intake make any difference in your recovery and training? The answer revolves around your bodies hormonal response and an idea called the “Anabolic window.”

Anabolic response is a fancy word for building. When you see the word anabolic, think to build, when you see the word catabolic, think breaking down.

X-axis is time after workout

 

This graph is showing the anabolic response to nutrients after you exercise. There is a sharp anabolic response to nutrients immediately after your workout. But as you wait, your muscles are less responsive to anabolic activates and less responsive to nutrition.

 

How Hormones Change Your Training

Why is this the case? This is because of an important hormone called insulin. Insulin is released by your pancreases into your bloodstream when your body detects certain foods in your system. The most popular function of insulin is the regulation of glucose. If your bloodstream has a glucose level that is too high, then this can be toxic and lead to death. So insulin helps lower your blood sugar. Thus you stay alive. Good!

Check this out, the presence of insulin after a workout has been shown to boost recovery and increase muscle gain.

 

Studies To Help Us

There have been many studies proving the effect of insulin on protein synthesis (the creation of new muscle).  Penn State University Medical School researchers found that insulin stimulated ribosomes (cellular machinery) involved in the creation of muscle protein.

In a different study, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Galveston found that, after an insulin infusion, new muscle creation (protein synthesis) in the muscle cell increased by approximately 67 percent post workout.

I took advantage of this insulin response to glucose right after workouts. This recovery tool, aided my fastball increase from 88 mph to 95 mph in less than a year. When you take your nutrient intervention serious. Big things happen. You accomplish performance goals you never thought possible. I want this same success for you.

I teach a lot of pitchers how to train harder and recover fast (to throw harder). So I call nutrient intervention “Throw Cheese Intervention.” These same principals apply to hitters.

Here is an example of a normal insulin response to exercise without nutrient intervention:

Insulin’s Bad Reputation

Insulin promotes fat syntheses and decreases fat breakdown when your body is in a sedentary state. Over a long period of time, high insulin levels and buildup of body fat have been linked to type 2 diabetes. This is true and scary for a lot of people out there. But keep in mind. The sensitivity of your fat cells to insulin to store fat, is highly dependent on your bodies anabolic state.

The degree at which insulin promotes fat storage (bad), or carbohydrate storage, or protein syntheses (good) depends on which cells are sensitive to the insulin. Different cells (muscle cells or fat cells etc.) are sensitive to insulin based on the timing of your nutrients in regards to when your body was stressed during training.

We detail this very important, nutrition time sensitive characteristic, in the Throw Cheese Nutrient System. The timing and effectiveness of your nutrient intervention has a huge effect on your hormonal and biochemical response to workouts. An elite athlete (who is training everyday) muscle cells responds positively to insulin, especially right after your workout.

Exactly What You Should Do

Right after your workouts your muscle cells are the most sensitive to insulin and glucose. There is a 15 to 45 minute window that your body is starving for nutrient intervention. During this time you need to consume a protein/carbohydrate beverage (in a liquid form). The carbohydrate I want you to consume is sugar.

This will “open” the gates for amino acids, creatine and glucose for new muscle creation, limit muscle damage and blunt negative hormone response from training. The ratio of carbohydrates to protein is 3/1 or 4/1 carbohydrates to protein. For a post-workout supplementation, a 200 pound athlete should consume approximately 15 – 20 grams of whey protein and 50 – 60 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrates (dextrose) immediately after training.

Here is a picture of my shake after a workout:

More precise calculation of your pre-training, during training and post training nutrition is something we will lay out for you later.  So stay tuned bro and bro-ettes!

Keep in mind, carbohydrates and protein are both good by themselves. But when you add them together,  carbohydrates are complimentary to protein in training recovery and strength gains. Immediately following your workout, is the “Prime time” to get protein/carbohydrates into your system. The faster the better!

The below graph shows a large anabolic difference when nutrient intervention takes place.

From the Throw Cheese Nutrient System:

What Kind Of Sugar?

Not all sugars are a strong stimulator of insulin. Avoid products with high fructose or galactose. For example, many fruits (bananas, apples, citrus fruits ) and all vegetables (asparagus, artichoke, beans, broccoli) contain high fructose levels. They are not ideal immediately after your workout (Plus they are slower to digest).  Strong insulin driving carbohydrates include sucrose, maltodextrin and dextrose.

 

Here Is What I Use

I prefer the carbohydrate dextrose (order Dextrose Powder on Amazon). It is derived entirely from corn, making it natural, effective, and easily utilized by the body. You can scoop this into your shaker along-side your whey protein (whey protein is also very insulinogenic).

What If You Wait?

2 hours after your workout, your muscle can actually become insulin resistant. What this means is your muscle cells will not use the nutrients needed to build and repair the damage you caused during training. In other words, all the work you put into training is wasted. (what a crying shame!)

Do not waste your workouts by limiting your fuel intake. Every minute counts, literally.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, and keep working hard.

-Zach

PS: I wrote a a free course called “5 Nutrition Shortcuts To A 90+ MPH Fastball” grab your own copy —> click here

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

References:

Gleeson, M., Lancaster, G.I., and Bishop, N.C., “Nutritional strategies to minimize exercise induced Immuno suppression in athletes,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S23-S35, 2001.

Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances

whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34:828-837, 2002.

Ivy, J.L., Katz, A.L., Cutler, C.L., et al., “Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of

time on carbohydrate ingestion,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 64:1480-1485, 1988.

Ivy, J.L., “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S236-S245, 2001.

Suzuki, M., Doi, T., Lee, S.J., et al., “Effect of meal timing after resistance exercise on hind limb muscle mass and fat accumulation in trained rats,” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 45:401-409, 1999.

Disclaimer: Always consult a medical professional before taking any nutrition supplements.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Zach contacted me over email one day,

…and said he increased his throwing speed by 10-mph,

Eventually topping out at 95-mph using nutrition and hard work.

(enter brakes screeching sound effect)…

I said to Zach, “Hold on, so it wasn’t mechanics?  It wasn’t PED use?  It was nutrition?!”

It wasn’t a total shocker to me,

Because I’m not new to the power of nutrition

I’ve spent a decade in the fitness training world.

And I know how powerful an athlete’s nutrition can be to recovery, muscle building, etc.

So I told him to send over what he was selling because I was curious about his process.

In the following 3-Part series, Zach is going to outline his journey of self-discovery.  The best part is, he used proven science to get there!

And please note, just because this worked for him pitching, doesn’t mean it won’t work for increasing bat and ball exit speeds.

I just want to warn you though, some of what Zach talks about can get a little technical, so take your time and read over the material a couple times, till you can synthesize it.

Rest assured, it’ll be worth the extra work.

Enter Zach Calhoon…

The Sports Nutrition Studies That Started My Journey To 95 MPH

The Moment Everything Changed…

I will never forget this moment. I looked up from a book I was reading and had this thought “Everything will change from this day forward…”

On a bus, on my way to the next 3 game series. We stopped at a parking lot for lunch. I snuck away to the bookstore and grabbed a couple books on nutrition and sports science. This day started my journey towards what I call the “secret” to success – research.

In high school, I was an average pitcher throwing 84 MPH. I was over 6 feet tall, but besides that, I wasn’t that good.

I always knew, deep down inside, I could be great one day. I knew that I could throw 90 MPH and be a pitching stud. But I didn’t know how to get there (Or that eventually, I would throw 95 MPH).

So I worked. And worked hard. Which led to some success and I eventually got a small scholarship to a division 1 school in San Antonio – The University of Texas at San Antonio.

But I still threw about 85 MPH. So how did my fastball increase by 10 mph all the way to 95 MPH?

The Sports Nutrition Studies That Started My Journey To 95 MPH

Question: If I told you that I could triple your muscle gain with one tip, would you believe me?

Probably not.

I’m going to show you multiple published controlled studies that show the timing of protein increasing protein synthesis by 3 times.

Heavy research has been done regarding your bodies reaction to when you put nutrients into your body. Check out some of these studies about amino acid uptake and protein synthesis:

“Multiple studies confirm that the supplementing amino acids immediately following a workout, greatly benefits the athlete. Okamure and associates found that immediately following a workout (the Anabolic Stage) that protein synthesis increased 25% and amino acid uptake doubled when a carbohydrate/protein supplement was administered. Biolo and colleagues tested resistance training athlete’s response to post workout supplementation. They saw an amino acid uptake and protein synthesis 3-4 times greater in tested subjects supplementing immediately after exercise.

The critical timing of protein is best represented in a study conducted by Levenhagen and colleagues at Vanderbilt University. This study looked at the effect on protein synthesis comparing protein/carbohydrate supplementation immediately following exercise or protein/carbohydrate supplementation waiting 3 hours after exercise. He tested 10 subjects. 5 male and 5 female. Each subject was tested after 60 minutes of exercise. The subjects given a protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately following exercise experience protein synthesis 3 times greater than the subjects who waited 3 hours. The immediate group saw a considerable net protein gain. While the 3 hour delayed subjects actually saw a net protein loss.

See the above chart for a visual

 

Test Yourself

Research studies are compelling. But they are crowded with jargon and limited to certain controls. I use research studies to start the process of thinking critically about my assumptions. Then I test those assumptions on my own. I measure the output and see how I feel.

In this case, I had an ignorant assumption that timing of my nutrients did not matter. I read about this research and immediately tested, and kept testing (you should too). I went from an average 86 to 87 MPH fastball my sophomore year of college to 95 MPH in 8 months. I never changed my training, just my nutrient intake at the right times.

Faster Results Matter

Mike Trout Robbing a Home-Run

Mike Trout robbing a homer. Photo courtesy: NJ.com

You just learned that timing your protein can lead to faster recovery and better results. So what does that mean for you? Well if you are reading this, there is a good chance you are a hitter. You want to increase your average, and drop bombs.

Check out the photo on the right of Trout robbing a home run. He looks cool here. But if you are the hitter who just hit that ball, this has to make you extremely angry. All the work you put in, and just a few more feet would be a big league home-run.

Do Not Rely On Luck

I want you to have success. I am about to share with you knowledge all revolving around nutrition’s ability to make you 10% to 20% more powerful.  Even if I only increase your power by 5 %.  That small increase in power will send the baseball out of the park and keep Mike Trout empty handed. And that’s a great thing. Champions are made one inch at a time.

What’s Next?

In the next few post we are going to talk about a variety of nutrition shortcuts to power. Whey protein, dextrose corn sugar, glucose, insulin, anabolic windows and many other things. All of which helped me become an elite athlete. I truly believe you can be a great baseball player. But you have to put in the work. That means maximizing every aspect of your training. Especially nutrition.

 

Baseball Is Behind

In the past few years, most elite athlete knowledge has been limited to the big boys in the MLB. Now some of the greatest research is making its way to college, high school and little league athletes. But it is taking time. Lets grow the knowledge of baseball players everywhere, and lets get better in less time.

Stay tuned, there is a lot to come.

-Zach

P.S.: I wrote a a free course called “5 Nutrition Shortcuts To A 90+ MPH Fastball” grab your own copy —> click here

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

References:

Biolo, G., Tipton, K.D., Klein, S., et al., “An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein,” American Journal of Physiology, 273:E122-E119, 1997
Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34:828-837, 2002.
Levenhagen, D.K., Gresham, J.D., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis,” American Journal of Physiology, 280:E982-E993, 2001.
Okamura, K., Doi, T., Hamada, K., et al., “Effect of amino acid and glucose administration during post-exercise recovery on protein kinetics in dogs,” American Journal of Physiology, 272:E1023-E1030, 1997.