[caption id="attachment_236" align="alignnone" width="1236"] Photo by Sports Illustrated.[/caption] The playing of the National Anthem has been possibly my favorite part of any baseball game I have ever been associated with....
I’ve been doing this pitching lesson business for over 30 years and it is safe to say I have learned as much about teaching talking with parents and kids as they have learned about life and baseball from me. Training the complete pitcher requires diligence and patience. Advising parents often takes more of each.
The biggest obstacle in gaining credibility as a qualified pitching teacher was overcoming the “local guy” label. It was difficult for parents to believe that, because I was just in the next town over, that I had enough knowledge to, as many fathers say, “take their son to the next level.” It remains a challenge but less so because of my continued work with the Schooners each summer. When college guys from around the U.S. respond successfully to my training program it certainly does enhance local credibility.
The years have taught me that lifting weights is helpful but not the highest priority for a great pitcher. It is very difficult to convince a high school kid hitting the weights for the first time, seeing this amazing “beach body” transformation to stop lifting because it is increasingly counterproductive to throwing a baseball. It is more prevalent each season for reasons that are not completely clear to me but probably has to do with a “quantity over quality” mindset rather than a “less is more” thought process.
I have spoken to Schooners players who enter into what ends up as a “body transformation dilemma” and it is stressful to them. Here they have their college coaches sending them off to one of the top summer baseball leagues in America to improve their game against other aspiring pros BUT at the same time coaches require them to come back in September, “20 pounds heavier” or “stronger than they were in the spring.”
Adding to the pressure a college head coach will often hold a starting position over their head as a carrot for the young player to chase all summer – an eye opening contrast to the overused phrase, “its summer ball, I am here to enjoy playing.”
Now we have players who are (literally) working out everyday of the summer in the weight room and expecting to stay sharp on the mound or at the plate. It is the rudest of awakenings when number one they struggle during the summer and secondly they do not get signed by a professional team because they are not showing success on the field.
I implore pitchers and parents to think of the off-season as the time to get bigger and stronger. The game season is the time to be baseball players. There are many strength coaches who provide a stellar in-season program which will help maintain strength.
Many professional teams place in their contracts that a player is not allowed to go to the gym more than twice a week during the season. It is more important to be good at baseball than to be good in the weight room.
A good off season pitchers workout consists of lower half strength and growth work (lunges, squats, jumps, etc.), core stability and flexibility (bands, med ball twisting work), and stretching of all types. I was not nor am I now a yoga person but the strength, stamina, and flexibility derived from yoga poses is beneficial to a baseball player.
A well thought out workout program will create a fitter and better baseball body and parents, if you want to try your own baseball fitness workout you will find yourself looking and feeling better in a few sessions!
Its a few short months to spring! Be ready to go.