The month of July has been absolutely crazy for me. I apologize for the lack of content being produced, this is the first time I’ve ever traveled out of state for my job and not really have a day off.
In the last week of June, I was in Fort Myers, Florida for the Perfect Game Southeast Regional Championship with the team that I coach, LI Strong.
We were certainly in the toughest pool, since our only loss of the tournament going into playoffs was to the team that won the entire thing last year.
Long story short, we squeezed into the playoffs as the 8 seed, upset the #22 ranked team in the country, and made it all the way to the championship game against the team that we lost to in pool play.
Of course, it was a sting to lose in the championship game, but to just make it there as the first team to represent New York in the championship meant a lot to our boys.
Fast forward to the 4th of July when I was home for about 12 hours, and then had to drive to Georgia early the next morning. Realistically, I haven’t been home since that Perfect Game tournament.
However, what I did want to share in this post was the experience I had on the baseball field as a strength coach, not a baseball coach.
Although my viewpoint was not inside the weight room, my philosophies remained the same.
If we want to perform at high levels, we must make sure that we physically give our body 100% of what it NEEDS to succeed.
Once we take care of the physical aspects of performance, then it is all up to the mental side of your game to be a gamer.
It’s imperative that we warm up to throw, not use throwing to warm up. This is one rule that I preach to every kid.
As soon as you get down to the field and everyone is ready to go, try out this movement circuit I took everyone through on the field:
- Forward Jog 20 yards, Backpedal 20 yards x2
- Side Shuffle with Shoulder Slaps
- Hip Hurdles
- Knee Hug to Toe Reach
- Leg Cradles
- Bow and Arrows
- Forward Lunge to Reach
- Worlds Greatest Stretch
- Side Lunge with Reach
- Cross Body Stretch with Rotation
- Arm Swings
- Shoulder Slaps
- Field Goals
Now it’s time to make each throw count. Whatever your routine may be when you throw with a partner, there should be some common themes between everyone:
- Hit em’ through the chest
- Keep a slight arc on the ball when moving out
For you starting pitchers out there, hopefully you have a routine of your own to get ready. No matter what you do, I think we should focus on going from small and slow to larger and quicker.
For example, you can start with simple stretches after your team warm up. Now, we should be increasing in movement velocity, so your pre-game band work could get plugged in here.
In high school baseball, we play for 7-innings (or really 2-hours if there is a time limit on the game). Therefore, a good way to look at your performance is to get ready both physically and mentally every single inning.
For position players, we want to keep our hamstrings as ready as possible. This was the quick story I gave:
Isn’t it kind of odd that MLB guys don’t run anything out to first base? Isn’t it also kind of odd that hamstring pulls are aggressively increasing too? Think about it…its just like the Acute/Chronic Workload ratio I touched on with pitching.
If you don’t keep up with your sprinting, and all of a sudden go to stretch something out for an extra base hit, this is where hamstrings get pulled: because the tissues are no longer able to handle the force production!
SO, if you want to keep those hammy’s ready the whole game, its important to get your sprints in. Your first sprint should never be when the game starts!
Here are some simple ways to get your sprints in to maintain chronic workload:
- Sprint in to the dugout
- Sprint out to your position
- Sprint right before game time
- Sprint outside of the dugout between innings
For pitchers, we have to make sure we allow our body to rest between innings. We want to do everything possible to stay mentally locked in and physically ready to go. I’ve posted about the 2-Out Drill before, but here is a quick video on it that I shot in Georgia.
The recovery process is what differs between individuals. The timing of the recovery process and the length of the recovery process will dictate what you should be doing in between games/tournaments.
For example, if you’re a kid who usually ices as soon as the last pitch is thrown, takes some Advil, and then can’t throw the next day and needs 4 days of rest, then I think you should re-evaluate what you’re doing to recover.
What I told all of these kids is that the recovery process is not just ONE tool. It’s not JUST icing. It’s not JUST heat. It’s not JUST using a stimulus machine. Rather, the recovery process is a holistic blend of multiple modalities with aims to bring enriched blood into the affected site of tissue damage on the body.
Once you know how your own body reacts to stressors on the field, especially for pitchers, then you’ll really know when you’ll be good to throw again.
This is why we use the pitch count guidelines as a GUIDELINE to help us coaches figure out when it would be best to throw you again. As previously stated, the recovery process is what differs between individuals.
Game Day Guide to Optimal Baseball Performance
In case you missed it, click here to download my free eBook! This is a great resource to use whether you are actually on game day or even if you’re deep into the offseason!
Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS