I like helping my friends. But, many of my friends, as an extension of the human race as a whole, don’t really want to help themselves. I get asked routinely for free advice, a training program, etc. I don’t often give much out, even to those close to me. Why? Because these people fail the fundamental test of whether or not change will occur. And if change won’t occur, we’re both wasting our time.
The Test: Want vs. Need
Do you want to get in shape? Be an MLB pitcher? Be a PAC-12 volleyball player?
Or, do you need to? There’s a difference. A BIG difference. Read the rest of this entry »
This is another excerpt from my book, Pitching Isn’t Complicated.
A pre-game routine is crucial – it eliminates extraneous variables that can get in the way of a good game.
A good routine will provide organization to the following elements:
1. Mental Preparation
2. Physical Preparation
3. Food and Drink
4. Superstitions, If applicable
Routines are intensely personal; no two are alike. Rather than discuss what one could do, I’m just going to provide an example – my routine from 2013. This was the culmination of 8 years of high-level baseball. It worked well for me and helped me accomplish many goals that I had never before reached. Read the rest of this entry »
When on the field, I hate my competitors. I ascribe the worst qualities to them and demonize them as we compete.
Having played team sports all my life, it’s obvious that people are people – every season brings a new group of guys and new friendships to be made. I’ve always gotten along with teammates, and there’s no reason to think that my teammates are the only group of good guys. It’s obvious that if I get along with my teammates, I’d get along with the guys on another team. But, still – I hate them. I’d spent parts of every game with other pitchers on the rail of the dugout talking smack about the other players – from everything from the way they ran, talked, wore their uniforms, facial hair, skills, etc. We’d talk about how they were jerks despite having never spoken a word to them. Read the rest of this entry »
This article is another excerpt from my upcoming book, Pitching Isn’t Complicated.
Mental Traits of Good Pitchers
Learning the nuances of the game of baseball is as simple as paying attention. The best players pay attention whether in the game or the dugout and constantly assess risk & reward, cause & effect, and the habits of other players. Too many pitchers don’t pick up the habits of hitters, learn pitch sequencing or situational pitching because they’re not engaged with the game. Because pitchers will only pitch, on average, 5-15% of their team’s total innings, it’s important that they pay attention to the game the other 90% of the time; most of the learning will take place when not on the mound.
Is a 200lb strength coach about to pummel a 14 year old girl into submission?
Olivia, one of our 14 year old softball players, is finally tired of being not big enough and not strong enough. She texted me and decided that she is ready to put forth the extra effort to jump from 132 to 140lbs, a short-term goal we have set for her.
I have been toeing the 200lb line for the past few months. It’s been a goal of mine to get well above 200 for the first time in my life, and I’m close despite only lifting legs for the past 6 months. Weighing in today at 197, I need a little more bodyweight to reach my goals of a 355lb front squat and a 405 back squat. I probably could add a few pounds in traps alone if I could deadlift, but that’s beside the point.
The Challenge: 5 Weeks. 8 Pounds. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s going to be a long day.”
The mental game of baseball is significant, especially that of a starting pitcher. Trying to get 21 outs while surrendering 3 runs or less (a great start) isn’t an easy task. This task is made exponentially worse when getting off to a poor start, a la the first batter of the game lacing a hit.
Personally, I never felt worse on the mound than after giving up a hit to start the game – it was a desperate feeling. One typically expects most of the “action” to happen later on, as hitters get their 2nd and 3rd at-bats. Because pitching only gets harder as the game progresses, getting hit around early can break a pitcher’s spirit really fast.
Focus is all that combats this. All of the implications above are what an unsuccessful, weak-minded pitcher runs through his head. While all of us might get these negative feelings, the best pitchers simply brush them off, refocus on continue to pitch. After all, one hit won’t make or break the game. It’s when we envision things spiralling and snowballing out of control that we actually lose control. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s almost scary how many parallels there are with my students and my own career, learning curve and injury history.
Last night, after watching a wonderfully pitched win by one of my pitchers, I sat in the stands with the parents of another. They shared with me the rehab throwing program for their son, who had some forearm pain that became chronic back in January. He had taken four full weeks off and was ready to begin his throwing program. Much of his injury was made worse by his own stubbornness – he wouldn’t tell me his arm was hurting, and he had recently been doing exercises, notably chin ups, in the school weight room; he was specifically prohibited from doing this. He continued on a pattern of poor decisions that were keeping him from getting healthy. I lovingly cursed at him for the better part of 10 minutes (oxymoron, I know).
So, back to my story. This past year I blew out my elbow once again. You knew that.
But, I haven’t written about the fatal blow that sent me downhill toward the surgeon’s table.
It was Chin Ups. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently attended the concert of my favorite rapper, Atmosphere. He was playing in Chicago and I was really, really pumped to get tickets.
As I stood through a seemingly endless conga line of guest rappers (it was the record label owner’s birthday, so a lot of the big guns flew in to play this one show), I started to think. What’s the purpose of all of this?
It’s easy to see the purpose in life for those who teach – one person’s pool of knowledge spurs positive development in all of the teacher’s students. One person gives energy and creates betterment in many more than just his one. I was once a performer of my sporting craft; I’m now a teacher, and I feel fulfilled by the fact that I help others reach the goals I once set for myself. My knowledge, exuberance and energy is directly handed off, and it’s easy to see a purpose in that exchange.
But what about these performers, like Slug & Ant, the rapper and DJ who make up the group Atmosphere? They’re clearly great at what they do, masters of their craft. But, it’s safe to assume that most of these musical artists don’t hold clinics and seminars to teach the masses how to be better rappers. I asked myself, if they’re not sharing their knowledge directly, are they living a selfish life? Should they give it up and start teaching? Is there a point to their greatness other than simply displaying it? Will they impact people in ways other than simply stimulating auditory receptors in their ear canal? Read the rest of this entry »
Developing a Quick Delivery to The Plate
The first step in being quick to the plate is using the proper mechanics; this case, the slide step. Understand that it’s next to impossible to use a regular leg lift and deliver a pitch in less than 1.5 seconds, which is a slow delivery to the plate. To effectively hold runners, a pitcher must learn the slide step, which is the most comfortable way to move quickly to the plate without sacrificing velocity.
1.3 or less is the goal
When we time the speed of a pitcher’s delivery to the plate, the stopwatch starts when his first move to the plate is made; the stopwatch stops when his pitch hits the catcher’s mitt. A good catcher “pop time” at the collegiate level is 2.0 or less, which, when coupled with a pitcher delivering in 1.3 or less, gives a base runner only 3.3 seconds to travel approximately 80 feet (factoring in average lead of 10 feet). This requires a very fast runner getting a very good jump. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the hardest working athletes in our gym, Alexis Lee (nickname – ACLexis), went down 6.5 months ago. She tore her ACL in horrific fashion, landing awkwardly while spiking a volleyball in a high school game. On track to play college volleyball in one of the top D-1 conferences, this was a very scary moment for her career.
She briefly mourned her leg, and then decided that she would not be kept down. After a successful surgery by Dr. Joe Norris, Alexis was rehabbing and training in my gym 5-6 days a week in pursuit of not just a restored knee, but an improved one. It wasn’t an easy road – there were tears, there was pain, there were setbacks and frustrations. It took patience and was a constant grind.
Fast forward 6 months, and her repaired leg is stronger than it’s ever been. She was recently cleared for a full return to sports, without a brace, and played in her first tournament this past weekend.
As the top player in an elite volleyball club, there have been (disgracefully) many whispers about how she would never come back the same. The best always have a bullseye on their back.
So what did she do in her first tournament back, to silence the naysayers? Won tournament MVP as a member of the winning team.
She’s only 6.5 months post-op and continues to bust her butt in the gym every week; her vertical jump and overall strength keeps climbing. None of the hundreds of athletes in that tournament deserved that honor more than she.
The view from the top is best when the climb is difficult.
Alexis, you’ve made all of us very proud!
My private training facility, Dan Blewett Sports Performance (now being re-branded as Warbird Training Academy) will celebrate its 3rd anniversary in November 2013. In these two and a half years we have seen incredible growth, almost entirely by word of mouth and an internet presence. We’ve gotten some questions from others looking to start a facility. In this article, I’m going to give the gritty details on how I’ve managed to build the business and make the numbers work.
I made the error of looking past the skill of one of my position players this offseason. Zach, one of our catchers, is not a pitcher – he will catch in college someday. In my Warbird Academy, we aren’t aimed at transforming everyone into a pitcher – we have all positions, softball players and baseball pitchers, and we leave them alone if their primary position, their love, is not pitching. But, the reality for youth players is this -
If you have a good arm, you’re going to find yourself on the mound. Read the rest of this entry »
The Frontier League Tryout Camp is a ray of hope for a lot of undrafted, quality ballplayers each May. 300+ attend annually, and “An average of 35 players each season have been drafted and signed to spring training contracts over the past eight years” (from the Frontier League’s website). If it’s your goal to play professionally, you should go to the camp and give it a shot. It is, however, a tough way to get a pro career started, one that few make it through. This article is just to give you a working knowledge of the process behind the tryout camp and Independent baseball in general.
Disclaimer: I never attended the Frontier League Tryout camp. However, having been in the independent game for a few years, I got a lot of privileged information on how the system works. Here’s what you need to know… Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re unaware of what Poster is, let me remind you.
Poster: The Holiday held on the day after Easter. Post-Easter celebrates the massive discounts seen on all Easter Candy, easily the most delicious of all the holiday-specific candy.
Now that you know what Poster is, we can move on to today’s lesson:
The Poster Bunny. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s an intangible quality in those who accomplish great things in the face of great hardship, those who seem to will themselves to victory and achievement.
I used to wonder what it was as I compared some of the gains I made in college. I physically put in a lot of work aimed at making me a harder-throwing, better pitcher. But, I always seemed to make bigger gains than others even when given the same exact workload. Or, the gains I made were disproportionally bigger than the amount of extra work or intensity I put in. Simply put, my body responded much better than others given a relatively similar stimulus.
I’ve thought about this for years; what is the intangible quality that drives disproportionately good training results? I see it in a few of the athletes I train now, and have seen it a small handful of people I’ve met over the years. I think this is best explained as an “Army” versus “Soldier” mentality and mind-body connection. Read the rest of this entry »