Training our young arms

1 (4)by Dan Olear— Pitching Coach/Instructor Cranford, NJ

I started my coaching career when I was 23 years old, a varsity assistant in high school.  By the age of 29 I was a head coach at a St. Peter’s (NJ) College.  I knew nothing about pitching and had no money in the budget for a good pitching coach.  Pitching wins games, I had no choice but to learn all I could about it, and how to develop strong, reliable arms.  That was 1998. 18 years later, I no longer coach in college yet I am still learning all I can about pitching and pitchers themselves. Continue reading

The Time Is Now…

year round throwing manualThe time is now to jump into Alan Jaeger’s latest passion- the Year Round Throwing Manual.

After more than two decades working alongside countless amateur and professional baseball players, Jaeger put pen to paper and developed a detailed throwing plan that is applicable for pitchers of all shapes, sizes and ages.

“The inspiration for writing this was twofold,” said Jaeger. “First, we wanted to put all of our research and experience in one place, where a player, coach or parent could have as many questions answered as possible. Secondly, in response to the dramatic increase in arm injuries, we felt it was important to put information out there that could make a huge impact in the reduction of arm injuries and provide guidelines to help optimize the health, endurance, strength and recovery of the arm.”

The manual outlines a year-round plan for arm training, maintenance, rest and protection by detailing Jaeger’s time-tested protocols for arm training, keys to training the arm, how to ‘listen’ to the arm, and the role of long toss. Pre- and post-throwing arm care is also discussed. The Manual also discusses when the best time of year is to start a player’s ‘throwing cycle,’ along with how to approach the throwing cycle. Continue reading

Basketball and Base running

This is one of my favorite sports times of the year. The college football bowl season combined with the stretch drive of the NFL regular season always makes for great entertainment. Baseball is in “off season” mode and that is a special time as well, as college and high school teams are getting after it in the weight room and on the track, trying to get bigger, stronger and faster.

For me personally, this time of year gets me especially fired up because basketball season is in full swing! I played basketball throughout high school and I value the memories I made on the hardwood. I still participate in pickup games on a consistent basis- especially during the winter months- and I have become more and more convinced that my baseball career was directly impacted because of my playing basketball. Continue reading

Study Shows That Agility Improves Pitching Performance

Quick Pitch imageResearchers at Tarleton State University recently completed a study that examined the effectiveness of strength and conditioned protocols as they relate to the one thing all coaches care about- winning.

In the study, titled ‘Agility Measures Related to Game Performance of NCAA Baseball Pitchers,’ Andrew Wolfe, Jason Jones, Kayla Peak, Randy Martin and Joe Priest looked into the similarities between the pitching motion and the kinetic chain employed in agility tests which involve acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. Continue reading

The deconditioning of the arm

Dan Haren (AP image)

Dan Haren (AP image)

There are a myriad of programs, tools, methods, theories and opinions that attempt to address the rising number of arm injuries in baseball. Countless dollars and research hours have been spent by the medical community and countless time, energy and discussion has been made by the baseball community to quell this epidemic.

Alan Jaeger

Alan Jaeger

For Alan Jaeger, the solution is relatively simple- any high school, college or professional organization that puts heavy limits and restrictions on arms that are, comparatively, being so well trained and conditioned in this day and age are simply deconditioning arms. The current culture (in college baseball especially) places an emphasis on throwing more, rather than less, so pitchers are well protected in general. But when a well conditioned player comes up against a throwing program that places major limits on them (distance, time, workload), arms become very vulnerable to deconditioning.

This is prevalent at all levels but ironically at the “highest” level of baseball (the major leagues), a number of organizations are actually the most conservative. Whether it’s due to the amount of money players are paid, the change in philosophy from a pitcher being on their own or suddenly becoming part of an organization-wide structure or policy, pitchers going into professional baseball can be restricted the most. Through research and experience, about a third of MLB organizations mandate a throwing program that places restrictions on time allotted for throwing (i.e. 10-12 minutes) and distance (i.e. 120-150 feet) — in some cases, it can be very extreme (about a third are considered very liberal and individualized, and the other third are somewhere in the middle).
Continue reading

Love the game more… by playing it less

by Darren Fenster Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox | Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC @CoachYourKids

by Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

Major Leaguers have always been the poster example. Their every move is followed, from how they swing the bat or throw a ball, to how they wear their uniform or walk up to the plate. This all makes sense, as they are at a level of the game that amateur players dream to one day reach. While each action on the field is mimicked to a tee, it’s off the field where today’s amateur players need to take note.

Our game has changed. Over the past ten years or so, sport specialization and the explosion of travel organizations and exposure events has completely altered the way amateur baseball is approached. Between camps, clinics, lessons, showcases, travel teams and their accompanying training programs, never before have there been so many opportunities for players to play and hone their craft. Those opportunities have enabled them to play more and develop faster than they ever have in the past, which is a very good thing. But with more opportunities to stay on the diamond, there are some very concerning drawbacks that can take away from what could be done off of the field.

The 162-game Major League regular season ends roughly on October 1. Another 30 games in spring training plus 10 to 20 more in the post-season results in some big leaguers being a part of more than 200 games over an eight month period. That kind of activity takes its toll physically and mentally, and forces the vast majority of the league’s players to not even think about picking up a bat or ball for at least two months or more in the off-season. They give their bodies and minds a much-deserved and much-needed break from the game before getting ready for the next season at some point in December or January. Professional players understand the value of rest and the role that it plays in allowing them to stay healthy and refreshed when they finally do decide to put the spikes back on.

In creating all of these relatively newfound opportunities to play and train essentially nonstop, a vitally important aspect of player development is being lost: NOT playing. Getting away from the game keeps guys enthused about starting back up, while allowing achy elbows and shoulders to recover and get back to full strength naturally. Think about it… if those Major Leaguers who are best conditioned to play the game year round, then how can anyone in amateur baseball justify working at their game without a prolonged break? Continue reading