Wes McGuire is the leader of our Healthy Heat program which is designed to drastically increase player's velocity no matter their position (which it has!). In our newest blog post, Wes explains simple processes to help improve pitching performance injury free.
What if I told you I could greatly reduce a pitchers chance for injury? What if I told you I could improve your performance and consistency without even watching you throw a pitch? Or that I could reduce your arm pain without even having you throw a baseball? Most guys are all ears, but they don’t want to hear what I have to say next; warm up and recovery.
Warming up is boring. You have to do a bunch of stretches and sometimes it’s long and tedious. You have to stay in line and you get yelled at by the coach or trainer for talking; it’s the worst. Some coaches don’t see the point either, like my coach in college who would tell us to hurry up and get loose so we could get to work. Go to a high school game of any kind and watch the kids before the game starts, it’s awful. They maybe take a jog to center and do some toe touches then play catch.
And it comes right from the top, you hear it all the time “alright guys let’s play some catch and get loose.” If you’re a coach, eliminate that from your pregame routine. Get loose to play catch, no one should be allowed to touch a ball until they are sweating. Establish a routine and stick to it. Learn how to be able to adjust to having 20 minutes to get your team ready to play a two hour game. As a person that is in charge of 14 high school kids, I would rather go into a game with zero BP swings than run out there with a bunch of kids who played catch to 90 feet and jogged to center. At least that way I know their body is prepared to handle the possible stresses that it will endure during the game even if they don’t feel their swing is completely dialed in.
Players, make it a habit now before you suffer an injury. What’s better, your first swing when you get out of the car or your 20th swing? All you need is 15 minutes. start with something fairly simple like light jogging to get your heart rate up and build towards some simple jumping or explosive movements. Find simple arm care routines that you like and stick with it, build your own process.
I start every 30-minute lessons with a real warm up. If I take 10 minutes to get an athlete loose and sweaty they are going to get more out of the 20 minutes that we have left than if we just spent 30 minutes throwing.
The next biggest piece that is often overlooked is recovery. The goal is to feel as good as possible at the beginning of every day. If you feel better when throwing you can try to throw harder, if you can try to throw harder more often you will likely increase velocity. Look at a guy in the big leagues that has battled injuries. It’s not the playing through the injuries that effects their stats; it’s the lost training time.
Again, a real warm up can go a long way to helping you feel good, but optimizing recovery is equally as important. My mom had the same response for anything that was bothering my brother and I growing up. The recovery was to get some food, take Advil, and get some sleep. When you’re working hard, eating and sleep are very important, however she left out some crucial elements of a good recovery. The same way a warm up should be apart of every team event, so should recovery.
Reset the scaps and get them back in place with something simple like band pulls or prone scap holds. The body needs new blood to help repair the micro tears that have been caused. Ice is the enemy because it restricts blood flow. You can use compression because once it releases, blood flows which brings in what your body needs to heal. If you can pinpoint some areas of muscle soreness try to use a foam roller or lax ball. Research is split on its effectiveness, but plenty of people feel better after. See if you’re one of them. Then crush food, water and sleep.
The next day try to go hard on the warm up and do some active recovery. If you have some specific areas that are tight spend some extra time doing a few exercises for them. When pitchers play catch it doesn’t have to be overly aggressive or even connection drills in an Oates Training Sock. There isn’t any research to back it up, but Randy Sullivan, Owner and creator of the Florida Baseball Ranch says his guys feel better if they throw in the sock the next day and everyone that I’ve had do it agrees that the sock makes you feel better.
For my long distance runners that want to run poles to get rid of lactic acid, stop. There’s plenty of research to back this up and pitching doesn’t cause lactic acid. Running poles causes lactic acid through glycolysis and robs pitchers of power, but that’s a different topic.
Now, are there people that go their whole careers without making this stuff a habit? Yes. Are there guys with no injury history that iced and ran poles? Yes. Do some guys in the big leagues just do some arm circles with a ball in their hand and come into the game throwing 100? Yes. Those guys are freaks, you’re not, YET. If you can build a body that is strong, mobile, stable and explosive then maybe you can skimp on the warm up. If you establish a long track record of durability and consistency in performance, maybe you can skimp on recovery. But if you need a few days after a start before you can throw pain free and the consistency of your outings resemble a coin flip, you need to change your routine.
If you need help with a routine, a private lesson or want to sign up for Healthy Heat please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bardo's is kicking off the summer with a new strength & conditioning program powered by the Institute, exclusively first for Team Colorado. Andrew Scherer from the Institute will be leading this program with a baseball specific program that's designed to give you the baseball performance edge needed to advance to the next level. With all the attention revolving around off-season training, we sat down with Andrew to discuss in-season training and why it is so critical.
Training for baseball in-season is not only important to maintain strength gains that have been made throughout the off-season, but is critical to success as your team progresses during the season. Progressing through a long baseball season can take a toll on the body especially on the shoulders and hips. With proper training focused on flexibility, mobility and many of the common baseball injuries can be prevented. As we kick of the Bardo’s Speed & Strength Program Powered by The Institute, our summer training will be focused on building a quality base of strength with more emphasis on proper techniques in lifting, sprinting and first step quickness. Below is an outline of three the major considerations to why it is so important to continue to train during baseball season.
1. Flexibility/Mobility-Throughout the game of baseball we are asking our bodies to work in every plane of motion (vertical, horizontal, and rotational) which puts a tremendous amount of stress on our muscles and joints. Because of this we need the greatest range of motion possible through every muscle and joint. When our range of motion decreases, wether it be our hamstrings or our lats, we not only put added stress on that particular muscle but all musculature surrounding it. This is one of the leading causes of injury in baseball! You do not see many guys get hurt on a routine ground ball or a homerun swing. No, the injuries occur when we ask our bodies to make an awkward throw from our knees after making diving stop or during a swing where the batter was fooled by a curveball. Baseball forces our bodies into some very non typical situations and the stronger more mobile we can be only increase our chance of success without injury!
2. Less is More-In-season training is very much focused on quality over quantity! We do not need to be spending multiple hours a day in the weight room to achieve great in-season training success. Instead each lifting session should be short and more focused. Our training program will consist of 1 hour sessions with a 10-15 minute warm-up, 35-45 minutes of training and 10-15 minutes of cool down and stretching. Each of these sections is just as important as the others. Leaving out any portion is only increasing your chance of injury!
3. Strength Gains-The old belief that we can just maintain strength throughout the season is gone now. During the season we are either getting stronger or getting weaker! This does not mean we are making the same strength gains as in the winter but we do need to continue to get stronger. Going along with Less is More in-season training will see a large drop in volume while keeping the intensity high. This allows our bodies to build muscle while not leaving us sore and without losses in our range of motion.
Strength training in-season has many benefits, but the number one reason is staying healthy. Baseball is a long season but just like every other sport it is all about who is playing best at the end of the year. Training properly throughout the entire season will allow us to peak at the right time of year, while those who have not continued to train are declining in strength and fizzling out come playoffs. This is when we will thrive!
Learn more about the Bardo’s Speed & Strength Program Powered by The Institute and Coach Andrew here.
Sean McCourt, our Director of Pitching, explains the top three mechanical issues that can improve your velocity and command.
1.Back Leg Disconnection
One of the most common problems that I encounter watching young pitchers throw is an early disconnection of the back leg. After your back leg loses contact with the ground, you have lost the ability to continue to rotate your hips. If you can’t fully rotate your hips, you have no shot at completing rotation of your shoulders further up the chain. You also lose your base and ability to drive the baseball towards your target. I like to say it’s like shooting a cannon out of a row boat. Without a strong base, you won’t have the power or ability to accurately throw the baseball, throwing solely off of your front leg.
2. Uphill Angle for your Hips and Shoulders
Building a solid base with your hips and shoulders set uphill when moving towards the plate is crucial in order to put yourself in the powerful position at foot strike. Setting this angle helps you build momentum towards the plate and helps you keep your top half back so you can utilize your legs, maximize your hip-shoulder separation, and land with the proper shoulder angle. I see many flat shoulder angles on pitchers here in Colorado due to the fact that players aren’t really throwing off mounds until they reach the high school level. Players can get away with flat shoulders throwing off flat ground, although it’s not ideal and will cost them energy and velocity. But if this is not fixed once they get to a mound, it will cause serious command issues in addition to a loss of velocity.
3. Postural Disconnection
Postural disconnections can be caused by numerous disconnections throughout your mechanics and lead to many more down the kinetic chain. Some come from your weight being unbalanced, some from your glove or other body parts rerouting your energy in different directions. They all generally result in an early release of the baseball, not allowing you to generate your full power and making it near impossible to consistently throw strikes. Pitchers that can stay balanced, connected, and directional will have much more success being able to consistently reach a late launch position resulting in much higher velocity and command.
Now, I want to make one thing clear. There are always exceptions to the rule. Are there players out there who have these “flaws” in their mechanics and are still successful? Of course. If you are one of these people and you are happy with your velocity, can throw the ball where you want to, are pain free, and having success, then I am extremely happy for you and hope that you continue to have success in your career. But if you feel you can or need to improve in one of these areas, take a look at your film and see what you can do better. I hope this helps you become a better pitcher. If you would like any more info or if I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Book a lesson with Sean.
Wes McGuire is the leader of our Healthy Heat program which is designed to drastically increase player's velocity no matter their position (which it has!). In our newest blog post, Wes explains training for pitching vs. training for throwing. You may be surprised by his answers....
It’s the start that stops most people. It is hard for people to commit particularly when you have to tell them that it may not happen overnight. There are no quick fixes or gimmicks that will suddenly send you on a path to the big leagues. There are guys who can just go to games, practice when the team gets together, and be the best player; however, they are the exceptions, not the rule.
At Bardo’s we are adamantly against the freak theory. You hear guys talk about it all the time, “That guy just has cannon, I can never throw as hard as he does.” Lies. “He’s just so much better than me, I can never be the player he is”. Who says? If you aren’t lucky enough to be born with supreme athletic ability, a lightning quick arm, and the ability to hit baseballs out of big league stadiums at the age of 12, who cares. That doesn’t mean you have to let that stop you.
For years coaches and evaluators played into this theme which made it much worse. “He’ll grow into it” or “maybe he just doesn’t have it”. I’m not sitting here saying a 12 year old can work hard enough to throw 90 mph by the end of the summer. That’s unrealistic, but sitting around doing the minimum and waiting for him to be 6’4” 225lbs and throwing gas is equally as unrealistic. It takes work and doing it the way it’s always been done isn’t going to get it done.
The way baseball trains throwing has not changed much throughout its history. Kids play catch, making sure to only throw it hard enough that their catch partner can catch it. They back up until they feel loose and shut it down or their coach rushes them to finish so they can start practice. There is not a single play in baseball that doesn’t involve at least one throw yet we treat it like the least important part of the game.
Pitchers have it even worse because we want to teach them how to pitch before they are even good at throwing. How many kids pitch at the youth level truly command the ball on a regular basis? How many catchers in youth baseball even adjust their target from pitch to pitch? Not many. The ones that dominate are the ones that throw hard and throw it in the strike zone. Yet your average pitching lesson spends about four minutes throwing to get loose and then work on pitching.
Kids are told what to do, try to do it and then are told how to correct it. They think, but they don’t feel. They repeat, they don’t compete. They go to practice, they don’t train. Baseball has put the cart before the horse. We want to teach a kid who can barely get the ball to home plate how to command a change up. Commanding the ball matters eventually, mixing speeds matter eventually, but it is crazy to spend a majority of our time focusing them.
Our mission at Bardo’s is to commit to training. We want kids to come in and work hard. We are trying to build athletes and constantly challenge them. We don’t just want kids to come in and try to throw strikes at eighty percent with no pressure. We want kids to push themselves, throw it harder than they did last week. Just flat out work harder than last time. We get loose to throw, not throw to get loose. We provide individualized drills for the athlete to learn new movement patterns focusing on feel not cues. We want to lead the athlete through guided discovery not just spew words at them until something sticks.
We don’t have all the answers yet and anyone that says they do is lying to themselves. We ask the same of ourselves that we do our athletes, keep working and learning. Get better everyday. The problem is it’s hard. You don’t win or get a medal at the end of every day. You are going to have terrible days this summer on the diamond and you are going to be in plenty of slumps. But if it were easy everyone would do it.
Book a pitching lesson with Wes.
Anthony Gutierrez is one of our top pitching instructors and played nine years with the Houston Astros. His philosophy on pitching is second to none and he's decided to share the mental aspect from a pitcher's perspective in his own words.
Positive Mode: Step on the baseball field with a positive outlook and attitude everyday. Remember, you are here because you love this game so that should be enough to brighten your day. Moods are contagious, so turn the switch and throw away all your problems and let yourself enjoy the next two or three hours of your life.
Be Competitive: Everyone loves to win, but what does it take for you to win the game or an individual challenge? Every pitch comes from within and every movement on the mound is made in a conscience advance to get an edge over your opponent. Approach every outing as if it will be your last and never look upon it with regrets and what ifs. The killer instinct is the difference between failure and success.
Composed: Take control of the game before it controls you. Every situation will call for a reaction and the reaction can be turning point of the game. Command your emotions to stay calm and use the created intensity as a productive energy to push you towards successfully completing the inning. Physically revealed emotions will determine the events to follow, such as walking the next batter or feeding a pitch down the middle and allowing the inning to explode. Hold your emotions within and keep your facial expressions deceptive.
Knowledge: Educate yourself on the game of baseball in general. The more you know about the game the better player you will become. Look at the history of the game and understand the law of averages of the success of hitters against pitchers and typical outcomes. Baseball is as simple as you make it. Understand that the little things can make the biggest difference of a game or career. Learn the game in a manager’s view and think about what pitch you would call in a particular situation or defense put on. The more you can anticipate, the easier the play put on will be to execute.
Pitch Effectively in the Pinch: This will determine your true pitching skills. Making the big pitch in a key situation consistently will open the path towards a successful pitching career. The greatest pitchers of all time are known to make the big pitch in a turning point of a game. The big pitch will fuel the rest of the team to step up and play for you and make the big play in the field. Establishing confidence in your teammates will in turn gain confidences in yourself. The pinch means there is little room for error, therefore your focus needs to narrow in a preview location of a specific pitch in the given situation to a particular hitter.
Respect for the Game, Players and Umpires: Remember your teammate will only play for you if you play for them. The ability to recognize their skills and accomplishments will only increase the respect level and desire for them to play with or for you. They will acknowledge your skills; don't expect a compliment, earn one. Respect the game and the players who played before you. The game has established a level of respect that is required of all players to maintain. The umpires are human and capable of making mistakes just as easy as you are. Stay off of them and keep them from playing a major roll in games by controlling your own destiny. Take responsibility in your actions and understand that the umpires can only control the out come of a game if you allow them to. Respect yourself and others will do the same.
Establish Self-Motivation: Self-motivation is established within the will and desire to perform. Self-motivation is revealed in practice and work away from the field. The work away from the field includes anything learned or mastered before entering the field. The will to be a better pitcher and physically ahead of others lies within the heart. The heart will reveal the love for the game and in turn field the effort to perform at your highest potential. Peak performance is pre determined by peak preparation, feel the moment emotionally before you attempt to accomplish it.
Self Discipline: This is your career and your team, do your part to make it successful. You expect everyone else to do the their job, so don’t cheat your teammates and not do yours. This is a team effort and everyone has a roll to play and the success of the team lies within the discipline to execute their responsibilities. Learn from your mistakes and command yourself to continuously progress. Don't let the same negative results continue, make the adjustments and turn the page. The key to discipline is to know what to change and what works then to create the ability put the work in and establish command of your skills.
Never Give In: No matter the situation in a game, pre-game, practice or any time you feel it is out of reach DO NOT GIVE UP! I don't care if your brother is up to bat, if he is wearing a different uniform we will get him out anyway we can.
Lead Team to Battle & Victory: We control the game and the rest of the team will depend on us to establish the path. Lead your team by example. A successful game play will fire up your teammates.
Book pitching lessons with Anthony Gutierrez.
“Use two hands!” is a saying you often hear being yelled at the defense around the diamond. Just like you hear, “get on top of the ball!” when it comes to player’s swing. But just because old baseball advice has now become a saying, doesn't mean that there is any truth behind it.
We have found out that “getting on top of the ball” in a player's swing is counterintuitive. Guiding a hitter’s swing down doesn’t create more line drive base hits; it creates a long swing with the end result being a weak ground ball to the second basemen. Same goes for using two hands on defense.
Now, this rule doesn’t always apply. Infielders need to use two hands when fielding a ground ball and funnel it to their chest. This creates an easy transfer from fielding to throwing. But when it comes to catching a throw, turning a double play or even catching a pop up, that “extra” hand more times than not is just getting in the way. Ever see a first basemen catch a throw to first with two hands? No. Ever see an MLB catcher throw down to second using two hands on the transfer? No.
Player’s are using two hands too often, especially shortstops and second basemen when turning a routine double play. Trying to make a quick turn around the bag using two hands is like adding another cook in the kitchen.
Now, some of you might bring up the argument that it is quicker. Really? How so? In my experience, the guys with the quickest exchange from catch to throw (not catch to getting out of the glove!) are the guys who after catching it and then get it to their chest the quickest. Notice how every position on the field brings the ball to their chest before they throw no matter how they field it? That action must happen first and how quickly they accomplish that has nothing to do with the throwing hand.
What about pop ups? Ever notice how a player catches a pop up? Their hand never covers the opening of the glove to secure it; the hand just rests on the backside of the webbing as they close their glove. In fact, using two hands can get you in trouble, especially a pop up to the infield. If the baseball is moving too much as it's coming down and the catch must be done outside the body (meaning you are catching the ball outside the width of your shoulders) you are doing more harm than good trying to reach over with your throwing hand to secure the ball when you can just use one.
Some of you readers might start Googling images of players using two hands. I encourage you to do so, but please understand what you are seeing. Having your throwing hand next to your glove when receiving a throw is not using two hands to catch the ball; that is allowing for a quicker transfer because your throwing hand has less room to travel to your glove than say having it down by your side.
Chris McConnell is our fielding expert and spent nine years with the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals organization. He's been recognized by Baseball America and other publications for his defensive work. Book a lesson with Chris here.
Jesse Kurtz manages the successful 12u Team Majestic, which is one our Bardo's in-house teams. We interviewed Jesse to find out what it's like to be a Bardo's in-house coach and the biggest differences he sees with his players since joining Bardo's.
Compared to other places you've coached, what are the biggest differences being a Bardo's in-house coach?
The camaraderie between all the coaches (staff & other in-house coaches) is tremendous. Everybody there has one goal; to see the kids succeed. All the coaches in the building help teach and encourage every player no matter what team affiliation. To have that many eyeballs on practices makes the time very efficient and effective.
What kind of progression have you seen with your players?
Our kids come to practice with the intent on working hard because anything less is unacceptable. That is constantly reinforced by the Bardo’s staff. With multiple teams in the building at once, our kids have improved how they compete which has consequently led to improvements in all areas of the game. They have also learned to not be so serious. Baseball is a game, it does not define who you are as a person. They’re starting to realize that with the teaching and reinforcement from the respected staff at Bardo’s. Our kids have a “swagger” about them because they are “Bardo’s Players”, which is awesome to see since they were shy for so long. They know they’re learning the game from the best and they enjoy competing with that in mind.
What do you enjoy most about being a Bardo's in-house coach?
The learning process. Having played baseball into college and coached youth up to high school, I felt like I had a fairly strong understanding of the game. But like life, things evolve and that includes how we teach the game of baseball and the safety (player’s arms, specifically) that goes along with that. Mike Bard and his staff are constantly “seeking truth” in the game and staying on top of the new approaches and best practices. They will admit, they “don’t know everything about the game even though they are the best in the business when it comes to knowledge, but they are seeking every day to learn more. That approach is very refreshing, comforting, and admirable. Even though they have professional players and coaches on staff… to not take the “we know all” approach leads to great respect among other coaches. It is a team effort within those walls. This specifically has played a big role in the new approach to throwing in a safe & effective manner. I have appreciated their willingness to let old habits take a back seat while the staff and teams learn the safer way to throw.
Any pleasant surprises from being a Bardo's coach that you weren’t expecting?
Mike Bard and his staff go out of their way to encourage the kids and talk to them about life. Even though baseball is their job & passion, they are very good about putting things into perspective. Making sure the kids know that baseball is something they do, it doesn’t define them. They talk about things like, “nobody will remember your batting average, but they will remember if they were a good teammate and how they acted.” The staff at Bardo’s really puts a lot of thought and care into how they handle the mental side of youth baseball.
Have you changed any of your managing habits after being a Bardo’s coach?
The biggest change I have made is how I communicate with the players. The staff has effectively explained the importance of commanding respect while not being a dictator on the field. Too often I found myself yelling rather than explaining when things weren’t right. The Bardo’s staff has helped me and my coaching staff get the most out of the players in how we handle the kids (especially in times of failure). I do way less yelling and more coaching, thanks to the Bardo’s staff.
Want to know more? Register your team for a free practice to experience what a Bardo's team is all about.
Pitchers have been told for years that they need to be long, loose, and "whippy" with their arm. The belief is if the arm action is short and compact they'll push the ball or lose power. While pitchers do not have to be a quick with their actions, more efficient is still the way to go.
It's one of the biggest elements we have battled for our Youth In House Training and our Healthy Heat Program. The real reason that shortening up is necessary at times is because of timing. The Texas and Florida Baseball Ranch programs refer to the most critical position of the throwing motion as final connection. The final connection is when the front foot strikes the ground while having the hand up, inside of 90 degrees, with the elbow just below shoulder level. Everything that happens before the final connection is just a means of comfort and timing.
This happens particularly with younger players. Trying to time a distal are action consistently just doesn't happen. They may need to find a more compact and efficient movement pattern to allow for more consistent timing and connection.
Four different players using four very different circumstances all in the same position. I don't think Puig lost much power on his throw from the outfield. It's easy to get lost in all the movement when watching guys throw, but when the foot hits the ground the scapula needs to be retracted with hand up and inside 90. This allows for the hand to accelerate longer and achieve late launch, but more on that next week.
The short answer is you can’t judge arm action by simply looking at it with the naked eye. In the Healthy Heat program, we do a lot of work in an effort to make the arm action more efficient and that looks different for everyone. However, just because an arm action looks too “short” it does not mean it is the cause of a command problem or a lack of velocity.
Maximize arm health, velocity, and overall effectiveness by joining the Healthy Heat program today.
Andy is a Colorado transplant and is one of our top catching and hitting instructors here at Bardo's. He played college baseball at Sacramento City College and later at Azusa Pacific University. He graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a double major in Sports Psychology and Kinesiology. Andy is also beginning his first year at Valor Christian Academy as the catching and hitting coach.
As a catching instructor, what do you think is the most underrated element as a youth catcher?
I see a young catcher’s ability to be a leader on the field as something that is often overlooked at the younger ages. Even if the player is not naturally vocal it is important for them to take control of what his or her teammates are doing between the lines. That includes defensive placement, game tempo, and overall energy level of the team.
You recently moved to Colorado from California and have been named Valor High School's assistant baseball coach. What are the biggest differences between Colorado baseball and California baseball?
Coming from California I do see a slight difference in skill development due to the differences in weather and the fact that we practiced and played year round in California. That being said, I don’t see that as an excuse for these young Colorado players. The ability to train indoors is something that can and should be taken advantage of if the player intends on getting better and competing at a high level.
As a private instructor, what is your philosophy or approach when instructing a player?
As an instructor I like to create an atmosphere where the player has a high level of focus and intensity, but at the same time feels like they are allowed to fail. I believe that we learn best through our failure and I try to set up scenarios where the player will sometimes fail. My goal is to make a session more challenging than a game situation. By doing this it will raise the players competitive threshold and make the game feel a little easier.
Is the mental game different for a catcher compared to if they were playing another position?
Naturally the catcher and pitcher positions require an extra mental edge because they are active every single pitch. I believe a catcher has to have a certain mentality that is different than the rest of the team. A catcher has to be willing to take responsibility for everything that occurs on the field. If a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, the catcher must do his job and block that ball. If a shortstop makes a bad throw to first base the catcher must be there to back up that throw and not let the runner advance to second. The position is inherently a selfless position and requires a team mentality.
What element would you like to see changed in the game of baseball?
I love the game of baseball for all the lessons that it teaches us, but I would love for us to reframe how we approach failure. This starts with the coaches creating a positive environment and will transfer to the players seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. In a game that is so full of failure, a kid can either go home with 45 reasons why he isn’t good enough, or they can go home with 45 reasons why he should keep working hard and come back tomorrow with something to work on. It is all about how we teach these boys and girls to respond to failure. That is something that will stay with them long after they play this game.
Book a lesson with Andy.
Chris helps lead operations here at Bardo's and is also one of our top hitting and fielding instructors. He played professional baseball for nine years with the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals as a shortstop. He brings with him years of professional experience and prides himself in giving simplistic, personalized, and expert instruction to players of all ages.
We sat down with Chris to ask him a few questions on his playing career and his thoughts on evaluating players.
You had a nine year run as a professional baseball player. What are some things you have learned during your playing career that you try to incorporate into your lessons?
The most important thing I’ve learned is how to interpret information to players. There are many instructors that know what they want a player to change in their mechanics, but few can explain well enough for a player to understand and even harder to execute. I’ve had many coaches in every aspect of the game and the best ones were the ones that could break down what needed to change in a very basic matter.
You are known for your fielding and have been named the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the Kansas City Royals organization multiple times. What is one good piece of advice you could give to infielders?
That’s an easy answer, bend your knees! It’s such a simple change that can make a HUGE difference. Bending your knees puts you in a better position to move, adapt to the ball, a better angle to see the ball, and it cleans up other issues you may have with your hands, like not getting them far enough in front of you body. I noticed that players have a tendency to bend their back and not their knees when they field.
In your career you’ve been an All-Star twice, been recognized by a few publications, and have won a AA championship. What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of all my accomplishments during my playing days. Individual achievements are great and they are fun to have, but there really isn’t a better feeling then winning a championship. It’s a five game series, but that championship series is a bit of a reflection on what the whole year was like. Nothing seems to matter; stats, mistakes, and accomplishments mean absolutely nothing. Playing in a championship is the best part of baseball.
What are some benefits of playing professional baseball that not many people would think of?
One of the bonuses of playing professional baseball that no one talks about is all the places you get to live. I’ve lived in 10 states and I’ve lived multiple places within those states. It’s the type of life experience that few get to have and it has molded me into the person I am today. Experiencing different cultures and people within the United States has shaped me in so many ways.
You do infield and hitting lessons at Bardo’s. What are the differences between the two when it comes to evaluating players?
Besides the fact that they are two different skills, I evaluate the lower half first. You can’t hit without a solid foundation and you can’t field without one either.
Book a lesson with Chris.