With some of you starting your season this weekend we've put together a warm up, pre-throwing routine, and recovery program that you can use with your team if you wish.
As you all know, the baseball season can be a grind and take a toll on player's bodies, a proper warm-up and recovery is crucial to preventing injuries and keeping players performing at their peak. I have attached the program at the bottom and we are posting videos on the Bardo's Baseball University website. All but the two without an asterisk next to them can be done without equipment at whatever field your at.
The two with asterisks, Rocket Wrap and the Oates Throwing Sock, are incredible tools that I would highly recommend every team purchase if not every player. I am sure most of you have seen us use the throwing sock with players at practice. It allows players to throw or do their drills literally about anywhere and it puts 1/3 of the amount of stress on their arm. It also provides instant feedback on if a player is getting to late launch as well as creates healthy deceleration patterns. The Rocket Wrap is my new go to for all of my pitchers after they throw. We now know that ice bad for players after they throw as it slows the blood flow which in turn slows their healing process. Rocket Wrap is a compression wrap which allows new blood to rush in and flush out all of the damage and repair the impaired muscles and tissue.
Both the Throwing Sock and Rocket Wrap are both extremely inexpensive, $30 for the sock and $13 for the wrap, and are two of the best tools I have found on the market. I have included the link to our Healthy Heat page below that has a link for the Throwing Sock and you can also find the Rocket Wrap on the same site as well.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
I have heard many different keys to throwing strikes from players and coaches, most of which involve varying release points and arm action in some way shape and form. I don’t want you thinking about any of that when you throw. The truth is, if you look at pitchers' Trackman data across the MLB, players very rarely duplicate the same release point throughout the course of a game. A player might have the same release height and extension only once or twice a game despite throwing the same pitch to the same location numerous times a game. So it goes to reason if the most elite pitchers in the game can’t repeat their throwing mechanics pitch-to-pitch, then how could our youth pitchers possible do so? There is no such thing as a repeatable delivery.
Here in Healthy Heat we try to create feel for proper movement patterns to help keep you connected and put your body in the best possible position to maximize your body’s power safely. You are not going to exactly replicate that movement from pitch-to-pitch. As Randy Sullivan of the Florida Baseball Ranch likes to put it, "a repeatable delivery is a unicorn."
So how can you repeatedly throw strikes and command the strike zone if there is no such thing as a repeatable delivery? Here’s the secret in three easy steps: Move Fast, Throw Hard, and Always Pick a Target. It’s really that simple! Throwing accurately requires fine motor control. If you miss your release point by 1 degree that results in you missing your target by 0.96 feet! So you can’t realistically fix your control by trying to release the ball later or feeling your way through your release point. You need to create proprioception, the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself, of throwing accurately to a target and you need to do it at as close to game speed as possible. That is why we tell our players that every throw is a chance to get better or worse. Choose to get better by moving fast, throwing hard, and picking a target. Then do it again and again until you become a master of your craft.
You can speed up the process of creating proprioception by doing what we call myelinating. Myelinating is celebrating or showing emotion after we do something good. Myelin is a substance your body creates to insulate your brain’s wiring. Every action you perform your brain secretes a layer of myelin to coat the neural pathway for that action. This is basically what we call muscle memory. The more insulated a neural pathway is the more likely you are to repeat that action. Studies have shown that if you add emotion to an action your body will secrete more myelin, resulting in increased muscle memory of that action. So every time you move fast, throw hard, and hit your target show some emotion and celebrate that action! However, your body does not distinguish between positive and negative emotion. So if you do not hit your target, do not show a negative emotion or your body will remember that action more than it normally would as well.
So, get out there and move fast, throw hard, pick a target, celebrate when you hit it, and become a master of commanding the strike zone!
Director of Pitching
Come join us in Healthy Heat!
For the last several decades, arm injuries have been steadily on the rise in baseball. The majority of them have occurred within the first month of the season. So, with the start of the baseball season upon us, I wanted to touch on some recovery methods that can help prevent some of these issues.
Proper Deceleration Patterns
One of the first things we teach our players in Healthy Heat are our Decel Drills. Peak Shoulder Internal Rotation can reach 7000° per second. That means if your arm was not attached to your body it would spin around in a circle almost 19 ½ times in 1 second. That is a tremendous amount of force that could lead to a lot of damage in your arm if it is not slowed down in a safe and effective manner. One tool that I like to use with my pitchers the day after they throw is to put them in an Oates Throwing Sock and have them throw a light flat ground. If the player has soreness that is caused by a poor deceleration pattern they will show some discomfort if that pattern is repeated. The Throwing Sock will take the majority of the stress off the players arm allowing them to make some low stress throws and navigate through the discomfort to find a more efficient movement pattern.
Increase Blood Flow
Growing up I was religious about icing after I threw. After the game you could find me strapped up with ice from my neck to my fingertips. We now know that icing will delay your healing process. Ice slows blood flow to the area and we want to get as much blood flow to the injured tissue as possible to remove the waste produced by the lymphatic system and repair the tissue. The way we do that is by dynamic movements as well as using Rocket Wrap after players throw. Rocket Wrap is a compression floss that temporarily restricts blood flow to the area for the 30 seconds that it is wrapped around the desired area which sends a signal to the brain that more blood flow is needed to that area. When the wrap is removed the area receives in increase in blood flow flushing out toxins and promoting healing to the area.
Strength & Mobility
Maintaining a regular strength and conditioning program during the season can be difficult but is critical to staying healthy throughout the course of a long season. Players should have a regular recovery program filled with T-Spine and shoulder mobility exercises as well as exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff, shoulder and scapular stabilizers, and maintain core stability.
Creating a routine that drills/reinforces proper decel patterns, increases blood flow after you throw, and maintains strength and mobility during the season will go a long way to keeping you healthy throughout the year. Our focus in Healthy Heat is shifting as the season starts to accommodate players increasing need for recovery to keep players healthy and throwing hard with the gains that they have put on all offseason. Below I have included links to the aforementioned Oates Throwing Sock and Rocket Wrap. They are both inexpensive and two of the best tools that I have found on the market.
Former big-leaguer Chris Colabello wrote an article on the Bob Tewksbary blog called “Bigger Moves Are More Fragile.” The title grabbed me because it articulated something that I’ve thought, if not said to an even more detrimental degree. Bigger movements are more difficult to master and control so why not be simpler? I hope I didn’t sound like the “old school” coaches Colabello refers to in his article who told him over and over again:
“That’ll never work — when you get to higher levels, guys are too good, you have to keep it simple.”
The fact of the matter, whether intended or not, I probably did sound like those guys. I probably failed to give the player (or players) room to have a conversation, explain their thoughts, or even show me what they’re feeling in their swing movements. Whether it was a leg kick, hand movement, barrel tip, or whatever the player wanted to try, I was probably too quick to disengage and think like the “old school” coaches mentioned above - “You can’t hit like that at the higher levels.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this many years of coaching, it is that you can’t control or manipulate success in the game of baseball, and you certainly can’t be fearful of potential greatness.
Thankfully, some time during the summer of 2012, I started walking down this road of great swing movements. It was here that I started to engage with a player (Jason Mishler, to give credit where credit it due) and ask him about what he was learning. We watched video on baseball road trips. We battled and went back and forth on different ideas. Ultimately, I learned. I grew. I got better. Not only did I get better, I watched players get better. I watched them play with more freedom. I watched them have more fun. I watched our team break program hitting records in spite of the move to BBCOR bat. Hmmmm, something was happening.
Fast forward six years and I’m seeing guys who I work with continue to find success, and I’m seeing guys at the next levels of the game experience great success as well. Take Keenan Eaton as an example. After a couple of stints at different schools at the Division I level, Keenan is now playing at Colorado Mesa University. Keenan is a great kid, a great listener, and willing to do what coaches asked him to do (I mean, he is the son of a coach, after all). Unfortunately for Keenan, it seems like the voices he was listening to at the Division I level were like how mine used to be - attempting to control success and potentially keeping a player from greatness. Out of the gate here in the spring of 2018, Keenan was named RMAC Player of the Week.
Colabello finished his blog post by saying, “Don’t be scared of bigger moves but remember the bigger the moves get, the more accountable a hitter has to be for them." This is the hardest part for any coach - the player is accountable for his moves, not the coach. The coach is accountable for his job, and how his teams comes together. It’s hard to release the control of the movements to the player. But it’s what we’re called to do as coaches. We’re called to serve the player and be a guide on the journey. The sooner we realize that, the sooner our players and teams will experience astronomical success.
We are very excited with the progress we are seeing in Healthy Heat and want to continue to keep you updated with has been happening and what is coming up as well as get your feedback so we can continue to build on our success. We are seeing tremendous buy in and have over 60 players currently getting after it every week, pushing each other to take their game to the next level. Arm actions are continuing to become more efficient allowing guys to throw harder and more often without pain. We have ordered a Motus sleeve that will be here soon so we can track the exact amount of stress a player is putting on their arm so we can continue to build their pain free throwing with scientific backing. We are currently seeing an average gain over 3 mph on a pitch and 4.3 mph on a double hop from players who have participated in Healthy Heat for at least 8 weeks. We have printed up Healthy Heat t-shirts that are for sale as well as awarded several already to players who have seen 10 mph gains in the program!
With the season approaching we will be transitioning our sessions to better suit players playing schedule. Beginning the week of March 5th we will be transitioning Healthy Heat to 75 minute sessions. Based on feedback that we have gotten this will better suit players in-season schedule and we will tailor sessions based on players needs whether it be drill-based, pitching-based, or recovery-based. We will get you the updated schedule for In-Season shortly.
Thank you all for being a part of Healthy Heat and we hope to keep building with you! Please let Wes or I know if you have any questions or concerns.
Director of Healthy Heat
Drills are an integral part of the learning process. The key to what we do at Bardo’s is that we use drills to teach athletes how to move better. The biggest issue with how drills are perceived is that they have steps. Many people will treat drills as extremely linear. We want to use drills as parameters.
At Bardo’s in both Healthy Heat and 3D Hitting, we have general parameters for what we want in a movement. However, within those parameters there is a ton of freedom. As we say often, we do not believe step one, step two, and so on. We try to encourage athletes to utilize certain parts of the kinetic chain, but throughout those movements they are given the freedom to move how they want to accomplish a goal.
Drills allow us to continue to provide variability in the environment of the athlete with their simple goal being accomplish the task as well as they can. For hitters, we want them trying to hit a double, make the outfielders run backwards. For pitchers, we want them hitting a target...hard. While these may seem drastic to some and obvious to others, training is the perfect time to do that. Controlled chaos - where we can control the situation, when the price of failure is low, and they get to move as well as they can.
The “risk” being low also has different benefits on both sides. Hitters don’t have to suffer the disappointment of costing a team a game or not getting an RBI. With pitchers, we can take all the steps possible to manage the physical stress they are under. For example, we know that if we limit the amount of lower body engagement, and do this correctly we can teach the upper body to move more efficiently. Our belief is a majority of the efficiency will still be present when the athletes begin to use their legs.
Now the biggest battle that we face with athletes of all ages is drills can get boring. However, if we provide individualized drills and continue to adjust these drills as the athletes progress, we have seen much better results. It can also create a sense of ownership as athletes see themselves, hitting more targets or making better contact in drills that once seemed unnatural or difficult. The intent is the key, throw it hard, hit a double. And don’t be afraid to fail, just make it feel more free.
Director of Healthy Heat