Home Posts tagged "Area Code Games"

8 Tips for Not Wasting Away During Summer Baseball

The summer baseball travel season is in full swing, and that means more and more of our athletes are starting 1-2 week trips to play all over the country. This is a really important experience for the majority of players, as it's when they get in front of the most college coaches for the sake of recruiting, and they often head south to face more talented opponents.  There are more college camps taking place, as well as tryouts for the East Coast Pro and Area Code teams.  In short, summer ball is important, and you don't want to screw up in how you approach it, as doing so can mean that you'll miss out on both skill development and opportunites to get "seen" by a coach who'll have you playing at the next level.

487890_613822991787_1196741028_n

Unfortunately, though, this is also a time of year when a lot of things change for young baseball players.  Instead of five minute drive to school for practice and games, they're hopping on 15-hour bus rides to get to a weekend tournament. Instead sleeping in their own beds and eating Mom's home cooking, they're staying in hotels and stopping for fast food. Instead of having a predictable weekly schedule of MoWeFr games, they might play five in three days. Instead of enjoying moderate Northeast spring weather of 50 degrees in the morning and evening and 75 degrees in the afternoon, they get East Cobb in July, when it's 95 degree weather with 95% humidity. In short, they get a taste of what minor league baseball will be like if they make it that far in their careers!

The end result, unfortunately, is that many players wind up coasting into July and August on fumes because they've lost weight, strength, throwing velocity, bat speed, ninja skills, and overall manliness.  They expected their biggest challenge to be "simply" pitching against a 5-tool hitter or hitting a 95mph fastball, but instead, they get absolutely dominated by the lifestyle off the field. 

Guys who don't handle the summer season well are the ones who stumble back in to Cressey Performance at the end of August, making their first appearance since February.  And, in spite of the great off-season of training they put in before the high school season began, they usually look like they've never trained before, and they're often asking me to help them bounce back from some injury.  Sound familiar?  If so, read on.

Below, I've listed seven tips for avoiding this common summer baseball deterioriation.  You'll notice that many of them are completely to do with maintaining body weight; as I've written before, weight loss is a big reason why performance drops in baseball players both acutely (dehydration) and chronically (loss of muscle mass).  Also worthy of note is the fact that the majority of these tips could also apply to professional baseball.  Anyway, let's get to it.

1. Make breakfast big.

When traveling, breakfast is the only meal over which you have complete control.  You can wake up earlier to make sure that you have a big and complete one, or you can sleep in and grab a stale bagel on the way out the door.  When I travel to give seminars, I intentionally pick hotels that have all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets and I absolutely crush them.  Basically, I'll eat omelets (with veggies), scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit until I'm so full that I contemplate renting a fork lift to get me back to my room.

195131_553643966037_14600392_31904565_7196596_o

This is because things always get hectic at mid-day.  Seminar attendees want to ask questions, get assessed, or just "pick my brain" during the lunch hour.  So, if I get something, it's usually quick and not really that big.  Does this sound similar to how you eat prior to games? You don't want to eat too much, but know you've got to have something or else you'll be dragging by the 7th inning.

If I've packed away a big breakfast, I can power through the day pretty well regardless of what lunch looks like.  Traveling baseball players with day games can do the exact same thing.

As an interesting aside to this, I'm always amazed at how many young baseball players talk about how nobody outworks them, and how they're always in "beast mode."  Yet, across the board, very few players will be "beastly" enough to wake up a few minutes earlier to eat a quality breakfast, always complaining that they don't like to get up early, or that they aren't hungry at that time of day.  Well, just because your stomach doesn't like food at that time of day doesn't mean that it won't benefit from having it.  You think your shoulder and elbow like throwing a baseball? Nope...but they do it. 

[bctt tweet="Working hard isn't just about the hitting cage or weight room; it's also about the kitchen."]

I'll get off my soap box now.

2. Appreciate convenient calories.

Remember that in the quest to keep your weight up, your body doesn't really care if you're sitting down for an "official" meal.  Rather, you might be better off grazing all day.  Mixed nuts, shakes, bars, and fruit will be your best friends when it comes to convenience foods out on the field - or on a long bus ride when you have no idea when you'll be stopping for food.

3. Make the most of hotel gyms.

Let's face it: most hotel gyms are woefully under-equipped.  You've usually got dumbbells up to 40 pounds and a treadmill, if you're lucky.  That should be plenty, though, as you're not trying to make a ton of progress in these training sessions; you're just trying to create a training stimulus to maintain what you already have.  Here's an easy example of a hotel gym workout you can use in a pinch:

A1) DB Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit: 3x8/side

A2) Prone 1-arm Trap Raise: 3x8/side (can do this bent-over if no table is available, or do it off the edge of your hotel room bed)

B1) 1-leg DB RDL: 3x8/side

B2) 1-arm KB (or DB) Turkish Get-up: 3x3/side

C1) Yoga Push-up: 3x10

C1) 1-arm DB Row: 3x10/side

D1) Prone Bridge Arm March: 3x8/side

D2) Standing External Rotation to Wall: 3x5 (five second hold on each rep)

Another option, obviously, is to try to find a gym near your hotel while you're on the road.  That can obviously be tough if you don't have a car handy, though, so it's always good to have these "back-up" minimalist equipment options at your fingertips.  And, of course, you can always rock body weight only exercises.

4. Have portable training equipment.

You aren't allowed to complain about the lack of equipment in the typical hotel gym if you haven't put any thought into what training implements you can bring on the road with you.  Things like bands, a foam roller, a TRX, and a number of other implements can make your life easier.  I've brought my TRX on numerous vacations with me and it always proves useful. The scenery usually isn't bad, either.

197412_173702382680874_7668140_n

5. Pack quality training into short bursts.

If you know you're going to be on the road for week-long trips here and there throughout the summer, it's important to get your quality training in when you're at home in your "consistent" environment.  Think of it as managing a bank account.  You make deposits when you're at home with good equipment and quality nutrition, and you're taking withdrawals when you're on the road and the circumstances are less than stellar.

6. Bring noise-canceling headphones.

There's nothing better than when you're dreading a long flight or bus/train ride, and then you fall asleep the second the trip begins, and you wake up to find out that you're at your destination.  That's awesome.

What's not awesome is that every single team in the history of baseball has at least one schmuck who likes to blare music, yell, and dance around at 6AM when everyone else is trying to sleep. Dropping him off and leaving him for dead in the middle of nowhere isn't an option, so you're better off rocking some noise-canceling headphones.

7. Bring a neck pillow.

Falling asleep on a plane or bus and then waking up with a stiff neck is no fun.  Doing so and then having to go out and throw 90 pitches the next day will be absolutely miserable. And, this cool article about research at Vanderbilt University on the negative effects of fatigue on strike zone management over the course of a baseball season should get hitters' attention, too! A neck pillow will cost you less than $20.  It's an absolute no brainer.  Besides, you probably spent double that amount on the 15 silly Power Balance bracelets you own.*

neckpimages

8. Hydrate!

You know the old saying about how if you sense thirst, you're already dehydrated?  It's especially true when you're out on the field at 1PM in the middle of July in Florida. So, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.  We know that dehydration reduces strength and power - so you can bet that fastball velocity and bat speed will dip - but did you know that it also negatively affects cognitive performance? In a 2012 review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Adan wrote,

[bctt tweet="Even 2% dehydration impairs performance in tasks requiring attention, psychomotor and memory skills."] 

So, if you're a guy who is always missing signs, ignoring your cutoff man, or forgetting how many outs there are, it might be wise to evaluate your hydration status.

Wrap-up

These are just eight tips to guide you as you approach this important summer season, and there are surely many more strategies athletes have employed to make it as productive a time of year as it should be.  That said, I'd encourage you to monitor your body weight on a regular basis to make sure that it's not dropping.  If it is, it's time to get in more calories, hydrate better, and hit the gym.  Good luck!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/13/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reads:

When to Wear Minimalist Shoes - I thought this was a great post from Dean Somerset on a hot topic these days.  Dean, like me, is a fan of the New Balance Minimus.

As an interesting little aside to this, last week, I had a chance to preview the newest version of the Minimus (due out in December), and they're absolutely awesome.  Cool colors, awesome design, super durability, and great fit. I'm excited to rock them.

The Most Overlooked Continuing Education Opportunity for Fitness Professionals - My experience out at the Area Code Games reminded me of this old post of mine, as I had an opportunity to interact with kids from all over the country on the baseball field.  The athletes and clients you encounter can teach you a ton.

Glutes Gone Wild: Part 2 - Silly name, but good article from Ben Bruno nonetheless.  There are some exercise variations in here that we use quite often at CP.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Long-Term Baseball Development: Attention to Detail Matters

As I type this, I'm out at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, CA with New Balance Baseball.  For those who aren't familiar with Area Codes, it's a yearly event that brings the top high school players in the country together to showcase their skills in game play and batting practice in front of loads of professional scouts and college coaches.  In all, about 230 of the top players in the country take part in the event, and they compete a representatives of their geographic regions. I've been doing arm care education and taking teams through pre-game warm-ups on the field.

It's been interesting for me to interact with kids from not only a variety of different parts of the country and get a feel for the coaching style to which they each respond.  And, you can definitely tell who has been exposed to some quality strength and conditioning thus far, as well as who has had formal baseball-specific education to assist in their development. Along those lines,  one of the the more prominent observations I've made in high level players at Cressey Performance has also proven to be present here: 

Attention to detail makes a huge difference.

I often cite CP athlete and Royals pitcher Tim Collins as a great example of this.  Tim is a gym rat in the off-season; he hangs out in the office and cracks jokes with our athletes all the time.  However, the second he picks up a baseball or gets to lifting, he flips a switch and tunes the world out.  This is true regardless of whether he's long tossing, deadlifting, or warming up.  There is no joking around with buddies when he's trying to learn a new skill or repeat his mechanics.

Steve Cishek is the same way.  He might coordinate the CP NHL League on X-Box, but the second he picks up a ball, he's all business.  As a sidearm guy who used to throw from a higher arm slot, repeating his somewhat new delivery is super important, as it is easy to develop bad habits when you're inattentive.

With that in mind, there isn't a high school kid alive who repeats his mechanics at a big league level, yet most high school guys you encounter have no problem chatting and goofing around when they're playing catch.  Kids would be much better off paying close attention to what they're doing on every throw, correcting as they go and using it as an opportunity to improve, not just warm-up.

The same goes for pre-game dynamic flexibility warm-ups.  When you chat with buddies the whole time, it's easy to do fewer reps, hold positions for less time, or just forget to do drills altogether.  And these are just a few of many examples; it's easy to get into bad habits and cut corners.

Maybe it's just the added scouting presence out here, but a lot of these highly ranked prospects really "get it" more than most of the other up-and-coming players I encounter.  Most are the best players in the history of their towns, yet they still want to improve. When they pick up a ball, they throw with intent.  When you coach them, they are more likely to look you in the eye to make sure they're doing things correctly.  While there are examples of guys being successful in spite of what they do and not because of what they do, for the most part, you can learn a lot by watching what accomplished players do to be successful.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: small hinges swing big doors.  

Pay attention to warm-ups.  Focus when you're long tossing.  Look coaches in the eyes.  Get in that one lift at the end of a long day when other players are tapping out.  Eat healthy when your teammates are just crushing pizza.  Seek out expertise instead of waiting for it to fall into your lap.  There are so many ways to improve - and do so today - that it's only your own fault if you aren't getting better.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!

Name
Email
Read more
Page
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series