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Sleep and Travel Reference Sheet

Understanding that fatigue is the major cause of human error and that it takes the body’s biological clock one day to adjust for each time zone traveled, I developed this reference sheet to help professional baseball players and staff transition faster to and from road trips from the Eastern to Western (3-hour difference) and Mountain (2-hour difference) time zones. Practical experience and clinical research indicate that the human body performs best between the 6:00 to 9:00 pm period of its normal biological clock. The following information should help provide faster transitions to new time zones and reduce the risk of mental and physical fatigue during games. (more…)

Power Naps Improve Alertness and Performance

Dr. Charles Czeisler, Director of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and “Sleep Coach” to the Boston Celtics, says that daytime power napping is an extremely important tool to help athletes improve performance and recover from sleep debt and has research to support his opinion.  First, there is a study from John Moores University in London in which subjects who took a 30-minute power nap after lunch lowered their resting heart rate, reduced body temperature and improved alertness, short-term memory, accuracy and speed in a 20-meter sprint. There’s also a NASA study in which scientists found that 24-minute power naps significantly improved a pilot’s alertness and performance on trans-Atlantic flights. And there is research from Cornell University that shows that short power naps help you feel more energized because your brain is more active when you nap than when you don’t. (more…)

The Decisions You Make Today Determine Your Performance Tomorrow

Although I came into pro ball with a lot of talent, it took me almost four years to approach my potential as a power pitcher. In my first season with the Angels, I was 19-16 with 39 starts, 20 complete games, an ERA of 2.28, 9 shutouts and 329 strikeouts in 284 innings. I had 17 games in which I struck out 10 or more batters. But something more important happened that year that would affect my performance for the next 25 years – I discovered the (more…)

Avoiding the Flu

ACHOO, COUGH, COUGH, SNIFF, SNIFF

Intense training and all the activity surrounding workouts and training can affect your body’s immune system which may make you more vulnerable to whatever “bug” is going around. Although researchers are still figuring out all the details, changes in immunity have been shown to be related to elevations in stress hormones such as catecholamines and cortisol which rise during intense training and periods of stress – like off-season workouts, spring training, (more…)

Three Lower Body Stretches to Prevent Adaptive Shortening

Adaptive shortening, i.e., tightness that develops as a result of a muscle or muscle group remaining in a shortened position can occur rather quickly over the course of a MLB season. It is often caused by prolonged exposure to a particular posture, such as sitting on a bench and/or being in a bent over, “ready” fielding position for three or more hours at a time during the course of a 162-game season. With adaptive shortening, one muscle or muscle group becomes tight and hyperactive, while the opposing muscle or muscle group becomes loose and underactive. There is also an increased neural drive to the tight, hyperactive muscle group and reduced neural drive to the functional antagonist. In baseball, adaptive shortening is often observed in the muscles that flex the hip (psoas), extend the knee (quads) and abduct the thigh (tensor fascia lata and IT band), and can lead to pain in the low back, hamstrings and/or lateral knee.  (more…)

Pitcher’s Barre Program for Glute Activation

During the off-season, I try different activities and think about how I might be able to use a few of these new exercises and drills with my players. Two years ago, I attended a “barre class” that used non-impact, small movement exercises to isolate individual muscle groups. One muscle group that these exercises had the most impact on was my glutes. After doing some of the exercises, I walked out of class feeling like I had just done 1,000 (more…)

Fuel Your Game : Pre-Game Nutrition

Research shows that proper nutrition and hydration before competition can improve performance. Try these food and fluid recommendations to find out what works for you!

Food
• Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal with moderate protein 3 to 4 hours before competition. Examples would be scrambled eggs with oatmeal, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread
• Choose foods that are familiar to you and well-tolerated. Avoid high fat and high-fiber foods.
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Are Your Workouts Making You Better, or Making You Tired?

Over the years, I have seen a lot of players who have been given well-designed programs by their strength and conditioning staff and then proceeded to do only the exercises that they enjoyed and omit those that they really needed to do. Usually, the ones they liked were a lot easier than those that they needed to. The programs provided were based on valid, scientific principles and proper exercise progressions. The exercises selected and the (more…)