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Why Grip Strength?

Grip strength has been an integral part of conditioning for baseball for decades. Why? Because years of practical experience and scientific research indicate that grip strength can have a significant effect on offensive performance in professional baseball players. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (1), 343 professional baseball players in the Texas Rangers organization (more…)

Put Stadium Stairs in Your Tool Box

A previous posting, Running Stairs for Conditioning, explained the benefits of running stadium stairs, outlined the basic rules for stair training and presented a safe and effective stair training workout. While running stadium stairs has been shown be an effective way to condition athletes, you don’t have to run the stairs to get a significant training effect. The following program has been shown to be an effective in-season way to improve lower body strength and conditioning, especially when the team is on the road and access to resistance training equipment is limited. (more…)

Nutrients and Timing for the Perfect Athlete’s Snack

Although science weakly (at best) supports snacking for health in the general population, regular snacking by collegiate and professional athletes can improve performance in both sports and academics.

The Importance of Snacking for Athletes 

Collegiate athletes have higher energy needs than nonathletic peers, making it harder to consume their required daily calories through only three meals. This places importance on snacks as a strategy for obtaining additional nutritious foods. Moreover, demanding schedules of classes and sports make it unlikely to have three sit-down meals each day, so planned snacks may be even more important to ensure optimal nourishment. (more…)

Running Stairs for Conditioning

Regardless of whether you are at home or on the road, running stairs and stadium steps are effective ways to get your athletes in shape, keep them in shape and provide an alternative to running sprints on the field. Before you start asking your athletes to sprint up the nearest staircase, there are some basic do’s and don’ts for stair running workouts. While simply running up and down a good flight of stairs will give your athletes a good workout, there are some basic rules for stair climbing that can help maximize results and minimize the risk of injury.   (more…)

Speed Facts

Speed* is one of the five tools that scouts, coaches and management look for when evaluating talent, and the only tool that is used on both offense and defense in game situations. Everyone appreciates the importance of speed, but how much do we actually know about speed in game situations. The following information was obtained by measuring times from home plate to first base on both home and opposing teams during MLB games for over 20 years and is presented to help coaches and players understand how speed is used during game situations. (more…)

Getting Your Game Face On

During my five plus decades in professional baseball as a player, special advisor, club president, CEO and team owner, I’ve known a lot of players, especially pitchers, who started getting their game face on a day ahead of when they were scheduled to pitch. I didn’t. I would get focused and prepared, but my work came in the four or five days between starts. I was usually more relaxed than ever just before going out to warm up before a game. That was the time I felt the best because I knew that I had worked hard and was confident that I was prepared. I learned early in my career that the only thing that I could control in baseball was my preparation, and I never wanted to start a game knowing that the opposition was better prepared than I was. When I went out there to warm up, all the preparation was behind me and I had a job to do. Once I started to concentrate on doing my job, I switched gears and my game face went on.

gameface (more…)

The Relevance and Importance of Speed Reserve in all Sports

Having worked with sprinters and speed athletes for most of my life, I am always fascinated at how making an athlete faster can benefit them in many ways. One of the key concepts passed on to me by Charlie Francis was the concept of “Speed Reserve”. By training an athlete to be faster, you can increase his or her abilities not only in the max acceleration and max speed realm, but also for all of the sub-max speed activities that occur in the spectrum below max performance abilities. As illustrated in the diagram below, if you can increase an athlete’s max acceleration and speed, all of that athlete’s sub-max capabilities will be elevated as well. Thus, an athlete that runs a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds will find it very easy to cruise around the field at a velocity equivalent to a 4.7-second 40-yard dash.

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The Value of Timing Speed

Speed is one of the five tools that scouts, coaches and management look for when evaluating talent, but one of the most neglected skills in the player development process. I realized the value of timing speed in college. We were running sprints in football and the first sprint was at half-speed, the second was at 60% and the third was 70%. The plan was to progressively increase speed every rep up to 100%. At approximately 80% of full speed I was out in front and based on my running speed at the time, there was no way I should have been out in front compared to the rest of the team. As we crossed the finish line, a big lineman picked me up by the shirt and said, “You idiot! The only difference between full speed and half speed is that you run at the same velocity, but make an uglier face!” I then realized that when training for speed, the only way to ensure quality of effort is to time every sprint.

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