Baseball Training Topic #3

Showcase Coming Up in a Couple Months? Here’s What You Need to be Doing NOW!

Great news! Your dream school is going to attend a showcase you signed up for this winter. Bad news… it’s the second week of Fall Baseball Training and you’re only hitting 75 mph off the mound… That’s not going to impress them very much, but you can certainly make plenty of progress in a few months to get on their radar. It takes a lot of dedication to building good habits and a lot of attention to detail and being consistent with your training.

Pinpoint your weaknesses and train accordingly.
You have to be as absolutely exact with your training if you want to increase your showcase numbers as quickly as possible. Also realize what methods of training will help increase velocity and speed numbers best and attack them consistently. If you lack size & strength: Get after it in the weight room. It’s no coincidence- those with the biggest numbers in the split squat, deadlift, press, etc. show the biggest velocities at Dream Big Athletics. What’s more, those who made the biggest jumps in the weight room (such as a 100 lb increase in the deadlift) all saw the biggest jumps on the radar gun. If you are big & strong, but lack speed: Focus more on rotational power and speed-based exercises. We utilized the Dynamic Effort method as well as Velocity Based Training for stronger athletes’ programs at Dream Big Athletics this year and saw some big results. These strong kids who were stuck in the mid-80’s were all able to break 90 mph on throwing and exit velocities. Make sure to perform rotational medicine ball throws on a consistent basis, as well as sprint variations, all done at maximal effort with optimal rest.

Optimize your sleep, nutrition and recovery.
The most beneficial piece to the puzzle of athletes making gains quickly is the one where most kids fail. I get it, I was a kid with school work, practice, a cell phone, and video games at one point- but all these distractions can take away from sleep and nutrition — two areas that directly impact a player’s performance! Struggle getting 8 hours of sleep per night? Start by building good habits. Put away distracting electronics and stick to a more strict sleep schedule. Go to bed early enough to achieve enough rest on school nights and to wake up early enough on weekends. This will ensure that you’ll be productive and promote adequate recovery from your training sessions. Struggle with eating a balanced diet or getting enough calories? Focus on eating the most nutrient-dense foods possible. Candy, chips, soda and energy drinks provide quick boosts of energy with huge crashes later. It’s hard to be productive and recover from your workouts with this bumpy roller coaster nutritional ride. Once you’ve found good foods to eat, it’s important to eat enough of them- especially if you’re trying to gain size and strength. Get into a caloric surplus with enough protein (about 0.8 g Protein per lb of Bodyweight). You may need to reevaluate your nutrition protocols if you are still skinny, cannot seem to put on weight, though you claim to “eat all the time.”

Tailor your baseball training to the showcase.
Most showcases run on a basic formula that is time-effective: giving each kid a handful of reps to show their stuff and that’s it. Well, if you’re performing a drill in a high-stress environment for the first time, you might not perform very well. Make sure to focus on these areas:
Pitchers: Your velocity is going to be the biggest deciding factor on what levels of schools will have interest in you. It’s a shame because many bodies aren’t done growing yet, and maximal velocities aren’t often achieved until players are in their early 20’s. Regardless, you have to play their game. Focus on throwing farther in long toss and harder for the radar gun, all while making sure to remain strong enough with adequate mobility to ensure that you will not get injured. As you address velocity, address as much movement and spin rate as possible on your pitches. After speaking with local college recruiters throughout the years, they all want to see glimpses of “stuff” and feel that they can teach you to locate it as you get into their program. Hitters: Most showcases will ask you to swing a wood bat in a batting practice setting. Batting practices vary — some BP pitchers throw firm, college or pro style pitches from 40 feet away. Players should be prepared to drive the ball in any batting practice scenario with a wood bat if you want to leave a good impression. Most kids rely solely on their metal bat; you can get ahead of the competition by training with a wood bat. Train for exit velocity and the 60 yard dash as well. We had plenty of athletes decrease their 60 times and increase exit velocities just by testing once per week. Defense: Understand that recruiters and scouts want to see your range and arm strength. Be prepared to take 4–6 ground balls or fly balls with maximal effort throws.

Cut out anything that is unnecessary.
Sometimes kids burn the candle at all ends. The reality is that every improvement you make on a stopwatch or radar gun will come about from getting stronger, optimizing mechanical efficiency and moving your body more explosively. All of those go hand-in-hand with proper strength training, power training and mobility work. Long distance running, throwing too much, playing in too many games, and going out late at night often will detract from the body’s ability to recover and move faster. Without cutting these out you run the risk of getting injured before the showcase or burning out your central nervous system, leaving you with decreased performance.

In closing:
 Focus on making your body improve through addressing your current weaknesses
 Address nutrition and sleep habits now
 Train for your showcase numbers on a consistent basis
 Pitchers address velocity and movement
 Hitters train with a
wood bat and increase exit velocity
 Train sprints to improve 60 yd dash, cut out long distance
 Focus your time and energy on what matters, cut out the unnecessary stuff

This article was written by Dream Big Athletics Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Lead Professional Baseball Instructor Bill Miller, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

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