Pitching Performance Seminar Recap

This article is a review of a seminar in Boston, MA regarding improving pitching performance and injury prevention in pitchers.

A Review by Cassie Reilly-Boccia

What’s up AW geniuses. Recently Coach Brandon and I hopped in the car and drove up to Boston, MA to learn more about baseball pitching. If you know anything about Brandon or myself you’d know that neither of us played baseball. At least I have been involved in the realm having played softball my entire life (still, the art of overhand pitching is quite foreign to me). Brandon, on the other hand, has been invested in football – a far distance away on the spectrum of baseball pitching. With that being said, Brandon and I as strength and conditioning coaches have a responsibility to our athlete’s movements and needs. Many of our male athletes this fall are baseball pitchers, in particular those associated with the Male ALPHA pitching program that spans six months throughout the year. It is thus imperative that our entire staff become entrenched in the fundamental needs of our athletes in their sport and position. Not for just the interest of teaching them, but also so that we can support Coach Nick’s pitching program with an educated ‘think tank’ on these topics. After becoming aware of this pitching performance seminar with professionals such as Mike Reinold, Brent Porciau, and Lance Wheeler, it was a no-brainer to take the day to improve ourselves as movement specialists. The purpose of this article is to recap what we learned at the seminar, specifically Mike Reinold’s talk, in order to shed light on the new research being presented within the world of baseball pitching as well as continue to educate our community of professionals, athletes, and parents on the WHY behind what we do what we do at Athletes Warehouse. So, without further ado, enjoy the following recap:

Mike Reinold

Talk Title: Setting the Foundation

About the speaker:

    • Was a prodigy of Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, AL (insert link of Andrews clinic)
    • Won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox as their athletic trainer
  • Now works as a PT @ [Insert place of employment]

Key points on the rise of injury in the sport of baseball:

    • Since ’05-’08 the incidence of injury in baseball pitchers has increased 37%
  • There has been a 10x increase in youth injury rate
    • 193% increase in UCL injuries in New York from ’02-’11

So, why is this happening? There is more research going on about training, we all know not to ‘specialize’ in order to avoid an overuse injury yet we are seeing injuries go through the roof. What about velocity? In the last 10-15 years, the average velocity of an MLB fastball has increased from 85mph to 93mph. So, the question remains, are we in the velocity era of baseball pitching or the injury era of baseball pitching?

Reinold’s Facts about Baseball pitching injury:

  • Injuries correlate to 1 thing and 1 thing only: Overuse
      • By pitching <100 innings in a season, you can decrease your chance of injury by 3x
      • By pitching <80 pitches an outing, you can decrease your chance of injury by 4x
    • By pitching less than 8 months out of the year, you can decrease your injury rate by 5x

Important delineation: Is playing catch the same thing as pitching? NO. Overuse injuries are a combination of quantity and intensity. By having a catch with a friend every day, despite the quantity being high, the intensity is fairly low. Thus, having a catch will be exponentially less stressful than pitching with intent each day.

Creating a plan to solve the problem: A baseball pitcher has four aspects that contribute to their success: (1) Age & Maturity, (2) Arm Care, (3) Strength and Conditioning, (4) Mechanics

When taking into account all four of these aspects to managing a healthy and effective baseball pitcher, we can then begin to translate this model to other sports. Key takeaways: Always keep in mind the athlete’s physical maturity as well as psychological maturity, chronological age does not tell the entire story. You can be the strongest athlete in the world but if you lack the proper arm care you will only be generating tremendous force on a system that can’t handle or support the impact. Strength and conditioning is a necessity when it comes to developing any skilled athlete. With this industry, it is important to seek out individuals who are able to take a scientific based and professional approach to safely and effectively managing the youth athlete. Finally, mechanics which are governed by the world of physics, dictate the overarching principles that we teach for each pitcher to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

Pitching performance is really important for pitchers. Pitching performance is cool. Pitching performance will improve your pitching performance while on the mound. Pitching performance can be improved by a variety of exercises that will improve your pitching performance. This guy talks a lot about pitching performance.

A Letter of Thanks…

by Cassie Reilly-Boccia

So many of us ask each other what we’re thankful for around this time of year. As I sit and reflect upon all I have to be grateful for, I can’t help but find my mind circling back to our family of athletes at AW. With this being on my mind, I felt compelled to write a thank you note to our community who has meant so much to us over these last few years. So, without further ado…

Dear AW family,

Thank you for taking a chance on a warehouse in the middle of Pleasantville. Thank you for being willing to learn about the importance of strength and conditioning opposed to just accepting the previously established norms of training young athletes. There is a paralyzing amount of information on the internet that can lead to confusion beyond measure as to what the right thing to do in training is. Don’t for a second think that we don’t understand the enormity of you entrusting us with your dreams. It has become the greatest reward to watch you succeed in all that you do. Your success is our success and as Randy Pausch once said, “Sometimes, the, ‘Enabling the dreams of others’ thing is even more fun.” (If you haven’t read his book, The Last Lecture yet, I highly recommend it.) As each coach is a former collegiate athlete, we all couldn’t agree more and we would have never had a chance to experience this awesome feeling had you not handed over part of your dream to us when you first walked in the door.

Thank you for your appreciation. You have no idea how much a handshake at the end of a session or a simple, ‘Thanks for everything, coach’ means to us. Strength and conditioning is hard. Instead of resenting what is prescribed by your coach, you instead see the value and intent behind each exercise. Putting your body through physical discomfort in the short term in order to achieve a dream far off in the long term is the ultimate definition of delayed gratification. Seeing how you all appreciate and embrace ‘the suck’ of a workout during these fall and winter months shows a great deal of emotion and psychological maturity. Traits that will undoubtedly serve you well in all of your future endeavors.

Lastly, thank you for giving the effort you do on a daily basis. Your continuous fight when the weight gets heavy, push when your breath becomes short, and passion to achieve a level of greatness higher than the one you are currently at inspires us as coaches each and every day. It is because of your tenacity and grit that we are driven to work harder ourselves and aspire to become better coaches, mentors, teachers, athletes, and people. It is because of you that we go to sleep thinking about the program that will best suit you the next day. It is because of you that we wake up in the morning fired up at the opportunity to work with you. Lastly, it is because of you that we possess the most vital trait to leading a happy and fulfilled life: purpose. Thank you for giving us our purpose, defining our why, and making this the best ‘job’ any of us could have ever asked for. From our family to yours, we hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

What I learned at AW that helped me train on my own…

by Alessandra Ahlmen

I started training at Athlete’s Warehouse (AW) when it first opened in June 2014. Over three years later, I am still learning something new every time I have a session. Like most learning cycles, there came a time to put all of this knowledge to the test. For me, that test was moving to Sweden to play for Älta IF, a division 1 team in Stockholm. Upon arrival, I faced the challenge of training on my own without the guidance from a coach of motivation from my peers. Luckily, Coach Cassie was able to give me a training program to follow every day. However, having just a program of exercises is not enough, I had to learn to be my own coach and how to train on my own. I would not have been able to take this step had it not been for everything I learned at AW and training with Alpha*.

*Alpha is a group of driven female athletes that were grouped into a strength and conditioning program over the summer.

There are four main lessons that I took from training at AW that have made me a more self-motivated and aware athlete today. 

1. Challenging yourself

At Alpha, I was always challenged: someone I was working out with always ran a faster sprint, lifted a heavier weight, or had a more explosive first step. Everyone was striving to be the best at whatever we were doing regardless of sport, position, or talent level. On my own, I have to constantly monitor and remember to challenge myself: trying for a heavier weight, demanding a better sprint, or pushing to be more powerful than my last rep even when I begin to fatigue. Alpha’s competitive environment helped me hone a focused and driven edge that I can now use to challenge myself in all aspects of my life.

2. Rest

AW coaches and athletes (specifically Marina Kern) taught me to take short breaks—to push my limits and body in order to truly find out what I was capable of achieving. Marina probably wouldn’t even take any breaks if a coach didn’t make her. Now in Sweden, I have to be extra aware that I continue to do that even when I am by myself because there is not anyone here telling me to get a move on. It is really easy to slack off and take an extra minute, but AW helped me realize that a champion is made up of the minutes they trained, not the ones they rested.

3. Ego

I am sure most athletes at AW have had a coach preach their motto “leave your ego at the door” at them. Upon arrival, there’s a giant sign with the saying “Starve the Ego”– this theme at AW is hard to miss.

Being told to remove a plate, or lower a box jump is not fun to hear, and as a matter of fact, is sometimes annoying. However, as far as lessons go, this is an important one. Ego does not improve your 40 time or increase your max back squat, a smart approach to training does. On my own, I have to make the decisions to change something if my form is slipping. At times like that, I need to take a step back, ignore my ego, and remind myself that it is more important to do something properly rather than doing something with a big weight. It’s not about how much weight you move but how you move the weight!

4. Form

Speaking of quality technique, at AW, I always had a coach eyeing my every movement and making sure my form was no less than perfect. I learned each technique like the back of my hand before I added weight. I learned what “right” felt like. Having the coach’s corrections and tips during lifting was important because it taught me to identify technical mistakes as they were happening and correct them.

I am happy I learned all of this awareness because in Sweden I don’t have the luxury of someone keeping an eye on my form at all times. I know what it feels like to be doing something right and how to fix it if something feels wrong.

AW also taught me to take critiques and suggestions about my form openly; which has proved to be only a big help when alone. For example, just last Thursday I was doing hex-bar deadlifts, and one of the workers at the gym walked by and told me I wasn’t locking my back enough. Thanks to AW I had the proper growth mindset that let me take this in while also having the competence to put their advice to use.

Athletes should make it their mission to learn something new every time they train at AW. It’s actually pretty easy to do this even without trying. All of the coaches are full of knowledge and are just waiting to teach and help their athletes grow (I should know, I’ve asked more than my fair share of questions). I have yet to hear an answer or explanation that was not clearly backed up by extensive background knowledge and experience. Athlete’s Warehouse is like the world’s greatest library for fitness and biomechanics, and everyone should take advantage of it. I can’t wait to be back training and learning this December.

Being able to train on my own is great because it gives me the ability of being able to train on my own. If I don’t have a coach, being able to train on my own allows me to train on my own when I don’t have a coach.

From Athlete to Coach

This article is about Jack Gladstone’s experience in his transition from an athlete to a coach at AW, and how he was watched the culture of Athletes Warehouse grow and evolve.

A letter from a coach to current Athletes Warehouse athletes

by Coach Jack Gladstone

Before there was a physical presence of a building that we all know as Athletes Warehouse, the culture of Athletes Warehouse had been forming since 2012. A bunch of high school and college athletes training out of a barn in the middle of the summer (might I add with no A/C). Our equipment was limited to some barbells, kettlebells, and pull up bars. However, regardless of the conditions this group was wholeheartedly devoted to the training program under one of our coaches and owners, Nick Serio.

As an Athlete, training in the barn was tremendously important to my collegiate athletic career. As I look back, I’m unsure if I would have made it through four years of varsity lacrosse without it. I was becoming faster, stronger, more powerful, and more confident as an athlete. From the start of the summer of 2013 to the winter of 2015 my strength and power numbers skyrocketed. On paper, I was a completely different athlete. Every time I showed up to school after training for numerous weeks in that barn with Nick, I had the confidence that I was faster and stronger than the previous semester. Looking back at pre-training pictures from my freshman year, I hysterically laugh at the image I see. To sum up the image in short, I just looked like a kid that could use a cheeseburger. Since beginning my athletic transformation, I have achieved things that I would never have accomplished under my own programming.

As my college career ended, and I began coaching at Athletes Warehouse, I realized the most important thing that being one of the first Athletes Warehouse athletes had taught me. Sure I had learned how to squat, clean, and sprint at an elite level, which is all incredibly important, but above all else, I learned how to BE and ACT like an Athlete. I learned what it truly meant to be an athlete. These are the things that are important, beyond what your Pro-Agility time is. Without acting like an athlete, you’ll never even make it to the starting line. So here is my list of things I learned from athletes warehouse on how to BE an athlete.

  1. Be a good person. No matter how good you are at your sport, at the end of your career if you didn’t take time to strive to be a good person you’re going to look back and no one is going to be standing there with you.
  1. Put the right things in your body. If you’re one of our athletes here and you are still unsure of what, when, and how much to eat before and after your training session, please go see Tim.
  1. Wherever you may be training or practicing, never give your coach half an effort. With the attitude that the Athletes Warehouse coaches put forth to me and every other athlete that comes through the door, the athlete should supersede that.
  1. Do not be afraid to identify and attack a weakness. It does not matter whether it is attacking physical weaknesses but also lifestyle and habitual weaknesses.
  1. To the the College and High school kids, be a good athlete, be an even better student. Just like all those coaches who put in time and effort over the years to develop your skills on the field, think about how many teachers invested years in developing you into the well-educated individual you are today.
  1. When you’re having a bad day, whether it be on the field, in the classroom, or in the weight room, make it only your bad day. Understand the impact that your attitude can have on others.
  1. Lastly, understand your “WHY”! Take the time to think about why you are playing the game. In my honest opinion, most athletes that I coach here originally do not come here with a “why”. I believe when a coach helps an athlete to understand their “why”, they unlock a whole new motivated machine. An athlete who is performing exercises without a purpose is just working out. An athlete who is exercising with a purpose is training. An athlete must understand this in order to put forth an effort and approach to each training day that is going to continually progress them to a higher level in the sport or skill that they are trying to enhance.

To all the AW Athletes out there, this is my message to you. As a former AW Athlete, turned AW Coach, I hope to see more of the same in the future. As someone who has been an Athlete and Coach here, I can wholeheartedly say that this program develops young athletes in a different way. I am so envious of the early exposure that our younger athletes have to our program because I am incredibly grateful for what AW provided me. The future of the AW athlete is extraordinary. I am honored to be a part of the process and I am humbled by the incredible athletes that I coach on an everyday basis.

The Culture of Athletes Warehouse is Cool. The Culture of athletes warehouse is awesome. The culture of Athletes warehouse, which some refer to as the culture of athletes warehouse, is world renowned for being the culture of athletes warehouse.

12 Strength Exercises Your SPRINTER Should Be Doing

This article provides twelve exercises to improve sprinting speed in athletes, as well as other information regarding how to sprint faster.

by Matt June

Stiff Leg Deadlift

This exercise is very specific to sprinting as we are eccentrically loading the hamstrings/glutes and quickly driving up through hip extension.  Beginners to this exercise start lighter and progress this movement.  Use a tempo on the way down (3-4 seconds) and drive up fast by extending the hip to meet the bar at the top. 

Wide Stance Box Squat

Setting a box just below parallel (an inch or two), complete this exercise with a wider stance than you normally squat from.  Be sure to sit back to the box and have your knees slightly behind your toes.  By doing so we are now squatting properly and using our glutes and hamstrings to drive out of the bottom.  This exercise is tremendous for teaching how to squat properly but you are now working on two major muscle groups vital to sprint performance.  Use this exercise as a staple and keep your reps between 2-4, staying between 70-80% of your 1 RM.

90 degree Front Squat

We want to load this between 75-85% of 1 Rep Max and the focus is moving the weight fast out of the bottom position.  We’re calling this “90 degrees” only to imply that we are not getting to the very bottom of our squat.  Unlike the Wide Stance Box Squat, our focus here is the leg extensors (quadriceps) and the concentric action of the squat.  At the same time, we are using the stretch-shortening cycle to quickly reverse eccentric to concentric action (same as in a sprint).  Bar speed is more important than weight on the bar for this exercise.

Hip Thruster

We use this exercise specifically for hip extension and we can achieve both power and strength with this movement.  Specific to sprinting this is an exercise that will improve the acceleration phase of our sprint (where the majority of athletes will spend the most time in their sport)

DB Walking Lunge

Specific for sprinting, this exercise is great because of multiple things going on at once.  One we have a single leg exercise, we are moving in the horizontal direction, we have to decelerate on the way down, accelerate as we come up and drive forward to the next step.  By using dumbbells we now have a stability aspect, not allowing our torso to move side to side. 

Single Leg DB Calf Raise

One of the most forgot about exercises for sprinters / all athletes.  This industry dwells on the hamstring and quad for knee health yet we always forget whats underneath the knee…the calf.  This is just one example of a calf exercise you can easily do with little equipment.  Plain and simple you need to train the calf, every other day. 

Heavy KB Swings

Heavy, challenge yourself with weight for this exercise (when our form and technique is perfect and ready to use heavier loads).  Very similar to the Hip Thruster, except this exercise is now standing and we can work on horizontal power.  Again, we are working on decelerating load and accelerating load (Sprinting). 

Heavy 1 Arm KB Walks

A simple exercise that can easily be done incorrectly.  We are doing this for anti-rotation purposes.  In sprinting our torso must avoid rotation as we are trying to move in the horizontal direction.  With this exercise, we can work on just that and can be down as a superset with another big exercise from this list. 

Heavy Sled Towing

If you are going to take away any exercise from this list, take this exercise.  Start lighter and progress the weight, dragging for sets of about 50-80 yards.  When you are towing make sure you have a slight lean of the torso (acceleration/start phase) and you are making contact with the ground behind your hip.  This exercise is phenomenal for acceleration and really should be done with all athletes.

Weighted Sled Block Starts

This exercise is more specific to sprinters coming out of blocks but it can still be done with athletes struggling to stay horizontal in their first few steps of a sprint.  The load does not need to be too heavy, we need to be able to fire out of the blocks and drive the sled about 5-10 yards (no further).  This exercise is concerned with our initial first step and staying aggressive for our 2nd,3rd,4th,5th…etc.  Do this exercise as a warm-up or superset with a barbell exercise from the list. 

Plyoball Hamstring Curl

Plyoball or machine we need to be doing leg curls.  Focus on the eccentric portion (about 3-5 seconds to return to the starting position).  The reason we like the plyoball is because now you have a stability aspect and you have to control your whole body while completing the leg curl.  Superset this exercise with the squat or use right before the squat. 

Reverse Hyper

The all mighty exercise for everyone, not just athletes.  We get therapeutic and strength sides of the same exercise.  Therapeutic – we are getting spinal traction or decompression (relieving pressure of the spine), this is the eccentric component.  The Concentric component of this exercise works the entire posterior chain at the same time.  We have hamstring, glute and back extension all at once.  This is not only an exercise that can help you become faster, this exercise is just as important for injury prevention. 

I want to know how to sprint faster. You want to know how to sprint faster. We all want to know how to sprint faster. I was curious as to how to sprint faster, can you teach me how to sprint faster?