3 – 6 – 3

‘Hey kid, you’re 10 years old, want to play in college? Stop playing other sports.” An exaggeration, maybe? But in today’s youth Sports World it’s sadly not far from the truth. Where working hard in season use to be the norm, now we have added summer tournament travel, off season leagues and year round instruction. And the result is, Specialization. Driven by the mantra “More is Better.” And more significantly the “Scholarship” train.

Here is the reality, “More” most often is simply working more, not necessarily harder and certainly not smarter. And less than 2% of high school athletes receive athletic scholarships. So what’s the answer? How do parents and young athletes make smart
choices concerning athletic development?

1. Play other sports

College coaches preach the value in playing multiple sports (speaks to athleticism and the ability and desire to compete) which juxtaposes the prevailing message delivered to parents and youth players by program directors and coaches, “You want to excel, you need to play year round.”

The benefits of being a multiple sport athlete are numerous:

  • Development of overall athleticism
  • Development of different individual motor skills, results in increased performance
  • Reduced rate of repetitive injuries, different sports require different movements
  • Less physical and emotional burn out
  • Learning how to compete on different stages, “no moment is too big”
  • Expand your Athletic and Emotional IQ by playing different sports, playing fordifferent coaches and playing with different teammates

2. The 3 – 6 – 3 Rule : You chose not to play another sport or do not have the option

  • First 3 months: Play your sport in season
  • Next 6 months: Develop your overall athleticism and sport specific skill set.
    a. Develop a training schedule which incorporates all of the following: Strength, Power, Speed, Balance, Agility
    b. Skill work: Identify your deficiencies and put together a program to improve these sport specific skills
    c. Incorporate games: Games play an important role. You learn what you can do and cannot do. Simply put, “you learn what you have learned and learn what you still need to learn.”
  • Next 3 months: Find a hobby, do community service, incorporate a passive training schedule. Create balance and perspective to create improved physical, mental and emotional health.

For all athletes here is why it’s not only about games when it comes to Athletic Development
Team Practice/Individual Lessons is an athlete’s Classroom Instruction
– Individual Practice is the athlete’s Homework
– The Game is the athlete’s Test.

The above three components are equally vital to the athletic learning and developmental Process. Any off season plan must incorporate all three, to ensure the athlete is working not only hard but smart. No student will learn just taking tests. No athlete will improve just playing games.

Working Smart

  • Play multiple sports if you have the ability
  • Play one sport, use the 3-6-3 rule
  • Work to develop both your athleticism and individual skill set
  • Find a talented instructor who is a “ teacher”
  • Understand and just as importantly be realistic about your athletic ability and ceiling
  • Incorporate the 3 components: Team Practice , Individual Practice and Games
  • Take time off to be a non-athlete: Create balance and perspective to improve your physical, mental and emotional health

The Athletic Process: Leaning How to Compete
To view the Athletic Process segment visit Tap Corner at athleticpitcherseries.com

10 Tips for Youth Sports Parents

10 Tips for Youth Sports Parents

The 2 Big C’s: Command and Change Up

Young pitchers stop worrying about your velocity and start working on your on your command and change up, the Pitching Foundation.  Velocity is the result of building a solid foundation,  a fluid athletic throwing motion and fundamental conditioning to enhance strength, power, balance and agility.  “Build this and it will come.”

A 2-0 count 85-90 mph fastball makes a .250 hitter a .350 hitter.

  • Command controls the count and keeps the hitter guessing
  • Change of Speed/Change Up keeps the hitter off balance.

The 2 keys to pitching:

1. Keep the hitter guessing.
2. Disrupt the hitter’s timing

How to develop Command: Fundamental Steps

1. Develop a fluid athletic throwing motion.

  • A motion which maximizes the use  of the lower body to create a relaxed  arm path to reduce stress on the arm
  • An athletic motion which relies on lower body energy ( ground up) rather than upper body energy (waist up) thereby allowing for a more fluid, efficient and repeatable motion.
  • An athletic motion which thereby enables the pitcher to create a more consistent arm slot and release

2. Playing catch

  • Working on throwing different pitches
  • Throwing to different targets to train the eye

3. Efficient bullpen sessions which

  • Focus on developing fastball command
  • Middle, in/out, high/low

Develop Change Up

1. Start by playing catch

  • Getting familiar with grip and throwing with fastball motion
  • Alternate fastball /change up
  • Begin throwing change up to spots

2. Bullpen

  • Start by throwing 5- 10 change ups at a time
  • Begin to alternate with fastballs
  • Work on change up location ahead and behind in the count
  • Incorporate into pitch selection when throwing to a batter to simulate game situation

A change up is the most effective change of speed pitch, same release and spin as fastball. A curve ball has the ability to effect a hitters timing (off front foot) and eye level but does not have the same impact as a change up regarding deception as it relates to fastball velocity. The 2nd pitch in a young pitcher’s tool box should and needs to be a change up.

The Athletic Pitcher: Improving Arm Health, Improving Performance
“A Complete Guide to Pitching, all for the cost of a half hour pitching lesson.”

For more information and to view the benefits of developing an Athletic Throwing motion and training program visit athleticpitcherseries.com

The 3 “Hows”

The 3 major factors concerning arm health and the risk of arm injury.
How you Throw …How much you Throw ……How often you Throw

Here is a list from a prominent national organization highlighting the contributing factors to youth pitching injuries.

  • Pitching While Fatigued
  • Throwing Too Many Innings over the Course of the Year
  • Not Taking Enough Time off from Baseball Every Year
  • Throwing Too Many Pitches and Not Getting Enough Rest
  • Pitching on Consecutive Days
  • Excessive Throwing When Not Pitching
  • Playing for Multiple Teams at the Same Time
  • Pitching With Injuries to Other Body Regions
  • Not Following Proper Strength and Conditioning Routines
  • Not Following Safe Practices While at Showcases
  • Throwing Curveballs and Sliders at a Young Age
  • Radar Gun Use

Glaringly missing is:
Develop an Athletic throwing motion to reduce the stress on a young pitcher’s arm and enable them to have a healthier and more productive pitching career.

How much and How often a young pitcher throws are both vital components of this issue and must be addressed with vigilance. However, showcases, summer travel and the radar gun are here to stay. The genie is out of the bottle and honestly there is too much money to be made on the “Scholarship Express.” To quote a famous expression, “Build it and they will come.”

Not putting “Develop a fluid Athletic Throwing Motion” at the top of anyone’s list belies all logic and common sense. Throwing a baseball is the most violent motion is sports. Yes, the above guidelines serve to educate coaches, players and parents in an attempt to decrease the prevalence and growth of youth pitching injuries. However, as with all sports instruction, the goals of staying healthy and maximizing one’s productivity always begins with “How to.” Learning the proper fundamental motion and athletic movements which serve as the foundation to minimize the athlete’s risk of injury and maximize their performance.

Yes , over use and lack of rest are key factors in promoting arm health. But whether a young pitcher throws 10 pitches or 110 pitches it is imperative that they learn how to throw the baseball with an Athletic motion , which creates energy from the ground up not the waist up.

The greater the energy created by the lower body, the less energy required of the arm.
The less energy required of the arm, the less stress on the arm and most importantly …the less the risk of arm injury.

The Athletic Pitcher: Improving Arm Health, Improving Performance
“A Complete Guide to Pitching, all for the cost of a half hour pitching lesson.”

For more information and to view the benefits of developing an Athletic Throwing motion and training program visit athleticpitcherseries.com

The Athletic Pitcher: Building a Foundation

When I meet parents and ask how their son (pitcher) is doing, their typical response is, “Great, he it 88 on the radar gun yesterday. My initial response is, “Can I see the radar gun?” Followed by, 1.”How is his fastball command,” and 2. ’Does your son throw a change up?” They most often respond with a confused look.

In a world where glitz and sizzle sell, the message to youth pitchers is that it’s all about velocity. Velocity dictates the scorecard, not the ability to master the most important tenets of pitching: Command, Movement and Change of Speed.

While Velocity may be appealing and what the market sells today, the ability to master the latter three tenets of pitching will in the long run separate you from the pack. Patience is a virtue, so trust the Process. As you develop physically so will your velocity, as long as you have established a solid foundation. I recognize “being patient” is not readily embraced in today’s culture, however Velocity should be and will be the product of a fundamentally sound learning and developmental Process.

Mastering the correct foundational technique/movement, will allow you to maximize your efforts and goals and importantly reduce the risk of injury.

When youth, high school and college pitchers, struggle with command, movement, change of speeds and velocity more often than not it is the result of utilizing a flawed throwing motion. Most commonly their motions result in:

  • Poor use of the lower half resulting in little or no lower body energy.
  • Poor timing
  • Poor arm path increases the stress on the arm and increases the risk of arm injury
  • “The body is not allowing the arm to do what the arm needs to do.”

Instead of focusing on the radar gun, I recommend implementing the following steps to utilize as part of your Developmental Process.

  • Develop a fluid athletic throwing motion
  • For young pitchers the focus is throwing strikes.
  • Develop fastball command
  • As you develop, expand your command from middle to in/out, high/low
  • Develop change up command: both 2-0 and 1-2 counts
  • Develop 2 seem fastball command: away/in for both RH/LH
  • Develop curve ball command: 2-0 and 1-2 counts
  • As you develop your pitching “Tool Box” you will expand your ability to Think the Game

Strength and Conditioning

  • Develop fundamental strength to support an Athletic Throwing motion. Lower body focus to support the maximum use of the lower body throughout the motion.
  • Remember you are a pitcher, not a football lineman or Olympic weightlifter
  • Focus on Balance, Speed and Agility to allow you to stay athletic throughout the throwing motion

The Athletic Pitcher: Improving Arm Health, Improving Performance
“A Complete Guide to Pitching, all for the cost of a half hour pitching lesson.”

For more information and to view the benefits of developing an Athletic Throwing motion visit athleticpitcherseries.com

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