January 2015 Newsletter

A very Happy New Year from all us associated with ThrowZone Academy. This should be a very big year for us in terms of expansion, new ideas, the start of our travel team program and, most importantly, how we will be working with your child in our facility.

Last month both Warren and I got a chance to attend the Texas Baseball Ranch Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp. The ideas and seminars presented really opened our eyes to what we believe is more productive work in the development of our students both on the mound and in the field. One of the most exciting topics shared with us at the training came from an athletic performance trainer, Franz Boesch, who hails from the Netherlands. Unlike most of his coaching contemporaries, baseball and other specialized sports played here in the United States are looked at by Franz with a sense of bewilderment. His bewilderment derives from the training protocols that most coaches adhere to, specifically, in the baseball world: Verbal cues that are constantly being repeated to students that do nothing in terms of development.

In Boesch’s training world and through his research in human anatomy and performance, the verbal cues that we tell players like “Keep your hands in front”….”Lift your front leg more”……”Get your hand out front more” ….will actually do more harm than good almost 400% of the time. The reason is the only true way to allow a player to get a better feel for what they are doing in human movement is the activation of the central nervous system (CNS). When we do an activity that allows the CNS to process the movement patterns of that activity and the player to truly utilize the muscles, connective tissue and all bonding parts of the body, we are allowing this unique system to truly feel and react in a way that is….in Boesch’s words….the ONLY way to train an athlete to perform better in that skill set they are working on.

In other words, verbal cues do NOT work when trying to get a player to do better in their results. Now, this might be a form of heresy for 100% of coaches because it is something that we have done our entire coaching life. When we played, we received verbal cues over and over and over again. But, according to Boesch, the best players have learned to make mistakes and try new ways to figure out the best way to create a successful movement pattern for themselves. Some pitchers may stride longer…..some shorter…..some will bring their hands over their heads and some will not. Is there a right way to do something? There is a better way to ALLOW players to train and that is to let them try many new things and fail….only to try it again and learn over and over until the feel they get is just part of the natural learning they go through. Think of it in terms of playing a round of golf. You might have a 20 handicap, however there are days when every shot you hit is just perfect. Ball placement is great…..swing feels effortless…..putting is amazing. It just happens. Until the next time you play and everything feels awful. You try different things but it just doesn’t click that day. The same things happen with our pitchers. Some days they are right on and some days they are not.

In development of pitchers, Boesch says that perfecting the right activities is something that is ongoing. You must try different things….different drills…..use multiple angles of throwing…..running around and stopping…then throwing will help activate the CNS. It is when the CNS is activated in this manner that learning accelerates and the learning curve lessens. At our facility, we have stopped teaching single movement patterns and allow players to get a feel for what they are doing by trying new things and……Learning by Failing. We promise that the results will be amazing.

We have incorporated the ‘wheel drill’ into our class structure. Though we do throw on the mound to a target, it is not the focus because we want to do a variety of things so that by the time a player gets to the mound there has been many different activations of their body in their throwing. The term that Boesch utilizes is Differential Learning. This type of training will become more of a focus in everything that we do in our classes. We also will be giving a notebook to every student so they can log everything they do into their workout including all the new drills that we will do. Weekly assignment sheets will re-start in order to give a throwing program for the player on a weekly basis.

In some exciting news for us, ThrowZone will be expanding in physical space within the next month (we will be announcing expansion in approximately 2 weeks). This will be terrific in what we will be able to offer in the totality of the baseball player. We will be expanding in our work with the players too, in the learning they will receive and the teaching that is in our plans. Along with these areas, we are just about ready to begin our 14 and under, 60 X 90, team that will include coaching from myself, Warren and the field manager, former collegiate player and current trainer and HS coach, Chris Caldwell. This team will be called TZAcademy Baseball Club…..TZA for short.

And as a final note, as the baseball season is upon us, our weekly classes are starting to fill up fast. Contact us today to schedule your class day.

You can follow all of our activities on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) as well as our website www.throwzone.com.

We wish you a blessed 2015!

Until next time,

Jim