September 2014 Newsletter

What the Beginning of the School Year REALLY Means To You

As a kid growing up in Burbank, CA, in the 70’s, there was a new park that had opened up in our city….Brace Canyon Park. It was a beautiful area of the city….up in the area of the hills overlooking a beautiful view of the Burbank airport (if you didn’t mind the fact that the smog in the 1970’s was so terrible that I always thought the airport was brown). It had an awesome playground of rock formations, longer than normal slides and swings that could launch you much too high for parent’s comfort levels with their children by today’s standards. It might very well have been the best park I have ever played at.

I remember fondly having the biggest blowout Labor Day weekend bbq’s every year with at least 20 families. There had to have been well over 70 people at our bbq’s and it made for some awesome football and softball games that both the parents and kids could participate at the same time. Hamburgers, hotdogs, watermelon slices, RC cola, A&W root beers…..and of course the parents had their Coors with the pull top rings that flowed like they were at Busch Gardens on a hot summer day (Boy, did that whole paragraph just go retro!) It was a perfect way to end the summer and to ring in the new school year.

Somewhere later in time, the school year started beginning at the end of August and just seemed to keep starting sooner and sooner. By my daughter’s school calendar this year, she started school on August 13th. Some schools started a little earlier than that and some a little later. Now, I don’t want to come across as being an old fogey however it has always seemed like school should start the day after Labor Day……the ‘official’ end of summer. If that makes me old school then so be it. It just seems right to have the kids go back then.

But what the earlier start to the school year means for children and teenagers playing sports is that the start of the athletic calendar starts earlier and earlier. Youth football started practicing in July!! Goodness gracious…..that is the half way point through summer while growing up. But now it is just before school starts up. And this is where the coaches of the programs and high schools start to get excited because we are starting up a new year of competition. The earlier start of the school year really means that baseball season starts up too…….for better or worse. And in many cases sadly worse.

Allow me to explain myself.

Some Guys Just Don’t Get It

‘Fall’ baseball for many HS, scout and travel teams begins in August. The high school players in the Santa Clarita Valley begin practicing when school starts – mid August – with both conditioning, ground balls, batting practice, bullpens and flat ground work. Inter squad games begin here in the next week. The scout ball and travel season in fact begins this Labor day weekend. GAMES……translated: sore arms more quick before you even literally get much into the Fall season.

In many ways, you cannot fault the coaches for all this going on. Many players just want to play games as often as they can. But there still has to be some culpability on the parts of everyone – players, parents, coaches and those tournament showcase directors who do not adjust the time of the year for the pitch counts and/or innings limits that should be put in place.

A periodization of training should be put in place. Players should be allowed to have time to get their bodies back in shape (though many never take any time off) and do some light to moderate strength training, sprint work and be trained to work on their flexibility and mobility with the help of a certified strength training person who works specifically in the world of baseball as much as they work as a weightlifting coach for the football team. Doing things in this manner allows a player to get their bodies back to a level of strength and mobility that will allow them to maintain physical health for what will become a very long season of practice and games.

This period of light to moderate throwing…..getting their swings back to form…..and eventually to light bullpens for our pitchers will insure a better way of development. Games get players better at putting on their uniform and trying to survive the stress of the game. But practice and training will allow players to become more proficient in their abilities……which then can be transferred into building their skill level (games).

Most coaches get these two terms and manners of training reversed. Ability precedes skill development……translated: Practice (Ability) precedes games (Skill). We need to train to get a better skill level (throwing harder, hitting the ball farther, running faster) but in most cases we do not. That is what the scout ball, travel and HS coaches do when they put the team together in mid-August then play games by the end of August. I am all for games but let’s wait for any type of inter squad or Labor day tournaments until we are more than ready for them. Both physically and mentally…….and for many emotionally too. The grind these kids go through is like professional ball players……much too much….without the pay.

What Do You Do Now?

It is time to get our players back into the development age of training. Remember Big Wheels, playbuilding a Fort, hide and go seek, bike riding, playing 3 sports a year? All of those things were ability development. We unknowingly became good athletes that ‘cross-trained’ in many different areas of health. The days of those activities and building ability have gone the route of the ice cream truck and full service gas stations

This is why we at ThrowZone Academy have our different types of warm ups….multiple arm care exercises…..throwing development and the like. It is not just sitting on a bucket to catch a bullpen. We can mix many different facets to the training aspect of throwing……(note: your hitting person SHOULD be doing the same thing…another discussion for another time).

We have group classes…..advanced classes…..we have our HUGE Elite Pitchers Boot Camp that is being held in October (see for more information). This is a big development camp for training brought to us by the best in the business who are flying in for 4 days of training. If there is one thing out of the year to learn how to build a better athlete then this event would be the one!

However, in this day and age, we have succumbed to Xbox, PS3, cell phones, Call of Duty and
Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. They are here to stay and I am glad for many of these areas of social media……always need to market…….but our kids need to get out and do different areas of training. We need for them to work on the areas they need the most improvement. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.

In August, my mentor and friend, Ron Wolforth, and his wife, Jill, and son, Garrett, were all at the highly prestigious Area Code Games in Long Beach for one of the biggest showcases of the year. Players from all over the United States were there. Some of the players will be on your favorite Major League team some day. Just incredible athletes and players.

Garrett….an incoming Junior in HS… a very high level catcher who has trained almost his entire life for this year in his career. Training is what G is very good at. He performed at the event very well. After this week long invite only event, he went to San Diego for one of the biggest Perfect Game showcases of the season. While at this event, G set the ALL TIME record for Perfect Games in their history with their catching pop times, velocity throws at his position and best velocity across the diamond……..the highest EVER recorded in their history. After Ron had texted me what had happened I innocently asked him “Now what happens?” His reply was the perfect example of what I have tried to convey to you in this month’s newsletter. He said “What the hell do you think we do? We get back to work to improve where he is at.”

How many of us can honestly say that as the answer to all the amazing things that Garrett did at this event? We get back to work to improve where he is at! An incredible answer to a simple question.

This is our how, what, why, where and when to all the questions we have to ask of ourselves towards the development of our children and players…….We get back to work to improve where he is at!

Let us help you get to where they need to be.

*Our classes are filling up…….call or email us today for days and times.

*Our Elite Pitchers Bootcamp is fast approaching. We have a few spots left for this amazing weekend.

*Before our camp, Coach Wolforth and his team will be having a 1 night coaching clinic at our facility on Thursday, October 16 at 5pm. It will a 3 hour clinic that will answer all of your questions to the world of arm health, velocity and training.

*Also, follow us on Twitter (@throwzone) and Facebook (at Jim Wagner’s ThrowZone Academy). We have a lot of information to share with you on both social media devices.

Until next time…….