Timing is Everything

We’ve spent an entire offseason breaking down swings, creating new approaches, working on hips, hands, and feet — and we’ve seen major progress. We’ve taken thousands of swings, spent countless amounts of time on the tee, flips, soft toss, and BP. Over the few dozen players we’ve worked with, we’ve seen a significant increase in bat speed, exit velocity, hand speed, and consistency in balls being barreled. We’re very satisfied with the amount of work we’ve seen from hitters across the board and are pumped to finally get to see it in action on game day!

As we approach the first few games of the high school season, players are going to be challenged with one aspect of hitting that is a constant — figuring out timing. Players are now transitioning from 45 ft batting practice at 60 mph, to 60 ft 6 in live pitching with speeds that will vary from 70-90 mph. This is going to be a challenge. And the fact of the matter is, some hitters take a little bit longer to make that adjustment than others. While it’s completely understandable that you want to come out of the gates and hit 4 ropes on opening day, it’s also very realistic that you may be a little out in front, a little late, or are just having trouble processing when to begin your load off of live pitching. This isn’t anything new and it’s nothing at all to be worried about.

“Good hitting is timing, good pitching is disrupting timing”

It is going to take TIME to figure out your TIMING and that’s completely expected. So how are you going to do this?

  1. Stand in the box while pitchers throw bullpens

    It’s totally acceptable for a player to ask a pitcher to stand in the box while the pitcher throws a bullpen. Hitters can work on tracking pitches, work on separation and timing, and get a better sense of comfort without even swinging a bat.

  2. Take live at-bats during practice.

    This is a must. Live at-bats are meaningless in the sense of batting average and give hitters a chance to work on picking up pitches, taking pitches, and a chance to make the necessary adjustments for when games start.

  3. Have an on deck approach.

    You can swing a weighted bat in slow motion while talking to guys in the dugout. OR, you can work timing on deck. It’s really that simple. Time spent on deck is so valuable and it’s often the most overlooked part of hitting. Use this time to see pitchers tendencies, how he separates his hands, what he looks like in the stretch vs the wind up, create a game plan and get to see free pitches!

  4. Identify your issue (are you late/early) and work on your approach.

    Timing is timing. You can be late or you can be early. Before you begin to work through your timing issues, identify it. Are you late to recognize breaking balls? Are you late on fastballs? Are you having trouble pulling the trigger? Identify what is going on with your swing before you start to breakdown mechanics.

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These are all achievable tasks that can ‘speed up’ the process of getting your timing down. Good luck this season boys, and be on time!

Videoing yourself hitting can be invaluable in determining timing issues and problems in your swing. Let us take the video for you! Contact us today to set up live game filming or an individual session.


Off Season Training Series Part 3: Top Strength Training Exercises for Baseball Players

Outside of developing your baseball specific skills, if you are not in the weight room, you can expect your power, velocity, and speed to reach a plateau. In the final segment of our 3-part off seasoning training series, we’ll dive a little deeper into the good stuff — the weight room.


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There are literally hundreds of exercises that can accelerate your game to the next level, but right now we’re going to focus on 3 exercises that are an absolute must for every serious baseball player. 

Squat

Want to throw harder? Squat. Want to run faster? Squat. Want to hit with more power? Squat. There is no exercise with more benefits to an athlete than the squat. The squat is a taxing and demanding exercise on every facet of the human body. Aside from developing quadriceps, hamstrings, back and trunk, squats create an anabolic environment in the body that triggers a release of both testosterone and growth hormone, thus resulting in an increase in lean muscle mass creating a more powerful athlete. Squats not only build lean muscle mass, but also burns fat, challenges balance and mobility, and build core strength. 

If you’re not squatting, you’re not working out.

Deadlift

Pick things up and put them down. Deadlifting is so incredibly beneficial to the general population, but also extremely vital to an athlete. In order to perform a deadlift, your body is required to utilize resources from EVERY MAJOR MUSCLE GROUP. Not only does the deadlift target your hamstrings and glutes, which are both essential muscle groups to perform most athletic activities, it also recruits assistance from your back and requires a demanding grip strength, resulting in a crucial exercise for serious athletes. 

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Med Ball

Rotational athletes (i.e. baseball players) require rotational movements if they are going to see a transfer of power from the weight room to the baseball field. While overall strength training is beneficial, if you aren’t moving in a rotational pattern with force in the weight room, how are you doing to do it when the game is on the line? Heavy medicine ball work and core stabilization are going to carry athletes through demanding workouts as their strength progresses, as well as work as a solid foundation that will keep them strong all season long.  


So that’s it. Training in the off season is not just hitting the weight room and bench pressing until exhaustion. Plyos, Core work and Strength Training combined will help you become the best athlete on the field.

It's best to find a Certified Personal Trainer, with a background of working with baseball players or athletes, to discuss a customizable plan to help you reach a specific goal. Stay tuned for the release of our FREE eBook with a more in-depth training plan.

3 Ways a Baseball Injury Can Actually Help You

Yesterday I had a phone call with the father of a 2020 Grad, who had just found out his son has a UCL Tear. As many people know, a UCL is your Ulnar Collateral Ligament and is most closely associated with “Tommy John Surgery.” This player has three major Division I offers on the table, including: Clemson, Georgia Tech and Auburn. The conversation was full of worry, doubt, anxiety and confusion about this player’s future, then panic as to whether any, or all, offers would be withdrawn. It’s a scary time for the family and, right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Unfortunately, this conversation I had was not unique. I say this as bluntly as I possibly can— if you are going to play competitive baseball at a very high level for an extended period of time, you will suffer some sort of injury. It is inevitable. All injuries won’t be career threatening. All injuries won’t be traumatic. And all injuries won’t necessarily lead to player’s offers being withdrawn. But all injuries do have something in common: THEY CAN BE A BLESSING!

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Hear me out on this one. What happens when you get injured? You are forced to refrain from hitting lessons, pitching lessons, long toss, conditioning, team practice, and you’re required to sit on the sidelines and watch. I’ll admit, that’s not exactly fun. But while on the surface level you are forced to refrain from activities to improve your game, there are benefits to injuries that actually can propel your skills to the next level. Take a look at three ways injuries can actually help and not hurt you (even more). 


1. Rest

As many parents and athletes know, Amateur baseball has become a year-round sport. Most teams across the Southeast begin practicing in January, then playing games in March, continuing playing summer ball through July, then fall ball through November, and conditioning and training for the following season through December. I’m exhausted just writing that. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is still up for debate, but one thing that remains a constant is this — when I work with players, I see my hardest working, most driven players show up at some point during the year and give me less than their maximum effort. I don’t fault these boys and I know that 99% of the time they are going to perform and practice as expected, but sometimes, they are just exhausted. 

What an injury does to players is force them to sit out and REST. Their tired bodies get a break. Their minds get a break. They get to catch up on sleep. They get to catch up on school work. They get to flat out take a break and it is a MUCH-NEEDED BLESSING. Even the most sedentary of grown adults with office jobs can appreciate a day off from work, a long weekend away, or even just taking a half day to spend with their family. So why wouldn’t a youth athlete benefit the same way? While players want to be on the field and feel a sense of sadness when they are forced to sit and watch, if their time out is spent correctly, what it is doing for their bodies and minds is extremely beneficial. 


2. Mentality

A player is hurt and is forced to not participate in baseball practice. The player is caught up on homework, he spent time with his family and he is really missing his teammates. What better way to spend your time out than to attend a practice or a game and sit alongside your coach. Team practices that cover bunt defense, cuts, double cuts, 1st and 3rd defense, and timing plays are all critical parts of the game —  especially as you move higher into the next level of baseball. What better way to learn high level strategies than to observe? As Yogi Berra said, 

“You can observe a lot by watching.”

Watching how different positions move for relays. Watching how certain teammates respond on timing plays. Watching who performs certain actions that makes them better ballplayers. These are all tools to add to your arsenal that not only help you become a better player, but a better teammate as well. 

Along with watching you have the ability to be around your coach and teammates. You get to ask questions and get inside the mind of your coach. You get to hear him breakdown his expectations and get his thoughts while standing right alongside him. Understanding insights and deciphering different personalities of coaches are going to be great tools that are not only going to help you for the current season, but will for many more down the road. Plus, your positive attitude and eagerness to learn will, typically, NOT go unnoticed.


3. Knowledge of Training

Often times when a player gets injured, he gets the inevitable message from the doctor that he needs physical therapy. Physical therapy can be boring, monotonous and obviously not performed with the same excitement of a baseball practice or pitching lesson. So what often happens is youth athletes begrudgingly perform the scripted exercises and stare at the clock, counting down the days until they can get back on the field. What most fail to realize is that, more often than not, physical therapists were once high-level athletes with collegiate or professional backgrounds in sports at the elite level. Physical therapists absolutely love talking sports. They’ve worked with premier athletes, they’ve seen the best of the best, and they all have a story to tell. Getting to know your physical therapist can be a great asset to you. They can help you understand that you aren’t unique in your injury, while providing you an opportunity to gain another mentor. This can actually help push you in taking your game to the next level. 

Along with learning tips, tricks and stories from your therapist, you also have the gift of learning about your body! Young athletes train so hard lifting weights and conditioning, but do they understand their own anatomy and what muscles are supposed to be engaged when they perform each athletic movement? Learning about how the rotator cuff works, which muscles fire in lateral movement, the alignment of the spine, and what you need to feel when you are moving can be a differentiator. Players that are working out with max effort hoping to put on size and get faster, could get to their end goal a lot quicker if they knew which muscle group they were targeting and where they need to feel sensation to ensure that targeted muscle group is engaged. When a player gets sent to physical therapy, it’s not a curse, it’s a huge chance to learn and train smarter.


Don’t get me wrong. Injuries are a tough time for all athletes. But, when viewed in the right light, they can certainly be a beneficial blessing. 

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When Should I Start the College Baseball Recruiting Process? (Infographic)

The rules for college baseball recruiting are a little complex and most definitely confusing. It’s a blurred line between what is allowed and what is prohibited, and it often leaves high school parents and players in a state of confusion. They’re stuck with a million questions: “Should I be talking to colleges? Do I need to market myself? Do I need to sign up for camps? Should I get a recruiting video made? Where do I even begin?!”

Without a doubt, recruiting is a difficult road to navigate, but we’ve broken down— by year— some key actions you should be taking to increase your visibility to college coaches and stay a step ahead in the college baseball recruiting process.

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Need to get your recruiting video produced or updated? Have some more questions about the recruiting process? Email us at RisingRecruits@gmail to set up an individual or team showcase.

How Do I Get Recruited To Play College Baseball?

High School baseball players interested in playing baseball at the next level have many options that help them gain exposure and get on college coaches’ radars. There are multiple avenues and ways to create this exposure and become more “marketable”. To be clear, there is certainly not a definitive path as to what each player needs to do to get recruited. In fact, it varies widely based on each specific player. 

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Let’s look at some valuable options and resources that may be helpful in getting you recruited:


1. Showcases

Showcases are a great way to show off your skills in front of collegiate coaches, scouts and recruiting coordinators. There are often dozens of showcases available each weekend that are well run and valuable for players. Some thoughts often pop up when players are considering entering a showcase: ‘Will coaches from schools I am interested in be in attendance?’, ‘Am I in playing shape at this time of year?’, ‘Does this showcase fit my skill set and allow me to display my positions?’ Showcases can be a fantastic tool, but make sure it fits who you are as a player. 


2. College Camps

College baseball programs often do a terrific job holding baseball camps. These camps are frequently filled with current players, and coaches that offer tons of valuable information. They teach you about their system, their techniques and often dive into their expectations for incoming freshmen. If you are interested in a specific school and they are hosting a camp and have reached out to you, it might be a great opportunity to gain exposure and build a rapport and name for yourself at that program. 


3. Recruiting Videos

Professionally made recruiting videos can be a great tool to distribute to coaches nationwide. While coaches certainly like hearing about players and seeing a few in-game at bats, a video of a player’s on field batting practice, bullpen session, or infield/outfield can show off that player’s traits that can often be overlooked in a large setting. Recruiting videos can be attached to emails, and posted on social media or recruiting platforms to give coaches a more in depth look at the skills each player possesses. 

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4. Summer Ball

It’s no secret that college coaches and scouts are often in attendance at most competitive travel ball tournaments throughout the duration of the summer. These coaches often have access to each team’s roster, as well as each travel ball coach’s phone number. Playing on a competitive summer ball team is going to be instrumental in staying on the radar screen of college coaches. 


All this being said, there is no wrong way to go about the recruiting process. Find out what works best for you - ask questions, gather information from other players’ experiences, and get your name out there as much as possible. 

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How Can I Improve my '60' Time?

A question that comes to me frequently from high school players that are interested in playing next level is, ‘How can I improve my 60 time?’ This is a great question and it is no secret that college coaches, pro scouts, and crosscheckers all use the 60yd dash as a valuable measurable in assessing the speed, quickness and overall athleticism of a player. 

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The 60yd dash has been used for decades across many levels of both amateur and professional baseball, and over the past few years it has become an instrumental tool in validating a coach’s decision to offer a scholarship or a scout offering a professional contract. Having the ability to run an impressive 60yd dash can negate areas of weakness in a player’s game, as well as highlight a tool that is hard to teach, and as a result can be extremely valuable to a college or professional team. 


First, let’s clarify what qualifies a ‘good’ 60yd dash time. Some of the fastest players in Major League Baseball have 60 times ranging from 6.2-6.8 seconds. That is impressive to say the least, but it is very unrealistic for an amateur athlete to reach that while they are still growing, learning and developing. Division I Baseball Coaches aim to have their fastest players range from a 6.5-6.9 60yd dash; their middle of the order hitters, with power, to be in the 7.0-7.4 range; and the players that don’t highlight speed as one of their tools, in the 7.5-7.9 range. All of this information is dependent on each players primary position, what a college or pro team already has on their roster, and what other skills you can bring to the team (i.e. power, plus arm, quickness).


So, let’s get to it. How can I improve my 60 time?

  1. Strength Training

 If you want to get faster, you have to lift weights! Period! Lower body weight lifting is vital if you want to reduce your 60 time. Exercises such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, step ups, RDLs, are all going to increase the development of your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Getting on a strict plan of training your legs under proper supervision is instrumental in increasing your speed. The stronger your legs are, the faster you will run! 

2. Mobility Training

While having strong legs is extremely important in producing maximum output while you sprint, without flexibility and mobility you are at risk for an injury, as well as being limited in how quickly you can produce each stride. Dynamic exercises for mobility include carioca, high knees, butt kickers, side shuffles, shuttle runs, and backpedaling. Along with dynamic exercises, it’s equally important to incorporate static exercises such as traditional stretches, counting to 10, as well as fun activities like Yoga!

3. Form Running

The biggest mistake that trainers comment on when it comes to athletes trying to increase their speed is poor form. Running out of line, incorrect hand position, heel striking and head movement can all lead to a slower than anticipated 60 time. Focusing on running in a straight line and utilizing the ‘eye socket to back pocket’ running technique can knock tenths of seconds off of your 60 time immediately. 

Training for an improved 60 time can be fun, but it will also demand a lot of attention and dedication. Try to get out to a football field weekly with some teammates and time your 60 so you can track your improvement.

Need your ‘60’ timed and recorded for your recruiting video? Contact us HERE!