For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of presenting with some of the brightest and innovative minds in baseball. Always being a big believer in educating my coaches and athletes, last year, I brought two of my coaches from RPP along with me to listen and learn when I spoke at Pitch-A-Palooza. If you’ve never heard of it (hard to believe), Palooza is Lantz Wheeler’s 3-day extravaganza that brings together 500+ (it grows every year that I’ve presented there), forward-thinking coaches, trainers, PT’s and data/tech analysts.
The “take-home” for my guys was so beneficial that it prompted me to bring 5 of them this year. My strength coach, 2 pitching coaches, my hitting coach and a data intern all accompanied me to grab some knowledge and just as important bond as a unit. Palooza is somewhat of a “meeting of the minds” looking to both listen to and share with each other different mind sets on making players and coaches healthier and more efficient at what they do. It’s a welcome break from the world of social media we live in where many times, people troll each other’s posts simply to stick out their chest and criticize each other.
At the end of the event, I asked my guys for their impressions and their favorite presentations. Here is their feedback. Enjoy…
Ari Kaufman (RPP Pitching Coordinator)
“Presentation by Greg Rose / On Base U” – It was great to see Greg speak in person after following him online for many years. His talk about the adaptations that the body goes through given different stimuli was particularly interesting to me. It made me re-think how to apply certain training methods for the athletes that come into the facility and further emphasized the importance of a properly implemented training program in the weight room. You cannot seek changes on the mound or in the box when the body is not properly primed for what you are asking it to do. Not all athletes move the same, but getting them to move in their own unique way as efficiently and powerfully as possible will lead to progress.
Evan Klugerman (RPP Director of Hitting)
“Presentation by Derek Johnson / Cincinnati Reds” – Cincinnati Reds Pitching Coach, Derek Johnson, showed his vantage point of how he goes about helping his pitchers maximize their skills. What stood out to me was the way he communicates and applies his philosophies to the players learning capabilities. He prioritized the ability to take all the information and apply it in a way each individual player can grasp such information tailored to his learning capacity. A quote that stood out to me was “helping players is the goal, not sounding smart”.
He was basically saying that with all the information that was being spread throughout the room over the weekend, it is important to simply listen and be open minded to seeing how people saw success in the game. With technology and data taking the drivers seat in the player development realm, the ability to put it into a language that is understandable for the player is what separates a good coach from a great coach.
Mike Lembo (RPP Pitching Coordinator)
“Presentation by James Ogden / Lipscomb University” – In his talk, James Ogden from Lipscomb University spoke about his approach to player development and different ways to keep his pitchers accountable throughout the course of a collegiate season. His main idea with player development is letting his pitchers learn, for themselves, about all aspects of pitching and to provide them with as many resources as they need to learn.
“Teach pitchers to teach themselves, and they will be successful”
He then proceeded to show examples of his pitching staff doing several different drills, some of which I plan on experimenting with when I get back home at RPP. I found his talk to be extremely informative because he provided valuable information on both sides of the net, player development and live drill work.
Jason Schwartz (RPP Strength and Conditioning Coach)
“Presentation by Eric Cressey / Cressey Sports Performance” – Eric presented two charts that really jumped out at me. One being the number of MLB Lumbopelvic Injuries, predominately occurring in the low back and hamstrings. As a strength coach I recognize these are the muscle typically stressed while the pelvis is anteriorly tilted. Having this lordotic or anterior pelvic tilt can result in significant complications especially in a rotational athlete and too commonly we observe this posture in our athletes.
As a Baseball player, one applies force into the ground to create a reactional force that then travels up the body as the player rotates creating angular velocity. This velocity is known to sequence through the body in a proximal to distal manner where each body segment relies on the previous segment in the sequence to accelerate, producing an efficient throw or swing. In summary excessive anterior pelvic tilt set our athletes in a position that stresses not only the surrounding muscle but could have massive effects on their skeletal systems and nervous system leading to them unable to perform and ultimately injured.
Eddie Lehr (RPP Data Analytics Intern)
“Presentation by Fred Corral / Missouri Baseball Pitching Coach” – Fred was my first experience as to how data was used in pitching when I heard him speak in middle school. While listening to Fred speak in Nashville, one of the points that stuck with me the most was, “Be the best version of you.” Regardless of the amount of data you have access to, every player and coach is striving to be the best version of themselves. In doing so, utilizing data allows athletes and coaches to build off of strengths, while improving weaknesses.
“Kyle Boddy / Driveline Baseball” – Sometimes when speaking at these events, my own “ah-ha” moments aren’t necessarily supplied by the other speakers alone. This year, I had a great time and learned a lot about the business side of this profession from a 30 minute conversation I had with Driveline‘s founder Kyle Boddy. For me, as a guy who spent years on the performance side of things, his generosity and willingness to share his thoughts and experience in building a business were great to hear and much appreciated.
If you missed Palooza this year, I highly suggest you don’t miss the boat next year. And if you own a facility, bring a few of your guys along. The benefits are well worth the price of the ticket.
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
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