Lucas Malave, sophomore outfielder for nationally ranked Catholic University, is having a heck of a season. Through 30 games played, Lucas is hitting .309 with 7 HR, 28 RBI, 27 R, and 6 SB. While Lucas has always had the ability to see the ball well at the plate, these numbers far surpass his freshman year stats in many ways. What changed?
When he started remote training with us this past winter, his objectives were to improve his power at the plate. As we dug deeper, we realized that what was assumed as inefficient power was actually inefficient MOVEMENT. Let’s take a look at much of the process that helped us reach this conclusion and what has helped him this spring.
His remote training process began with a baseline assessment. Although we regularly perform remote assessments, Lucas’ proximity to the facility made an in-house assessment a more optimal choice. The assessment included:
- Movement screen
- Strength and power testing
- Video review and swing analysis
Following his assessment, we put together a comprehensive plan. However, we had to make sure we were focusing on topics that could transfer to the field in a short period of time and not affect his overall natural talent and prior success.
At the time of his assessment, Lucas was 6’2” weighing 215 lbs. with a 16% LBM. His movement screen highlighted a few topics that needed to be addressed, including:
- Insufficient core control
- Insufficient t-spine extension and mobility
- Right insufficient hip mobility (internal rotation)
His lack of mobility in his t-spine and right hip along with an inefficient core for an athlete his size was potentially contributing to his inability to efficiently load (coil) as he was getting “stuck” in his rear hip. This was more than likely affecting not only his swing path (which had an average attack angle of 17.6 degrees) but his rotational acceleration as well, which was lower than expected at 7.4g given his overall physicality (see “Video Analysis”).
So, the first plan of attack was to improve his ability to move more athletically in order to better apply that strength faster thus increasing his power generation further, but more importantly get him into better positions to rotate more efficiently and lower his excessive attack angle at the plate. This involved a primary focus on improving his hip mobility and core strength / stability.
Strength and Power Testing
Lucas already possessed very respectable levels of strength and power production when he started his remote training program.
During the first 8 weeks, we focused on strength training with lighter loads and a higher volume of plyometric work. Since then, we have been working on energy system work to improve his ability to repeatedly produce power throughout the course of an inning / game (endurance).
The video analysis highlighted a couple of areas where Lucas could improve his swing mechanics.
Rear Hip Load – Lucas was getting stuck in his back hip, due to insufficient mobility. This in turn was not allowing him to efficiently load and rotate his lower half during his negative move as well as efficiently move his COM linearly, which was disrupting his timing as well as giving him what we would call an “uphill swing”. By improving his t-spine and rear hip mobility along with utilizing the core velocity belt during drill work, he was able to create better separation between his pelvis from his torso while lowering his attack angle into a more desirable range.
Axis of Rotation – Lucas’s inefficient load caused a slight “push” with the back leg, creating an excessive anterior pelvic tilt creating a sub-optimal axis to efficiently rotate on. This caused him to get too underneath the baseball instead of squaring it up. By starting from the bottom up, and fixing the load first, we were able to sequence him into creating a better axis of rotation which has led to more optimal attack angles.
By increasing his ability to move better, combined with improving his overall core strength and stability, he was able to generate and utilize more power within his swing, while improving his swing’s timing and metrics. This has helped his overall stats skyrocket this year, from hitting more homeruns to stealing more bases.
In his freshman year, through 31 appearances, Lucas hit 1 HR with 16RBI. This year, he already has 7 HR, and 28 RBI. Lucas also mentioned to us that through his focus on power work and hip mobility, he has seen a big increase in his running speed through better running mechanics which he feels contributed to his 6 SB so far this year as well.
It is really important to note that every athlete is different, with different strengths and weaknesses. A thorough assessment is critical so that you can focus on what needs to be improved and what needs to be left alone. For Lucas, the best is yet to come!
“I started training on a remote basis with RPP this past winter. I have to say the impact has been huge. I have always been a strong athlete, but their ability to dig in and find out exactly what was holding me back is a game changer. I am currently hitting [.340], have already hit 7 HRs this season (vs 1 last year) and I have stolen 6 bases (vs 2 last year). I feel like I’m playing at a completely different level than I was before.”
By Jake Lebovitch, Andrew Pezzutto and Nunzio Signore
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