Archive for September, 2012

As a kid, my summers always consisted of traveling the states with some of my best buddies playing baseball, the game we loved. I can remember my dad throwing me batting practice until my hands started to bleed or his shoulder started to hurt, the latter being the more frequent reason for quitting. I loved it though. I could never get enough. Many of my friends were the same way, and that passion carried them all the way to the collegiate ranks or even to the professional level, which I so fortunately have climbed to. Undoubtedly physical size, strength, and ability played a part, but more than that, I truly believe the environment for learning and growing as a player played an even bigger role in keeping me interested and passionate for the game. In the book Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin talks at length about how “deliberate practice” for many years in succession, is the way top performers in their respective fields ascend to the very peak of their profession. I can’t agree more that focused practice for a long period of time has helped me accomplish all that I have in baseball. I’ve been on little league teams that nearly reached the World Series, high school teams that won state championships, and professional teams that had some of today’s greatest players. It’s a fact that extremely hard work on my craft played a huge part getting me into those incredible positions. In my opinion, however, it was staying interested, staying on course, staying hungry for success, and having some incredible family, coaches, and mentors that meant more in achieving my dreams than any natural talent that I possessed.

Here are a couple more detailed lessons I’ve learned throughout my life as a baseball player, and how you can use them to better your chances for improving beyond what you think you are capable of.

1.) Don’t fall for the products or people who promise overnight success. Instead, seek out the places and groups that inspire camaraderie and enjoyable hard work.

I was lucky on this front that my parents had a keen eye for what was truly best for me. My fondest memories as a kid playing baseball were traveling the countless miles to the best hitting and pitching facilities, and learning from instructors that were willing to stay past closing time to throw me extra batting practice or watch more video with me on my mechanics. It’s the people who were truly looking after my best interests and always willing to go that extra mile to see me succeed that made me realize my potential. No matter what ability level a kid may be, it’s these people and places that will get the best out of them. Have a sharp eye for these places and people because they are special, and will mold and develop talent that even you didn’t realize you had.

It’s not irony that as a kid, and now as an adult, these are the places I’ve thrived in. In fact, the winter after my 3rd professional season in 2008, my dad and I traveled from Akron, Ohio to Boston, Massachusetts in search of the best training facility out there to develop my baseball ability. I planned to stay for a weekend at Cressey Performance, but the people there were too interested in my health and my success for me to leave. I’ve been here every offseason since, and will continue to go back because it’s a healthy environment that inspires success.


2.) Don’t take the easiest, most comfortable, or most traveled route. Instead, surround yourself with friends and mentors who share the same drive, and are equally committed to their dreams as you are to yours.

Whether it was in school, on the basketball court, on the golf course, or on the baseball field, I was always drawn to the people who were the most successful. I knew that if I wanted to bring the best out of myself, I was gonna need to hang out with these people. So I did. I competed, studied, and trained with them, and as a result I became better than I thought I could be. As a youngster, I was lucky enough to goto the best schools, play on the best teams, and therefore, I became friends with some very successful people with whom I competed and admired. My parents weren’t wealthy by any means, but they constantly put me in situations where I would surely interact with the brightest minds, best athletes, and most driven people.

A more recent example of this came at a point in my life where it would have been easy to take a more comfortable route. This summer, after spending almost 7 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, I was released. After working so hard to come back from elbow surgery, the day I was supposed to come off the disabled list for the first time in over a year, I was sent to my truck with my bags packed for home, and not a team. The easy way out would have been to take the rest of the summer off, hang out on the beaches of sunny Florida thinking about what to do next, and maybe workout or throw a little bit. That’s not me though. No one who becomes great at what they do can settle that easy.

Instead, I decided to take action and go back to Cressey Performance in Boston to surround myself with likeminded people who would push me, inspire me, teach me, and help me back up on my feet. Even though it might not have been what was comfortable at the time, it’s what I needed to do. It’s what competitors and successful people do when they are knocked down. They dust themselves off, put themselves back together with the help of other strong individuals, and keep pushing forward. With the help of some amazing friends, mentors, and family, I turned a potentially career ending setback into a positive by spending the rest of my summer busting my ass in the gym, carrying out excruciating mental tests with one of my best and most driven friends, Sahil Bloom, to re-examine our self-imposed boundaries. I also accepted various coaching opportunities to teach kids some of the things I’ve learned along the way, which turned out to be my most rewarding therapy by far.

 

There are so many different reasons young baseball players and young people don’t live up to their abilities. There are many things that we just can’t control, and many obstacles that we just can’t move. I do, however, believe young athletes can put themselves into some awesome situations by taking it upon themselves to seek out the best in every aspect of their life. If it’s your goal to be the best baseball player you can be, make sure the people around you are the best for nurturing your talent. Make sure you continue learning from those people, competing with those people, and then become friends with those people. If you do this, your dream of becoming that player that you want to be is so much more likely to come true.

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3 Nutrition Tips to Right the Ship by Chad Rodgers

Posted: September 17, 2012 by cmrodgers100 in General, Nutrition, Training

It’s human nature. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. Sometimes life gets into the way of our eating regimen, and presents us obstacles that ruin our attempts to consistently eat clean. I see it over and over with family, friends, and clients alike who truly put the effort and dedication into creating healthy eating habits, only to get sidetracked by something else that takes the attention away from whats most important, and that is what you put into your body. I’ve had this happen in the past, but after spending time with some of the most successful healthy eaters, I’ve learned how to make my diet bulletproof to any turbulence that may happen in my life.

HERE ARE 3 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STRATEGIES THAT KEEP ME ON TRACK

1.) Prepare your food on Sunday :

Stocking up on the essentials, and making quick, nutrient dense meals in bulk are the keys here. What are my essentials, you ask? Whole eggs, frozen mixed veggies, frozen fruit medleys (no sugar added), canned beans and lentils (calorie dense and excellent protein source) unsweetened vanilla almond, hemp, or coconut milk (all healthy bases for protein shakes), mixed nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts…most seeds and nuts provide enough healthy fats to fill out your diet), poultry type of choice, beef of choice, and coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for cooking. With these items in your house, there already is no excuse to look and feel awesome.

Now, with healthy, locked and loaded fridge and cabinets, you’re off to an excellent start. To take it a step further, I encourage making a big batch of food that is ready now. My favorite has already been mentioned here on this site by Matt Kramer. It’s an amazingly healthy and delicious chili recipe by the wife of former Cressey Performance strength coach, Brian St. Pierre. Here is a link to the ingredients and cooking method.

The most awesome chili ever

By preparing a big batch of chili, or some other nutrient packed, high protein meal in bulk before the week starts, you have set yourself up for a successful series of days eating well. When something pops up, and you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you now have some awesome food ready and waiting to be crushed.

2.) Cut out the carbs that do nothing for you

Empty calories, processed junk, and foods that claim to be healthy with fancy marketing are surefire ways to drift astray from a successful diet. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be the most readily available, and therefore the most convenient. Pastas, breads, sugar loaded coffees, sports drinks and sodas can all be destructive to your health and performance goals.

Here are a few alternatives:

a.) Ezekiel bread and wraps REPLACING toast, pastries, and tortillas- Sprouted grains that replace flour, and tasty breads/wraps/pastas that are high in protein makes this stuff cool by me.

b.) Quinoa REPLACING pastas and rice- Quinoa is packed with protein, dense in fiber, and offers a low carb, tasty option to add to into a diet. I like it for adding good calories into my lunches and dinners that already consist of a meat and veggie.

c.) Black coffee with vanilla protein powder and cinnamon REPLACING whatever fancy cappuccino you get at Starbucks. My strength coach, and most consistent healthy eater I know, Eric Cressey introduced me to this alternative. It’s absolutely delicious.

3.) Narrow down your supplements

Most athletes and people I know in general, are constantly confused about which supplements to use. The first thing I tell them is that if you are using supplements to fix an average or below average diet, then you are missing the boat. First comes the quality food, then come the supplements…….slowly. People tend to fall for fads and stacks of supplements which is totally wrong if you don’t have the basics of an awesome meal plan in place. Once you feel solid in this aspect, then we can move onto starting some things to supplement an already stellar diet. Here are the essentials for those looking to start.

a.) high potency and purified fish oil- The benefits of taking fish oil are outstanding for anyone. As an athlete, it helps me fight inflammation and maintain good cardiac health. It is however, not limited to these benefits. It’s one of the most researched supplements out there. I recommend Carlson’s Norwegian brand. It’s actually pretty tasty.

b.) A quality greens product- Lets be honest, we probably aren’t fitting the optimal amount of fruits and veggies into our meals each and every day. My favorite insurance policy in case I don’t get enough is a product designed by my friend Chris the “Kiwi”. Its called Athletic Greens. Just put a tablespoon of this awesome stuff in water everyday, and you have yourself the most nutritious drink you’ll ever have. I’ve felt like superman ever since I added this to my morning routine.

c.) Quality Whey Protein- If you are training hard, eating right, sleeping well, and just being diesel in general, then It won’t harm you to add in a couple scoops of protein during the right times of day. During training, post training, and pre bed are good times to make a shake or blend in some of the powder into greek yogurt. My favorite protein out there is Jay Robb’s whey protein. Delicious taste, no artificial sweeteners, and protein that comes from grass-fed cows equals an excellent addition to anyone looking to get better.

 

In closing, remember that no matter what your goals are on the field or in the gym, it all starts in the kitchen. If we work as hard there as we do at developing in the weight room, then you’ll stay on track. It’s a disservice to yourself and those working to make you better if you eat like crap. Make it a part of your life to the point where eating excellent food becomes a habit.

I hope you found these insights helpful to making your goals more of a reality.

Getting sore, in my opinion, is the worst part about pitching. Actually, I digress, it’s a fact. There is nothing worse than pitching your tail off for your team, then waking up the next morning with your arm feeling like it got run over by a truck. It’s a humbling feeling to say the least. There are undoubtedly countless variables that go into the fact that you are sore from pitching. The first being the most obvious in that human beings weren’t designed to be able to throw an object overhead at incredible velocities. There are many others to consider as well. Here are just a few….

– Proper post-game recovery/cool-down (I’ll touch on this soon)

– Optimal sleep-something professional baseball players either get too much or too little of

– Proper nutrition/hydration- fried chicken and beer? If it didn’t work for the Red sox, it wont work for you.

– Good soft tissue quality- Soft whaaattttttt? Ya dude, you can’t just roll out of bed and expect to be ready to throw everyday.

Some can get away with doing the bare minimum for a while, but eventually, if you aren’t careful, improper arm care will catch up to you. There’s this piece that many of us miss when wondering why the heck we get so friggin knotted up and sore in our throwing arm. It’s called soft tissue quality! When we throw at peak velocity, incredible strain is put on both our shoulder and elbow to try and hang on for the ride through your delivery. Somehow, your body will find a way to stabilize the arm to do the amazing things that it’s capable of. As an unwelcomed side effect though, the muscles around the shoulder and elbow joints take a beating each time you throw. “GREAAAT. So that’s why I wake up feeling like I got into a car wreck?” Yep!

So now what? Here are a few select areas where pitchers tend to get the most sore, and some tools and strategies for breaking up some of that junk from the night before.

SORE SPOT-Posterior Shoulder-TOOL-Batting Cage Ball

Just about every baseball player has one of these balls collecting cobwebs in the garage somewhere. When I do this, I try and find the spots the back of  my shoulder that are the most sore, then allow your bodyweight slowly relax into the ball. I’ll hold it there for a good 30 seconds or however long it takes for the pain to subside.

SORE SPOT- Extensor and Flexor Muscles around the Elbow-TOOL-Tiger Tail Stick

This bad boy can iron out some sore spots alright. Its never pleasant when having someone roll over a knot, but stick it thru the pain, and you’ll thank me later. Grab a partner for added leverage and force. Also, add a bit of extension (extend elbow palm up) and supination (roll palm open, turning back of hand to face the ground) when getting the flexors rolled on to help open the area up a bit.

SORE SPOT-Upper Trap-TOOL-Thera Cane or Batting Cage Ball

Ever feel like you have a pinball permenatly lodged in your trap from pitching? My bet is, if you pitch a ton, you sometimes do. We can get this are to chill out a bit with a couple easy techniques. This upper trap area, in particular, I like to apply consistent, hard pressure, until that knot either releases or calms down. Both the Thera Cane and batting cage ball are effective tools.

The fact is, most of us can’t afford a deep tissue massage after each time we pitch to eliminate the soreness from our arms. We do however, truly need quality soft tissue to maintain optimal arm health throughout the season. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this both inexpensively, and effectively. The techniques demonstrated above will get you started on the road to feeling better. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. I’ll be back soon to show you more cool ways to get you back on the mound feeling good.

5 Moves to Get Ready in a Hurry by Chad Rodgers

Posted: September 3, 2012 by cmrodgers100 in General
Tags: , , ,

As pitchers, and especially relief pitchers, we always have our ideal way to loosen up etched in our brains somewhere. We imagine our pitching coach signaling us with plenty of time to get up, make sure our uniform looks great, meditate in a downward dog pose, get a cup of java, and start floating rainbows to our bullpen catcher. We imagine it being perfect, warm, California sunshine every game (for some this may be true now, but not so much if you aspire to reach a high level down the road). We also imagine our coach or manager letting us throw the optimal amount of pitches we need to be ready to enter the ballgame. In the game of baseball, unfortunately, predicability is the opposite of reality.

To make matters worse, some of us take longer than others to loosen up. The weather might be freezing or you might have played 800 matches in call of duty the night before, and you’re back feels as stiff as a board. So when we are pressed for time, when the guy pitching in the game is getting tattooed all around the park, what can you do to make sure you are ready to compete to the best of your ability in a short window of time? The following 5 moves are my go-to’s for getting ready to kick some ass in a hurry.

1.) Bridge With a Reach

What It Works Most- hamstring/glute activation and thoracic (T-spine) mobility

2.) Overhead Squats Transitioning Into Jump Squats

What It Works Most- lower body mobility and bloodflow, upper trap/scap/shoulder activation, core stability

3.) Pushup to Hand Shuffle

What It Works Most- upper extremity mobility/ scapular stability, core stability

4.) Knee Hug to Spiderman to Hip Lift to Overhead Reach

What It Works Most- lower body/hip/hamstring mobility, thoracic (T-spine mobility)

5.) Shoulder Stabilizations- (Always opt for this one last to ensure your cuff is fired up and ready to throw)

What It Works Most– rotator cuff bloodflow, shoulder stability (Duh!)

Since we don’t often have much time to prepare physically, I tend to gravitate towards the more “bang for your buck” movements- Moves that will get more of my body to respond, quicker. If you are a relief pitcher, give these a shot before you start throwing.

Why before throwing? Would it be smart to take a sports car, when its freezing, straight out of the garage and punch the pedal to the metal right out of the gate? Ya, you might go pretty fast, but it won’t perform to the best of its ability will it? It undoubtedly with run much better after you get it moving for a bit.

Same goes for you. Treat your body like a high performance sports car. Get that body temperature up. Get a sweat going and the right muscles activated, THEN go let it rip!