Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Pitcher's Can't Hit or Run... And Local Athlete With Bright Future!

High school football is a big deal in many communities, and rightfully so. Go to nearly any high school on a Friday night in the fall and the stands are packed and the atmosphere is sure to be electric. We all love to watch the “star” players showcase their talents on the field of play.

When it comes to high school baseball folks aren’t exactly leaving work early (except the ever-so dedicated parents) to watch a 4p.m. Wednesday/Thursday game at the local ballpark.

But if you love baseball or maybe even more generally just enjoy supporting the local high school athletic programs you need to make it a priority to check out some really talented athletes.

At Birmingham Brother Rice they likely will have the first Michigan prepped player drafted in the first round of the MLB draft since David Parrish in the year 2000. *

The interesting thing to note about Plummer is that he played multiple sports before deciding to dedicate himself to baseball as a sophomore in high school. Plummer is yet another example of a young man that developed his athleticism first and then decided to focus in one area after the essential general athletic foundation was firmly in place!**

This broad athletic foundation along with special work ethic and a never ceasing commitment to self-improvement are largely the factors that have put him in the position to be a great baseball player.

I attended the Brother Rice game against Notre Dame Prep this week and there were at least 25 professional and collegiate talent evaluators in the stands! It was a very cool atmosphere as one of the best pitchers in the state (Luke Schilling of Notre Dame) faced off against Plummer.

The high school baseball play-offs are right around the corner and the weather is making a turn for the better…  It’s a great opportunity to support some talented young athletes and catch a glimpse of the next potential Michigan born and prepped super star!

DH or no DH…

This debate has been going on for quite some time and while I’m not about to delve into the pros and cons in this space I will use a recent injury to add fuel to the “fire.” Last month St. Louis Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright tore his achilles tendon while running out of the batter’s box and is lost for the entire season.

After the injury happened the 24/7 sports news cycle provided plenty of air time to toss out the question of whether the National League should just adopt the DH rule so valuable pitchers aren’t subjected to the demands of hitting and running the bases.

Was the injury just a “freak” incident or could it have been prevented?

I am going to add an additional layer to this debate by placing the blame on “disappearing athleticism!”

If you watch a pitcher hit and/or run the bases the vast majority appear quite awkward to say the least and it begs the question, what happened to these guys? All of them were likely the “best” player on their high school team while playing a skilled position like shortstop or center field.

By the time a pitcher makes the major leagues they are so far removed from being a well-rounded athlete, because their movement experiences are very one-dimensional. They run “poles” or “bleachers” to flush their bodies to aid in recovery and to help develop endurance (both of these are flawed ideas). They also long toss; shag fly balls while also performing the occasional “lift.” For the most part all of these activities are very "controlled" and everything is performed primarily straight ahead.

Pitchers don’t prepare like athletes as much as they should. Pitchers rarely sprint, jump, or leap and as a result their bodies aren’t prepared to decelerate, plant and push-off.

Sprinting out the batters box and even swinging a bat places an incredibly demanding amount of force on the body. When a pitcher has to “bust it out of the box” their bodies aren’t trained to handle that stress.  It’s surprising more guys don’t get hurt!

This is why for young players intra-sport specialization is potentially limiting to their long-term skill development. There really shouldn’t be a 10-year old "baseball player" let alone a 10-year-old pitcher, shortstop, etc. At the youth level children should be exposed to and develop a complete package of baseball skills. While they may prefer and/or excel at one-position when they play multiple spots on the field they develop an understanding and feel for the complete game.

At the developmental stages they need general athleticism to thrive over the long-term. This will prepare their bodies to handle the demands of the sport. Even at the higher levels of youth sports (15-18 years) they still need to train like athletes… in fact it should be emphasized even more so when and if a young athlete elects to play one sport (or position within a sport). The more specialized an athlete is the more they need “general” athletic training not only to keep them healthy but it’s also essential for taking their sport specific skill to an elite level.


No comments:

Post a Comment