Jaeger Sports offers a 6 week training program each year (January/February) prior to the beginning of Spring Training.
This training program addresses three major areas: 1) Arm Strength and Conditioning, 2) Stretching and Flexibility, and 3) The Mental Approach to Baseball or Mental Training. Of these three areas nothing is more important than mental training, and it is the central theme throughout the camp.
Arm Strength Throwing Program
Arm Strength Throwing Program
Drills/Mental Approach/Live Hitting
Baseball players tend to excel in practice due to the absence of consequences and the nature of its stress-free environment. However, once the season begins and the consequences increase (i.e. statistics begin to count) players tend to put a great deal of pressure on themselves. This mind-set will often cause players to perform inconsistently because their actions become mechanical, their mind, tense.
Take a slump for example. Players tend to forget that slumps are almost always mental. Day in and day out pitchers just don't forget how to pitch, hitters don't just forget how to hit? Maybe once in a while players will make mechanical adjustments but the majority of the time it's the players mental approach (clarity of mind, being relaxed, inner trust) that causes poor physical results. This again is the result of the player not having any mental training or skills to fall back on (even though the physical skills have been ingrained since an early age).
Are professional off-season program will allow you to perform consistently by teaching you how to eliminate the distinction between “practice” and “performance”. By developing a consistent attitude and approach during your work-outs, you will begin to understand that your approach to game situations doesn't have to change just because the circumstances may change. Our work-outs are so process oriented you will find that *whatever* area of your game that you are working on (stretching, throwing, hitting, mechanics, drills), a high level of concentration will always be demanded. By staying in the process of your work-out you will learn the importance of physical and mental attention. It is through this quality of attention in all situations that ultimately carries over into game situations.
Jaeger Sports takes arm strength and conditioning very seriously. We know from experience that once a player has arm problems (chronic pain, inflammation, injury), his career is immediately put into jeopardy. Plain and simple - a baseball player is dependent upon the longevity of his arm. Granted, though some position players “get by” with adequate arms in the short run, all players must come to the realization that the development, care and conditioning of their arm can make or break their career. As you will see we have a lot to say about arm strength and conditioning - it is the one of the major staples of our training program.
The two most important areas covered throughout the throwing program are Arm Health and Arm Strength. More specifically, players will go through a systematic throwing routine (long toss) to build up the strength and stamina of their arm. These exercises are designed to balance the functions of the large and small muscle groups. Unfortunately, most baseball players work only the large muscles and forget that injuries usually occur when the smaller muscles, ligaments and tendons break down. Once again, our primary goal is to educate and instruct each player how to stretch, strengthen and condition their arm. Our secondary goal is help each player develop a consistent release point through proper rhythm and balance. These exercises will ultimately lead to increased velocity and accuracy and will address the needs of both pitchers and position players.
At the core of our throwing program is Long Toss. Long Toss is a systematic throwing routine that is the single most important work-out for any baseball player concerned about among other things, the strength of their arm and the longevity of their career. Our Long Toss is based on two key principles - throwing through a “stretch” and staying mechanically sound. This will serve four major purposes: 1) Health - stretch and strengthen the smaller muscles of the arm, 2) Velocity -establish arm speed and finish, 3) Accuracy - develop a consistent release point, 4) Rhythm - sound and more fluid throwing mechanics. Each of these areas will be developed as players learn that there is a major distinction between “playing catch” and playing Long Toss.
Long Toss and Pitchers
Because mechanics, release point and arm speed are such a major part of pitching we use our Long Toss program to work on these areas. More specifically, pitchers will be in a mechanically sound position on every throw. As pitchers learn how to stretch out (distance) correctly they will learn the importance of staying relaxed in their balance point. As pitchers learn how to pull down “through their stretch”, they will learn how to create a consistent release point without decelerating. This is the key to developing a consistent release point and generating arm speed. The consistency of a release point becomes even more crucial when we move on to our next drill, Grips and Rotation. This is because the consistency of off-speed pitches being in the zone are based on the ability to “finish” through your release point, and not decelerating.
Mound Work (Pitchers)
Immediately following our long toss work-out, pitchers will begin to work on a number of different drills. Each drill is designed to address two major areas: mechanics and release point. Because each Major League Organization has their own way of teaching mechanics our emphasis and approach has more to do with establishing a rhythm within those mechanics. We will make adjustments if necessary, but our philosophy is rather simple - if a pitcher can repeat a rhythm (like a dance), then there is a great likelihood that his wind-up will be fluid, which in turn leads to a consistent balance point and release point.
Other physical drills include “hip drill”, “grips and rotations”, “chest/knee”, “foot work” and “balance”; Mental drills include demeanor/body language (imagery), pitching lanes (visualization), bull-pen pace, sequencing/pitching philosophy, holding runners.
*The Art of Hitting*
Immediately following your long toss work-out, you will go through a number of drills that include soft toss, tee work, visualization and live hitting. What makes these drills unique is that we key into you mental, as well as your physical approach to hitting. Since almost all hitting slumps are mental slumps (i.e. most hitters rarely change mechanics during the season) we have found that learning how to have a quiet and clear mind is critical to succeeding in game situations. Learning how to swing at strikes and take balls is an art. Learning how to keep a consistent frame of mind from at-bat to at-bat is an art. Learning how to track balls while staying relaxed and balanced is an art. Learning how to hit in pressure situations is an art. Hence, we emphasize building a process and approach that is an art that will allow you to express your talent, rather than inhibit your talent, from at-bat to at-bat.
*Trusting Your Approach*
Hitting is an “expression” of your talent. Therefore we address your approach to hitting rather than your actual hitting mechanics. Again, each organization will have their own philosophy to hitting so it is our goal to teach hitters how to maximize their mechanics by having a consistent mental approach. Specifically, we address patience, discipline and pitch selection - three areas that are often overlooked when hitters swing without a purpose (both in practice and game situations). These drills are designed to keep a clear mind, to see the ball long, stride softly and learn how to key into your hitting zones. In addition, these drills will teach you how to keep a consistent approach, regardless of the circumstances (bases empty or bases loaded).
Because you have your own unique approach to hitting, our goal is not *necessarily* to change your mechanics but polish them through a more relaxed and fluid approach. This will ultimately help solidify your mechanics in game situations, when it counts.
Because players spend four to five weeks getting into “shape” during spring training, we don't *limit the amount* of cardiovascular conditioning in January and February. However, we do implement a number of running exercises to enhance leg strength, agility, ballistic movement (foot speed) and endurance. Because the season can be very long, our goal is to provide exercises that are “energizing”, so all players show up to spring training refreshed, and have the ability to maintain this energy level throughout the duration of the season.
Because our professional program lasts either six weeks (Major League Camp) or eight weeks (Minor League Camp) we are afforded the time to ingrain a specific mind-set *or process* that will serve as a foundation throughout the entire season. And because this routine is as much mental as it is physical it will enable you to rely on your mental skills, not just your physical abilities. Because our training is centered around an intimate mind/body connection you will find that this connection will sustain itself throughout the season. Naturally, this leads to mental and physical consistency - the ultimate goal of any athlete.
Is there anything getting in your way of realizing your maximum potential Let's face it -- there are a lot of talented players who know how to showcase their talents during practice but find it difficult to let it happen between the lines, in game situations, when it counts. A lot of these players have the physical abilities to become successful Major League players but are unable to maintain a level of consistency from game to game, pitch to pitch; from the practice field to the playing field.
There are many factors that can affect a player's mental approach, including distractions, pressure, consequences and negative thoughts. Any one of these can cause even a “mentally strong” player to perform below his capabilities.
You obviously possess the physical talents necessary to succeed at the Major League level. Then, what is preventing you from realizing your potential? From being as mentally consistent as you are physically prepared?
It is my belief that the mind is the missing link between having potential and realizing this potential. If you sense that your mental skills are not as reliable as your physical skills - if you feel that you are not as relaxed, focused, concentrated, disciplined or confident as you would like to be, I hope you will consider this an opportunity to incorporate these skills into your development as a complete player.