Why you need to train in-season

As snow starts to melt and trees start to bloom, baseball games are going to start filling the calendars of kids this spring all across the country. While this is an exciting time of the year, it can bring a multitude of challenges. With more and more training economy being dedicated to games, less is ultimately reserved for training. This creates a big problem for players who made changes over the offseason. If you don’t supplement your work over the winter with in-season maintenance, your changes won’t hang around for long. You’re going to lose them.

To explain this, we have to go to the two biggest constraints all coaches face:

  • Hard wired Central Nervous System
  • Preconceived notion for how to execute a specific task

This article is going to focus on the first one: How to “rewire” and already hardwired Central Nervous System (CNS). If you’ve ever felt like pulling your hair out over players who constantly reverted back to bad mechanics, you know how hard this one is. Making meaningful movement changes is difficult. If you add an athlete to the equation who’s done something wrong their entire career, it becomes exponentially more difficult. If we want to understand why, we have to go deeper than connective tissue.

The issues you see on the surface are not the fault of the muscles. Every action we make can be traced back to the command center for all human movement: The CNS.

The CNS consists of the brain and the spinal cord. It serves many functions within our body. Of these includes the ability to process information about our environment and communicate to our muscles and other connective tissue on how to execute specific tasks. While it was once thought that muscles have “memory,” we now know this isn’t the case. Our connective tissue has no working memory. It organizes and responds based on what the CNS tells it to do. This part is really important.

When we learn a new skill, our CNS takes on the responsibility of building out “instruction manuals” for our body. At first, these manuals are a little fuzzy. It takes a lot of time and practice to get everything in our body on the same page so the skill can be executed consistently and without error. This is why your first attempts riding a bike or driving a car weren’t so graceful. Your brain and body were relying on a manual that hadn’t been completed yet. The only way to complete it is through time, practice, and a critical substance found in our brain that grows in response to repetition: Myelin.


Myelin is a fatty, insulating sheath that forms and wraps around nerves throughout our brain. It insulates neural circuits that relay the communication of electrical impulses between nerves. These impulses transmit signals from our brain to our body on how to execute specific skills. Everything we do – from shooting a basketball to tying our shoes – has a dedicated neural circuit behind it. The faster impulses can travel along these circuits, the more efficiently and effectively we’ll be able to execute that skill.

Myelin has a few fundamental principles, as outlined by Daniel Coyle in his best-selling book The Talent Code:

  1. The firing of the circuit is paramount
    1. Myelin responds to action and urgent repetition. It cannot grow unless you are firing the nerve patterns required for that specific skill.   
  2. Myelin is universal
    1. Myelin is ignorant of what you are doing. It only cares that you are doing something. In Coyle’s words: “Myelin is meritocratic: circuits that fire get insulated.”
  3. Myelin wraps – it doesn’t “unwrap”
    1. You can’t uninsulated what’s already been insulated.

Coyle’s third principle of myelin gives us insight into why bad habits are so hard to break. He explains:

“Like a highway paving machine, myelination happens in one direction. Once a skill circuit is insulated, you can’t un-insulate it (except through age or disease). That’s why habits are hard to break. The only way to change them is to build new habits by repeating new behaviors – by myelinating new circuits.”

If you’ve patterned a bad swing your whole life, you can’t just “unlearn” it. Your brain is always going to remember that pattern. The only way you can break it is by learning something new. As a result, breaking bad habits can’t be a one stop shop. It is a constant process of myelinating newer and better patterns so they can eventually become your brain’s preferred course of action. What starts as a conscious action must eventually become an unconscious reaction. You bury the old by building the new. This takes a ton of work, time, and patience. It also takes a lot more than just one offseason.

If you made big changes this past winter to your swing or delivery, remember this: Those changes are NOT permanent. They are only as permanent as your dedication to maintain them. You need to continuously myelinate them throughout the course of the season because they’re constantly competing for attention over the bad patterns you’ve hammered your whole life. All it takes is a couple of missed training sessions for your body to default back to the patterns it knows best. It’s easier to patch these leaks when you’re training every day. It’s a lot tougher when you’re not.

Playing and competing on teams is a critical part of your development as a player. With this, understand your individual development needs won’t often be met in team environments. Practices will be centered around team specific needs. Games aren’t designed for training. They’re designed to tell you whether your training is effective or not.

If you sacrifice purposeful individual development for games and team practices, you can’t expect to make the same kind of progress throughout the season. You’re going to regress at some point because the environment you trained in that helped you break bad habits is no longer there. When the environment goes, the behavior is sure to follow.

If you want to make your offseason changes stick, below are some tips:

  • Make time to train outside of games and team practices. It doesn’t have to be much, but a little bit over a consistent period of time can go a long way.
  • Don’t focus on being perfect. You’re going to have good days and bad days. Just keep showing up.
  • Don’t mistake activity for achievement. Your practice must have purpose. Not all swings are created equal.
  • Collect film from games and practices. What you feel doesn’t always match what’s happening.
  • Ask questions. We’re often not the best at solving our own problems.
  • Find a training buddy that can help keep you accountable.
  • Don’t get married to drills. Focus on the framework and let that determine what drills, thoughts, or feelings you need at that moment in time.
  • Don’t panic. Stay the course and trust in your training.

On a final thought, being “too busy” isn’t a good enough excuse to explain why you haven’t kept up with your training. Busy is a decision. We make time for the things we want to do and “run out of time” when it’s time to do the things we lust. You can always make time if it’s important to you.

Don’t let this offseason go to waste because you didn’t have enough hours. Make the time to train and make this year your best one yet.

Four “magic tricks” you need to try with your players

We know that we’ve said there are no magic tricks when it comes to player development.

Making meaningful movement changes is not easy. It’s really hard. If you want your training to show up when the lights turn on, you can’t cut corners. You have to put in the time, energy, and effort if you want to get results with your players.
There are, however, some tricks we’ve learned over the years that work just like magic. Below are a few of our favorites, why they work so well, and great candidates to use them with. 


  • Toe out

Baseball is a posterior chain driven sport where our glutes play a critical role in force production, acceptance, and transmission. As a result, getting into positions of leverage where the glutes can take on the bulk of the workload is really important for performance. If you’re not in the right positions, you’ll never be able to turn the glutes on when it’s time to use them.

One of the primary functions of the glutes is external rotation of the hip. External rotation (ER) simply refers to any movement where the leg is rotating away from the pelvis. If we were to look at the right leg, for example, there are two main ways to get into ER from a neutral standing position:

  • Rotate your body to the left
  • Toe out

The second strategy is what we’re going to focus on for this magic trick. To think about it, check out this picture below that shows a front squat pattern. Take a close look at how the feet are set up:


Notice how both feet are slightly toed out? This position is critical and it’s no mistake. Instead of keeping the feet facing forward, opening them slightly allows you to start in more of an externally rotated position. This starts the glutes in a better position of leverage where they can control the movement and ultimately produce more force. It works the same exact way for hitters and throwers.

Watch how Justin Verlander’s back foot slips into a more toed out position has he starts to move down the mound

If you’re currently working with an athlete that pushes and loses the ground too soon, dumps their back knee in prematurely (i.e. works into internal rotation too soon), or never gets into external rotation with the back hip, try having them start with their back foot toed out. While kids are often get yelled at for doing this naturally (hint: don’t do this), starting toed out can be a huge lower half unlock without actually doing any kind of cueing or drill work. It’s that easy. All you’re doing is starting them in a better position so everything downstream can clean up.

Small hinges swing big doors. 

  • Pimp it

If you were to crack a towel, would you put all of your energy into either 1) accelerating the towel forward, or 2) pulling the towel back? That’s right, you’d probably pick the second one. You’d want to focus on pulling the towel back so you can crack it and get energy out to the tip. It’s very similar to how you’d use a whip: You don’t focus on pulling the whip through. You focus on snapping it back to make it crack. Our arm works the same exact way. 

If you’re working with a thrower who drags their arm because:

  • They’re too open
  • Their lower half has zero stability
  • They can’t stop and transfer energy up the chain

show them this and tell them to watch what happens at the end:

When they have a pretty good mental model for what the arm recoil looks like, tell them to try it. You’ll be amazed at the velo jumps it can create. It’s the most effective “trick” we’ve ever come up with for throwers. If you try it with 10 arms, there’s a really good chance it works like magic for six.

While it might seem like magic on the outside, but there’s no pixie dust involved in this one. Once thought of as taboo, the arm recoil is actually indication of an exceptional deceleration sequence. The lower half has to grab the ground, stabilize, and stop so the upper half can be rotate efficiently around it. The trunk also has to stabilize so it can whip the arm through and create a clean transfer of energy. By the time the arm releases the ball, there’s so much tension present in the system that the arm has no other choice but to get peeled back. It’s not a forced action. It’s a reflexive byproduct of a really strong sequence (feel free to read more about this here: https://bit.ly/108kikuchi).

This one is a must try if you work with any kind of throwers. It won’t work for everyone, but it will absolutely work like magic for someone. 

  • Brace on the ball

If you’re working with a hitter who lacks stability, peels off balls, drags the barrel, or doesn’t do a good job of putting their energy into the strike, perform this quick demo. Have the player put their arms out and smack them in the stomach 3-4 times. Ask them what they felt, and then tell them to do that to the ball. If you do it right, it will look something like this:

While the recoil is our favorite trick for throwers, this is our favorite magic trick for hitters. Teaching players how to “brace” and “flex” at impact is a game changer when it comes to force transmission. You’re not just creating energy. You’re learning how to channel that energy into the moment of time when we need it the most: Impact. This not only has a positive influence on force production, but it also does wonders for direction. The more stable we are into impact, the more consistent our ball striking becomes. 

If you’re working with hitters who have zero stability, can’t stop, leak energy, or drag their barrel through the zone, try this demo out with them and see what happens. It’ll work a lot more times than it won’t. 

You can read more on, this along with 10 of our favorite analogies at the shop, here: http://bit.ly/pwrofanalogy

  • Step across

Below is a home run that Mike Trout hit in 2019 off of a Kenta Maeda slider that came off the bat 111 mph and went 441 feet. When you watch this swing, look at what happens to the front foot after contact.

Notice how it steps across home plate towards first base after he finishes his swing?

Watch Trout’s front leg after contact

If you’re working with a hitter who is constantly flying open, peeling off baseballs, and gets stuck on their backside, show them this video and tell them to step across with their front foot after contact. Then, watch the magic happen.

If we think about why the “step across” move works, we have to understand that our brain maps backwards. It’s very good at building a mental map for specific movements by using information from end of the sequence. The step across is something that happens at the end of the swing. In order for it to happen, a lot of good stuff further up the chain needs to happen. Of these include:

  • Pelvis and trunk must stay closed
  • Hitter needs to get to front side
  • Must brace, decelerate into impact

If you fly open and get stuck with the majority of your weight on your backside, it’s physically impossible to step across after contact. You can’t force the move. It needs to be a reflexive action that shows up when everything is closed, braced, and stable into the strike. This is exactly why the arm recoil works so well: You’re putting the focus on the end so everything in the beginning cleans up.

Sometimes the problems downstream need to be cleaned up by going upstream. Other times, you need to go downstream to fix what’s going on upstream. The step across move is an example of the latter. If done in the appropriate context, it can be a game changer for hitters.


On a final note, below are some things to keep in mind when performing these tricks:

  • They won’t work for everyone. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole.
  • Don’t make the trick a one-stop show. If it works, continue to use it until it doesn’t. 
  • Explain why it works to the athlete. It won’t stick unless they understand the purpose behind it.
  • The magic isn’t in the drill, thought, or cue. It’s in the movement.

These four tricks are just a sample of how you can create immediate and impactful movement changes using carefully crafted thoughts, moves, and messages. Have fun trying them out.

Coaches and GPS Systems: Navigating our players to success

What do you do when you need to drive somewhere and you’re not exactly sure how to get there? Simple: You pull out your GPS, punch in the address of your destination, and let it do the work for you.

You’re going to get a couple of different routes, information on which one is quickest, and an estimated time of arrival based on traffic, conditions, and proximity. It doesn’t actually drive the car for you, but it gives you clear information on exactly where you need to go in seconds.

So consider this: Have you ever thought of coaches as human GPS systems?

Just think about it. When we pull out our GPS, we know where we want to go. We’re just not really sure how to get there. Our players are no different. They all have visions for starting on their high school teams, playing collegiately, or getting drafted. They know exactly what they want to punch into the GPS. They just need directions that tell them how to get there. That’s where you come in as a coach: You have the foresight to build out the right plan so they can make it to their destination in time.

How you get there is a different story.

If you’ve ever traveled somewhere new, you know just how easy it is to get distracted, veer off course, miss an exit, or take a wrong turn. Your athletes are going to go through the same exact thing. If you have a good GPS, these small mistakes don’t become catastrophic. Within seconds, you get a recalibrated route and a new set of directions designed to get you back on track as quickly as possible. If your players ever take a wrong turn – and they will – treat it just like a GPS would: Expect it, recognize it, and redesign your plan so you’re still on track to reach your destination in time.

We’ll never prevent our players from taking a wrong turn here or there, but we can always get them re-routed quicker than they ever will on their own.

We’ll never prevent our players from making mistakes along their journey, but we can always get them re-routed quicker than they ever will on their own. This is critical. The most precious resource we’ll ever have is our time. Those moments where our players get lost going down a long winding road will teach them some of the best lessons they’ll ever learn. They just can’t bring those lessons to fruition if they never make it back to the interstate.

On a final thought, always remember who’s driving the car: The player. We can’t drive the car for our players and we ever should. They need to take ownership of their experience and make decisions for themselves. We just have to make sure they don’t make any uninformed decisions. Their journey to get to where they want to go is going to take a ton of time, traverse a lot of different roads, and will need some re-calibrating along the way. If you wouldn’t want to make such a trip without your GPS, we shouldn’t let our players do the same.

It will be the most important one of their life.