Behind the Comeback

  • By Dynamic Sports Training
  • 02 Dec, 2015

Barry Zito

In my career at DST, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of great ball players. Some of you might remember the blog I wrote about our work with Scott Kazmir. Last offseason, I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with Barry Zito. Barry discovered DST through Ron Wolforth and the Texas Baseball Ranch.
Barry walked into our office wearing exactly what you’d expect a Cali-born left-handed pitcher to be dressed in. On his head was a snapback hat, which had seen better days. The hat read ‘PatCast’ across the front (referencing Train’s front man, Pat Monahan’s podcast). He wore a blue t-shirt with the phrase ‘Pugs Not Drugs’ and below it was a picture of a pug. I was surprised to see that he was in remarkably good shape. I asked him if he’d like to sit down and talk. I had envisioned a meet and greet situation. He looked at me confused, almost annoyed, and said, “Actually, I’m ready to get started now if that’s cool.” So, we started.
Barry Zito’s story is well known. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball while a member of the Oakland Athletics (Cy Young Award, 2002). Things seemed to turn south after he signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2007. He had a brief resurgence in 2012, winning 15 games and leading the team to a World Series Championship. That winning streak was short lived and was followed by the end of his tenure with the Giants. This ultimately led to Barry taking off the entire 2014 season. Fast-forward to this year. Barry played the entire season with the Nashville Sound, the Triple-A team for the Oakland Athletics. Today he was called up to pitch the remainder of the 2015 season in Oakland, where it all started for him.
Barry began training at DST’s north location, operating out of Premier Baseball of Texas in Tomball, Texas. It is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. The facility is surround by farm fields and livestock, and the next-door neighbors are horse doctors. Our first conversation was a philosophy exchange on the mechanics of pitching. Barry is a guy that is deeply passionate about the art of throwing a baseball. I showed enough knowledge and understanding to be a sounding board for the new ideas Barry would come up with. The majority of what I know about pitching comes from the minds of Cleveland Indians Pitcher, Trevor Bauer and pitching coach, Ron Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch. I wish I could say that there was some secret exercise that helped Barry get back on top. His success can only be credited to his own hard work and dedication.
Barry is a different breed. While he is everything you’d expect from a Cali-born lefty, he is extremely focused and intelligent. He won’t do something unless there is a reason for doing it. He wanted to know that each exercise we were doing was a building block for his ultimate goal, a return to baseball. He didn’t waste a single minute. While walking from exercise to exercise, Barry would work on the pitching mechanics that he was learning at The Ranch. This is a guy who is flat out hungry for success.
I was never concerned that Barry wouldn’t reach his goal. He was too determined to fail. He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder or something to prove. It was a very calm determination. Barry was enjoying the process and wanted to play again for the love of baseball. He had the confidence, was taking the right steps and putting in the right work in order for his goal to be realized.
Barry could not be further from the words high maintenance. One day he came in and asked if he was allowed to throw in one of the back cages; as if there would be a problem with a Cy Young winner using a cage. I noticed that Barry didn’t have anything with him. I said, “Yeah, go for it. Do you need a bucket of balls? I got a bunch of big-league ones here by my desk.” Barry replied, “No thanks, man. There’s a ball back there.” Then he quickly walked off. I was confused; one ball wouldn’t be nearly enough. I walked to the back cages about ten minutes later. The one ball that Barry was content using was one of those terrible dimpled balls that you see at the local batting cages. To Barry, it was a tool for him to get better with. This happened throughout the course of the offseason, by the way. Another time, Barry forgot his glove and stopped on the way to buy one. He picked a good one.
Barry Zito is an all-around great guy. For a pitcher who had a lot of successful years in the MLB, you would think that he would act somewhat “big league”. The fact is that Barry never big-leagued anyone. He has always been friendly. From time-to-time would help out our minor league guys with something they were working on. Barry and I also talked a lot about our faith, as we are both Christians. After his last bullpen in front of scouts, Barry was upset that a couple specific teams hadn’t shown up. As we were both leaving, he turned to me and said, “You know what? I just have to trust the fact that God has a plan.” Later that night Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A’s, called Barry Zito.

Dynamic Sports Training Blog

By Dynamic Sports Training 12 Dec, 2017

The Lateral Med Ball T-Position Throw is the second exercise in our T-Position progression with our athletes. The concept is the same: to coordinate the body to be more explosive in rotation, load it. However, the amount of rotation is over a longer arc than the linear position, resulting in higher speeds and more force that must be absorbed.


THE SET UP

  1. The athlete will set their feet wider than shoulder width and perpendicular to the wall with knees bent.

  2. The elbow should be up and in line with the ball on the driving arm.

  3. Fingers turned up toward the sky.

  4. The ball should be at or just under chin height (shot put).


THE MOVEMENT

  1. The athlete will rock back (limited rotation) to the side of the drive arm.

  2. Spending as little time as possible at the end of the load, the athlete should rotate to throw the ball violently against a wall (think start throwing the ball before the load is able to stop).

  3. Let your body follow through in rotation. If you catch the ball off the wall, back up and let it bounce to you.


Pro Tip

Make sure that the athlete's head stays with the back hip. Often times, athletes want to lead with their head which results in poor rotational mechanics. That isn’t to say that there is no forward movement. As the hips move into the front leg, the head just rides the back hip. Focus on firming up the front leg for maximal power output.

By Josh Graber 08 Dec, 2017
We're so excited to bring back our Ping Pong 4 Charity Tournament in 2018. Last year, we were able to raise thousands of dollars to help our community.

This year, we have our sights set on a   much bigger impact! Our cause this year hits home for many of us in the Houston area. When Harvey hit Houston this past August, our city was turned upside down. We don't have to tell you how much damage was done or how rebuilding efforts are far from over. 

Some of the most meaningful stories of community in the wake of Harvey were from those who came from out of state to help -- not because they had friends or family here, but because they wanted to help their fellow man. We want to return the favor.Our neighbors in surrounding cities, states, and countries have been through pain and heartache this year as well. That's why we're partnering with some of our athletes from these surrounding areas and communities to help as many people as possible with this event.

We'd love to have you join in and help us put the FUN in fundraising with the 2018 Ping Pong 4 Charity event presented by Premier Baseball of Texas. Registration is now open !

If you can't join us on January 27th, support our cause by purchasing a Houston Strong tee - all proceeds from the shirt will also go toward hurricane relief efforts.
By Dynamic Sports Training 07 Dec, 2017
Integrity
There are a couple different definitions of integrity we'll be looking into this month: 

(1) The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

(2) The state of being whole and undivided. 

Instilling integrity into athletes is a daily demonstration. Three main areas to focus on are: Fair play, good sporting behavior and character. Character development is not just an instruction, it is a consistent mind set.

Josh Graber will be writing more about Integrity later this month. Keep an eye out for it on our blog on Friday, December 15th!

Supplements
Supplementation is to be used when an athlete is unable to get sufficient nutrients from their daily meals, or in some cases, add more calories when they cannot be consumed. Essentially, supplements serve to bridge the gap in one's diet. Supplements are used to pick up the slack if anything is lacking in the diet or to “shortcut” meal prepping and just taking nutrients directly. In addition, supplementation could help improve meal timing (i.e. meals before and after workouts).

Sammy Knox will be writing more about Supplements later this month. Keep an eye out for it on our blog on Friday, December 22nd!

Periodization
Stated simply, Periodization is looking at the big picture and the end goal, and then breaking it down into actionable, day to day steps to reach that goal. When we create our programs for our athletes, we like to start from the end and work our way to the beginning. Every exercise and movement we program is designed to help our athletes reach their goals. 

Kevin Poppe will be writing more about Periodization later this month. Keep an eye out for it on our blog on Friday, December 29th!
By Dynamic Sports Training 07 Dec, 2017
Ryan Henry is a Business Operations Associate at DST. He received a bachelor of arts degree in multidisciplinary studies with focuses in business, communications, and math, graduating in December of 2016 from the University of Texas in San Antonio. He was president of the club baseball team for three years where he managed, coached, and played. He was named pitcher of the month in May of 2012 where he led his conference in strikeouts and ERA. He joined the DST team in 2017.

"Ryan is kind of the jack of all trades for us. He works really hard, and he makes sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly for the rest of our staff while also managing all of our accounts [at DST North]." - Kevin Poppe , Director of DST North
By Dynamic Sports Training 05 Dec, 2017
The Linear Med Ball T-Position Throw has been a staple in all of DST's rotational programs for years now. The concept is simple: to coordinate the body to be more explosive in rotation - load it. This “load” is light enough to be at a high-velocity profile while heavy enough to create adaptations in the body and in rotational mechanics. Enough with the boring stuff! The video is pretty detailed but here are the main points:

The Set Up

  1. The athlete will set their feet wider than shoulder width, facing the wall with knees bent.
  2. The elbow should be up and in line with the ball on the driving arm.
  3. Fingers turned up toward the sky.
  4. The ball should be at or just under chin height (shot put).

The Movement

  1. The athlete will rotate back to the side of the drive arm.
  2. Spending as little time as possible at the end of the load, the athlete should rotate to throw the ball violently against a wall (think start throwing the ball before the load is able to stop).
  3. Let your body follow through in rotation. If you catch the ball off the wall, back up and let it bounce to you.

The #1 Rule

As with all of the medicine ball work we do, I tell everyone that the number one rule of med ball work is to throw the heck out of it. No “off” reps. You want to be explosive? Move as explosively as possible on these types of exercises.
By Dynamic Sports Training 01 Dec, 2017

Plyometrics involve repetitive power jumping with quick force production. When muscles lengthen, then immediately shorten, they provide maximal power for an athlete. Plyometrics are an ideal style of training for athletes looking to improve speed and power with varied intensities. When you immediately follow an eccentric contraction with concentric, or “muscle-shortening” contraction, your muscle produces a greater force. This is called the “stretch-shortening cycle.”

So that all sounds like something a basketball player would benefit from, right? They need to be powerful and explosive when skying for a rebound, contesting a jump shot or even shooting from 3-point range. This is all true. ´╗┐However,  ´╗┐basketball players get the plyometric training they need while playing their sport, so extra plyometric training in the weight room isn't necessary. More does not equal better in this instance.

A major disadvantage of plyometric training with basketball players (or other jumping athletes) is that there is a high risk of injury. These athletes are already jumping enough in their sport, so why should we jump even more during training? One of the biggest issues with basketball players is the overuse injury with the taller athlete who’s already injury-prone due to force production with increased leverage between the joints (simply stated, they have longer legs).

"Examining recent high draft picks reveals that taller players have gone on to miss a larger percentage of games than their shorter peers. The percentage of games missed generally increases as height increases. Players 7’0” or taller have missed nearly 24 percent of their games." ( FiveThirtyEight )
By Dynamic Sports Training 28 Nov, 2017
In our last video of our Snatch Series we are talking all about the Catch. So we have pulled from the floor and avoided our floating bar and we have made nice contact at our hips; now we must catch the bar correctly!

Common problems people have with the Snatch rarely have to do with the technique.  Many people have overhead mobility and stability issues.  First and foremost, if you do not have the required amount of overhead flexion and your shoulder (anterior & posterior) and scap stability is lacking, you should not be performing a snatch. First, I recommend working on gaining the required mobility, add stability on top of it, and then we can talk.  

Now back to the people who are free of overhead mobility and stability issues: One common mistake is flipping the bar at the top of the catch.  This is incorrect as your wrist should already be under the bar at this point.  The catch should involve a push or a punch, not a flip. Side note: you technically never stop pulling on the bar. When we make the mistake of flipping the bar, it causes a lot of forward/backward movement. This causes us to lose the bar behind us or we may end up trying to run under the bar and lose it forward.  

A few coaching cues I like to use are
  1. up 
  2. under
  3. punch
The cues are simple, the execution may take a little more work. I would start with pulling a pvc pipe or empty bar and begin working on your turnover.  Now you have the fourth and final key to fixing your snatch! Watch the video below and get to work!
By Dynamic Sports Training 21 Nov, 2017
Bang!!!

Yes, that is my favorite…drink.  Not something I encourage during your snatch.  I am sure by now you are probably thinking, “what the heck is this guy talking about?” I am talking about when your hips meet the bar in your snatch .  Bar-body contact is a huge topic in the weightlifting world. For today, we are going to keep it simple.  

There is a fine line between what we call the Brush crowd and the Bang crowd.  Let me define these for you real quick. The Brush crowd believes the bar should brush the hips on the way through extension and encourages the bar to stay tight to the body. The Bang crowd believes in more violent hip extension and encourages it. My take? I like both! I believe it’s an in between, like most things in athletic performance.

So you might be wondering, “why is Garrett covering banging the bar as our third mistake in our Snatch Series?” Because most people take it to an extreme! Most people overcompensate by banging the bar so hard it gets out from their body and they aren't able to recover; they end up trying to run under the bar to no avail.  We want the bar to remain as close to the thighs as possible without being in contact, and the shoulders to remain at least very slightly in front of the bar until the bar is up into the hips in the snatch .  Think of the bar as being pushed back into the hips as the hips finish the snap.  The key is not driving the hips through the bar (banging) so far that vertical force is lost and the bar gets pushed away from the body.

Make sense?

Okay, so how do you fix this? Easy - practice variations.  Two variations to work on are the snatch pull from the floor and the high snatch working into the catch as shown in the video. Now get to work!!

By Dynamic Sports Training 20 Nov, 2017

Everything athletes do - from training, to sleeping, to what they are putting in their body - are all small, important pieces to a much bigger puzzle. One vital piece is nutrition and with this month's Trigger Focus being Nutrient Density, I figured I'd address an important question: "Are all calories created equally?" The simple answer is, of course, no. To explain why, I did a comparison case study on what 3,000 calories looks like: healthy, nutrient-dense foods vs. a beloved fast food chain that starts with a 'W' and ends with 'hataburger.' 


Don’t talk to me about recovery when you're living out of a fast food window .”  


I can still hear my collegiate strength coach telling me this as though it was yesterday. He was right, my nutrition habits were trash; I was so used to eating whatever I wanted because I was young, so I thought my body could handle it.  I can probably count on one hand how many of us even knew the term ‘nutrient density’ let alone what it meant. So today we are going to EQUIP you with this knowledge.  


Simply stated, nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from a food, given the number of calories it contains. A.K.A getting the “biggest bang for your buck”. Why is nutrient density so helpful? Because it gives you concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients , to name a few. Adequate consumption of foods high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals is essential for a healthy immune system and for empowering your body’s detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms. This helps protect you from cancer and other diseases. Nutrient-dense foods also provide necessary micronutrients - which are highly overlooked - that are important co-factors in reactions that produce growth, repair tissues, and increase oxygen transport. Being deficient in this will negatively affect performance and could keep you from reaching your athletic potential.


Now let me show you the difference. 3,000 calories at Whataburger looks something like this:

By Dynamic Sports Training 16 Nov, 2017
Jordan is our Off-Site Trainer at DST. He has a CPT certification through ACSM. Prior to working at DST, Jordan played basketball at the collegiate level and coached at the high school level. He received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Kinesiology from Mississippi College. Since joining DST, Jordan has become an expert at prepubescent development and become proficient in training athletes of all ages and all levels. His knowledge and experience continually prepare our athletes for the next level.
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