PRIME TIME FOUNDATIONS
THE MISSION OF PRIME TIME FOUNDATIONS (PTF)
At Prime Time Programs, we subscribe to the philosophy that no matter your age -- or skill level -- all athletes are ready to learn and develop the routines and movement patterns showcased by high-velocity pitchers. So, our goal with Prime Time Foundations is to teach youth ball-players the art of athleticism, moving efficiently and at maximum "intent." As the program title suggests, these abilities -- lay the foundation for maximizing potential and achieving goals both NOW -- and in the FUTURE.
So, with that, Prime Time Programs is proud to present the newest addition to our training slate for the 2020-2021 off-season -- PRIME TIME FOUNDATIONS (PTF). PTF targets youth athletes -- 10 to 13 years of age -- and teaches them what it takes to be successful at the highest levels of competition, against advanced-level athletes. The program's schedule is divided into two -- three-month long sessions.
The first session is primarily focused on developing overall player athleticism and efficient movement patterns to throw
-- no matter what position they play. The second session more specifically focuses on the pitching motion -- to promote proper timing, increase velocity, improve command and maintain arm health. When registering, participants are given three packages to choose from: Month-to-Month, Single Session (First or Second) or the Full 6-Month Program.
This program started as a blank slate... and with the help of PTF's Head Instructor-- Adam Bodary -- and our fearless leader at Prime Time -- Nick Swanson -- we've designed a program that'll maximize the ability for players of all skill levels and lay the groundwork in their development for years to come. For the past five years, Adam cultivated a roster of amateur pitchers (ranging in age from 9-21 years old) that he's consistently instructed both in group-settings and privately. His credentials include:
Current 15u Head Coach -- Michigan Red Sox
Current Junior Varsity Head Coach -- Birmingham Groves High School
Driveline Baseball Certified in Foundations of Pitch Design and Hitting (in process of completing Foundations of Pitching Certification)
And, as we mentioned, our President of Operations here at Prime Time Programs -- Nick Swanson -- will serve as the second trainer for the Foundations Program. A side note -- as this program is brand new, we're still gauging interest level and determining just how many participants will be joining us. If everything goes as we believe it will, we're prepared to meet higher demand and add trainers to our current staff.
In the end, no matter where you are to start, or which package you select, each athlete can expect increases in throwing velocity, in-game throwing/pitching ability, overall body awareness and athleticism -- all while decreasing the likelihood of future injury. Connect the dots -- and you've got the building blocks for performing your very best NOW -- and years down the road.
Here's how we make it happen.
ASSESSMENT & PROGRAMMING
Whether you start the Foundations Program during our first session in September, the second in January or somewhere in between -- the training process for all our athletes begins with our 360º physical screen and throwing assessment. The assessment collects keys metrics for each player to create athlete profiles that drive the creation of individually-specific programs that target areas of improvement and deficient movement patterns.
So, what can you expect during the Assessment? A member of our illustrious staff leads each athlete through an examination in two key areas: mobility and throwing mechanics. As we're dealing with youth athletes, we make the assumption that they all need overall strength and stability development -- so we forego a strength assessment in this program.
No matter what age you are, increasing range of motion allows the body to move more athletically. So, determining each athlete's current level of overall mobility is paramount for identifying areas to target during the course of this program. Following an examination of mobility, we also assess each athlete's throwing motion -- both on and off the mound. No two athletes throw exactly alike, so we determine where deficiencies exist in each athlete's motion. Once we've gathered all relevant data, we'll sit down with the athlete and their family to discuss our findings and how we plan on "plugging the leaks" in their delivery.
Once we've create an athlete's profile and discussed the results, we develop training programs specifically targeting areas of improvement for our young athletes.
The programming portion of our program differs from our other Prime Time Programs. Each program still consists of the following: daily mobility work, dynamic warm-up routine, movement patterning drills, a throwing program, our post-throwing recovery circuit and stability development work. But, as athletes are only on-site for this program two hours a day -- twice a week -- all receive "homework". In other words, the program doesn't stop when athletes leave the facility. We understand that schedules are busy, and school work comes first -- but by incorporating some level of mobility work and recovery protocols into a daily routine, athletes can reinforce the gains they make while in-gym.
Also, another key difference to our other programs -- we give our youth athletes the chance to "unwind." Not everything we do each day is "baseball-related" -- even though everything we do contributes to athlete development for baseball. Kids will be prescribed days where they'll throw a frisbee, or a football, or kick a soccer ball -- or maybe even play tag in our fielding area. These cross-sport activities are used to open kids up, allow them to move freely and have fun with their fellow athletes.
You've probably already noticed, but we frequently mention "ATHLETICISM" as an integral part of developing youth athletes.
So, how does one improve athleticism? Weight-lifting? Lots of sprints? Become more flexible? We view athleticism as a very all-encompassing term showcasing a player's ability to move in space. Ever seen a miraculous catch in football, a highlight-reel dunk in basketball or a diving stop at third base? Each showcases a high-level of athleticism. For us, athleticism describes the ability to produce force, isolate and connect movements of the body, create fast-twitch motion -- and while possessing a high level of "body awareness".
So, to promote these attributes, Prime Time Foundations incorporates a regiment of constraint throwing drills, stability development, mobility work, cross-sport training, plyometrics and more. When a player moves with a high degree of athleticism, they possess the makings for reaching their true potential and joining the ranks of advanced-level athletes.
So, we've mentioned "body awareness" on a couple of occasions. What exactly do we mean by this? Well, when we refer to body awareness -- we are actually referring to a concept called Kinesthetic Awareness. Kinesthetic Awareness describes the ability to navigate in space and interpret the feeling of movements. In other words, right after a pitch is thrown -- Can you describe what you felt? Do you know when you've thrown a ball or strike before the ball even crosses the plate? Do you know why you walked the last batter on four straight pitches? Can you make the necessary adjustments to your motion in just one pitch? How about repeat the exact same movements 100 times in a game?
The ability to answer these questions and accomplish these tasks without a second thought, reflects an athlete who possesses a high-level of Kinesthetic Awareness. Not sure if you have this ability? Ask yourself -- are you aware of how your body moves? Can you describe what you feel? If you're at a loss for words -- there's room for improvement.
Learning and developing a connection between the mind and body isn't an exact science. It's actually a lot simpler --however, it's not always easy. Through the Foundations program, we prescribe various movement patterning drills specific to athlete needs -- removing the throwing part from the equation. It's a lot easy to feel movement when you aren't so concerned with the end result. In addition, we incorporate regiments of cross-sport training, plyometrics and our favorite -- Barefoot Training!
Ultimately, these movement exercises teach athletes how to move freely, at high intensity, in sequence while learning desired patterns of motion. When athleticism drives movement, players become more aware of deficiencies -- and are more equipped to make the necessary adjustments to maximize performance immediately.
MOBILITY & STABILITY
At Prime Time Programs -- we believe throwing at the highest levels of intensity and maximizing potential throwing velocities requires a solid base of overall strength. A lack of strength can greatly increase the risk of injury for athletes throwing at maximum exertion levels (100% effort). The body is simply unable to handle the stress (torque) imposed on the body (particularly the arm) when throwing at such high exertion rates. Furthermore, in order to safely navigate increases in throwing volume, frequency and intensity -- it's important that each athlete possess a foundation of strength that is capable of withstanding sustained levels of stress. In addition, strength is the spark that ignites the entire throwing motion. Strong muscles and joints create force, sustain and transfer energy and allows for proper timing of movements.
So, depending on what throwing phase each athlete is currently in -- at least once a week, athletes go through a stability development regiment after they finish their throwing program and recovery circuit. These routines target specific key areas of the body that are pivotal for moving well. As these are young athletes, we stay away from "heavy lifts" and instead focus on developing explosive movement, core stability and proper form.
Pure strength isn't everything though. If that were the case, we might see more offensive linemen on the mound. Increasing an athlete's throwing velocity -- while minimizing injury risks -- requires a balance between strength and segments of the body moving in the proper sequence. In fact, an athlete with average strength who moves in sequence, is far more likely to throw harder than an athlete with a strong foundation of strength and poor sequencing. And proper movement timing starts with possessing high levels of mobility.
Mobility refers to the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of isolated motion. Mobility is often confused as synonymous with flexibility, but flexibility simply refers to a joint's ability to lengthen -- compared to its range of motion in space. So, based on our initial physical assessment, we prescribe each youngster with specific mobility work targeting specific joints with limited ranges of motion.
The better an athlete can isolate joint movement and separate parts of the body -- the better they're able to move in sequence and throw efficiently.
And now we arrive at the bread and butter of our Foundations program -- Throwing. We've spent a lot of time discussing athleticism, movement patterns, sequencing, etc. The throwing portion of Foundations puts it all together and allow each athlete to feel new movement patterns, increase throwing volume, frequency and intensity -- to throw freely and naturally. To re-shape specific deficiencies for each athlete -- throwing programs are designed using our constraints-led approach and incorporates various implements such as weighted plyo balls, resistance bands, PVC pipes and more.
Our constraints-led approach for throwing is actually rather simple. Constrain parts of the body, to encourage those segments to follow desired movement paths, in a desired sequence. The throwing drills and progressions frequently used to develop young athletes (and older athletes actually) fail to define specific tasks and goals that promote desired improvements.
We've all seen it before, players throwing back and forth with a teammate down the outfield foul line, trying to hit their partner in the chest. And, more often than not, what do we see? Throw after throw sailing high -- and/or skipping across the ground. We chalk this up to kids being kids, a lack of focus/effort or the easiest one -- bad mechanics. However, the real culprit is the throwing environment. Athletes aren't asked to follow specific patterns of motion to throw. They never feel how their body is moving in space. And ultimately, they themselves don't know and can't feel why the ball never reaches the target.
So, we give the body direction -- a roadmap to follow -- by constraining the body so the athlete feels how specific segments move in order to throw. Then, we progress -- adding the next segment in the chain, connecting segmented movements to create a singular, fluid motion. Constraint throwing drills allow us to target and re-map movement deficiencies specific to each athlete. However, bad habits can be fickle so breaking them takes time. And to start, we take all our athletes through an orientation phase with our throwing series. This "orientation" is essential as it paves the way for athletes to develop the desired movements and feelings within each drill.
As we progress from drill to drill, and connect parts -- throws increasingly resemble the pitching motion and gives athletes opportunities for self-discovery. In the end, this program -- and athlete development as a whole -- isn't about how much we know as trainers. We don't have a magic wand that instantly fixes any and all mechanical issues. What truly matters is each athlete being able to understand, discover and feel optimal movement patterns specific to them. Our throwing program -- and the entire Foundations program -- creates a training environment to give each athlete the tools, drills, knowledge and freedom they specifically need to take ownership for their development and become the very best version of themselves.
THROWING PHASES -- SESSION ONE
While Prime Time Foundations was built by pitchers for youth pitchers -- our training environment promotes the development of all throwing -- regardless of position. So, no matter what your primary position is -- the principles of throwing remain quite constant. So, if you aren't a pitcher, don't fret -- our staff is fully equipped to provide you with the specialized variations to maximize your throwing ability at any and all positions on the field. In particular, Session One of the Foundations program focuses on the overall bigger picture of the throwing motion -- covering the key principles of throwing. It doesn't matter if that means on the infield, behind the plate, from the outfield, or on the bump. So, during Session One, all athletes will progress through the following Throwing Phases:
Mound Blend/Position Specific
THROWING PHASES -- SESSION TWO
Interested in diving a bit deeper? Session Two of Foundations continues where our first session left off -- by looking beneath the surface to break down the dynamics of the pitching motion. Athletes who participated in Session One will transition what they've learned so far on to the mound and re-enforce efficient movement patters. For incoming athletes who are new, and didn't participate in the previous session, we will take you throw the "orientation" phase of our program and begin blending what we covered in Session One with the goals of Session Two.
In other words, if you join us only for Session Two -- you'll be getting a crash course in everything that goes into throwing a baseball, both on and off the mound. Don't let that fool you though, while all athletes will experience some portion of six throwing phases, each program will follow what that specific athlete needs to work on. This is your development process -- so we will do what's best for you. Here's a look at the three main throwing phases of Session Two:
WARM-UP & RECOVERY
In order to perform at the highest levels of intensity, the body must be prepared. So, all athletes will have a daily dynamic warm-up to perform upon arrival at our training center. The warm-up incorporates exercises designed to increase body temperature, target limitations in mobility and stability -- and prime athlete movement for performance. Athletes will quickly become acquainted with soft tissue work (using a foam roller or lacrosse ball), Jaeger Band routines, movement-based mobility work, core stabilization exercises and plyometric priming drills.
Now what? A Post-Throwing Routine for recovery is frequently mentioned as being an integral part of the throwing process. While, all of our Prime Time Programs prioritize proper recovery -- we follow through and establish it as an expectation.
Directly after finishing their daily throwing program -- each athlete will go through a series of exercises targeting areas stressed the most during the throwing motion. This recovery circuit allows the body to come back to it's baseline level.
Without it, an athlete's body would be ill-prepared for continuously enduring the high levels of strain imposed by the throwing delivery. So, every day, our athletes utilize resistance bands, shoulder tubes, weighted balls and light weights in their Post-Throwing Routine -- to accomplish three goals: maximize ability to perform, reinforce movement patterns and develop force acceptance.
You may find it tedious, but it is absolutely essential for maintaining arm care while increasing throwing volume, intensity and frequency over the course of multiple phases of throwing development.