Now that Rogue Baseball’s methodologies, principles, expectations and goals for our fall season have been laid out, we can get into the meat and potatoes of what we do with our guys, and that is WORK! We truly believe that our program provides players the opportunity to develop their game in all aspects, and our weekly routine and the work that we put in is evidence of that. Below is the layout of a typical week in the life of a Rogue Baseball player, with detailed descriptions from the coaching side on what we do and why we do it.
Monday – OFF Day/Weight Room
Mondays don’t have any baseball specific activities scheduled. Most weeks, we have just completed a weekend tournament and Monday provides our guys with a day to focus on schoolwork, get things in order for the week ahead, and take a mini break from the game. From the coaching side, Monday gives us a day to compile the stats and video, and get that out to our guys, which I’ll dive into more specifically in the next blog post. With that info we encourage our guys to evaluate their weekend and think and look through some things they can work on in the week ahead.
Monday’s biggest priority for our guys is to get back in the weight room, which is a staple of our program and a critical part of the development process for high school players. We are very fortunate to share a facility with Push Performance, who run one of the best elite baseball strength training programs in the country. DJ Edwards and the rest of the Push staff provide a personalized program for each of our players, based off of an initial assessment that our players are taken through at the beginning of the fall. Players keep that program and record their weights throughout each lifting cycle, and continue this process throughout the fall. In the weight room, we allow players to get in there at their own convenience, rather than lifting as an entire group. This allows our guys to get their lifts in around their school and baseball schedules, which can be hectic. While they have some freedom with when they can lift they are also held accountable for being in the weight room 4 days each week. We constantly stress that being great is hard, and the ability to diligently plan their weeks and stick to that plan is the key to consistency. In general, the guys that are consistent in the weight room are the guys that show consistency on the field.
Tuesday – Team Practice Day
This fall, Tuesday is set up as our team practice day. We are lucky enough to practice at a beautiful Cherokee Trail facility thanks to my former high school coach, coaching mentor and current CT head coach Steve Eaton. We use this practice day for a number of things, varying from week to week depending on what we have learned over the course of the weekend. We start each Tuesday practice with a 10 minute team meeting discussing the positives and negatives from the week and weekend prior. In addition, we recognize our weekly top performers, awarding each of our three ball bags to our hitter, pitcher and defender of the week. Recognizing our guys like this is a great way to keep them motivated and recognized for their hard work and how it leads to their performance on a given weekend, as well as turning the burden of carrying the ball bags into a positive. We also give the helmet bag to the voted upon “Dummy of the Week,” just to keep things light and allow our guys to have some fun with each other.
After our meeting, our guys go through our stretch as a team, our band and plyoball work to prepare themselves to throw, and then our throwing progression. With our current group, we have nine two-way players, so it essential that we build both pitcher and position player focuses into our throwing progression. Players act as pitchers as they stretch out, working through three or four different steps of the pitching progression, and as position players on the way including position throws and various catch principles (tags, DP footwork etc.) At the end of our defensive progressions, our two way players throw 10-15 pitch flatgrounds, with coach Moritz guiding some pitch specific work that guys may need.
Once our throwing progression is finished, we generally work into individual defensive work, with outfielders and infielders getting focused full length reps in a variety of ways. After indy D, we may do some sort of team defense that we’ve identified as a problem area, or just something we haven’t covered. After defense we’ll transition into hitting in the cages, setting some specific parameters and drills for our guys while allowing them to get a good amount of swings.
After getting a good amount of focused reps, we’ll move into some sort of live work on the field that gets our guys out in the open and playing at full speed. These drills may include our situational point game, live at bats, the ever exciting Runnin’ Rogue game, BP competitions and others. Getting the guys to compete in a fast paced, pressure environment is key here, and they usually respond well and enjoy it. We’ll conclude with some sort of conditioning, which is in place to keep our guys accountable for the week prior’s weight room attendance. Winning practice is always a key focus for us, so the coaching staff makes a decision on whether or not we practiced well enough to win and if so, we’ll get three outs and shake hands as we would after a game win. Our players of the week take the responsibility of the small amount of field cleanup that we need to complete, and we call it a day.
Wednesday – Small Group Hitting Day
Wednesday for us is a hitting specific day, in which our twelve hitters are split into three groups and work through an hour of focused work at the facility. This practice always starts with players getting stretched together as a group, and then working into some mental game work. Our focus on the mental game and providing our guys with strategies that will allow them to perform on the field is something we feel really sets up apart. Visualization, relaxation and concrete ways to handle the inevitable adversity that comes as a hitter are drilled each week for a short time on Wednesday. After practicing our mental game, we generally move into some sort of lower half and upper half warmup work, employing a number of different drills and implements that help out guys optimize their swings. From there we will get into rotations, where our guys spend time with additional specific swing drills on the heavy bag, on deck with timing focuses and in the cage with flips and overhand BP. In addition to swings, our guys train with DeCervo uHIT virtual, a cutting edge program helping to train hitters pitch recognition abilities, and we take measurements with the Blast Motion sensor which gives our guys feedback in a number of different metrics including bat speed and bat path angle. In the future, all of our players will have their own Blast Sensors and uHIT accounts, allowing them to train and receive feedback when working on their own. This use of technology allows us to take some of the guess-work out of our coaching, and provide our guys with useful objective feedback. Wednesdays allow us to take what we saw from our hitters on video from the weekend and design drills to help attack those issues, as well as giving our hitters a chance to decide for themselves which drills and progressions they prefer and can use on their own. These are both critical to helping our players advance as hitters.
Thursday – Small Group Defensive and Pitching Work
This practice is built much like our Wednesday small group hitting day, just in the context of defense and pitching. Generally, our infielders arrive first, working with coach Logan Serena on fundamental aspects of infield play. The same stretching and arm care protocols are used, and catch play is geared even more towards infield skills including adding transfers and additional footwork variations into the mix. Standard fundamental drills are often done at the beginning; with additional drills built in based on weekend observations or general needs. In addition to mastering the routine aspects of infield play, allowing our guys to be athletic and make great plays is a focus as well. Drills built with different variables like oven mitts and lacrosse balls are staples, and getting guys moving around athletically in a four corners or circle drill setting keeps things moving at a brisk pace.
In the outfield, Jordan Serena coordinates the drill work with the same goals of mastering fundamental aspects of outfield play. The format closely matches that of the infielder’s work, with catch play geared towards outfielders specifically, with a heavy focus on throwing footwork. From there, drop step progressions and various drills working on reads are done, and full length, full speed drills are mixed in at the end. A big goal in outfield drills is to help our guys get comfortable being uncomfortable and the use of late and bad read drills force this. Catchers also spend time working on their craft on these days, with drill work mixed in with the catching of bullpens. Receiving, blocking and throwing drills are done on a need basis, and we always try to overtrain with our guys, working at or above game speed. After hammering home fundamentals in a drill setting, catchers can take the work into bullpens where receiving is obviously a priority and blocking is forced as well. This process works well for their development.
On the pitching side, Thursdays are a great day for pitchers to get good focused work in an individual or two on one basis. While bullpens are a priority on these days in order to prepare our guys for the weekend, they are often preceded by focused drills aimed at certain mechanical and mindset specifics. Coach Moritz does a great job of understanding each pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses and tailoring his instruction to those points. It’s a priority to get video of each of our guys over a weekend, which allows Dillon to break down that video and use it in his instruction and this video has been shared with the pitchers prior to Thursday.
In addition to high-level instruction from our coaching staff during the week, it is a constant point of emphasis to our guys that they understand what they need to work on and that these days are collaborative rather than dictatorial. We aim to build in time in all drill settings where they can work through drills that they find useful, and much of what we present to them is for the purpose of understanding and making a decision on a drill’s value to themselves as a player.
As mentioned earlier, our weekly baseball specific training is the meat and potatoes of our program, and while it most definitely is a grind, we feel that it adequately exposes our guys to what it takes to be a high level player. In the next post, we’ll dive into our fall games and how we schedule, how we work lineups and playing time, and specific stats that we look for in game situations.