My name is Geoff Rottmayer and I am excited to bring this blog to you. Blogging is something that I have wanted to get into for quite some time, however, it became one of those things where “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”, as Albert Einstein repeatedly said. I admit this has held me back. A lot of coaches, parents, and players that I have had the pleasure to speak with think I have a lot to offer, so here we go.
In 2014 I started Athletic Mission Baseball Academy with a couple of things in mind:
- I wanted a facility and information that I wish I had access to when I was playing.
- Educate the parents, kids, and coaches to think and think differently.
- Teach kids how to embrace failure and the lessons that come along with it.
Every person I have came in contact with since starting Athletic Mission has played a significant role in my story and I hope to have that same impact from the moment I connect with them on the phone.
The Initial Contact
As I sit in my office talking to a proud mom, she explained to me that her 14 year old son, Trycer (not players real name), made the decision that he wanted to take a year off of playing and focus on training. She went on to say that if this didn’t work out as he planned that he would quit playing the game.
I was not surprise to hear that this option was floating around his head since studies show 70% of kids stop playing sports by the age of 13. (https://www.yellowbrickprogram.com/blog/pressure-youth-sports-study)
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from my mentors is to listen more than you talk, so I continued to listen as she shared what was going on with her sons development, and it was a story I have heard before. While I would love to have a dialog over the phone, my main objective after listening to the mom was to get Trycer in front of me so that I can listen to him. I explained to her that the best thing to do was to come in for an in-person evaluation with Trycer and we can discuss if our solution is the right fit for them.
Since they home schooled, we were able to set something up the following morning. I hung up the phone and immediately followed my own protocol of sending an email to the prospect with paperwork that I request them to fill out prior to coming in. The paperwork is a self evaluation of where Trycer thought he was in his development. What I typicall find is:
- The parents and kids think they are better than they really are.
- The parents and kids are honest in where they really are.
Our in-person evaluations have four objectives:
- Take the kids and parents down a deeper understanding of their development to realize how much there is to it.
- Ask questions that require me to listen carefully and listen more than I talk.
- Capture as much information as I can, physically, mentally, and emotionally on the players swing and hitting.
- See if we are the right fit for each other.
The In-Person Evaluation
The next morning I met with Trycer and his mom. The first thing that caught my attention was that he was a big 14 year old (6’3 230 lbs). After some small talk, we went into my office where I would review the paperwork I requested him to fill out. This would guide the conversation to get a better understanding of him and how I can help.
Reviewing The Paperwork
Trycer and his parents were pretty honest with their self evaluation. We went through it and I asked him what each question meant to him. Understand, these questions mean something different to everyone, so it’s important to understand how they interpret it. He was visibly frustrated that he didn’t really understand a lot of what I was asking. Below is an example of just a few questions:
Next, I want to get a better understanding of his swing and his approach. He, like 98% of kids that first come to me, has no idea what he is trying to do with his swing or an understanding of what he is trying to do at the plate. Below is an example of just a few questions:
Once I felt like I had a better understanding of who Trycer was and what he was looking to do, it was time to head to the cages. The trip to the cages is to capture as much information as I can. There are several things we capture during out evaluations:
- Video Camera – this paints a visual picture that everyone understands and sees clearly without having to process numbers and graphs. Trycer did not give me consent to use his video. We hope as he improves and gains confidence in his swing he will let us share at a later date.
- Radar Gun – this gives us the exit ball speed reading, which gives us somewhat of an idea of how hard he hits the ball.
- KVest – this gives us a biomechanical look at the swing. We can measure kinematic sequence, pelvic bend, pelvic angles, upper body angles, and X-Factor.
- Motus Sensor – this captures information such as: bat speed, bat RPM, hand speed, swing time, swing length, and attack angle.
- Diamond Kinetics – The diamond kinetics has not always been reliable for us, we took 30 swings and it only captured 7. However, we were using this for the function of approximate hit ball distance.
(NOTE: I will break down each of these devices in future blogs on what this information means and how we use the information to develop programs, track progression/regression, etc)
Once all of the information has been captured regarding the swing, we take Trycer through our physical evaluation. I am not a Physical Therapist, but I do not think that should keep you from assessing your players and helping them be the best they can be. As Gray Cook says, “athletes should focus on improving movements in order to improve performance”. It it pretty overwhelming at first, but if you do it enough, you will start to see common things among each player. Learn more about our physical assessment here. If a player experiences pain throughout any of the motion, we refer to our local PT.
The next assessment we will do is a vision screening. I am not an Optometrist, but the basic vision screening can give me an understanding of where a player is and whether he needs to be referred out because his eyes are potentially causing issues in seeing the baseball.
Vision training is one of the most important and yet neglected areas of health and fitness. The impact of your vision goes far beyond how clearly you see. It influences how you stand, how you move, how much pain you experience, your athletic performance, etc. More than 70% of a persons movement outcomes are mediated by visual processing. We feel that if you are not assessing and training your vision then your training is incomplete.
Above you can see a sample of some of the tests we take our guys through to get a better understanding of how their eyes are working. Again, if they fail too many of these tests, we refer them out. This is a basic test, which you can find more information on here.
More people need to understand that small deficits in the human balance system can create huge problems not only in sports, but in life. Screening and training an athletes balance can literately save his life. Your balance system tells you were you are in space, which direction you are moving, and how to make great moves on the field while avoiding injuries.
Above you can see a sample of some of the tests we take our guys through to get a better understanding of how their balance systems are working. Again, if they fail too many of these tests we refer them out. This is a basic test, which you can find more information on here.
After collecting as much information as possible we are ready to review it and propose to Trycer and his parents what we see and our solutions. Typically if the parents and player agree to committing to the program we will finalize this process and I will start the process of developing Trycer program.
Trycer and his parents have committed to the program and are now going to recieve an email from me which collects one last piece of information I need to develop his program – a personality assessment. This information is great and helps me understand how to coach each individual and how to best communicate with them. In this case you can see that Trycer is a Knight. If you would like to take the assessment yourself click here
(NOTE: I will go over in depth in future blogs on what this assessment is and how we use this information.)
Our program starts with getting players to focus on becoming better athletes. We are focusing on developing athletes and our program will look something similar to this:
- Warm Up
- Balance Work
- Coordination Work
- Vision Work
- Eye, Mind, Body Work
- Isometric Strength Work
- Movement Prep
This is a very different process than guys are use to. Typically they are used to coming in and get right to hitting. We will go 3-4 week without hitting a baseball. We focus on improving as an athlete and movement prep, which will in turn develop a better swing.
I hope Trycer sticks through this program, and if he does, I will post future blogs tracking his performance, progress, regression, etc. I will also show you what I am doing with him along the way.
This gives you a look as to what we feel is important with what we currently have at our place. Obviously, as we invest in more equipment we will adjust our approach. For now we make the most out of what we have.