Friday, February 29, 2008

Multi-Tasking


Baseball is in full swing in the southern states. Many teams have anywhere from 3-10 games under their belts. This is usually called the pre-season and although the games count on the win-loss record, they don't carry points that determine who is going to the state and regional play-offs at the end of the season. It's a good thing usually. Many teams have basketball players on their roster who are still playing, and young players taking the spot of last years graduated seniors with little varsity playing time, that are bound to experience a some jitters. These games are a bit sloppy like first basketball or football game and don't always measure a teams true talents.

It's a real exciting time for a lot of families, players and fans. However, it gets next to zero coverage in the newspapers, message boards and other various high school web sites. And, there is usually no pre-season predictions. We understand that there are basketball playoff going on, but the dailies, weeklies and local county papers are already covering spring training for the pro teams and we have even seen coverage of local college teams. Is it too much to ask to cover our country's past time, when it starts? They cover basketball when it overlaps with football, they could also cover baseball even though it is overlapping with basketball. It's called multi-tasking, and we at Rounding Third would like baseball to be treated like the big three sport that it is. There always seems to be rumblings that youth baseball is declining in some areas...well, that could be because high school baseball doesn't get nearly the press it should. There's no awareness, no top of mind, no drama created by league rivalry's like there is in football and basketball. Like we said earlier...Baseball is America's Past Time, let's get the newspapers to cover it more enthusiastically from season beginning to end.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

7 Common Traits of Successful Hitters


RT Staff Note: Here's another contribution from Jon Doyle. Visit his web site Baseball Training Secrets.

By Jon Doyle
As you may know there are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist in the world of baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best. So who’s right and who’s wrong? They all are. Now you are probably saying, “This guy must be nuts. What the heck is he talking about? He doesn’t even make any sense.”

My point being is that if a certain hitting style works for a particular player then that style is the best for him. However, that same style won’t necessarily work for you. It may, but it may not. That is because if a certain style doesn’t work for you it’s not the best.

We must remember that hitting is an art. Trying to carbon copy hitters is the worst possible thing you can do. I encourage you to try different approaches, stances and follow throughs to see what works and doesn’t work for you. Let’s look at the 7 common traits shared among great hitters, no matter what hitting method is used.

1. Confidence

Believing in yourself and your ability is vital to becoming a great hitter. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Questioning yourself on deck or in the batters box is pointless because it is way too late at that point to worry about anything. You must trust that the work you put in has gotten you ready to perform, no matter the pitcher or the situation. I firmly believe that most hitters get themselves out more often than the pitcher gets them out. Simply doing the correct preparation, both mentally and physically, can place you in the mind frame needed to be a great hitter.

2. Comfort

If you are not comfortable you will not hit. Period. Yes, when first experimenting with a new stance or hand position or whatever you might feel a bit uncomfortable. However, this should soon disappear as you practice this new technique. If it doesn’t disappear it probably is a sign that it’s not the best for you. However, remember that you can come back to this at a later time and it might feel great. That is the beauty of the swing. It can be an ever changing art form. The bottom line is: find your comfort zone and work from there.

3. Baseball Specific Vision

The ability to recognize and react to pitches is evident in all great hitters. You have a miniscule amount of time to see the ball, recognize the pitch, its velocity and location and then have the ability to generate the mechanics to make hard contact. There is a specific way to develop the vision skills that great hitters possess. However, virtually nobody knows about it. Vision drills that use colored balls (Never quite understood this one as we all know a baseball is white with red stitches), video games and other wacky equipment may improve certain aspects of “vision”, but not the vision need to track and react to a baseball. I’ve tried them all on both myself and my students. I have tested them in the real world. I know what works and what doesn’t. This skill is obviously vital as the old saying goes “You can’t hit what you can’t see.”

4. Reactive Strength and Abilities

Your ability to react will determine how good, or bad, of a baseball player you are. The game is consistently challenging you on how quickly you react to different situations. For example do you know where to swing the bat before the pitch is thrown? Of course not. You have an idea of what you want to do with the pitch, but have no clue where it is going until it leaves the pitchers hand. In very simplistic terms you are reacting to the pitch. Great hitters react very well, bad hitter don’t really react much at all. For a deeper, more in depth explanation on this I will be releasing a three-part series titled “The Biggest Secret in Baseball.”

5. Triple Threat Torso – Quick, Powerful and Flexible

You must develop a torso that has the above three qualities. If you lack even one you are severely limiting your potential. Everything else happens as a result of the torso. Leg movement, path of the hands, contact position and follow through all are effected by the abilities of your torso, or core. By developing these abilities every aspect of your swing will improve. Trust me you won’t get the triple threat by training the core in a manner that is shown on late night television infomercials or by balancing on a wobble board. Baseball specific training with the correct exercises, weights and tempo can deliver a triple threat torso to die for.

6. Short Swing

We all know that you must keep your hands inside the ball in order to consistently make hard contact on the sweet spot, especially against a good fastball. No matter which hitting method you follow, a short, compact stroke is a major emphasis and is crucial to success. I like to say, “If you swing is long, your day will be as well.”

7. Balance

If you cannot maintain balance before, during and after the swing you are severely doomed to inconsistent and unimpressive performance. The better your balance the more consistent your swing will be. If you are falling in any direction you will not only make poor contact most of the time, but you will have a hard time putting anything behind the swing.

This does not mean standing on some sill wobble board or stability ball. It means the ability to maintain your equilibrium throughout your swing. This is swing-specific balance I’m talking about here. Don’t be fooled by a fitness and training industry that is riddled with low-level “trainers” who simply don’t understand your needs.

To become a flat out stud, you must be sure that your training is specific to the traits I have listed above. Bodybuilding routines and mindless batting practice will not do the trick.

There you have it, the 7 traits that are found in every great hitter. Experiment with what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. These traits can be developed, usually quicker than you think, with proper training. Develop the qualities that I spoke about and you will be on your way to complete and utter domination.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tell Them, Tell Them What You Told Them, And Then Tell Them Again


We were on a conference call the other day comparing notes with our warm weather colleagues on high school games they have seen the past two weeks and several including myself, were a bit underwhelmed with the knowledge of basic fundamentals. What really stood out was the lack of "coaching" during the game. In most travel teams we have had the pleasure of watching over the past several years, those coaches would be involved in every aspect of the game, yelling out situations, adjusting a hitters position in the batters box or moving a fielder over to compensate for a certain hitters statistical preferences. Many will huddle with the fielders before they enter the dugout after a defensive half inning and talk about the way they handled certain defensive situations and then pump them up with a player led "break". Their philosophy...and we have talked to plenty of travel coaches...is that this game has hundreds of situations and in order to build instinctual reactions on the field and at the plate, they need to be constantly reminded until it becomes second nature to them.

Face it, even the pro's need constant reminders of how to play the game. What do you think they teach in Rookie League? Why do they call it Instructional League? Why do they have four different layers of Minor Leagues? Because the game is hard...and it takes a lot of game knowedge to make it to the bigs (talent helps of course)!!!

So, why would any coach, High School, Little League, or Travel, assume that his players should know the game like the the guys in the majors? There IS a lot to know about this game and it is easy to have a brain freeze every once in a while. One of our contributors said that one high school coach just sat on his bucket the whole time and never said a word...then after the game, he yelled at the top of his lungs and dressed each one of them down about the things they did wrong. Now the team lost, but wouldn't it have been better to anticipate those situations and yell out a reminder to his players on what to do or not to do? You can't predict outcome no matter what you yell, but for goodness sakes, play the percentages and maybe one of those reminders could prevent a missed assignment and maybe evenbring home a "W". As one of our guys said, It's called "Coaching" not "Bucket Sitting".

Part of the advantage of playing in high school is the opportunity to practice everyday. But how do coaches run their practices? Again, we relied on our network of baseball snoops and some coaches just hit and field, hit and field. That's fine, but how about half a practice of fundamentals one day, defensive situations the next, base running the next, reading and performing pick off moves the next and while they are hitting, hitting situations by pitch type, count and with RISP.

Now, their are some outstanding high school coaches out there. One such coach spends the first two weeks teaching his kids how to hit to the opposite field. Anything hit to the left of second is five pole to poles. Do you think that team knows how to go oppo at the end of the two weeks. You bet. There is so much to learn about this game than just cage hitting and conducting infield drills. Good team defense takes practice. Player's must know their role and the objective of each play. Since each play called relies on more than one player for proper execution, timing is essential. As a coach you want your team prepared for every situation. Good team defensive involves having a good strategy, practicing the plays that are part of that strategy, and then calling those plays in the game. The same goes with offense...knowing what to expect whatever the pitch count....where to try to hit a ball with runners on base, reading a pitchers pick off move, when to run based upon where the ball is hit when not in a force situation, etc. If you're team is well prepared then a coach will feel confident calling plays during the game, and he may actually look to take advantage of other team's offensive weaknesses with his defensive strengths or offensive knowledge of the game. More about this subject later.

RT Staff

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keeping our Top Twenty Updated


Every Monday we will update our Top Twenty, because this site exists for one reason and one reason only...to give the kids the tools necessary to be seen and heard, so that they have a chance to play at the next level...Scouts and recruiters are already tuned into our site...so we want them to read about the accomplishments of the high school players out there. We also want to be as detailed as possible, so encourage your high school to post their scores on their web sites or Max Preps daily. It's not that hard...If they don't have time to do it...offer to have one of the baseball boosters take on that task...Stats are important for recruiters and best of all it helps player and team morale to be able to view their stats on not only their high school web site, but a national site like Rounding Third. If that doesn't work, then send us the scores and box scores yourselves by e-mail.

We want to compile updates and changes in our Top Twenty so that recruiters have one site and one page to see how the top teams and their players are playing. In fact, we are already making changes for next weeks poll. A few teams in our Top Twenty suffered a loss or two already...which is going to happen...it's hard to go undefeated in baseball. But, unlike the other polls, we will take the particular loss into consideration. A loss can sometimes happen due to an intense league rivalry...a hurt player...or in the case of more than a few teams that have already started in the warm weather states...key players not on the team yet because they are still playing basketball.

Also, this Top Twenty poll is not a scientific poll by any means. It's not meant to be taken too seriously. None of the polls from USA Today to Rivals to Baseball America can't really predict who is better out of the tens of thousands of high schools out there. All of these polls are really a fun glimpse of perennial powerhouses, up and comers and teams with top recruited talent and how they play the game throughout the season. But the key word is Fun...They are fun to read, debate, admire or scoff. They provide incentives for those that want to be on the list and pride for those that are.

Enjoy the High School Season...Play Ball!!!

Rt Staff

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Top Twenty Pre-Season HS Rankings


RT STaff Note: We will make it short. This is our ranking and not a copy of anyone elses. The thing about these polls is that it's really tough to gauge who is really better. If your team is on this list...you are very good, maybe better than the team ranked ahead of you...who knows...unless some of these teams play each other...which some do by the way...Play Ball!!!

1.Long Beach Wilson HS-California
It depends on which service you read, but in our book, there’s none better than the Bruins. This team just loads and re-loads. Despite losing first round supplemental SS, Ryan Dent, and Elliot Glynn to U-Conn, we can’t imagine this team losing many games this year…even in their tough league. Back from last years Baseball America’s mythical national championship team are AFLAC All American Aaron Hicks, and two Arizona State bound players, pitcher Ray Hanson and infielder Zack Wilson. Some services are saying that the Bruins have six players that have signed NLI's to play D-I baseball. (Put them on your web site LB Wilson. Be proud!) We rank them at the top based on their tough schedule and the fact that these players are seasoned with year round baseball and know this game like no other, thanks to their great coaching staff.

2.American Heritage HS-Florida
They are a relatively smaller school that plays really big. Two AFLAC All Americans in Eric Hosmer and Adrian Nieto is pretty impressive…but then add University of Florida bound Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Miami bound Kevin Youst, University of Jacksonville signee Joey Belviso and Bethune Cookman signee, Jeramy Matos and it doesn’t matter who they play…they can play. With this line-up, they should cruise to their division’s state championship.

3. St. Johns College HS-Washington DC
Nine….count ‘em…nine players are off to D-I’s next year…We haven’t been keeping count, but has there been a school with that many D-I’s on one team? Even more impressive, many of these colleges they will be attending are top rated programs…And, these players have some size…They are headed by 6’5” 205 LHP and AFLAC All American, Scott Silverstein who will be attending Virginia…6’1” 190lbs Rawlings second team All American, LJ Hoes who will be going to North Carolina…6’5” 210lbs, Hugh Adams a future Florida Atlantic player…6’4” 200lbs LHP and Mississippi State signee, Nick Routt and Clemson bound Kevin Brady at 6’3”, 210lbs. There’s also Cory Beahm/University of Hartford, Jeff Flax/LaSalle, Craig Miller/LaSalle, Michael Loeb/Davidson, Matt Mack/Radford. If we weren’t partial to the level of play in California and Florida, we would have rated this team number one. Give this team time; they may be there in the end.

4. Chaparral HS-Arizona
These guys are always in the national spotlight. They play good ball down in the desert. They also have a couple of pitchers that can bring the that patented desert heat. Prior to last year, the Firebirds of this Scottsdale school won four straight state championships and they could start another streak this year with the impressive line-up that includes 6 D-I signees. They are LHP Daniel Coulumbe/USC, RHP Chase Brewer/UCLA, P/1B Matt Summers/UC Irvine, Royce Bolinger and Ernesto Ortiz/Gonzaga and David Roney/Wofford.

5. Cy-Fair HS-Texas
The Cy-Fair High School baseball team put a fitting stamp on a 27-game win streak with a 6-1 win over Harlingen South in the Class 5A state championship in Round Rock last year. The win gave Cy-Fair its first state title in school history, which capped a 32-7 season that featured a District 17-5A championship and an undefeated playoff record of 12-0. That said, they return 15 seniors from last years squad. A good sign. Included in that roster is AFLAC All American Robbie Grossman/Texas, and Class 5A All Tournament team players, pitcher Tommy Collier, catcher Landon Lee and DH Kevin Sah.

6. Owasso HS-Oklahoma
The Kozma family will be busy this year keeping tabs on 2007 MLB first round draft pick Pete and his younger brother Ben who scored 48 runs last year while batting .423 as a junior. Meanwhile, National Coach of the Year- Larry Turner has to be happy with the fact that he has a very strong returning pitching staff in Wichita State Signee, Brian Flynn (10-1) and juniors Brandon Bargas and Austin Kirk who combined to go 8-0 last year. Owasso won its 9th state championship last year and finished 3rd in the USA Today Final poll. The way they stack up this year, they could make it ten.

7. Don Bosco Prep-New Jersey
Last year, it was Jersey’s Seton Hall Prep that was the pre-season favorite in the quest for a national championship. This year, another Jersey Prep, Don Bosco returns a squad that made it to the state semis. Oh, and did we mention that they have six signees with some impressive D-I schools? Top Slugger Steven Proscia will be attending Virginia, Mike Dennhardt-pitcher (9-0) signed with Boston College, Eric Phister-pitcher (6-0) is headed to Duke, leading hitter Michael Vargas/Florida International, Pitcher Sam Cerbo/Delaware and strong armed catcher, Ben Luderer/Marist. These Jersey Boys of Baseball have their eye on the prize this year both in the state and nationally.

8. Walton HS-Georgia
Georgia plays some tough baseball and winning a state championship is no easy feat…but Raider Nation just may repeat with two of the top pitchers in the southeast in Georgia Tech bound pitcher Mark Pope (11-3) and two sport athlete, Kyle Putkonen (13-1) who has not verbaled, but is being recruited by SEC and ACC schools. Eight starters from last year squad make them a good bet.

9. Calvert Hall HS-Maryland
Many Maryland players are on the loaded St. Johns College HS in nearby Washington DC, but that doesn’t take a way the incredible streak that the Cardinals have kept alive to the tune of 37 games in a row. Returning starters, Patrick Blair, Mike Dillon and Kevin Lingerman have been named to the 2008 MSABC Pre-Season All State Team and head Coach Louis Eckerl would like another 37 more. They finished 4th in the final USA Today rankings and are high in many pre-season polls. They get to prove just how good they are when they travel to our neck of the woods and play in Southern California’s prestigious Phil Nevin classic in late March.

10. Bishop Gorman HS-Nevada
This Las Vegas powerhouse features University of Southern California bound Brandon Garcia who batted .466 with six home runs and 38 RBI last season from the left side. Joey Rickard, a junior, also returns after batting .437 with 39 RBI’s as a soph. Paul Sewald goes into his senior season after batting .343 and helping the Gaels on the mound with a 5-0 record last year. They also host one of the other top tourneys in the west…the Bishop Gorman Easter Classic.

11. Aptos HS-California
They are ranked a lot lower in other polls, but this team is legit. Overall, they have five players going on to D-I ball. Most of the players on this team have been playing together since they were 10 and traveled to Williamsport as part of the Little League World Series in 2002. They play well together. Some of the better players….Bobby Crocker OF, is ranked No. 59 among the top 100 high school prospects in the country by Baseball America and will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the powerful Big West as will Pitcher Kyle Anderson. Pitcher/SS Kevin Eichhorn is ranked as the 98th Best 2008 Prospect in the nation by Perfect Game Cross Checker and will be attending Santa Clara University with fellow teammate infielder Andrew Biancardi. Hard hitting catcher Beau Fraser has committed to University of Portland. Look for this team to finish in the top of the California rankings at the end of the year.

12. Kell HS-Georgia
Last years Georgia State runner up has 9 returning seniors and is poised to make another run to the championship this year. Hoping to get them there is 6’2” SS Jason Stolz, who is headed to powerhouse Clemson, 6’1” Pitcher, Adam Morgan a future player at Alabama and 5’11” pitcher Matt Smith who signed with North Georgia College and State University. Donnie English’s teams always compete and he has the horses to do just that this year.

13. Sarasota HS- Florida
Many polls have this team as high as #1, and they are good, but in the tough Florida leagues, they will suffer a few losses. Since all of these polls are mythical, it’s the teams with the least losses that usually end up on top. Nevertheless, they are led by super SS, Casey Kelly who is headed to Tennessee and LHP Josh Renfro. The thing about this team is that know how to win…hence last years 6A title…historically the toughest in the state.

14. Paul IV Catholic HS-Virginia
The state of Virginia has produced some big names in baseball the past few years and this team has some big recruits. The University of Georgia is very high on OF, Peter Verdin and East Carolina hails the talents of infielder Brett Bower and nearby Marlyland can’t say enough about middle infielder Matt Murakami…Thee guys have as much talent as anyone in the state…but we like the fact that only two starters are gone…experience will make the difference in the tough WCAC conference that this team competes in.

15. Jupiter HS-Florida
Do you know how hard it is to rank high schools in the pre-season…It’s impossible…especially when you have a team of Jupiter’s caliber all the way down at #15. We looked at their roster and they had an incredibly talented bunch of junior contributors last year who are all back and ready to make noise. AFLAC All American with the all American name, Jack Armstrong is a nasty Pitcher and talented at 1B and is going to Vanderbilt. Outfielder Tyler Thompson is a future Gator at Florida and in this talent rich state they will compete hard and just may come out on top.

16. James River HS-Virginia
Yes, another Virginia school. This one has AFLAC All American Daniel Marrs who like his name is an out of this world pitcher…possibly one of the best in the country. He is going to Wake Forest, if he isn’t drafted first. His fellow hurler, also going to Wake is no slouch either. Lefty Austin Stadler is super tough and having a staff consisting of a lefty and righty along with quite a few returners from last year will help them in their quest to repeat as state champs…especially if the two aforementioned pitchers are on the mound.

17. Centennial HS-California
California’s population of nearly 37 million makes it nearly impossible to have a state championship…so they don’t. Instead, the state is divided up into sections, which when you add up the population of each section, they are as big as or bigger than most states. Centennial won their section last year and return practically the whole team including Cal-State Fullerton bound and outstanding pitcher Garrett Martin. This team hits and hits a lot. Dustin Robinson will be a big spark in their line-up and Danny Armstrong will provide a formidable rotation to back up Martin.

18. Barbe HS-Louisiana
The Buccaneers have been district champs for the last twelve consecutive years and Coach Glenn Cecchini has guided them to 10 consecutive years of 30 win seasons. Impressive!!! They fell short last year, but have two D-I signees going to up and coming McNeese State. Sure handed SS Josh LeBert can hit and RHP Trey Brown, who will try to add to his unbeaten streak, will be teammates again next year in college. They have a strong core for offensive and defensive support and a great coach...so look for them to stay in the national spotlight.

19. Serra HS-California
This San Mateo school is best known for it’s famous alumni…Tom Brady, Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann. They are among dozens of successful athletes that call this their alma mater. This year, they may be known for their chance to win their section. They return All Metro, All Section and All State underclass outfielder Ryan Palermo who is headed to University of California at Santa Barbara in the tough Big West conference. Fellow All Metro, Section and All State Underclass infielder and closer Ryan Allgrove heads up an impressive roster that competes in the West Catholic Athletic League, arguably the nations toughest. Add hard throwing 6’9” lefty, Steven Lumpkins, headed to American University on a basketball scholarship and hard hitting junior Tony Renda and they will be an exciting team to watch.

20. Vista Murrieta HS-California
Another section champ…another slew of returning starters and a player going to one of the nation’s baseball elite colleges. Sounds like a top twenty nominee to us. They return a great pitching staff and a smooth shortstop in Derek Legg, who is headed to perennial power Long Beach State.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Myth Busters


RT Staff Note: In our past few posts, more than a few people refuted our assertion that the “Dumb Jock” is a bygone stereotype. So, we set out to see what experts feel about the subject. There were many studies done that supports our statement, but we felt that the following article said it best. It is written by Greta Munger, a Professor of Psychology at Davidson College whose works include The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions and Dave Munger, co-founder and president of ResearchBlogging.org and a writer whose works include Researching Online. And yes, he is married to Greta.

Is "Dumb Jock" an accurate stereotype?
Posted on: August 15, 2006 10:54 AM, by Dave Munger

When Jim and Nora talk about the social groups in their school, they matter-of-factly categorize almost every fellow student into stereotyped pigeonholes. There are the nerds, the rockers, the cools, the goths, and of course, the jocks.
The assumption, naturally, is that none of these groups intersect. Jocks are dumb, nerds are smart, and cools could be smart if they cared about grades. But what of this "dumb jock" stereotype? Does it actually pan out in real life?

Herbert Marsh and Sabina Kleitman have conducted an exhaustive study of the records of over 12,000 American students, following each student for seven years, from eighth grade to the second year after graduation. Previous studies had shown trends that contradicted the dumb jock stereotype, but they suffered from methodological flaws. They tended to study only a cross-section of data, or a limited geographical region. It's possible that good students tend to participate in sports, rather than the sports themselves leading to academic success.

Marsh and Kleitman claim that their study resolves some, but not all of these methodological problems. Though a longitudinal design -- following the same students for many years -- can show if a student's academic success is associated with athletic participation, it still can't demonstrate that some other factor isn't responsible for both athletic participation and academic success. It can, however, control for many other factors, such as race, socio-economic status, parents' educational level, and even earlier academic success. Marsh and Kleitman controlled for dozens of such factors, and still found a significant -- though small -- positive correlation between athletic participation and academic achievement.

Achievement can be measured in many ways -- grades, homework, attendance, standardized test scores, and enrollment in college. In all of these areas except standardized test scores, even after controlling for economic status, race, and other background variables, athletic participation was significantly correlated to academic achievement. Even after controlling for academic success in 8th and 10th grade, athletic participation was still associated with positive academic outcomes in 13 out of 21 measures in 12th grade and 2 years out of high school. This suggests that athletic participation itself may be responsible for some academic achievement -- the later achievement isn't completely explained by earlier academic success.

But what if a student is overcommitted -- if he or she participates too heavily in sports, won't grades suffer? Not according to Marsh and Kleitman's data: only one measure, number of college applications submitted, was negatively associated with extremely high athletic participation.

One important point to realize is that all of these correlations are extremely small, with beta values typically less than 0.1. This means that less than 3 percent of variance in academic performance can be explained by athletic participation. So simply encouraging athletic participation is not likely to lead to a very large increase in academic performance.

Even with these small effects, however, Marsh and Kleitman were able to make some more specific statements about the relationship between athletics and academics. Competing with other schools had a larger impact than intramural sports. Team sports had stronger associations with academics than individual sports.

Marsh and Kleitman had hoped to find some other connections between sports and academics. For example, some schools claim that athletics can help lower-performing students increase their self esteem and connect school with a source of pride, eventually leading to better academics. But the data did not support this claim: lower-performing students showed the same academic gains due to sports participation as everyone else.

But back to the "dumb jock" stereotype: with more and more studies demonstrating that athletic participation is associated with higher academic performance, why does the stereotype persist?
__________________________________________________________________
OK, RT readers...There you have it...So...Why do you think the dumb jock stereotype exists...comment below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Q & A With San Gabriel Arsenal


RT Staff Note: Michael Viera's SGV Arsenal was established in the summer of 2001 with players from throughout the San Gabriel Valley. As the program grew, they expanded into 6 teams. A 13U, 14U, 15U/'11, 16U/'10, and two 18U teams. This past summer the Arsenal had four AFLAC All Americans on their roster...Aaron Hicks, LB Wilson HS/USC '08...Ricky Oropesa, Etiwanda HS/USC '08...Chris Amezquita, Servite HS/UCLA '08...Gerrit Cole, Orange Lutheran HS/UCLA '08

#1 What does your organization focus on when the high school season is in full swing?
We focus on a few things.(This year I will be focused on my 3 year old and 5 year playing t-ball and softball)We contact colleges to give them updates on players in our program. They will also call to keep tabs on players. We have developed quite a few relationships and trust with colleges over the years so they trust our input.

#2 Do you go to your summer players high school games?
We go to a lot of HS games just to watch and enjoy. It gives us some insight on how they are progressing. We will give them feeback good and bad. Sometimes a player will act differently with their HS team than with us and if we feel something was not right we will call and tell them.

#3 Do you have contact with the high school coaches about your players progress this past fall and summer?
We stay in regular contact with many of the HS coaches of our players. We also instruct all the players to keep their HS coaches updated on what we are doing. We want to be able to work with the HS coaches to make sure we are all on the same page. We invite the HS coaches to call us anytime. Most do. The top ranked HS programs stay in contact quite a bit.

#4 Do you still keep in contact with the high school players via e-mail or phone calls?
We email information all the time about summer events and to see how they are doing, what colleges are contacting them and NCAA info. We will call to stay in touch. We have developed great relationships with our players. Some give us grief if we can't make a game or two during the HS season. We also check on school (academic) progress.

#5 Do you post your high school players stats or accomplishments on your web site during the high school season?
We don't post stats but we post all newspapers articles from local papers to the LA Times. It works because college coaches have called asking who is this kid we keep reading about.

#6 What sets your program apart during the high school season that other programs do not do during this time of year?
I am not sure what other programs do during the HS season so I could not really say. We stay in contact with the players and parents. We are scheduling a seminar with Carmen Bucci very soon. We are also having a nutritionist come and speak. It will give us a chance to talk with all the players and catch up. We will be sending our recruiting guide shortly to all our players. It is a workbook/guide to the whole recruiting process.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The $5 Piece Of Plastic


We had interesting responses from a couple of readers on yesterdays post. We like interaction and we are going to break the comments down...It can be read below the posting...just click on comments.

The basic ideas for our anonymous responders, was that high school and college baseball is straying away from it's priorities on education. It's more about the trophy...or as we like to call it..the $5 piece of plastic. Generally, we would say we agree, but after some research, we have a different take...and there are some surprises as well. In bold are their comments and our response is below that.

" After over 50 years in sports what has changed tremendously is that youth sports and HS sports are now run by non-teachers. There are two components to high school - the first is education, classwork. Look at how many select teams have people who make a living from baseball academies and so forth. Historically, youth sports has become a big business."

We don't disagree with this statement as it pertains to education. Education should be first. In high school, many but not all coaches are also teachers. And with the travel teams we know, they all preach that good grades and talent is the only way to get a college scholarship. Many of the top travel teams that we have talked about for the past three months will not take a player if their grade point isn't at the very least, a 2.8...many won't take below a 3.0. Yes, youth sports may be a big business, but it wouldn't be a big business if their wasn't some success associated with it.

Now as it pertains to college, it's becomes a bit more complicated. A player should play college ball to go to college, but sometimes, if a player is very good, the pro scouts can get in the way of graduation. Good players get drafted after their junior season...and there are literally hundreds more opportunities to play professionally in baseball than in any other sport period. Look at the draft board...Look how many eligible juniors are in the top rounds. Hundreds...

This year and beyond, there are a whole new set of problems...time. Since the NCAA has shortened the season without cutting the number of games that need to be played, teams have less time in the classroom and less hours to take during the season. That has a direct affect with on-time graduation. And, unlike football and basketball which give 100% scholarships which includes an opportunity to make up their classess and required hours in the summer, baseball players are lucky to get 50% scholarships. And, because baseball get assigned to summer leagues too, there's not an oportunity to make up for lost hours in the summer like football and many basketball players can. We would like to see more players graduate on time, but the NCAA is making it harder and harder. Many do graduate unless they have a long career in the professional ranks. They just don't always graduate in the NCAA allotted time frame.

"Look at the players who go on to play at some level in college and do not graduate. Why does baseball have the lowest APR of all sports in the NCAA. How many baseball players are working in the real world in a job that does not involve baseball?"

That statement is unfair and false. First, baseball does not have the lowest APR of all the sports. According to the NCAA web site he directs us to, the average APR's by sport for men's teams has baseball ahead of basketball and football. Baseball has an average APR of 934, football is 931 and basketball is 927. They are all below the other men's sports like golf, tennis, track and wrestling...mainly because there are very few opportunities to play professionally in those other sports. The big three have many opportunities, both here in America and abroad. And how many baseball players are working in the real world that does not involve baseball? Who cares? How many non-athletes are working in the field that they majored in? Scott Boras, the super agent has two post graduate degrees...law and medical...He also played baseball in college and the passion was so intense, he couldn't stay away from it. It worked out quite well for him. The thing about baseball is that it is a real passion for many, many people...so what is wrong with working in baseball after college...especially if baseball was the real passion?

"One critical question that coaches should ask is when a player is done (they all reach the end sooner or later) will they be able to go out and work for a living outside of baseball. Will they be successful and will their experience in HS be a positive one or one where the player looks back and wonders what did I learn?"

We don't know where he is going with this. Of course, high school experiences are all about graduating and getting good grades if one wants to play in college. And, if this is achieved, the high school experience should be great and the lesson learned is that if they have a passion for the game and are good enough, they join the elite club of student athlete.

"There is always another game. It is not about the program with the most trophies. It is about the learning. Find quality people not quality baseball people to help your child learn and grow. They are not mutually exculsive"

Amen. That we totally agree with. It's not about the $5 trophy. It's about learning, discipline, leadership, responsibility and mental maturity. But we do know many quality baseball people that are not only quality people, but incredibly passionate human beings that will bend over backwards to help their players learn the life lessons necessary to succeed at any level and any career.

"Is baseball, basketball or even football not just another honors class?Thank God I no longer have kids in High School."

Thank goodness we still do have kids in high school. While there are problems with some sports in some areas of many cities, for the most part, high school sports is more focused, and in todays world, we don't see the stereotypical "dumb jock" type that we may have seen in the 60's and 70's....we are a generation that is way too hands on to let that happen to our kid...especially in baseball.

RT Staff

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Show Me


We often hear complaints from parents that their son is being "shafted"(a euphamism for what what really said) by their high school coach and is not getting enough playing time. Of course, the player hears mom and dad complaining and it starts to reflect on his attitude towards the coach, his support for his team and eventually his production in practice. Before long, he game is mired in quicksand. NOW...Unless the coach has sexteplets on the team and is showing gross nepotism, then we find it hard to believe that there are coaches out there that are that blind to talent if the player in question is really that good.

Somewhere along the line, the favorite son had a breakdown of sorts...Maybe it wasn't related to talent at all. Maybe it was attitude, lack of hustle, a listening issue or the failure to grasp the intricacies of the game. Parents...it's not always related to to whether or not you think he is good or not.

Baseball is a multi-dimensional game. It's not just about hitting and catching. It's about leadership, desire, enthusiasm, and above all the ability to UNDERSTAND and continue to be a student of the game... We have seen players with incredible amounts of talent that couldn't put it together for a string of consecutive innings. High School baseball players must play for seven innings not just one or two and maybe that's what the coaches see in those players in question. Maybe they see that players role as a pinch hitter or a role player. Whatever the case, it may be a good idea for the player to find out and then work on the missing pieces to his game, rather than mope and feel sorry for himself. Coaches don't want to see that in a player and WILL bench anyone that acts like that.

The best way to play is to Play Hard...Play Smart...Play with Enthusiasm...Play to Win. You have to SHOW the coach that you are a player by example, not with words. Let the coach decide if a player is good enough by giving it his all in practice everyday and hopefully that will lead to game day success.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hitting Secret: Early Bat Speed


RT Staff Note: Jon Doyle,owner of Baseball Training Secrets, has been contributing an articles on pre-season and in-season Strength and Conditioning, but he also has great insights on hitting as well. Enjoy Jons contribution to Rounding Third.

By Jon Doyle

Within the next 3-5 years the term “Early Bat Speed” will trickle down to all levels of baseball, becoming the next buzz term within the game. And with good reason.

Early bat speed is one of the most light-lipped hitting secrets ever. Improving early bat speed is an extremely quick method to improved hitting. In fact, there are a great deal of player’s who aren’t even sure what the term means, but they certainly have it. To them it just comes naturally. For those of us who aren’t so lucky, it needs to be developed.

Consider yourself very lucky because I am going to break down what early bat speed is and how you can develop it. You won’t find this type of information down at your local batting cage!

This is real inside baseball training information only found . Chances are if you ask a local coach to explain Early Bat Speed he will look at you like you have 3 heads.

Basically early bat speed is the ability to generate a large amount of force early in the swing. The great ones all do this.Think about a car engine. A 4 cylinder may be able to get up to 80 mph, but it takes forever to get there. However, a supercharged 6 or 8 cylinder engine can get way above 80 and reach it’s max speed in a few seconds flat.

The great hitter’s have “supercharged engines” and tremendous early bat speed.

Early bat speed is the key to Major League power and strength. The great thing is you do not have to be the biggest guy around or have the best weight room numbers to develop early bat speed. You simply need to develop proper loading patterns.

They know how to utilize the “Load” phase of the swing perfectly. Everyone knows the load is used as a timing mechanism, but it should also be used as a source of power. While most coaches teach the load coming from the hands, it actually comes from the shoulders and hips. It is individual to every hitter, but it should be a smooth transition from the stance to the load to the swing.

Most hitter’s will do best if they are slightly moving and loose the entire time they are in the batters box. This makes it easier to develop a rhythm and proper loading skills. Be sure not to just throw your hands back and stop, then having to restart the swing. Again, a smooth transaction from the load to the swing will create early bat speed that will add distance and power to every ball you hit.

So now the question is “Can I develop early bat speed in the weight room?”

The answer is YES!

The key is to work on movement patterns. Become a better athlete. Continue to push the limits.

Without further ado, here are my “Award Winning” 5 Weight Room Steps To Lightning-Quick Early Bat Speed & Awesome Hitting.

1. Perform medicine ball circuits every day. Follow medicine ball circuit #1 and Circuit # 2 (Found in Diamonds Baseball Training Manual) every day.

2. Focus on movement coming from the torso and shoulders. This will have a dramatic carryover into the batter’s box.

3. Spend a great deal of time on Hip, Torso and Shoulder Range Of Motion – Both Dynamic and Static. Do these everyday.

4. Perform tumbling drills every day. Forward somersaults, backwards somersaults and spider lunges.

5. Perform One-Arm Snatches, starting with a dumbbell or kettlebell and quickly moving a barbell.

Really focus on being loose on each and every rep you perform. Again think movements and do not try to muscle anything. The key is to train your body to move explosively in a relaxed state. This is how you need to be when you are hitting. Your strength work needs to mimic the batter’s box in this regard.

There you have it. It may look simple, yet it is extremely effective in combination with batting practice and tee work. This is a great beginning that anyone can perform to improve early bat speed and overall hitting.

Now, in three years when someone thinks they are on the cutting edge and mentions early bat speed, you will simply laugh as your son is crushing balls over the fence!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Non-Parent Coaching Sets Ruffnecks Apart


RT Staff Note: The New England Ruffnecks are a very competitive club in the Northeast and they recently posted an article on thier web site about their philosophy on travel ball coaching. Steve August founded and directs the New England Baseball Club. Steve was with the Boston Red Sox from 1990 to 1998. He served as Traveling Secretary from 1990 to 1995 and became the Assistant General Manager and Director of Baseball Operations in 1996 where he worked on player contracts and managed all of the major league operations of the Sox. Following his tenure with Boston, Steve served as an associate scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1999 to 2000. He directed the former Hit Dog AAU programs in 2001 and 2002 before founding the New England Baseball Club. So, we respect his opinion on this subject.

...Since actual team "news" is relatively quiet at this time of year, it seems like a good opportunity to speak to our constituents in this column about coaching and the role of parents in the Ruffnecks program. We are firmly committed to only using coaches in the non-parent model for our teams. Our goal is to attract talented coaches who have played, coached, and worked in the game of baseball at significantly accomplished levels. This does not mean that experience at a high level is a prerequisite to coaching success. However, it does mean that in baseball, where there are more "arm chair quarterbacks" (to mix metaphors) than in any other game, it is important that folks with real baseball experience coach our players. This may offend some earnest dads who have done wonderful work coaching in local town programs at relatively young ages. Often these parents (moms too) are the real reason some town programs churn out more talented and fundamentally sound players than other towns. In many cases, the parent-coaches are the reason their own kids become so talented. After all, baseball skills are developed through a relentless commitment to repetition, and these volunteers are spending their time in crouching positions, throwing BP, and hitting fungos. Surely, there is no substitute for parental involvement at the individual level... it is critical. At the high level of travel teams, it is a different story.

In a serious travel program, the dynamic must, by definition, be different. A top travel program is not about the kids in a single neighborhood, or in a given town. In fact, most legitimate travel teams will not have more than two or three players from any given town. There have been years in which our program was heavily weighted with players from a single community, and it complicates the intent of a travel program and compromises that integrity of the competitive edge a team needs. The parent-coach dynamic complicates matters exponentially. In fact parent coaching in a highly competitive travel team is a recipe for poison. While there are success stories out there, there are far more disasters.

We hope we posess enough humility and common sense to set our own policy aside if someone with the credentials of a Cal Ripken wants to coach if his son joins the program. Of course, it would be our privilege. However, it is a fair assumption that most men who have played at the level of a Ripken would rather stay in the background or work as an advisor to the program. Such men know the perils, and most would prefer a subordinate role.

Few of us, as parents, expect to be with our sons in the dugouts of their high school or college teams. We might as well get used to it. In our program we ask parents to accept an "arms length" relationship with their sons on our teams. The expectations are clear: Do not coach from the sidelines. Let the coaches do their job. Of course our coaches are not perfect. They misread situations and play the wrong players in the wrong situations... just listen to the second guessing during games. That's Baseball! After all, even the loyal Boston fans have been apoplectic about some of Terry Francona's moves in the past four years, and he has two World Series rings! Our families have taken the most important first step in distancing themselves. They signed on to trust our coaches. And while none of our coaches are the same, they share one common denominator: They are non-parents. Their decisions are not influenced by DNA similarities with any of the players.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We Love Baseball


On a day where we exchange flowers, candy, heart shaped balloons, cards and for those who are more fortunate...little felt boxes filled with bling, we dedicate this blog for the love of the game...In case you readers haven't noticed, we are filled with passion for the game of baseball. The following lists the many reasons why we love baseball...

We love that of all the things to do in America and of all the distractions being fed to us, minute by minute...baseball is still called America's past time.

We love the oddities of the game...For instance, it's the only sport where the offense never has the ball...and when on offense it's one guy vs. nine.

We Love the Smell of the Game...

The smell of burnt wood on a foul tip off a wood bat...

The smell of a leather glove.

The smell of the field...the dirt and the grass...and the way it stays with you throughout the day.

The smell of ballpark franks, popcorn and a bag of seeds.

We Love the Sound of the Game...

The sound of an umpires called third strike call.

The sound of the pop from a catchers glove.

The sound of a slide.

The sound of chatter from the bench.

The sound of a rousing chear from the stands.

The sound of groans on a bad called strike.

The sound of a third base coach pumping up his hitters.

The sound of a good announcer pronouncing everyones name right and on cue.

The sound of a wood bat on ball...and because we have to...even the sound of aluminum on ball..especially if it's our kid.

We Love the Sights of the Game...

The sight of a well groomed field.

The sight of a double play ball.

The sight of a diving play in the hole.

The sight of a over the head catch in the outfield.

The sight of a pick-off play at first.

The sight of a 6"5" lefty taking control of a game.

The sight of a teams reaction from a game winning hit.

The sight of a nasty slider or curve ball.

The sight of a batter pounding a ball over the fence.

We Love What Everyone Else Doesn't Understand About The Game...

We love the drama of a low scoring pitchers duals.

We love the hit and run.

We love the way a catcher calls a game.

We love the double switch.

We love the sacrifice fly.

We love the sacrifice bunt...sometimes...

We love the stats like OBP, OPS, RISP, LIPS and DER.

And, like the masses...

We love the home team when they win or just play hard.

We love a power pitcher facing a power hitter.

We love how truly hard it is to play this game.

Happy Valentines Day To Everyone!

RT Staff

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baseball Nutrition...Part III


By Andrew McInroy

Welcome to the third and final installment of Baseball Nutrition. Today you will learn how to build a diet that is specifically for you. Using the dieting principles of today's strongest athletes, you too will learn to design your nutritional intake. Now you don't have to follow anymore fad diets because you can make your own elite diet with the protocol ahead.

NUTRITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Calories

This all depends on your goals, your height, your age, your weight, your sex, and most importantly, your metabolism. As athletes, we usually want to eat a diet either higher or lower than our Basal Metabolic Rate in order to either gain or lose weight.

Metabolism plays a huge role in how many calories you are going to be consuming. You can either be an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph.

-Ectomorphs tend to have high metabolisms and therefore burn a lot of energy.
-Mesomorphs tend to have a "good metabolism" in which a lot of nutrients go to muscles.
-Endomorphs tend to have a slower metabolism and a lot of nutrients go to fat.

NOTE: The following recommendations are general and quick formulas that work great. If a calculated calorie structure is not working for you and you are not seeing results, there is a number of variables to take into account. The first step for bulking is to add or subtract 500 calories/day based on fat/muscle gain; if you are gaining too much fat, lower by 500 calories/day, if you are not gaining enough mass, increase by 500/day calories. The same goes with cutting, but with different numbers, if you are not losing any weight, decrease by 250 calories/day. If you are losing too much weight, add 250 calories/day.

BULKING CALORIES: To gain weight and lean muscle mass

This is the process where we eat over the Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of calories your body burns everyday performing normal, life-sustaining functions) in order to put on weight. In order to calculate the amount of calories that a bodybuilder should consume to bulk we use the formula:

Bulking Calories = (18 or 19 calories) x lbs of bodyweight.

Example: Dave weighs 160 lbs. Calculate his bulking calories.

Bulking Calories = 19 calories x 160
= 3040 calories

Bulking Rules
-let the mirror be the judge of whether or not you are making progress
-even though the mirror is the judge, still use the weight scale as a general judgment; if you are gaining more than 0.5 - 1 lbs a week, then you should probably decrease your calories as the excess weight gain will more than likely come in the form of fat. Certainly you will go through some grow periods where your body can gain more weight than this, but be cautious here.

CUTTING CALORIES: To lose weight

Cutting Calories = (12-13-14 calories) x lbs of bodyweight

Example: Dave weighs 160 lbs. Calculate his cutting calories.

13 x 160 lbs = 2240 calories

Cutting Rules
-the mirror is the judge.
-if you are losing more than 1-2 lbs per week, you may want to increase calories slightly in order to make sure that you are not losing muscle mass too.

Note: I actually cut on 3000 - 4000 calories because I have an extremely fast metabolism. This proves everyone has to use trial and error to determine their specific metabolism. Sure, it takes some work in the beginning, but quickly becomes second nature.

MACRONUTRIENT AMOUNTS

Calories and macronutrients are pretty much equally important when designing a good diet.

Note: This article will not include cutting macronutrients as I think it would be better for users to look into Carbohydrate Cycling (I will be doing an article on this eventually). I used this method and it is complex. Therefore, the following will be for BULKING and adding lots of muscle mass.

PROTEIN INTAKE

This is such a grandiose topic of argument and debate. It never stops. Too much protein can lead to loss of bone calcium which makes weaker bones. Too little protein and well, you're not going anywhere. So the goal is to get a muscle building and safe amount of protein:

I generally recommend: 1 - 1.5 g of protein per lb of body weight.


Example: Dave weighs 160 lbs. How much protein should he consume if wants to add bulk and add mass?

1 x 160 lbs = 160 g of protein

Therefore, Dave will be getting 160 g of protein and 640 calories from protein.

Good protein sources/foods are located at the end of this article.

FAT INTAKE

I generally recommend taking in 20% of your total bulking calories as your fat calories. What do I mean? Observe the equation:

Fat calories = 20% of total bulking calories

Therefore for the equation, we write:

Fat calories = 0.20 x Total Bulking Calories.

Example: Dave weighs 160 lbs. How much fat does he take in?

Total Bulking Calories = 19 calories x 160 lbs = 3040 calories

Fat calories = 0.20 x 3040 calories
= 608 calories

Therefore, Dave will be getting 608 calories from fat or 67.55 g of fat (608 / 9).

Remember, saturated fats are important for testosterone production! Therefore, I recommend that 25% of your fat calories come from saturated fats. Therefore we use the formula:

Saturated fat calories = Total fat calories x 0.25

Using the example above:

Saturated Fat Calories = 608 x 0.25
= 152 calories

Therefore, Dave should be getting 152 calories from saturated fat which is 16.88 g of saturated fat.

What about Cholesterol? Negligible. Just make sure that you are not consuming too many whole eggs as these are high in cholesterol.

What about essential fatty acids? I recommend fish oil pills. I suggest using max 720 mg EPA and 480 mg DHA per day.

Keeping in mind that you want 25% of your fat calories from saturated fats, you can easily pick out some fat sources from my suggestions at the end of this article.

Good fat sources are located at the end of this document

CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE

This is the easiest to calculate and it is done last as you will see why according to the equation:

Carbohydrate calories = Total calories - protein calories - fat calories

Example: Dave is 160 lbs. Calculate his carbohydrate calories.

Solution: Using the information above, we just plug in the numbers:

Carbohydrate calories = 3040 calories - 960 calories - 608 calories
= 1472 calories

Therefore, Dave should be consuming 1472 calories from carbohydrates (386 g from carbohydrates)

There will be carbohydrate selections at the end of this article.

What about macronutrient ratios? These are so general and with a few minutes of mathematics, you will realize that they are frustrating and perhaps even useless. I suggest using the method that I have proposed above. The main reason I disagree with them is that people are highly individualized and require different amounts of macronutrients.

WATER INTAKE

Every athlete knows that you should take in at least 1-2 gallons of water (4-8 L) per day. I even went as high as 9 - 11 L of water per day. Have a problem with this? Man up and get a Nalgene bottle and drink it through out the day.

MEALS

You will want to have 6-8 meals per day. This will help to keep your metabolism up. Think about it this way: you will turn your body into a energy burning factory because it is always "expecting" more energy in the form of food so it always has to be ready and at high burning capability as opposed to three meals a day where it only has to be geared for three meals. Therefore, have 6-8 meals to keep your metabolism up.

Furthermore, this is why we suggest the protein intake rule of 1 - 1.5 g of protein / lb of body weight because you want to stay in positive nitrogen balance or more simply, make sure that your body has a steady source of protein throughout the day. I recommend that each meal contain ~30 g of protein. Any more than this may be wasted, except for post workout. So when designing your meal plan, which is to be customized by you, you will want to spread them out by 2-3 hours of each other to stay in positive nitrogen balance.

PRE WORKOUT NUTRITION

This is approximately 1-2 hours before you workout. You will want to consume complex carbohydrates, some fat sources and approximately 30 g of protein along with adequate water.

Work out should be approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to avoid overtraining. With this being said, you are staying within the 2-3 hour range limit that allows you to stay in positive nitrogen balance.

DURING WORKOUT NUTRITION

Most advanced bodybuilders use something during this time. A popular choice is BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and/or EAA (Essential Amino Acids) supplements. However, one thing is ultimately necessary: water. Do not mess around, take your water.

POST WORKOUT NUTRITION

This is the most important time for nutrition: You are done your workout, your muscles are starving, your muscles are pumped up, you are insulin sensitive, and you are ready to uptake nutrients and undergo anabolism. This is also known as the window of opportunity.

AT THIS TIME TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR ANABOLIC ENVIRONMENT. Remember how bad I said simple carbohydrates are? Well your muscle cells are depleted of glycogen and now is the time that they are more insulin sensitive and they can handle the blood glucose spike as uptake of nutrients is highly increased. Basically the idea at post workout nutrition is to get nutrients to the muscle as fast as possible. So, we consume simple sugars that will digest quickly but we will also consume some complex carbohydrates to avoid beating down on the insulin receptors too much. We also consume whey protein as it has a high bioavailability and a superb protein score; it is highly anabolic and digests fast. You can usually take in more protein at this time. My suggestions:

-1 banana or dextrose (20-30 g of simple carbohydrates) (Dextrose = pure glucose, by the way)
-1 - 2 cups of oats
-1.5 - 2 scoops of whey protein.

Why no fats? Your body doesn't want fat right now! It wants glucose to refill its energy stores!

NIGHT TIME NUTRITION

This is the meal that you eat right before you go to bed. People sit there and are wondering about this one, asking, "Doesn't it make you fat?" No, not if you eat the right foods. At night you release a large amount of growth hormone and therefore grow a lot. It is also the time where you are repairing yourself, so you want to provide the necessary nutrients to your body to do this. The goal here is PROVIDE THE BODY WITH SLOW DIGESTING NUTRIENTS TO LAST OVER THE NIGHT. We use foods like cottage cheese which contains casein protein and this digests slowly over 7 hours. Further, we use fat sources as they slow down digestion. We can use all natural peanut butter or raw almonds. A whole egg can also be good. Furthermore, we can use spinach which contains fiber (slows down digestion) and is overall good for you with its phytochemicals and antioxidants. So what I suggest:

-1 cup of spinach
-1 cup of cottage cheese
-1 - 2 TBS of all natural peanut butter
-1 whole egg

SUPPLEMENTS
I highly suggest usage of the basics:

-Whey protein
-Creatine Monohydrate (Creapure brand)
-Fish Oil (molecularly distilled)
-Multivitamin
-Joint Formulas (SuperCissus RX)

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS - You definitely want to implement these into your diet as they have many antioxidant properties and are fibrous. The phytochemicals present have numerous benefits. Reducing free radicals with consumption of antioxidants helps you build muscle; the free radicals won't be running around destroying your gains.

VITAMINS AND MINERALS - Trust me, you will not have a problem with your vitamins and minerals if you are eating healthy and are taking a multivitamin (which contains minerals too).

THE SUMMARY

To calculate Bulking calories:

19 x body weight (lbs)

Calculate Protein Intake (g):

1.5 x lbs in body weight

Calculate Fat intake (calories):

Total calories x 0.20

Calculate Carbohydrate intake (calories):

Total calories - fat calories - protein calories

Summary:

Drink between 1-2 gallons of water per day.
Eat vegetables and fruits.
1.5 g of protein per lb of body weight.
20% of calories are fat calories. 25% of fat calories are saturated fats.
Creatine, Whey, Multivitamin, Fish oil
Include night time nutrition
6-8 meals
mainly complex carbohydrates to the exception of post workout where you can have some simple carbohydrates
30 g of protein per meal except for post workout where you can consume more.
Pick foods from my suggestions
Conclusion to Baseball Nutrition: Thank you for reading all the articles and now you are ready to construct a better diet which will help drive you to the next level in strength, power, endurance, explosiveness, agility and more. In the weight room and out on the baseball field you will have an advantage.

PROTEIN SOURCES
-Egg whites
-Steak
-Lean Beef
-Turkey
-Chicken
-Lamb
-Whole Eggs
-Whey Protein
-Casein Protein
-Cottage Cheese
-Milk
-Low fat cheese
-Salmon
-Tuna
-Haddock
-Lean Beef
-Lean Hamburger
-Crab meat
-Lobster
-Shrimp
-Cod
-All other types of fish, pretty much
-Buffalo
-Deer
-Moose

FAT SOURCES
Note: A large portion of your fats will come from your other foods selected
-Raw Unblanched Almonds
-Almond Butter
-All Natural Peanut Butter
-Whole Eggs
-Fish Oil (Not flaxseed)
-Various other nuts
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Salmon
-Avocados

CARBOHYDRATE SOURCES
-OATS
-Whole Wheat Pasta
-Whole Wheat Spaghetti
-Whole wheat breads
-Whole Wheat Macaroni
-Yams
There are so many possibilities that you can use here to make great meals!

VEGETABLES
-Spinach
-Broccoli
-Carrots
-Onions
-Asparagus

So many good ones to choose from, but these are some of the best. General rule; the darker the green, the better.

FRUITS
-bananas
-oranges
-blue berries
-black berries
-all types of berries
-apples
-mango

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pitcher, Catchers and Rookies...Oh My!


The annual ritual of Snow Birds from the North that converge upon the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues is already here. Two pages were even dedicated to the local baseball teams in our metro daily this weekend. What other sport has such a loyal following during it's pre-season where fans will travel hundreds...even thousands of miles to watch and critique their teams prospects for the upcoming season? Let me answer that...No Other Sport...Yes, many of us travel to Florida or Arizona to relieve us of the winter doldrums that set in this time of year...but that doesn't diminish the fact that year after year, we yearn to hear the crack of the bat, the dust fly, the sound and smell of leather balls and gloves and converse with a resident expert about the talents of a new rookie or free agent. Baseball is part of our yearly cycle. Whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, when we hear a sports talk radio host proclaim that pitchers and catchers are reporting, it can only mean that warmer weather is closing in. It gives us hope that new life will spring out of the dead of winter.

On a local level, high schools in warm weather states are in their third week of practice. We live in a warm weather state and we have combed the local colleges, JC's and high schools and have had the pleasure of watching a fair share of pratices and scrimmages. Actually, we couldn't wait. This is our spring training ritual...and much cheaper than a flight and hotel to Arizona. For us, it's about the baseball. We already have the weather...we don't need to escape the cold or snow.

But, for those that are still waiting for the weather to make up its mind, teasing people with Indian summer one day and wind chills of zero the next, if a trip down south isn't practical, then a drive to the local batting cage could provide just the cure. When I was growing up in the cold, upper midwest, there was one batting facility owner that used to promote spring training in January and February by playing Jimmy Buffett, serving up smoothies and placing potted palm trees around his facility. His place was so busy that the wait to get in just 50 swings was hours long. But, we didn't care. We just liked to hang out there to get in the mood for baseball and to get out of the cold...and sit back and dream about having a post game Cheesburger In Paradise. We and the hundreds that were regulars there were true baseball fans and players.

And that brings up another point...The state of the game...the state of the true fan and player...We at Rounding Third are seeing a resurgence in the passion for the sport of baseball....especially at the youth level. While some cynics may cry that the steroids scandal will ruin the sport...our take is that it will strengthen and unify players, parents and organizations...especially at the youth level. We see a movement to bring back the purity of the sport..much like the memories I have of listening to "Come Monday" in a faux tropical setting. That was so innocent...so pure and solidified for me, my love and passion for the game. Even today, I think of that batting cage owner and how fun he made batting practice in the middle of winter..and every year at this time, I'll turn on a little Jimmy Buffett, buy a Jamba Juice and head on out to watch some ball. I did it this past weekend.

We also see more batting facilities, multiple field complexes, travel teams, rec leagues, web sites, books, DVD's and physical and mental training tapes than ever before. Pro Attendance is up, Collegiate attendance is out the roof, and high schools are getting more than just mom dad and the girlfriend out to their games. A few of us live near baseball complexes and there is nothing more soothing than hearing the loud cheers of hundreds of fans rooting for their teams...And each year, the crowds seem to get louder and louder..music to our ears.

As the weeks pass, we will be pre-viewing our picks for the top high school teams in the country. And, as the season progresses, we will feature players, accomplishments, stats and records. Coaches, players and parents, feel free to e-mail us a roundingthirdstaff@gmail.com any of your local high school teams accomplishments and how they rate in their metro area. We have a pretty good network of correspondents, but we can always use more info. Play Ball!!!!

RT STaff

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baseball Nutrition Part II


By Andrew McInroy.

Welcome back! In this article, the greatest secret and most useful aspect of nutrition will be revealed! I guarantee that it is something that you will be thankful you learned. Furthermore, you will also learn about the importance of water. Let's jump right into the action with carbohydrate digestion!

Carbohydrate Digestion

You chew the food or shake (yes, "chew" your shake - the saliva process is critical) and salivary amylase (a digestive enzyme) works on it in the mouth.
You swallow it and it travels down the esophagus. Your stomach churns it up. (Little to no digestion here) Your small intestine receives the carbohydrates and this is where the majority of the digestion takes place; the pancreatic amylase (released from the pancreas into the small intestine) acts on breaking the carbohydrates into the simple sugars (If they are not already in the form of simple sugars).

Once in the form of simple sugars, these simple sugars are absorbed from the intestine, passed the intestinal absorptive wall, into capillaries which then send the simple sugars to the hepatic portal vein. The hepatic portal vein is basically the nutrient highway to the liver.

The hepatic portal vein carries simple sugars to the liver. IMPORTANT - in the liver, the simple sugars that are not glucose (fructose and galactose), are transformed into glucose. Glucose can be stored in the liver as glycogen (long chains of glucose stored in cells as one big energy reserve). Glucose leaves the liver and enters the blood stream. IMPORTANT: THE ONLY SIMPLE SUGAR THAT ENTERS THE BLOOD STREAM IS GLUCOSE (Hence, blood glucose!). Once glucose is in the blood, this is detected as an increase in blood glucose and therefore, your body reacts by signaling the pancreas to release INSULIN (Considered to be of the most anabolic hormones).

Insulin acts on muscle and fat cell receptors to basically "open up the gates" and allow glucose to flow inside. Most carbohydrates go to muscle cells. Once inside the muscle cell, glucose becomes glycogen - i.e stored energy and power for your muscle (mentioned above). IMPORTANT: Insulin will be discussed with high regard throughout this piece (eventually in higher detail) and it is, in my opinion and many others, the most important factor in maintaining a good diet. KEEP THIS IN MIND AT ALL TIMES.

Interestingly enough, another hormone called glucagon, acts on cells and makes them breakdown the glycogen and release it back into the blood stream as glucose.

INSULIN
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is secreted in response to increased blood glucose levels. The body likes to be in internal balance and this internal balance is called homeostasis. When blood glucose levels get too high, they are not in homeostasis and this is why insulin is secreted. Too much glucose in your blood can be dangerous.

THE GOAL IS TO CONSUME CARBOHYDRATES THAT WILL BE SLOWLY DIGESTED AND CAN BE DEALT WITH EASILY BY THE BODY, WHILE PROMOTING GOOD INSULIN SENSITIVITY.

What is insulin sensitivity? Insulin sensitivity relates to how sensitive the receptors are on your cells to insulin. If the receptors are sensitive (which is a good thing), the insulin attaches and has no problem with moving glucose from the blood into the cell. However, if you are insulin resistant (something you must avoid), the receptor cells are not responding to the insulin and therefore, will not let as much glucose in. Obviously this is scary because we want to keep blood glucose levels normal and if we can't do that, then we may face problems like hyperglycemia.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: THE CONCEPT OF COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES AND SIMPLE SUGARS AND THEIR EFFECT ON BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS, INSULIN SENSITIVITY, AND FAT LOSS.

In the small intestine, carbohydrates are broken down by pancreatic amylase into simple sugars. They must be simple sugars before they can be absorbed by the intestinal absorptive wall.

Remember the above statement; I cannot stress how important it is. Now, let's look at complex carbohydrates vs. simple sugars and their digestion.

If a complex carbohydrate enters the small intestine, it is a much larger molecule and therefore requires more time to digest. Remember that all complex carbohydrates are just like big chains of simple sugars. So, as pancreatic amylase acts on complex carbohydrates, there is a slow release of simple sugars from the larger carbohydrate molecule and these simple sugars are then absorbed into the intestinal absorptive wall. This allows for a nice steady release of glucose into the blood system (after it passes through the capillaries, hepatic portal vein, and liver).

With a nice release of glucose into the blood stream, insulin can be released at a nice steady rate and therefore it can deal with the glucose at a calm and steady rate and is usually able to get the majority of glucose into muscle cells, as opposed to fat cells (this of course depends on current glycogen stores in the muscle cells). But it is a general rule that you consume complex carbohydrates in order to regulate the release of glucose into the blood stream and therefore allow your insulin to deal with lowering blood glucose levels in a calm and orderly fashion.

Ultimately, this will lead to good insulin sensitivity and will help prevent fat gain and promote fat loss. Why? Check out what happens when simple carbohydrates are consumed:

So as opposed to the large molecule that needs to be worked on for a while to be digested and will digest gradually and calmly into the blood stream, the simple sugars are much faster.

Why? THEY ARE ALEADY IN THE SIMPLE SUGAR FORM AND REQUIRE LITTLE OR NO DIGESTION IN ORDER FOR THEM TO BE ABSORBED INTO THE INTESTINAL ABSORPTIVE WALL AND THEREFORE ENTER THE BLOODSTREAM FAST. THIS CAUSES AN INSULIN SPIKE.

An insulin spike is when blood glucose levels are increased rapidly and the homeostasis is thrown out of balance greatly and this causes a strong response from the pancreas and it releases a lot of insulin to deal with the dangerously high glucose, hence, an insulin spike.

Basically, the insulin goes nuts on getting the dangerously high blood glucose back to normal and tries to shove it into any nearby cells. So here we have the muscle cells and the insulin is beating down on their insulin receptors and the muscle cells can only accept so much glucose. But, because there is such a large amount of insulin, due to the insulin spike, the insulin keeps beating on the insulin receptors, regardless of whether or not the cell can take more glucose.

To get the blood glucose levels down, insulin works on insulin receptors of fat cells and therefore, glucose enters the fat cells too; here are some of the reasons:

1) Mainly because the blood glucose is high and it has to eliminate this threat fast and it cannot store all the glucose in muscle cells fast enough so glucose will go to fat cells too.

2) Muscle cells fill up with the glucose and therefore the glucose has to go somewhere else: fat cells.

3) Also, the muscle cells may be insulin resistant and the fat cells are still insulin sensitive: this leads to fat cells taking in glucose.

So the problem with simple carbohydrate consumption is two factors:

1) Insulin resistance from the insulin constantly beating down on the insulin receptors of muscle cells

2) Fat storage due to the said reasons.

The conclusive message: You will want to consume complex carbohydrates for almost all meals with the exception of post workout meals, as you will see. This is to promote healthy insulin sensitivity and to prevent dangerous blood glucose levels, prevent insulin resistance, and prevent fat storage.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF CARBOHYDRATES = 4 calories per 1 g of carbohydrate

Example: Dave eats 1 cup of oats which contains 60 g of carbohydrates. Therefore:

60 g of carbohydrates x 4 calories = 240 calories from carbohydrates

Fats

Fats, scientifically known as lipids, are a component in the body that are often said to be bad and told to be left out of the diet. If someone says this to you, they're an idiot. That is not to say that you should eat a ton of fats, as some fats are definitely bad for you, but there are also good fats that are essential (Essential Fatty Acids [EFA], we will learn more about this later on). Fats, when digested are broken down into fatty acids. Fatty acids play many key roles in our biology.

Fats serve many purposes such as:
-Some vitamins are fat soluble
-They provide a lot of dense energy
-They make you feel fuller
-Are a major component of cell membranes

There are three types of lipids in the body:

1) Triglycerides - 95% of lipids within foods and humans are triglycerides.
2) Phospholipids - These are a major component of cell membranes.
3) Sterols - Yes, cholesterol is a fat/lipid.

Triglycerides are the main type of fat found in humans and food. Adipocytes, or fat cells, are filled with triglycerides; the more triglycerides you have, the fatter your fat cell. It is also important to note here: 18-24 months after birth, our body stops making fat cells. Thus, fat cells only can get bigger as they gain more and more triglycerides (or smaller as they lose more and more triglycerides).

Triglycerides are basically structured like this:
-1 glycerol molecule
-3 fatty acids
(Hence tri(3 fatty acids) and glyceride(glycerol))

Fatty acids are composed of chains that are 8 - 22 carbons in length. At one end of the fatty acid there is a methyl group (CH3) and at the other end there is an acid group (COOH). The rest of the carbons form bonds with hydrogen and bonds with each other.

WHETHER A FATTY ACID IS SATURATED, MONOUNSATURATED, OR POLYUNSATURATED DEPENDS ON HOW MANY BONDS CARBON MAKES AVAILABLE FOR HYDROGEN ATOMS TO BOND TO (EXCLUDING THE METHYL AND ACID GROUPS).

NOTE: If you don't know your chemistry, read this anyway, you can still grasp the concept.

Saturated Fatty Acids are fatty acids where the carbon atoms have made all their bonds (aside from the methyl and acid groups) available for hydrogen bonds, hence, it is completely saturated with hydrogen atoms where possible. Basically, the maximum amount of hydrogen is being attached to the fatty acid.

Saturated fats (fats that contain saturated fatty acids) are solid at room temperature and can be found in foods such as animal meat. Ex: fat on a steak.

SATURATED FATS are important in the production of testosterone.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids are fatty acids where ONE double bond is formed between two carbons (called the point of unsaturation) and since the bond is being used between two carbon atoms, this makes it so the maximum amount of hydrogen cannot attach to the fatty acid. (C=C)

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids are fatty acids where double bonds are formed between TWO OR MORE carbon pairs. This makes the fatty acid even less saturated than the monounsaturated fatty acid. Therefore, the amount of hydrogen atoms able to attach to the fatty acid is further reduced. (C=C-C=C)

Unsaturated fats (fats with unsaturated fatty acids) are liquid at room temperature and are often called oils. Example: Fish oils and vegetable oils.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS are fatty acids which we must get from our diet or cannot make in sufficient quantities (similar to essential amino acids). EFA help with the body's immune system, help regulate blood pressure, reduce infection, manage blood lipids, and helps with the creation of blood clots.

Two essential fatty acids are:
Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) (polyunsaturated fatty acid)
Linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) (polyunsaturated fatty acid)

Note: "omega-x" just describes the chemical structure of the fatty acid but is negligible in importance for this article.

Sources of essential fatty acids:
-fish and fish oil
-I do not recommend using flax seed oil because a conversion must take place to achieve the essential fatty acids. However, fish oil already has its essential fatty acids and does not require conversion.

TRANS-FATTY ACIDS are fatty acids that are chemically produced and rarely found in nature. What is the difference between these and other fatty acids? They are usually chemically produced in a process called hydrogenation where carbon bonds are freed up and hydrogen atoms join. This causes the fatty acid to become saturated. So is this just a saturated fat? NO! Saturated fats have a 'cis' structure (bent structure) while the trans-fats have a 'trans' structure (straight structure). So is straightening out the fatty acid a big deal?

YES!

Trans-fatty acids are something you always want to look out for on nutrition labels and are often used in deep frying. You will definitely want to avoid trans-fatty acids as they have been shown to have many negative effects such as increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol and furthermore it may cause coronary heart disease.

Examples of sources of trans-fats:
-Chips
-French Fries
-Pretty much anything that is deep fried

Phospholipids help in the formation of cell membranes and are materials for special functions such as the eye and nerve sheath. The phospholipids will not be focused on for this article.

Cholesterol is a sterol and it helps in the production of steroid hormones (like testosterone!), and also is used in the synthesis of bile and vitamin D.

Examples of sources of sterols, mainly cholesterol:
-Whole eggs
-Bacon

Fat Digestion will not be addressed in this article; Carbohydrate digestion is of the most significance.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF FAT = 9 calories per 1 g of fat

Example: Dave consumes a whole egg that contains 5.3 g of fat. Therefore:

5.3 g of fat x 9 calories = 47.7 calories

WATER

Water is so important and yet so many people avoid it. Why? Probably because they don't like having to use the bathroom all the time, but believe the athletic community: it is highly anabolic. Water has many benefits and this article will not address each and everyone but some important ones as they pertain to athletic performance.

Water:

clears out toxins
Makes supplements like creatine more effective because creatine pulls water into muscle cells and, for this, you'll need ample water.
Many vitamins are water soluble so you need water to make the vitamins function properly.
for every gram of glycogen stored in cells, 3-4 grams of water will be stored. This can cause some serious cell volumization.
helps to regulate body temperature.
Recommended Water Intake:
Daily: 4-8 L (1-2 Gallons)
Game: 1-2 L

WATER NUTRITIONAL VALUE = Does not contribute calories.

Conclusion to Part II: Carbohydrate digestion and metabolism is extremely important in achieving your goals. Now that you know the science behind the macronutrients, you are now ready to build your diet - but that will have to wait until next time! Until then, make sure to stay determined, dedicated, and disciplined and say no to that chocolate bar, ice cream, etc. because you now you know what will happen! In Part III we will be revealing the secrets of how to build the perfect diet to promote strength, explosiveness, mass increments, power and more. Have a great day and thank you for your time

Friday, February 8, 2008

Baseball Nutrition


RT Staff Note: We get many questions about nutrition and how it applies to baseball, gaining strength, lean muscle mass, performance and recovery. Andrew McInroy is a highly-sought after consultant who works with numerous amateur and professional-level athletes and will make this whole nutrition thing very clear - once and for all. Enjoy!

Part I - By Andrew McInroy.

Want to hit the ball harder? Throw the ball farther and faster? Have more speed and agility? Certainly, you already know the baseball training info provided by Jon Doyle and BaseballTrainingSecrets.com is second to none. But a large part of your results will be due to your nutrition.

In this three part series, I will give you the basics of nutrition; however, I can guarantee that with this knowledge, you will be able to significantly get closer to your goals.

Nutrition is the most important aspect of athletic performance. In Baseball, you require strength, power, explosiveness and more. Nutrition will help build the muscle and provide the energy required for these needs.

Nutrition is the most important aspect of achieving a higher level in any physical activity. If you do not have proper nutrition, you will not have adequate energy nor will you be able to feed your body with the nutrients necessary for many processes such as protein synthesis (muscle building), biosynthesis of hormones, ossification (bone formation), and the list goes on and on.

Too often, people invest large amounts of money into supplements and do not take nutrition into account. Even though you may be working hard in the gym and have the "cutting edge supplements", you will see a major lack of results (or no results) if your nutrition is not in check.

Enough of this "chit-chat". Let's dive right in…

CALORIES AND BASAL METABOLIC RATE

On the back of a nutrition label you'll see a section marked "calories/cals". This is referring to the amount of energy you will receive from eating that food. You need calories to do any physical activity and when you do physical activity, energy is burned and this is generally expressed as "calories burned".

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is defined as the energy required for the functioning of normal body processes. Basically, this is the energy that you burn sitting there and doing nothing and it does not take into account energy expenditure during physical activity. This is an important tool in nutrition as it is one of the initial steps for a nutritionist in designing a meal plan. The methods for calculating BMR will not be expressed here but will be discussed in the later portion when we talk about building your diet.

In nutrition, there are rather general and simple rules when it comes to diet and calories:
1) If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
2) If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
3) If you consume the same amount of calories as you burn, you will maintain body composition.

However, these rules, as stated above, are general and simple; perhaps a bit too general and simple. For instance, let's say that you are burning 2000 calories a day and you want to lose weight. Does this mean that if you eat 1500 calories of sugar that you will ultimately lose fat because you are eating less than you burn? NO! Any sensible person with the slightest knowledge of nutrition would tell you that this method to losing weight is absurd, but 'why' will be discussed further on.

THE NUTRIENTS

Nutrients are the essential parts of our diet required to live. For instance, water is a nutrient and if you go too long without it, you will end up dehydrated and eventually die.

There are six classes of nutrients:

Proteins
Carbohydrates
Fats
Vitamins
Minerals
Water
Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats are called the macronutrients.

Vitamins and minerals are called the micronutrients.

THE MACRONUTRIENTS: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats

Proteins

Proteins are found in pretty much everything you eat and vary in amount. Protein is very important for many processes in the body. We get protein from sources like steak, milk, eggs, and fish. Within the body, protein makes up many structures such as muscle, skin, and organs.

Protein is composed of subcomponents called amino acids. Most proteins are made up of 20 common amino acids; 9 of which are essential and 11 being nonessential. Essential amino acids are amino acids that we must obtain from our diet as opposed to nonessential amino acids which we do not require from our diet as we can biosynthesize (create) them within our body.

The basic and main processes that amino acids do within the body are:

1) The building up of protein containing tissue like muscle and skin and production of other nitrogen containing compounds in our body such as amine hormones like adrenaline. Only a limiting amount of amino acids can be used for these processes and therefore any remaining amino acids goes to the remaining 3 processes.

2) Gluconeogenesis: The production of glucose from carbon skeletons of amino acids by the liver.

3) Production of Energy

4) Storage as fat

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF PROTEINS = 4 calories per 1 g of protein

Example: Dave consumes 1 scoop of whey protein which consists of 24 g of protein. Therefore:

24 g of protein x 4 calories = 96 calories from protein.

Protein digestion will not be discussed in this article; carbohydrate digestion is of the most significance.

Carbohydrates

A common target in fad diets; carbohydrates are not our enemy. Rather, they are our best friends when it comes to raw, efficient and powerful energy. Carbohydrates are more than likely the most important macronutrient that is regarded when designing a nutrition plan as it is manipulated in many ways in order to meet the specific performance needs of an athlete. We get carbohydrates from many sources but first we must talk about the main three types of carbohydrates:

Simple Carbohydrates are basically sugars and fall into the category of monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest forms of carbohydrates in chemical structure and often resemble the formula C6H12O6. There are three (3) monosaccharides:

1) Glucose (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT; READ ON)
2) Fructose
3) Galactose

Simply enough, there are 3 disaccharides and are composed of two monosaccharides joined together:
1) Maltose (Glucose + Glucose)
2) Sucrose (Glucose + Fructose)
3) Lactose (Glucose + Galactose)

Examples of sources of simple sugars:
-candy bars
-maple syrup
-pop
-fruits (fructose, get it?)
-table sugar

Complex Carbohydrates are simply extremely large chains of monosaccharides joined together to form one huge molecule.

To put these two types of carbohydrates in perspective of one another: imagine that you have a long metal chain; each little component of that chain would be a monosaccharide while the chain as a whole would be the complex carbohydrate.

Examples of complex carbohydrates:
-whole wheat bread
-whole wheat pasta
-oats (a powerful component to any serious athlete's nutrition)
-yams (Kind of potato)

Fiber is basically a carbohydrate that our body does not have the enzymes, which are components needed to digest food into smaller particles, it needs to digest the fiber. Therefore, fiber passes through our digestive system, mainly undigested (mainly undigested, but in the large intestine, bacteria act on fiber).

Fiber does not contribute to calories.

The benefits of fiber are that it contributes to fullness, helps to protect against bacterial infection like appendicitis, reduces risk of colon cancer and coronary heart disease, helps to stop hemorrhoids and constipation, and the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates is slowed down (Therefore, the body can deal with glucose better).

Examples of sources of fiber:
-vegetables
-whole wheat bread
-whole wheat pasta
-oats

As a general rule of thumb, if your carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates, they more than likely will contain a good amount of fiber.

Conclusion to Part I: As you can see, nutrition is a deep subject containing many aspects and angles. In Part I we discussed some of the basics but in the next article we will discuss carbohydrate digestion, fats and their chemistry, and most importantly, the secrets of carbohydrates and their ability to help you get huge, strong, and ripped is revealed. Between now and the next article, throw a steak on the grill, drink some whey protein, have some cottage cheese so that you can get more muscle behind that swing or throw the ball a few more miles per hour faster. Thanks for your time and I hope you're ready for the next part as it contains the most important subject of nutrition.