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What winter break is like as a Northwest baseball player

January 30, 2024 / Motivational

The No. 1 Priority for Pitchers is Getting Into Throwing Shape



Winter break for Northwest students brings about time with families, holidays and a much-needed break from school. But, for student-athletes whose season is in the spring, winter break is a time of preparation.

Heading home on Dec. 8 meant the Northwest baseball season was 57 days away. For me, as a pitcher, it was all about trying to figure out how to achieve my goals of getting stronger, faster and into throwing shape.

Strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Wendelberger sent all of Bearcat baseball home with a weightlifting schedule to follow. Included in our lifting schedule was a three-day and four-week schedule that included the lifts we primarily did in the fall. These lifts included many ways to train specific muscles and movements that baseball players use every pitch.

For me to get the benefits when performing these workouts, it’s important to be smart about it. By using the proper weight for each intended workout, charting the weight and difficulty allows me to know if I am growing. The post-workout routine is just as important as the workout itself. Getting the right protein, calories and water is also key to making sure you grow the muscles after a workout. My favorite post-workout meal included a three-scoop protein shake, with a carne asada bowl from Chipotle.

The No. 1 priority for pitchers is getting into throwing shape — with the help of Matt Canella, who oversees Northwest’s athletic training department and is also in charge of our pitchers’ arm care. Canella has spent a lot of hours researching and finding the best ways of training the throwing arm to remain healthy. For the break, Canella gave us a day-by-day breakdown of the amount of stretching, throwing and intensity needed.

For pitching, it is important to start with a small volume of throws with low intensity, with a slow increase of volume and intensity. The most important thing to do over break is to get my body right, considering we only have three weeks of practice time as a team before the first game. To put that into perspective, fall sports spend half of the summer break practicing and go straight into the season.

Kansas City in December isn’t the easiest when it comes to finding a place to throw as the weather doesn’t allow me to go outside every day. For five years, I have been going to Velocity Academy in Belton, Missouri, and working with pitching coach Mark Nussbeck. The facility has all the equipment needed to get the proper work in. Including my weighted balls, a radar gun to see how hard I am throwing and a television to watch the video breakdowns of each throwing session.

The real advantage of working with Nussbeck is his connections throughout Kansas City. One of the people that Nussbeck invites me to workout with is former first-round pick of the MLB’s Chicago Cubs and current closer for the Detroit Tigers, Alex Lange. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native comes home to see family and stops in to get some work in.

Working with Lange has been a great opportunity to grow as a pitcher, gathering information from him about where the game is headed and what he sees from me. Mechanical adjustments are typically suggestions that Lange makes to me. For example, this year Lange suggested I learn to have more tension in my back leg and see how long I can hold the tension. By doing this, eventually, my velocity would increase.

After eight throwing sessions with Nussbeck, 12 days of lifting, Chipotle and gaining 18 pounds, I had achieved my three goals of gaining strength, speed and arm strength. Now, I was ready to head back to Maryville.


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