Recently, when watching Brent Strom’s zoom video, he provided a list of the names of industry experts that he called his go-to resources. I figured, we would take a quick look at each of the names, if I can find details about them and any theories they’ve advocated for. I figure this would be a great resource for those interested in getting into the mind of the one and only Brent Strom - but also for aspiring coaches. Strom himself would say that none of this is set in stone and it’s an ever learning process, but having a buy in from someone who is such a student of the game adds a ton of credibility.
As I rounded out the B’s, I realized how tough it would be to do any justice from an information perspective without digging in deeper. And well, I looked down and 7 or so hours had passed listening to podcasts and reading the research just from the people in the letter B’s.
So instead of one short article covering a 2 minute google search of every name on the list, I decided to dig a little bit deeper to improve my own knowledge and take you guys on the journey. Below is a quick snippet of what I suspect the key areas are for that “go-to” person, and below that is a deeper dive into each of the people. There will be a little more of a bio/references to their work and places to do additional reading if interested.
Please understand, I’m NOT an expert in these areas, but I figure I will provide a high level recap attempting to simplify the concepts as much as possible as well as providing links for those who want to dig deeper to draw their own conclusions.
My Key Notes:
- Husband: It’s telling that Brent Strom says he would start with Perry Husband. And Perry Husband screams Effective Velocity from the top of his lungs. It could be interesting to see if we overlay pitchers pre & post-Strom if we’d see a significant shift in their pitch location strategy.
- Balkovec: A rising star in baseball, previously worked with Strom & the Astros. She is an advocate of olympic lifting / triple extension, and has done studies with Driveline Baseball. She goes into some more details as to training regiments / beliefs in the podcasts. There’s research from her in regards to Hip movement of pitchers but I couldn’t seem to find it.
- Bleecker - Author of a book called Old School vs New School: The Application of Data & Technology which covers a wide array of topics. His company looks to primarily focus on research and development for new ways to train athletes for performance / health.
- Bjornson: Some of you may remember Bjornson as our bullpen pitching coach. While I can find some background on him, there’s not much I could find about specific areas of expertise or articles/theories by him. He was credited for noting mechanical flaws in different pitchers deliveries , so that may be the area he was being recognized for.
- Boddy - Boddy is the founder of Driveline Baseball. He’s an extreme advocate for using technology and scientific data to improve performance. Driveline was used a lot as reference points for the different concepts in the first article as they do an excellent job visually demonstrating a very technical concept.
- Cobb - Cobb is the co-founder of Z-Health, a company that takes a brain first approach to training - focusing on the neurological side of training for physical and vision training. Very interestingly conceptually. I think that most readers here will find some area of interest in his work (lessening back pain, dealing with carpel tunnel, improving their vision, etc). This video does a good job explaining what Z Health is and the approach they take.
- Corral - Highly regarded pitching coach, currently the pitching coach for the Mizzou baseball team. Key areas of focus I found were unlocking your lower half and his common sense series of training videos.
- Crotin - Crotin is the Director of Performance Integration for the Angels. He has a large number of published papers focused primarily on injury prevention and analyzing the size of players and the correlation on the field. Has links to a ton of drills.
Overall, nothing that seems overly shocking based on what we’ve previously learned. There was some great stories from most of these - such as Balkovec talking about Strom as a mentor which were great. It definitely reinforces the usage of technology to gain every little advantage they can in pitching. I wish I had more of a background to speak intelligently to the training side of the pitching guru’s, but will try to see if I can do an interview with them or find someone who can explain it better than I can.
Every one of the people above are on the “cutting edge” often with essentially all of them having a focus on incorporating technology to make improvements to the pitcher. A large number of them are associated with groups that help get coaching knowledge out, which made the resources for the learning materials listed below excellent for anyone interested in furthering their knowledge.
First, as per Strom’s own words, would be starting with Perry Husband. We are extremely happy to announce we will have a follow up discussion with Perry this week, and post an interview/follow-up for more detail (and probably correcting my mistakes as well!).
WHO: Perry Husband
Learning Resource: Perry hosts a blog with information, has published 4 books, Hosts an online academy, and sells DVD’s, Coaches Clinic
Videos: Interview with Peter Caliendo, Explaining Effective Velocity on MLB, His personal Youtube Channel
For those who don’t know him, Perry is a student of the game who has provided a number of advances ranging from tubing, introducing modern metrics such as exit velocity and launch angle into the discussion, but his primary work has been in Effective Velocity. In the simplest terms I can think of, is a pitch’s location determines at what point you would need to swing in order to square up a pitch. A pitch up and in would require you to pull the trigger earlier, giving it a higher “effective velocity”. The opposite would happen with a down and away pitch. Below is a graphic which I think helps quickly illustrate the concept.
We will have a full article digging more into the theories that he advocates and hear it in his own words!
From there, we will follow alphabetical on the list:
This clip is about Brent Strom... Some of my most important mentors didn’t just teach me *what* to learn, they taught me *how* to learn. https://t.co/VLxcfmRDsv— Rachel Balkovec (@_rachelbalkovec) April 9, 2020
WHO: Rachel Balkovec
Learning Resource: Rachel’s website is here, She does accept mentorship, Workswith Altis for their Virtual Apprentice Coaching Program, Inform Performance Podcast,
Videos: Interview with Top Velocity, Interview with The Ready State,
If you haven’t listened to it, it’s less of an informative piece on pitching, but Rachel’s commentary about Brent Strom is well worth a listen.
For those of you who don’t know her, Rachel Balkovec recently became the first female hitting coach in the MLB for the New York Yankees. She previously worked as with the Cardinals, took over as the Astros Strength and Conditioning coach for the Astros in Latin America, and worked a fellowship at Driveline baseball. She earned a second masters in human movement sciences focused in biomechanics.
I found reports that she studied hips movements of pitchers while she was with Driveline baseball, but I haven’t been able to find the studies themselves for things to learn from. (Driveline has some links related to her but for members only)
Rachel seems to be a large advocate of bringing olympic lifting into the training of baseball players. The link above from Top Velocity provides an hour long discussion with her about her beliefs, and some scientific research behind utilizing the lift.
In addition, her website highlights Ido Movement and crossfit, which seems to lend to a less traditional approach focusing on the movement aspects instead of pure strength training. It’s not clear which elements would be implemented by Strom.
In her blog, she had chronicled some of her time in Latin America with the Astros, and while it’s not necessarily pitching related, it’s a really intriguing read.
I did find that she does have a place for requests for interviews, so I will submit one, so hopefully I can have her come by and present a bit of what she’d recommend to coaches as well as talk about working with Brent Strom and the Astros.
Rotation can't violate the sagittal plane‼️— Eugene Bleecker (@108_Performance) June 13, 2020
Listen to @FLBaseballRanch explain why going into extreme flexion/extension during rotation is a great recipe for back pain b/c we lose the ability to stabilize the spine.
We need to stabilize to mobilize!https://t.co/miiFUc06NS pic.twitter.com/0ZyCHJWu89
WHO: Eugene Bleecker
Learning Resource: Book, Online Courses, blog, Podcast with Ahead of the Curve, Coaches Clinic, OwlTail Podcast
Videos: Going Yard Podcast,
Eugene Bleecker is the founder of 108 Performance. He is the author of Old School vs New School: The Application of Data & Technology. He offers a money back guarantee on his book if you do not find it to be one of the best books on baseball coaching you’ve ever read.
His book is designed to take complex concepts and break them down and it covers a wide array of topics. He has a second book coming out about player development.
Their website has a blog that I’d recommend taking a look at, providing a large number of very specific articles - including Astros related ones. .
WHO: Craig Bjornson
Videos: Red Sox Bullpen Reunited!
After playing as a minor leaguer in the Astros system, Bjornson has served in a myriad of pitching coach related roles within the Astros and other organizations, currently serving as the bullpen coach with the Red Sox, having previous served in that role with the Astros from 2012-207.
He was credited for assisting Dallas Keuchel in his turn-around by noting a focus in improved lower half mechanics, and for a mechanical change in Tyler Thornton’s mechanics.
I was unable to find much written in regards to his theories or public seminars that he has given.
WHO: Kyle Boddy
Learning Resource: Book, Monthly Free Video , Pitching Videos
Videos: Red Sox Bullpen Reunited!
If you want to know all about Kyle, there’s a 18 minute Youtube video that covers his life and how we got to where he is today. Kyle is the founder of Driveline Baseball, which has definitely made a name for itself, particularly with Trevor Bauer as a front man and their extensive usage of technology for delivering improved performance.
Boddy, inspired by the book Moneyball, built out a website that had theories expanding on the work of Mike Marshall. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get buy in from a major league team so he built his own laboratory to perform the testing and document his findings. And thus Driveline was born.
Driveline Baseball was a resource for quite a few of the topics on the original Strom Magic Method. Their ability to visually illustrate incredibly complex topics allows them to translate scientific theories into something you can see with your own two eyes.
His blog is an overwhelming resource of information. From how to throw certain pitches, to workloads, to programming, to deeper theories and scientific topics.
WHO: Dr. Eric Cobb
Learning Resource: Website
Videos: Youtube Channel, Z-Health 101
Dr. Eric Cobb is the co-founder of Z-Health, and is “one of the nations leading experts in harnessing the power of the neurology of movement to create extraordinary change in the human body.” Like a lot of the others on this list, he takes scientific information and academic work and translates it into a development strategy for his athletes.
There are quite a few videos on Youtube of him teaching different techniques or explaining in more detail if you are interested in exploring further. Here is the list of the primary topics from their website:
- Pain Neuroscience
- Movement Neurology
- Biomechanics and Kinesiology
- Sports Vision Training
- Vestibular Rehabilitation
- Motor Learning Theory and Application
- Respiratory Rehabilitation and Training
- Sports Skill Coaching
- Modern Strength and Mobility Training
- Behavior Modification
Although you can’t become certified online, all of the coursework and related documentation is there if you’d like to study. He has a ton of videos (Clicking Play all says 398) - on a broad range of topics, but generally related to the neurological aspects of physical training. He’s the first I’ve seen with vision training as well.
☮️☯️The Chi Drill☯️☮️— Eugene Bleecker (@108_Performance) May 23, 2020
chatting w @FCorral34 about the best ways to create "balance" +harmony in the delivery. This is one of our favorite drills w a pvc pipe to work on sequencing and the flow of directional energy.
for more drills like this https://t.co/2gUuveKX2i pic.twitter.com/lsup5gM0bp
WHO: Fred Corral
Learning Resource: The Common Sense to Pitching, Drag Line and Unlocking Lower Halfs
Videos: Visualizing Pitches, 108 Performance Discussion with Corral , Using K-Board, Mastering the Knuckle Curve, Mastering the Curveball, DVD’s
Fred Corral is the pitching coach of the Mizzou baseball team. In a recent interview, he talked about Brent Strom as a mentor, citing these words of wisdom: “before you become a master teacher, you have to become a master learner.” Corral is a 27-year coach (3 in professional baseball).
As for his specific research, I found a lot of “common sense” coaching tactics, unlocking your lower half, etc - and a lot of work that is done with the other members on this list, though usually fronted by a person who has a independent pitcher training business.
Study: Long stride with increased drive leg force production supports more braking forces which increases velocity. It also supports more linear trunk momentum which can reduce “Arm Drag” therefore helping to avoid injury. Congrats to Ryan Crotin for game changing study #pitching pic.twitter.com/lIb97dqDbI— Brent Pourciau (@TopVelocity) September 16, 2019
WHO: Ryan Crotin
Learning Resource: Published Papers, Strength & Conditioning Podcast
Videos: Youtube Channel
Ryan Crotin is the Director of Performance Integration, Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Angels. Don’t know what that is? That’s understandable haha
Ryan has a large number of published works doing in depth scientific studies on a range of topics - here are the first two examples so you can see the type of research this is:
Stride Length: The impact on propulsion and bracing ground reaction force in overhand throwing.
Biomechanical estimation of Elbow Valgus Loading in throwing athletes as a mean to reduce injury risk
His topics cover a broad range of topics, but of the 18 published articles I skimmed, his primary focuses seem to be injury prevention and examining the correlation of size on a player’s ability/injury prevention etc.
In the podcast, Crotin talks about his focus on coordination instead of pure strength. He has a TON of drills on his youtube channel.