BlogsUltimate Athlete Countdown: Crushing the Baseball Challenge
Our UA ringer Kyle Clarke reveals his training plan for the Baseball Challenge—and tips to win.
Last week, we introduced you to Kyle Clarke, the former US Army captain who's giving you all the dirty details on how to get involved in the Men's Fitness Ultimate Athlete competition—and some of the tips tricks and strategies you need to win the grand prize. As the countdown continues, Kyle reveals his training plan for the baseball challenge.
So with less than two weeks until the Olympia in Las Vegas (scary thought!), the next portion of the Men’s Fitness Ultimate Athlete competition competition that I want to discuss is Baseball – Pitching. Now if you’ve never thrown a baseball before in your life, the odds of you having perfect form by the time of the competition are slim. But if you get out there and practice throwing a little each day, maybe you can figure out what works for you, and then focus on speed and accuracy.
If you are brand new to baseball, I would recommend searching YouTube for “How to hold a baseball” and “How to throw a baseball” videos. Seeing it on a video will definitely give you a better idea than I could by writing to you. And if you want to get fancy, check out the pitching styles of Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, or even Sandy Koufax.
At the competition, you will have 60 seconds to throw 5 pitches. Each pitch must go into the strike zone to count, and then the speed of the pitch will determine how many points you are awarded! Here’s the breakdown:
60-65 mph = 1 point
66-70 mph = 2 points
71-75 mph = 3 points
76-80 mph = 4 points
81-85 mph = 5 points
86-90 mph = 6 points
91-95 mph = 7 points
96-100 mph = 8 points
101+ mph = 10 points
The best drill you can do for this portion of the competition is to go to a baseball field, set up a “strike zone” net or cardboard cutout, pitch from the mound, and throw 5 baseballs at the target. Take a break after every 5, stretch out your arm, regain your focus, or throw 5 more pitches. Do this 10 to 15 times per day until the competition, and you should have no problems finding the strike zone.
*Be sure to warm up before you start throwing fastballs so you don’t hurt your arm! Start close and as your arm loosens up, throw farther and farther until the 60 foot pitching distance doesn’t seem like a strained throw.
If you can’t get to a baseball field, at least play catch with a friend every day for 20-30 minutes. Try to pace off 60 feet (20 full steps), and have your friend hold up his/her glove. Your job is to throw the ball directly into the glove without your friend having to move to catch it.
Obviously the speed doesn’t matter if the pitch misses the strike zone, so first and foremost, work on accuracy. If you starting getting 4 out of 5 or better into the strike zone, then try to add a little zip to the ball. Here are the best tips I can give you for adding velocity to your pitches:
Hold the ball loose like an egg (don’t have a death grip on it), and pull down on the seams when you release it.
Bend your back leg slightly in your windup to generate power and push off as you throw.
Follow through!! Don’t keep your head up to watch your pitch. Trust that you have thrown it well and finish the rest of the motion.
Since the propulsion of throwing a baseball comes from elastic energy, weight training will not increase arm-throwing velocity. So the best exercises to do to prepare for this section, are all stretches.
- Anterior Shoulder Stretch
- Triceps Stretch
- Wide arm Pectoral Stretch
- Overhead Lat Stretch
- Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises
- And if your arm is sore after pitching… Ice it!!
If you haven't signed up for the 2013 Ultimate Athlete, now is the time! Sign Up Today >>>
I hope this helps in your prep for the Ultimate Athlete Challenge. If you have any questions or feedback you can always contact me on my Facebook page.
Stay tuned for my next blog explaining how I’m preparing for the ‘MMA Extreme Fit Challenge’ portion of the competition!! And don't forget the Basketball Challenge, check out my tips for crushing that portion of the competition.
About Kyle: Kyle Clarke is a former U.S. Army Captain and Civil Engineer from Las Vegas, NV. He currently serves as a senior brand specialist for MRI Performance and does his training at Equinox West Hollywood.
Kyle was skiing before he could walk, playing baseball, basketball, and soccer from 5 years old until high school, played ice hockey and ran track in college, rode bulls for the Army, and also jumped out of perfectly good airplanes. He has won fitness competitions in the past, but now focuses on helping other's achieve their goals. He also competes in physically demanding competitions, like Men's Fitness Ultimate Athlete.