Baseball has always played an important role in my life, as I'm sure, many of you can relate to. I was playing baseball as early as I can remember and to this day, I can't imagine my life without it.
I've been pretty lucky to have played for some great coaches. I attended Sunset High School and played for Mike Bubalo. I then went to Mt. Hood Community College and played for Dale Stebbins and Gabe Sandy. After Mt. Hood, I finished up at Concordia University where I played for Rob Vance.
As a baseball player, I was dedicated and driven to succeed. I worked hard both on and off the field and spent long hours in the gym trying to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Despite all of my best efforts, I consistently found myself injured. It seemed that the harder I worked, the more hurt I got.
The first injury I suffered was to my abdomen. It was strained pretty bad and made it difficult to run. I was still pretty fast, but I could have been faster.
A couple months later, I pulled my hamstring while running to 1st base. I distinctly remember Coach Stebbins telling me that my quads were overdeveloped.
Over the next 2 years, I suffered from back spasms, which caused me to lose playing time and miss games. I eventually suffered a second injury to my abdomen.
A month later I tore my UCL (ulnar collatoral ligament). The second this happened, I realized that my days as a player were over. Even as I walked off the field, I was already questioning why all of this was happening to me. After all, I was putting in hours at the gym to get better and prevent injuries. Baseball was my life. I trained and practiced and played and trained and practiced and played.
But then it dawned on me. Everything I was doing to get myself ready for baseball was putting me at more risk for getting hurt. Like Coach Stebbins had pointed out, my quads were overdeveloped. I could later see how underdeveloped my hamstrings were. In fact, all my large muscles were overdeveloped and the smaller, stabilizing muscles were underdeveloped. And, all of this muscle imbalance could be attributed to bad programming.
I should mention that I, alone, put together my own training programs. I read Body Building magazines and trained like a football player. These were the only workouts I knew and I was trying to apply it to baseball, which obviously was not working.
During my time at Concordia, I study Athletic Training and the knowledge I gained here helped me realize that nothing I was doing made sense for baseball. In fact, a lot of it was stupid for baseball.
The reason I consistently got hurt was perfectly clear. I was over-working my major muscle groups to produce more power and ignoring all the minor muscle groups and the stability principles that are so important in baseball.
So after I learned about how NOT to get hurt and finished up at Concordia, I was already training the general population but I could see there was a need in baseball. Athletes were getting hurt left and right and there wasn't a program or facility (that I could see) that offered strength and conditioning training specifically for baseball players. Even now still, the majority of high school and college baseball players work with trainers that have a football background (or any other background besides baseball!) and do their "training" on their own at a local gym or in their high school weight training class.
This got me thinking... What are we doing and How can we do it better?
That was when I got a call from Brian Burres, a pitcher who was with the Baltimore Orioles at the time, and a good friend of mine. He was working out at another facility and called me with questions about what we'd be doing if I were to train him. I talked to him about the principles I believed in and gave him an idea of my training methods. We went out to dinner that night and started training the next day.
For five days a week, Burres would travel 45 minutes a day to workout with me. After our first week of training, he started bringing in more athletes.
Before I knew it, we had a fairly large, good group of guys and we needed more space. I looked around at some other facilities and gyms but none of them had what I was looking for. We needed a large space for these guys to be able to hit, throw and train. When I exhausted my search, I came to the conclusion that I would need to create this space because it did not exist in the area.
On November 1st, 2010, I opened the doors to Athletes In Motion.
Over the last couple years, the groups have continued to grow and I am now proud to say that I work with more professional baseball players than anyone else in the Northwest! I've since expanded my programs to include collegiate and high school level players. This winter alone, we've worked with 51 athletes from 10 different professional organizations, 6 different colleges, and 14 different high schools.
I get asked all the time why I do what I do and what I get out of it. Well, this story is my answer. With Athletes In Motion, I hope to provide a place for baseball players of all levels to get better - the right way! The training programs offered here incorporate the most current research available. Not only that, but we open our doors to Major League Scouts in order to provide a place for aspiring players to be noticed (I would have loved this in my playing days!). We also allow professionals (athletes and scouts) to offer baseball skills training to those players looking to improve their technique. And lastly, we provide additional resources (such as prehab/rehab, nutritional guidance, college prep, and mental game support) to our players in order to produce a well-rounded athlete.
The programs we offer require hard-work and dedication. We don't take short-cuts and we expect the same out of our athletes. Admittedly, Athletes In Motion is not for everyone - but I think it's better this way. It's exactly the type of place I would have liked to have when I was playing baseball.
- Zane Kelly
- Zane Kelly