The Four Driving Forces of Narrow Path Sports

Hello and hope you all have had a great week so far.  Today we are going to jump in and talk about how I go about my training programs and how I approach pitching.  I hope this will give some insight into what my athletes will get and interest you into either coming on board or asking questions if you are not local to my area.  

Pitching has really evolved as has the game of baseball these last 10 years.  Analytics have come to crowd the narrative, and everything comes back to metrics and data.  I just don’t think this is the complete way to treat a sport as nuanced as baseball.  Yes, some of these tools are helpful and have helped get guys opportunities they may not have gotten before but it has also hurt other careers as well.  I think some of this new information and technology can help guys train but cannot be the final say in if someone is going to be successful.  There are always outliers and I think baseball has more than few greats that do not fit into the cookie cutter mold of this modern analytic system.

"I want to meet each athlete where they are at, embrace what makes them unique and help draw out what they each do well."

JJ Hoover

Each athlete and human are built and wired differently.  That is why I think putting people into these molds is harmful to many careers in my opinion.  When I start working with a new athlete, I want to see how each person moves and performs.  There are certain things that need to line up, but I think if you sit back and watch a baseball game from a while back you can see the differences in pitching styles and batting approaches.  I want to meet each athlete where they are at, embrace what makes them unique and help draw out what they each do well.  Trying to get every pitcher to have the same band of spin rate or horizontal break and tilt on a slider is foolish. Those are just some of the examples and not an exhaustive list.  Yes, it may work for pitcher A but pitcher B could be taller or shorter and a non-traditional or less than ideal pitch under the new analysis might be why he shines.  There is a reason high quality scouts are so valuable, and I believe still are.  I want to see what each athlete may excel at and what makes him stand out.  

Narrow Path is a convergence of Technology and Training

I can rant on this new system, but I do think that the pendulum will swing back. Then we may have the right combo of new and old school mentalities merge and bring forth a great era of baseball and pitching. That is how I love to approach what I do when I am training pitchers.  I think a lot of success can be obtained by merging some of the tools and technology with some staples that have worked for a long time.  My best coaches would use different phrases to try and teach a certain movement or mechanical adjustment.  That is something that I have also had success within my instruction style.  Rapsodo or Trackman can be a nice hint of things that are going on with a pitcher’s delivery or pitch but seeing how a hitter reacts to a certain pitcher also show things technology cannot.  

The Four Driving Forces of Narrow Path Sports

When it comes to my training, I want to make sure each of my athletes is equipped for their season.  I teach a complete body warm up routine.  This helps to prime our bodies for the act of pitching.  This can reduce the chance of injury while also making sure their bodies are moving efficiently so the athlete can deliver the most explosive mechanics possible. 

Next I work each athlete through a series of mechanics based throwing drills.  This helps set the athlete up for success when they get on the mound of a bullpen session. 

After the bullpen and throwing session is complete, I guide each athlete through an arm care and strengthening program.  This is a staple that I see performed improperly on a regular basis.  Have a strong foundation for throwing is very low hanging fruit that can and will pay massive dividends in the long run. 

These are my three foundational parts of my sessions with my athletes.  A final thing that I love to do is go over some of the mental aspects of the game.  Talking through game situations or what pitch to throw in a certain count is the chess match part of baseball that I absolutely love.  Complete baseball players and pitchers are what I am striving to help build as well as strong young men.

These are big driving forces for me in my approach.  It comes down to offering a service that I did not have access to when I was a young athlete.  I hope this helps you see a bit into what I am offering and doing here and if you have any questions feel free to reach out ask me anything.  Please consider subscribing to my email updates. As always #FollowTheNarrowPath

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About the Author

JJ Hoover
JJ Hoover was an American professional baseball pitcher from 2008 to 2021. He has played in Major League Baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Milwaukee Brewers. Hoover throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball (91–94 mph), a curveball (76–79mph), a slider (81-85mph), and a changeup (85–88mph). JJ has taught pitching and baseball globally, and more recently in Cincinnati, Ohio for Narrow Path. Hoover now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife of seven years, Megan-Kate Hoover of Reel Rescues. JJ is a devout Christian.