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A Special Father’s Day Tribute

Thank You Dads For Being There For Us!

It is good to be back and writing again! Being a player and a coach this season has taken up a more considerable amount of time that I had anticipated but I am happy to be able to write this post in honor of all those Dads out there.

Thank you to the fathers that are there for their sons and daughters. Especially when we can get outside and play and learn different sports together. Times like these in a child’s life can instill great character traits as they grow and mature. Building traits such as hard work, discipline, consistency, perseverance, grit, and most importantly good sportsmanship and teamwork. It builds the bond between child and parent as well. I can recall so many great days out on the ball field and enjoying the game I love with my dad. 

I was one of those American kids that told their dad at a young age, 8 in my case, that I wanted to pitch in the Major Leagues. As I grew up, we used to watch baseball all the time together let alone spending hours practicing by ourselves, with our teams, and playing games. I feel like the best thing my dad told me was “Son if you want to do that it will require a lot of hard work, but I will help you as much as I can as long as you put in the work.” The biggest takeaway from that was not only his willingness to help me but he did not deter me from my dream. He always encouraged me, told me it was achievable and did whatever he could to help me progress towards achieving that goal. Along the way we set up little milestones we
wanted to achieve. Whether it be throwing a little harder, making the varsity team as a freshman, getting a college scholarship to play, or getting drafted. He had a way of helping me take each step while setting newer and higher goals.

We cannot attain greatness by being comfortable or content

One of the things I may be most thankful for was how tough he could be on me. I understand it a lot more now that I am older. At times he would yell and get frustrated with me and as a kid there would be times that I would cry or give in to the situation. I now know that he saw that I was not giving my all, practicing as well as I could, or playing the best of my ability. This friction or what some people may call tough love is what helped refine me and push me to get to new levels.   One of my favorite memorable quotes is “Champions are made when no one is watching.” This quote has stuck with me to this day even though there have been times in my life where I forgot to apply it but it is very true. Putting in the time and work is not always a glorious thing people typically only see the success or failure on the field, they do not know the sweat hours put in behind the scenes.

"Champions are made while no one is watching."

Michael Jordan

Another thing my dad taught me was the drive to learn! Self-education can be better than a classroom. He had very little baseball knowledge when we first started that journey to the MLB. He spent so many hours watching, listening, learning, and talking to those he thought could help. My dad would then apply specific training to help me improve. You must be a student of the game as you move up in levels including the jumps from travel baseball to high school to college to the minors and finally the big leagues. Even when I had played a couple of years for the Cincinnati Reds I was constantly learning and refining my game. It is a process that never ends in any aspect of life, and it is a tool I am very grateful for being taught by my father. I am very thankful for the fathers in my life. Along my journey I have been blessed by having some amazing host families in the college baseball summer leagues, and the minor leagues. These people open their hearts and homes to care for young baseball players as they chase their dream, and I was influenced by many of the dads in those households.

Another father I am so blessed to have is my father-in-law. He has been such an awesome addition to my life. From the support of my career, my marriage to Megan-Kate, or quality time hunting and fishing it has been so wonderful to add another dad to my life. I am of firm belief that family does not need to be related by blood but if there are people that will love you, care for you, push you, and support you then you have struck gold. Thank you again to all the fathers that have helped impact my life. Thank you, Dad, for all you have done for me. I love you.

#FollowtheNarrowPath  #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

"As a baseball coach, one of the things I love most is the strategy involved in the game. Talking through game situations and deciding what pitch to throw in a certain count is like a chess match, and it's something I absolutely enjoy. I'm grateful to be able to offer this kind of service to young athletes because when I was growing up there wasn't anyone who could help me with this aspect of the game. My goal is to develop complete baseball players and pitchers, but also to help them become strong young men. These are big driving forces for me in my approach, and I'm hopeful that my efforts will make a difference in the lives of the athletes I work with at Narrow Path Sports. " - JJ Hoover #followthenarrowpath #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

We strive to create complete baseball pitchers and players

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Do you have a Calling to train with the Narrow Path?

“Being a Narrow Path athlete is a calling to be, and live differently.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Mathew 7:13-14

Baseball has always been a big part of my life. As a kid, I played Little League and then in high school. I was never the best pitcher on the team, but I loved the game and worked hard at it. After a decade in the Major Leagues, I got into coaching and found that I really enjoyed teaching the game to young players.

One of the things I love most about baseball is that it is a sport that is full of teachable moments. Every play is an opportunity to learn something new. Whether it’s learning how to field a grounder or how to throw a curveball, baseball is a great way to develop new skills.

As a coach, I always try to stress the importance of hard work and dedication. It’s not enough to just show up to practice; you have to give it your all every day. That’s what it takes to be successful in baseball, and in life. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

The Narrow Path is one not many are willing to tread, but it’s worth it in the end. It may be difficult at times, but if you keep your eye on the prize, you

” – JJ Hoover

#followthenarrowpath #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

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Pitching skills pay life-long dividends

“I remember when I was younger and played baseball. I didn’t start as the best pitcher on the team, but I always gave it my all. My coaches would always tell me that if I kept working hard, I would eventually get better. And they were right. Through determination and hard work, I eventually became one of the best pitchers in the league.

The life skills I learned through baseball pitching have served me well in other areas of my life. When I face a difficult situation at work, for example, I know that I can overcome it by putting in hard work and determination. And when something goes wrong, as it inevitably does from time to time, I know that it’s not the end of the world and that I can learn from my mistakes.

Baseball pitching skills pay life-long dividends no matter what job or endeavor you pursue. So if you ever find yourself struggling on the field, just remember that it’s all part of the learning process and that those same lessons will serve you well later on in life.” – JJ Hoover

#followthenarrowpath #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

"Learning how to train to maximize the potential in yourself is a key component to being successful in any area of life. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had to coach baseball and help young athletes develop their skills. It is such a joy to see them progress and reach their pitching goals. I believe that learning how to train effectively is a key component to success in any area of life. As a pro athlete myself, I know that there is more to life than just the time spent on the field competing. It takes countless hours of preparation and dedication. My goal through Narrow Path Sports is to walk alongside each athlete as they traverse down that path. My faith has always been my guide, and I am so grateful for the chance to share that with others through baseball coaching. Thank you!" - JJ Hoover #followthenarrowpath #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

Learning How To Maximize Potential is Key to Success

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I’m Blessed To Have a Life-Long Relationship with My Athletes

I’m Blessed To Have a Life-Long Relationship with My Athletes

“As a coach, one of the most gratifying experiences is watching an athlete grow and develop over time. It is especially rewarding to work with young athletes who are just starting out in the sport and to see them improve year after year as they learn the fundamentals and sharpen their skills. coaching baseball provides me with an opportunity to not only teach the sport I love but also to come alongside athletes as they mature and grow up. I am grateful for the relationships I have formed with my players and their families, and I pray that these relationships will last a lifetime. coaching is more than just teaching athletes how to play the game–it is about helping them to grow and develop into young men of character. And that is something that I am deeply thankful for.” – JJ Hoover

#followthenarrowpath #narrowpathsports #pitcher #pitching #coaching #baseball #baseballlife #hitting #baseballtraining

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A Special Mother’s Day Tribute

Thank You Moms For Being There For Us!

This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. Our mothers are responsible for so much in our lives and can be the backbone of a family. I was blessed to have both of my parents growing up and I know that is not the case for everyone but today let us celebrate our moms or the women that helped raise and guide us.

My mom instilled upon me many great values that helped me in my youth and helped shape who I have become as a man and professional baseball player. She always had a meal ready for our family and our house was always in order and clean. My sisters and I always had tasks to do to help around the house. I may have complained about these responsibilities as a child, but I know they have helped me in my adult life when I was in college and even now.

Having someone in your life to discuss major decisions or tough choices is a game changer.

JJ Hoover

Taking care of these responsibilities has helped me be responsible for my home but more importantly my career. There are always certain tasks that need done in life and it’s important to make them a priority and get them done! There are so many ups and downs in life and my mom has been someone I can talk through those situations with and get her opinion on. Having someone in your life to discuss major decisions or tough choices is a game changer. These subjects can range from school, to girlfriends, problems in your sport, how to make a certain dinner, and the list goes on. Thank you, mom, for always being there to talk through difficult circumstances.

The time commitment for a young athlete has really grown over the years. It seems all the travel teams are playing more and more games. The showcase circuit has become more diluted with more and more options. This requires families to travel many times a week or sometimes daily getting them to practices, lessons, and games. Thank you for driving and going to all the practices and tournaments mom! Let us not forget the laundry! I know I did not think I played a good game unless I had a dirty uniform. It was essential for me to dive after something. That always left a nice dirt or grass stain for my mom to somehow always get out. Even with that crazy schedule and all those tasks at home we almost always had a delicious hot meal at home.

A Special Thank You to Care Givers on the Road

Another type of mom that I will mention is from the host families I have been immensely blessed by in my career. As a young minor league baseball player, I was granted the choice to stay with a host family. These families open their homes to baseball players in the summer months during our season. They support us in many ways including a comfortable place to sleep, feeding us, and doing laundry. This list also goes on, but I am forever thankful to all the families and host moms that opened their homes to me during my career.

I am not dismissing the help and sacrifice of my father or even my sisters in this post but today is about our moms! Thank you, mom, for raising me, showing me how to keep home, treat others with love, appreciate nature, and the countless other things that I could list. I have also been blessed by my wife’s family and I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to her mom as well!  I love you and happy Mother’s Day to you and all the mothers out there!

#FollowtheNarrowPath

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The Starting Pitcher Routine for a Pro Athlete

This week at Narrow Path Sports I am going to give you an inside look at my routine as a starting pitcher. My desire with this post is that the insight that I share will help you solidify your routine or get you to ask questions about your routine. What I do is not the only answer or way to prepare but it is something that I believe has given me my longevity and keeps me going.

Day 1 – Start day.

We will begin with game day. Our previous 4 built us up to go out there and eat innings and put our team in a position to win a game. I have an old school mentality about the game and I love when a starting pitcher goes out there and competes for 7 plus innings of baseball. Seeing a starting pitcher go out and face the lineup the 4 th time has become more and more of a rarity. Regardless on the analytics, I appreciate when the managers could judge that the starter has been dominating and let him go until he thinks it is best to use the bullpen. In my routine, I will eat a good meal around 12-1 pm that will fuel me through my game which usually starts at 6:30-7pm. I will then report to the field a few hours before first pitch. I will look at the roster to get a game plan for the line up and see if I have any history with certain guys. The chess match of pitching against someone 20-40 + times makes the game even more fun. My warmup takes around 30-45 minuets. The athletes at Narrow Path Sports go through a condensed version of this when getting instruction by me. Next is playing catch and mound work to get ready for the game. I typically throw 30 or so pitches in my bullpen before a start. This leads to the game time where it is time to compete until the manager decides you are done. I personally do not consider myself to have had a good start unless I pitch 6 or more innings. Following my start that evening I do some gentle stretching to help ease the soreness. I have never been fan of ice because I personally think it impairs recovery.

Day 2 – 1 st day post start

Here is where the work really takes place. One of the things I still do and recommend post start is a nice steady state cardio flush. The pace needs to be at just the aerobic level, and I don’t want the heart rate too high. My body feels immensely better after allowing my heart and lungs to pump and my body to sweat. Having a solid aerobic base allows us to control our breathing when competing. Following that cardio session, I will get into my upper body lift. I like to give my legs a day before I build them back up. I will hit the major muscle groups and do some accessory shoulder movements to help stabilize myself again. Core work is a foundation of my in between start routine as well. I finish the day off with some light stretching or an easy yoga class. My throwing will just be a light game of catch to get my arm moving and work out any soreness.

Day 3 – 2 nd day post start

Today is leg day! Never skip leg day, as it is your base and strongest part of your body. Having strong legs is something I believe has kept me healthy all these years. I am building my body back up to where I used to be, and I strongly think it will help me back to a high level. I will add some good core work into this day as well. For conditioning today, I do some moderate distance build ups which primes me for day 3 which has sprint work. I will typically do some form of banded scapular and rotator work today. Throwing today will consist of a form of long toss, this is my day to stretch it out and work on carrying the ball.

Day 4 – 3 rd day post start

Plyometric and sprint day. Moving fast and powerfully is a key to throwing hard. Today is the day I will train these movements. I will also pair this with my bullpen work. 20–40-yard sprints, med ball throws, lateral bounds, speed ladder, and box jumps are just some examples of what today brings. My bullpen will typically be around 25-45 pitches depending on If there is anything I need to work on like tilt on my slider, fastball command, off-speed strike to ball or ball to strike shape, and change up consistency. I will add in a light stretch or yoga session at the end of the day as well.

Moving fast and powerfully is a key to throwing hard.

JJ Hoover

Day 5 – 4 th day post start

I focus my energy on getting ready for game day which will be tomorrow. This will be a light movement day to make sure my body is feeling well and to address any residual tight spots. I will begin my preparation for what competition I am facing. My throwing program will be on the lighter side, but I will get out to 150-175 feet typically. I make sure my nutrition and rest are on point for tomorrow as well as these are key primers for competing.

I hope this insight has given you some things to think about in your own game or your sons’ game. As always, I welcome any questions or thoughts on my program, and I am always learning. This is a basic set up for me and it changes throughout the season. I will get into depth on certain aspects later in this year. I hope this spring is treating everyone well.
#FollowtheNarrowPath
JJ Hoover

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Happy Opening Day from Narrow Path Sports!

Happy Opening Day at NPS!

Opening day! What beautiful words to hear. The MLB and MiLB seasons have already begun as well as for most of Narrow Path Sports athletes. Mine however is starting today on April 21 st , 2022. Thankfully we are starting our season at home in Lexington Kentucky. This is my 15th professional baseball season and one that I am working on making one of my best. The game plan behind this is going to rely on staying disciplined, diligent, organized, and driven. The challenge is going to be difficult, but I think God has a plan for all of this.

"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."

Tim Notke

The season is a culmination of the hard work and preparation executed in the offseason. It is much easier to enter the season and games that have meaning when the confidence is there because the athlete has followed through on putting in the work in the winter. Playing with confidence does not always lead to success, but it is a big mental buoy to hold onto when things go south. I am sure most of you would agree that when in school if you have studied and prepared for a test that you have confidence going into that exam. It is a much better feeling than going into the room knowing you did none of the work and are just hoping you can recall some of the information or guess well. One of my favorite quotes is “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” by Tim Notke. Putting in the work for any task or goal in life will put you in a better position to succeed without doubt.

Adopting Athletic Principles Means Hard Work

There are many aspects that go into an athlete’s training and off-season. In baseball, you normally get 3-4 months to really focus on your game and training to improve for next season. There is weight training, speed training, arm strengthening, diet and nutrition, recovery, flexibility, mobility, bullpens, and more that go into my off-season program. This is the lifestyle of a professional athlete and one that I had missed in my life for a couple of years. This is what I want to bring to this season. Now for my amateur and young athletes you can still adopt athletic principles that you can live by to achieve your goal of playing at a higher or professional level. This work ethic and drive lend itself to any aspiration or dream you are going after.

I am hoping that as my season goes forward, I can continue to update you all on what training I am doing, how games are going, or new insights I have found. Please reach out to me with any questions on anything even if it is life or faith based. I am blessed to have been able to play at a high level for so many years. I am hoping to honor God by returning to a lifestyle that will build the strengths that he has blessed me with. There is really not a linear path in life outside of time. Our lives have constant ups, downs, and twists. The one that has always kept me the happiest is the narrow path and I hope you will continue join me as I endeavor to #FollowtheNarrowPath
Thank you all
JJ Hoover

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Pursuing the Dream

Pursuing the Dream at Narrow Path Sports

Life throws curve balls! It has been a very wild week for me personally at Narrow Path Sports. Spring has finally sprung, and I am now down in Lexington, KY where I will be serving as a player/pitching coach. This was in the works for most of the winter but there was part of me that didn’t know or think it was going to happen. I spent my season last year with the Lexington Legends where we won the Atlantic League Championship. It was a unique year for me because it was my first foray into independent league baseball. My love of baseball and the game has never faded but sometimes external circumstances can interfere with that love, and I had let that get to me these past 3-5 years. I am thankful though to be entering my 15 season as a professional baseball player and I will give you some insight into my path here and be a little vulnerable in the process.

Do You Have What It Takes To Be Great?

I have spoken about the dedication and hard work it takes to be a professional baseball player and to be honest a pro in any field. I had lived that life, made those choices, and sacrificed to pursue my dreams and goals. I let comfort and distractions take me away from the important aspects of training along with some of the business aspects of the sport. It really made me not enjoy the running, lifting, throwing, arm care, yoga, eating healthy, abstaining from alcohol, and the other aspects it takes to be a world class athlete.

Complacent is a word I steer away from because it hurts when I think about it or say it out loud. When we get too comfortable, relax our habits, or dare I say complacent we start to fade from our peak. Looking back now I obviously would have changed how I handled things to a certain degree but to be honest if you don’t go through failure or educate yourself on others mistakes you will never learn for yourself. Sometimes these lessons can have an enduring sting that becomes a dark cloud in my thoughts, but I have my faith and knowledge that I can push forward and make the commitment to be better. This is what I want to teach to my young athletes that I train. It takes all these things to become something great whether it be baseball or any other career.

Narrow Path Embodies Committment to Training

This year will pose some new challenges to overcome but I am embracing this, and I am very excited to continue playing. I have made a commitment to become a professional athlete and live the lifestyle of a professional athlete that I embodied in my early career. I still have a long road to go to get where I want to be, but I do think I can perform at a very high level again. This has become a goal for me but also to continue to learn so I can offer the very best teaching and training to my athletes. I can experiment with some new training methodologies to see if something can improve my performance. I have always been a lead by example guy, and I want to take that into this season. This is the best accountability I can have, and it is with my readers, my athletes, and their families. My friends and family are important too, but it is something about the public arena that turns up the intensity.

I have always been a lead by example guy, and I want to take that into this season.

JJ HOover

This season I will be doing my best to keep you all abreast of how this season is going, what I am up to, and what is new at Narrow Path Sports. I am excited to walk along this season with my athletes with the only negative of me playing is that I cannot be there to watch and train my guys on a more consistent basis. Thankfully there are excellent cameras on our phones now and I will be utilizing video and streaming to help make mechanical adjustments from afar as well as getting back to the Cincinnati area as often as I can to do some bullpen tune-ups. I do want to say thank you to my guys that have worked with me and are continuing to train with me. You all give me so much joy! Please reach out if there is anything you would like me to cover or talk about. I will be giving an insight into my training and life in hopes that it can be educational.

Thank you all and as always #FollowtheNarrowPath