Now that the summer heat is fully upon us, players from around the country have congregated in Bradenton,FL to take part in the prestigious Wood Bat League held at the IMG Academy. Throughout the next seven weeks, 120 players will be placed into eight teams to compete at the highest level and improve their baseball skills. Beyond games and practices,the Athletic & Personal Development program will take the players through intense strength workouts and relentless speed drills. The IMG Academy Athletic & Personal Development programswill also offer mental training that provides the athlete a higher degree of mental toughness and confidence.
With the first game to begin in a weeks time, the players are being put through rigorous physical testing known as C360. IMG has partnered with Under Armour to provide a revolutionary athletic training platform that establishes a global measurement standard for improved sports performance, health, and fitness. Athletes worldwide will be able to measure, record, and compare their sport-specific ability, mental aptitude, nutritional level and other performance factors. That being said, the players competing here in the wood bat league are definitely excited to participate in the c360 events.
I was lucky enough to catch some of the action today and it was definitely intense. Being held on the baseball field, players were measured doing six different physical tests. Such tests were the vertical, the rotational med-ball throw, the sit med-ball throw, the 60-yard dash, and the 5-10-5 sprints. Although the players, coaches, and statisticians were all focused, I was able to speak with an experienced academy student about his training.
Carlos Somoza is a full-timer here at the IMG Academy baseball program and he was loving every second of the C360 training. When I asked him about his thoughts regarding his second C360 trial, he said, "C360, it is definitely a strenuous and frustrating test. It tests you in all aspects of your game from your physical performance to the mental game, but I love seeing my results and comparing them to other elite players around me. It's a cool experience."
Carlos and I also started talking about the upcoming IMG Wood Bat League starting in a week and he was, "stoked for the league and to start playing hard." His main goal from last year was to, "improve as a baseball player and competitor and hopefully improve my stats." As a veteran at the academy, I asked Carlos what name he would pick for his team if he was in charge. With a smile, he said, "the Lifrak's" which refers to one of the mental conditioning coaches at the IPI. It seems the players and coaches definitely build a special bond here at the academy.
I asked Josh Lifrak about Carlos and the team name and he chuckled. Like any great coach, Josh said, "as long as these kids get better and enjoy what they are doing, I am happy. I have a motto, KGB, Keep Getting Better." I think Josh was foreshadowing a bit as the next seven weeks will keep getting better for the players involved in the Wood Bat League!