Blizzard and Gopher Commit, Jake Stevenson
The Minnesota Blizzard are doubling their developmental schedule this winter as a part of their Blizzard Elite program by including an extra day for arm strength and care called Beyond Pitching. In addition, all players will have a full 10-12 weeks of rest after fall ball to build up arm strength before high school starts.
"Arm care is incredibly important to me and the Blizzard program," owner Adam Barta said. "My roots are in pitching and while we have never had a serious injury in our program, I think it is important that we maintain that record. Players need to be getting stronger, not weaker."
In addition to an extra day of practice focused on arm strength and care, each player in the Blizzard Elite program will receive their own set of Jaeger Sports J-Bands to use at practice, before games and at tournaments.
"It's going to be required for both pitchers and positional players," Barta said. "In years past, we have had our routines before practice, games and tournaments. But with our J-Bands, workouts and new routines, we are going to strengthen what we are already doing. Guys are going to get better."
The Minnesota Blizzard, who has a strong relationship with Viverant Physical Therapy, work with lead PT, Jeff Lahti, on a daily basis. Lahti, who also works with all of the Minnesota Twins doctors and trainers during Twins Spring Training, says the Blizzard are on the cutting edge of programs when it comes to arm care. Lahti says that taking time off, taking preventative measures including arm care and adjusting you throwing delivery are all things that need to be done to stay healthy and getting stronger.
"Research shows players need time off," Lahti said. "The Blizzard program gives their guys time off and the methods to developing, strengthening and maintaining your arm including mechanical work and arm care. I think they are ahead of the pack with what they are doing with their arm care program."
The Blizzard's foundation from both Tom House and Ron Wolforth, the Blizzard Academy's leading pitching instructors, Adam Barta and Jesse Tollefson (Associate Scout, Toronto Blue Jays) will have a system in place for players ranging from 11u-18u.
Tollefson, who created the program - Beyond Pitching - implemented it last year for about a dozen players and saw good results.
"When you spend every day in an office with (Jeff Lahti), you really understand the role that rest and recovery plays in developing high level throwing athletes," Tollefson said. "All players will receive their own set of J-Bands this year, allowing them to get shoulder and arm development when they are away from the Blizzard Academy. Players will really be able to make the program their own with different sets of scap workouts, plyocare ball workouts, and stretches they can do to aid in strength and recovery."
And dad, Tony Livorsi, father of Minnetonka sophomore catcher Ben Livorsi, saw results after last year's program.
"I thought the Beyond Pitching program was an excellent program to develop flexibility and arm strength," Livorsi said. "The program uses some very innovative methods to help prevent injuries while also strengthening the arm. After participating in this program, Ben saw some significant benefit and he told me his arm never felt better. It prepared him well for his upcoming high school season!"
Former Blizzard player and 9th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, RHP Paul Voelker, believes it is a huge reason he is a professional baseball player today. Voelker, who went from throwing 85 in high school, topped out at 96 at Dallas Baptist University.
"It allowed me to not only make a jump with my velocity," the 5'10" RHP Voelker said. "but it's also allowed me to maintain velocity all year long."
Beyond Pitching, which will be included in the Blizzard Elite program will run from the beginning of November and lead up to the beginning of high school in March.
"Beyond Pitching" Arm Care Program Includes:
The Beyond Pitching program will also be available for ALL players who are interested in participating in the program at the Blizzard Baseball Academy.