Hays changes his training routine in a bid to play all season


Orioles outfielder Austin Hays couldn’t reach his full potential as a baseball player until he stopped training as a football player.

To put it in simple terms.

Hays played 131 games last season, by far the most of his career, but he struggled with hamstring strain and overcame pain from a sports hernia that required surgery on October 5. in Philadelphia. He has played 80 games this year without a stop on the injured list, although a sore right wrist kept him out of training yesterday, and credits changes to his training methods which have started in 2021.

Less is more in the weight room. Also quite simple.

Hays’ rep Francis Marquez of MAS+ introduced the outfielder to strength and conditioning coach Theo Aasen, owner of Optimal Athlete Kollective in Tampa. Two of Marquez’s clients, Twins catcher Gary Sánchez and Orioles minor league pitcher Ryan Watson, have also worked with Aasen.

The basic message is that becoming a beast in the gym can do more harm than good. There is beauty in a little less volume.

“It’s a lot more movement. Basic training and less weight, which I still do, but it’s not like it used to be. It’s more about keeping your joints strong and working out the small muscles, so to speak,” Hays said.

“I started doing it last year because I was playing with the hernia so I was overcompensating and getting tight in a lot of areas and it was very dangerous to play with that. I dealt with both problems by hamstrings because I was running differently than running with the hernia Turned out the rest of my body next to the hernia was the best I had ever felt while playing, and I kept going that way in the offseason. Instead of trying to put on 10 pounds and bulk up and be heavier in spring training, I was like, I’m just gonna try to stay exactly where I am right now and feeling good, and I think that’s why I went down to start this year off good, because there wasn’t this period of adjustment, like losing weight and losing weight and losing weight, and then you start to feel good in June.

“I felt like I was in baseball shape from the first game of the season. This feeling of tension that I normally had, I was able to get rid of it. He has been a great help to me in my career over the past year.

They have only been together a few times, including once last year. Aasen has created an app on his phone that allows him to upload workout videos and track progress. Long distance lunges.

The Orioles are not immune to this. Hays takes information from both sides to get the best results. It’s a nice mix.

“I work with our strength and performance team here, to make sure there are areas that they think I’m lacking in this program. We can add or subtract just to make sure I get everything I need,” Hays said.

“It just changes the mindset of what I was trying to achieve in training. Before, I was just trying to be big and strong, and that’s what I thought I was playing in the game, but that wasn’t true at all. In fact, I think I was hurting myself, so it’s been good since I started working with him. My body feels good.

Aasen saw that Hays was out last season due to injury and contacted Marquez.

“I was talking to Francis and I said, ‘I can fix it, I know what’s going on,'” Aasen said. “(Hays) told me what was going on and I was like, ‘Let’s start with some basic mobility and really dive into my method and my theory, how to keep your body through the season. And in the offseason, we’ll be covering the really good stuff.

“What I did was put him on the app, and every day he would give me feedback, and we designed a program to really meet his needs, and for him to play every day like it’s pain free, which I guess is happening right now.

“We talk every week just to check in, and I see what he’s doing on the app. He’s able to communicate with me there, like, did he do his job, didn’t- He’s not doing his job? He’s capable of writing about it and telling me.

How does Hays lighten the load to gain more playing time?

“Instead of me doing a heavy back squat or doing a heavy barbell bench, it’s more like a single arm, rotate the dumbbell down to relieve the pressure on my shoulder and go through an amplitude of fuller movement,” he explained. “We cleaned up my front squat technique a lot. I’m not going as heavy. These are more eccentric moves down, control down and up.

“I do a very deep lunge, where I try to go as deep as possible, as opposed to holding heavier dumbbells and lunging with minimal movement. It’s going a long way and opening up my hip flexors and groin. It’s almost like going through stretching movements, but with light weight.

“That’s the problem with a lot of athletes,” Aasen said. “They think they have to be that professional coach, but that’s not it. They must be good movers and have quality movement. They have to understand that their body is like a cat’s body, especially baseball players, because they have to stand for a long time and all of a sudden they have to act fast. It creates this soft body, and that’s what we did. We managed to prepare his body so that he didn’t really need to warm up anymore. He just feels good and his joints have strength in all ranges. And having his nervous system ready to function at all times.

Hays ventured into the program knowing Aasen had worked with many other athletes in a variety of sports, a client list that also includes former catcher Francisco Cervelli and pitcher Danny Salazar.

“There was a direct correlation with Theo’s health and usage,” Hays said. “He’s had four or five other guys start using him and the five players haven’t been on the IL since they all started using this guy. I was like, ‘Man, if this is something that can help me stay on the pitch, I’m going to make this adjustment.’ Theo has definitely helped me stay healthy.

A positive attitude leads to positive results in the field. His defense was exceptional, including Chicago’s diving catch when he landed on the right field line, and his sprint to the left field line on Saturday at Camden Yards to carry Kurt Suzuki’s fly ball and close out a 1-0 victory.

The extra territory on the left was easy for him to cover. He is the preferred choice on this side.

And his body is making a quick recovery.

The only issues were the wrist, which he landed catching the guaranteed-rate pitch and then got hit by a pitch in the same spot, and his left hand which was severed after the Cardinals’ Genesis Cabrera hit him. . Nothing muscular. Incidents that are more a product of bad luck.

“He was getting heavy,” Aasen said. “You look at these college facilities or the old school style of strength of stronger, more weight. You have to get stronger, you have to get bigger. But that’s not really the right thing to do. You have to move better, you have to have better freedom in your joints, you have to have strength in all those ranges in your joints.

“It’s like working on his flexibility, but now imagine having that flexibility with all that strength in that range. If you bring your leg up to your head, you can actually actively bring it in and not pull it.

Nobody pulls Hays’ leg. These are real results.

“He said to me, ‘I feel like I can play every day without pain. I’m ready to go every day,’ Aasen said. “There are little things here and there just to causes pain, but that’s what you’d expect, that’s part of the fatigue, that’s part of the game. But that’s all an athlete should feel when playing this sport, it’s just feel a little tired. These injuries can be avoided.

“You can’t prevent impact injuries or anything like that, but like in muscle strains and spasms and stuff like that, you can prevent that. Prevent anything from accelerating.

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