In this week’s Q&A we talk with Minnesota Twins Catcher Jason Castro. Castro was drafted out of Stanford in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft and has spent every offseason training at Sparta since 2010. Jason understands his body and that’s why his planning doesn’t stop when he leaves Menlo Park - he’s using Planning all season long. Let’s catch up with Jason to see how he utilizes planning during both the offseason and in-season, and how that has kept him at the top of his game.
Sparta: You’ve been training at Sparta for almost 10 years now. What is it about Sparta that brings you back each and every offseason?
Jason Castro (JC): What has impressed me the most at Sparta over the years is that it offers athletes an opportunity to train not only to increase performance but also to mitigate injuries as much as possible. The objectivity of the force plate scans and data-driven approach to workout planning has given me insights into the way my body moves that I did not understand before training at Sparta.
Sparta: You’ve learned a lot over the course of your career on how to take care of your body. How has your offseason training approach matured over the years?
JC: My offseason routine and approach to training has certainly evolved over the years. I have come to understand the importance of tissue care and joint mobility as pillars of athletic performance. That kind of work now goes hand-in-hand with strength training to not only ensure that I get stronger over the course of the offseason but also to ensure long term health.
Sparta: Throughout your career, you've been a part of many different organizations. How have you managed to stay consistent with your needs as an individual athlete?
JC: I have always prioritized what I need to do on a daily basis to stay on the field and being a part of a few different organizations it all comes down to communication. Working with different strength coaches throughout the years and being able to effectively communicate my goals and routines ensures that I have the time and access to the things I need to stay on track.
Sparta: Many athletes are creatures of habit and follow strict routines throughout the course of the season. How consistently do you train in season, and how will you adjust the plan?
JC: Being a catcher, most of what I do in-season is focused on maintaining the strength gains I made in the off-season while trying to balance the demands of catcher position. Catching on a daily basis demands putting your body in some compromising positions. In order to ensure that I am feeling good and mobile where I need to be, I put more emphasis in-season on my posterior chain as well as hip, knee, and ankle joint mobility so that I can account for the effects of squatting so often.
Sparta: Your average exit velocity in 2019 is the highest it’s been your entire career. Have there been any changes to your training over the last year or two?
JC: After having knee surgery last season, my focus going in to this year, from an offensive standpoint, was to find and keep my balance and posture throughout my swing. In order to accomplish this, I continued to focus on lower body joint mobility. However, an even larger component was core stability and my ability to resist movement as well. Being able to find and hold a balanced position before the swing is a crucial component to being consistent at the plate.
Sparta: We feel that all athletes should take ownership of their health and performance. How has technology helped you do that?
JC: Technology has played a large part in my ability to track not only my training (i.e. force plate scanning) but aspects of my diet and sleep as well. Once I really started to fine tune and understand how diet and sleep affect recovery, I was able to bounce back and feel better on a daily basis.
Sparta: Being traded certainly opens up perspective to a new organization and training philosophy where it’s uncommon for two organizations to run like programs. In a sport where you can’t leave your health and career up to fate, how has staying on your own plan helped you?
JC: Being able to stick to my own plan regardless of where I am allows me to be able to accomplish my off the field goals regardless of circumstance and location. Our travel schedule and uncertainty of equipment from location to location, even while staying on one team, challenges even the best routines. So knowing that i have my own set of equipment i bring on the road and a basic understanding of what my body needs enables me to accomplish everything I need to get ready on a daily basis.
Sparta: What advice would you give a young athlete of today in terms of educating themselves on how to take ownership of themselves and their preparation?
JC: The biggest thing to understand as a young athlete is how to prepare and take care of their body on a daily basis. It starts with learning how and why sleep and diet are just as important as training. And then once the training begins, understanding and having a reason why they are performing each lift or movement. Injury prevention is often an overlooked part of a younger athletes training program but those training habits compound over time from a young age and getting ahead of the curve early can be huge later in their athletic careers.
Watch Jason Castro train at Sparta Training Ground:
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