In my travels as a baseball coach, writer, and overall enthusiast I have met hundreds of great baseball coaches. I have met former collegiate and professional baseball players who are now coaches. I have met physical therapists who are now running their own camps, training facilities, as well as coaching AAU programs. I have met strength and conditioning coaches who are working with interscholastic athletes, even collegiate and professional baseball players. And now, I have met Matt Hopkins, who is all of the above.
Matt Hopkins is the owner of Hop’s Athletic Performance located on Lincoln Ave in Coventry. Hop’s AP is a sports conditioning facility that features batting cages for baseball and softball, a pro shop, a strength training area, a number of high level instructors, and of course Matt Hopkins. Hopkins is a rare breed – former collegiate level baseball player at Assumption College, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and C.S.C.S. (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). His knowledge of baseball, how the body works, what your body is doing right or wrong mechanically, and how to return from injury separates him from your average baseball coach and baseball facility worker.
Matt’s role as a physical therapist and strength specialist in his facility is a game changer for any athlete in his care. “I take a proactive approach to injury prevention,” stated Matt as he was explaining his performance therapy programs, which include throwing programs and arm care workouts for his athletes. “It is the blend of a number of factors which help us get the athlete to a positive place. On the one hand you have PT, arm care, and rehabilitation. On the other hand, we have strength training approach.” This physical therapy to performance approach is a process that develops right there in one facility. Matt gets referrals from other medical professionals as well as travel coaches to rehabilitate baseball and softball players at Hop’s Athletic Performance.
Matt is able to oversee an athlete’s progression and the carry over from the strength area to the batting cages. “We have the athletes warm-up here in the strength area, then get into baseball or softball skills and drills, then finish up back here with conditioning. It is a great transition and the workouts are getting results from teens to the pros we have working out here.” Hops motioned to a few players in the gym “there is a kid who played in the Little League® World Series this summer. We have a number of AAU teams, collegiate athletes, and professional baseball players in the gym every day.” Teams can workout together or come in as individuals to work one on one with the coaching staff at Hop’s.
In addition to the work that Matt and his staff do from a physical therapy and strength aspect, Hop’s Athletic Performance also uses technology to train their athletes. Two really cool video and software programs for analyzing swings, spin rates on pitches, and launch angles are HitTrax and Rapsodo. The Rapsodo and HitTrax software are real time data for coaches and instructors as well as the players. Hops and his staff use this software to help correct mechanical errors in swings and pitches, some of which could potentially cause overuse or acute injuries to these young softball and baseball players. Or simply show the launch angle and exit speed velocity of a perfectly hit baseball or softball. I got to watch the HitTrax in action and it is a very cool training and development aid!!!
I want to thank Matt Hopkins for spending a few minutes with me talking to me about Hop’s Athletic Performance. Matt has a great approach to training, rehabilitation, and preparing rising star baseball and softball players for the next level of competition. And if you need help getting out of a slump on the mound or at the plate, Matt has the background and the facility to get you on the right path to success. Stay tuned for future articles from Matt on training, strength exercises for young athletes, and baseball/softball tips to get you to the next level.
Hop’s Athletic Performance – 9 Lincoln Ave., Coventry, RI; 401-524-7972
Facebook – Hop’s Athletic Performance
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