Returning baseball players at Bonita Vista High School have been participating in yoga class during off-season for the past two months. Players have been stretching in the dance room on Mondays everyday after school at 2:45 p.m. Boys varsity baseball head coach Vincent Gervais believes in the benefits this exercise can provide for the team and hopes it will improve their performance on the field in the 2017 season.
“The reason I introduced yoga was to add an element to the game that I think was missing in high school players: focusing and being able to control yourself, your body and your mind,” Gervais said.
The idea to incorporate yoga into the baseball program’s workouts at BVH began six years ago. Four prior teams participated in yoga, but for the past two seasons the teams were unable to continue the yoga program due to lack of funding.
“This year I was dedicated to making sure we’d get back to participating in yoga. The last two years we didn’t control the chaos very well and a lot of times we did not come out on top,” Gervais said.
Gervais reserved part of the varsity stipend for the yoga program and reached out to BVH alumni and former varsity player Ace Morales. Morales works at a local fitness center and was able to connect Gervais with yoga instructor Amanda Mallery, who now works with the team on Monday afternoons.
“I underestimated how difficult it would be. I thought it was just easy stretching,” senior boys’ varsity baseball player Spencer Casady said. “I enjoy it but I dread going because I know it’s going to be a lot of work. But, it’s worth it. I’ve definitely noticed my flexibility has improved.”
According to WebMD, yoga utilizes active consciousness and controlled breathing to produce physical flexibility and focus. In preparing for the 2017 season, Gervais and his staff reviewed prior seasons and determined yoga to be a common denominator in the most successful teams.
“There’s no way to quantify whether or not it really helps. All we can really do is look back at past results. The four years we did yoga are the best four years we’ve had here, including the best two years in school history. When the game was on the line, when there was a chaotic situation on the field, those teams always prevailed,” Gervais said.
The Baron coaching staff believes those teams were successful because they were able to focus and relax during stressful situations on the field. According to Gervais, focus is important in a game, since players are unaware of what will happen next. There are moments of chaos followed by moments during which no plays are being performed.
“Mentally, yoga helps me relax. I don’t get stressed out as easily and my arm feels better when I pitch. I feel like I have better mobility and I’m not as stiff,” junior boys’ varsity baseball player Sebastian Olivo said.
As stated in Men’s Health magazine, yoga has been incorporated by top professional athletes into their training routines. Baron boys’ varsity baseball team members are no different and are noticing improvements in their performance at practice.
“In stressful situations at home, school or on the field, being able to calm your mind and relax is a huge benefit. Yoga also increases flexibility, improves balance and helps blood circulation. I would encourage anyone who can to do it,” Gervais said.