Full Circuit Athletics and the Role of Strength and Conditioning for Baseball Players

TAGS: sports performance field, Full Circuit Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, baseball performance facility, Charlie Karstedt, gym equipment, baseball players, Nate Harvey, baseball

COACH

I’ve known Charlie Karstedt for almost 10 years now. We met while he was playing baseball and I was just starting as a coach. Charlie was and always has been a weight room guy. He’s a meathead. He’s one of us.

Fast forward 10 years after meeting him and Charlie’s now opening up a huge new baseball performance facility in Hamburg, New York. I remember the first time I was driving up to the facility thinking to myself, “No way is this his new spot.” Sure enough, it’s his new spot!  He also coaches several travel teams and is Associate Scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.


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When I went to talk to Charlie about upgrading his weight room, it was obvious to me Charlie is all about his guys. At this point in my life, I’ve been around a lot of coaches and my bullshit meter is finely tuned. Charlie passes with flying colors. He’s left no stone unturned in giving his guys every opportunity they need to be successful at his facility. It’s been a privilege for myself and elitefts to be a part of Charlie’s vision for his athletes. Here’s what Charlie shared with me about Full Circuit Athletics and the recent expansion.

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Charlie’s Path to the Sports Performance Field

Charlie entered the sports performance field when he accepted a scholarship to play Division I baseball at the University of Buffalo. He had planned to pursue a career in the FBI and began taking legal studies, psychology, and sociology courses, but early on he started skipping classes to spend more time in the gym with his strength coaches. He jokes with people who ask about his time in college that he "went looking for a sociology degree but came out with a degree in strength and conditioning."

The focus on strength and conditioning began when he chose to red-shirt as a freshman due to an undersized 170-pound frame and competing with upper-class outfielders who were over 220 pounds and looked even larger. Rather than wasting his red-shirt year, he chose to commit 100% to the weight room and spend many hours under the guidance of Ryan Groneman (Groni) who really sparked his interest in the sports performance field. Charlie describes Groneman as “knowledgeable, hard-working, and committed to his athletes.” Under Groneman’s guidance, Charlie saw a ton of gains and discovered his interest in coaching someday.

Throughout the rest of his time in college, Charlie continued to learn about strength training under both Paul Childress and myself, who he describes as “not only the strongest humans he’d ever been around, but some of the most intelligent as well.” He constantly asked questions and spent many extra hours in the gym trying to do everything he could to both improve as an athlete and expand his knowledge base in the area of athletic development. Almost a decade later, Charlie still asks his former coaches for advice as he provides training for high school, collegiate, and professionals athletes. After college, he became certified through the ISSA (International Sports Science Association) and says he continues his education by surrounding himself with the best minds he can find.

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The Importance of Strength and Conditioning for Baseball Players

Baseball is a game of speed, reaction time, and hand-eye coordination, but for Charlie, that doesn’t mean strength training should take a backseat. He uses an analogy about going out for an expensive meal to explain his perspective:

“If I go to a high-end restaurant and pay $100 for my meal, I damn well better get more than just the bread, salad, and sides. I want the meat and potatoes because that's what's going to fill me. We want our ball players to have a very strong foundation to work from.”

Building that strong foundation means developing the primary movement of the squat, bench press, and deadlift. In Charlie’s mind, these movements are necessary for maximizing athletic potential. Developing the foundation should come first and then athletes can begin adding specific movements for their sport. For speed, Charlie uses bands and chains and explains to his athletes that it isn’t just about moving heavy weight but about moving it fast. He says that the more he explains to his athletes the carryover from bands and chains to on-field performance, the more they trust the process and the harder they work.

The foundation of Charlie’s philosophy is that strong athletes are successful athletes:

“Baseball is about hand-eye coordination and being fast, and we do work specific movements in throughout an off-season for just those things. But I've never come across a professional ballplayer who told me, ‘You know what coach? I'm a little too strong. I'd like to spend the off-season getting weaker.’ Strong athletes are successful athletes.”

Charlie has plenty of evidence to back up this philosophy. He says that some of his best success stories are from athletes who have spent an entire off-season with him in the weight room and in turn, saw their 60-yard dash times improve and their velocity on the mound increase.

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The New Facility

Full Circuit recently moved from Orchard Park to Hamburg, New York, where Charlie and his staff now not only have more indoor space but also have over 10 acres of outdoor spaces to be used for improvements in the future. The biggest upgrade of the new facility, in Charlie’s mind, is the weight room:

“We outfitted our new weight room with all elitefts racks, chains, GHRs, bars, etc. It’s something that I have been envisioning for a long time.”


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In addition to the 1,600-square-foot weight room, the new Full Circuit Athletics space includes a 5,000-square-foot area used for sports specific work like pitching, fielding, and speed work. They also have a player’s clubhouse, lounge area, and coach’s office with a conference table and video analysis capabilities.

Charlie and his staff work with athletes as young as 10 years old, who they typically start off with bodyweight movements and teaching proper mechanics and baseball skill work. Athletes who are 13 years and older then use the weight room. The athletes they work with include all levels, from youth athletes through high school, college, and even the professional level.

Best, Not Biggest 

When asked what sets Full Circuit apart from other facilities, Charlie focuses on the quality of their services and their focus on clients rather than competing businesses:

“Since our inception, I have always said that I don't care if we're ever the biggest. I will always strive to be the best. We try not to worry too much about other programs and facilities but rather spend all our efforts providing anyone that comes under our roof with the best knowledge and programming that we can. I pride myself on being very fluid with our training and instruction because I truly believe in order to be great in this field you have to be willing to change and adapt.”

To provide the best knowledge and programming possible, Charlie says he focuses on learning from other coaches and always being willing to change and adapt. He welcomes feedback and interaction with his athletes, and says that if helping them feel strong, healthy, and confident means modifying the program, that’s what he’ll do.

Charlie’s Thanks

After sharing his story, Charlie wanted to thank the people that have helped in his facility’s expansion:

“I'd like to personally thank some great people involved in our expansion. Our players and coaching staff (Chris Gresham, Dale Podlas, Fran Herrmann, Scott Heywood, Brian Brazee, Gordy Karstedt, Brandon Weber, Christopher Gresham) all play a vital part in making the Full Circuit brand what it is, and we couldn't have expanded without their efforts. There were a lot of people involved in moving process and designing of this building. A lot of players and families offered their services throughout. Our pro guys helped immensely with the moving of a lot of weight and equipment around this place. Thanks to Jeff Woodrich (owner of Buffalo Rehab Group) who has been a sounding board and great source of insight over the years for Full Circuit. Huge thanks to my role model and father Gordy Karstedt, who recently retired and instead of kicking back on the golf course has chosen to spend an awful lot of early mornings and long days helping me with the construction and setup. My wife who is an absolute angel dealt with me during a lot of long days and stressful nights, as well as taking care of all the painting and decorative details. Finally, a big thanks to Nate Harvey and the elitefts crew for hooking the weight room up to help make it an unreal environment for our athletes to come work!”

elitefts Equipment at Full Circuit Athletics 

For more information about Full Circuit Athletics or to contact Charlie Karstedt: 

Full Circuit Athletics, LLC
Associate Scout Arizona Diamondbacks
716.646.3008
www.fullcircuitathletics.com
Twitter: @fullcircuitpowr
Facebook: Full Circuit Athletics
Instagram: Full Circuit Athletics

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