No one who stepped into a batter’s box against 2007 Farmington High School senior pitcher Harvey Martin will be shocked to learn the former Falcon flame-thrower is a difference-maker these days for the San Francisco Giants.
Martin was a dominant mound force at Farmington, helping lead the Falcons to the MHSAA Division 1 title game (a 4-3 walk-off loss to Lake Orion) before successful pitching stints at Central Michigan University, Minnesota State and in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system.
Martin’s back-in-the-day opponents may be a tad surprised to learn, however, that he is making an impact for the Giants without ever stepping on a field (at least between the games’ first and last pitches).
After working as a part-time consultant for the Giants in 2021 (during which they won a franchise record 107 regular-season games), Martin was hired as the organization’s full-time human performance coach in 2022.
Martin, who lives with his wife Chelsea in Scottsdale, Arizona during the off-season, helps San Francisco players reach their peak-performance potential with a series of fascinating breathing exercises — using extreme cold and heat as aids — that are designed to elevate a level of calmness in a profession peppered with extreme-pressure moments.
“Essentially, what I do is teach the players how to breathe, which can lead to enhanced performance in pressure situations, getting that extra half hour of sleep every night and bringing down their adrenaline level to some extent following a stressful half inning,” Martin explained. “I also help with meditation, mindfulness and recovery techniques, so it’s like a hybrid role between the breathing and psychological techniques.”
Martin’s work has earned rave reviews from players and coaches alike.
“Hunting for a mental skills coach is a challenge; and while Harvey isn’t a mental skills coach in the traditional sense, he’s an innovative, fresh perspective type of thinker,” said San Francisco Manager Gape Kapler. “In order to be a good coach or staff member in the clubhouse, it’s really helpful to be a good listener. Before Harv is coaching, teaching or sharing information, he’s listening. He listens to athletes and learns what they need in the way of support to be great.
“Harv is an evidence-based dude, and evidence is important when it comes to asking athletes to change their routine. They need to know that there is something behind this change, not just. ‘Hey, I think this might work.’ It’s less trial and error and more research and development-based suggestions for our players. It’s easy to find good content in baseball and in sports. It’s more difficult to find the vehicle to deliver it, and Harvey has a unique ability to deliver content.
Breathing is such a non-conscious action for humans, few people realize how changing how we breathe can enhance our lives, Martin asserts.
“For instance, on a micro level, our strength-and-conditioning coach may ask me to work with a player to teach breathing mechanics while he’s lifting,” Martin said. “I teach guys to use their diaphragm — their breathing muscles, if you will — to improve their lifting and ultimately their strength.
“On a macro level, let’s say we just played the Dodgers and we’re getting on a flight. I can share breathing methods that can help our athletes fall asleep faster and recover faster. When you think about it, if you get an extra 30 minutes of sleep every night, it can add up to make you perform better — whatever your job may be.”
Martin, who is with the team throughout its 162-game regular-season schedule and the post-season, said he remains in the clubhouse or locker-room area during games.
“Most of my work is done before and after the games,” he said.
Martin maintains a busy schedule during the MLB’s off-season. During one week in mid-January, he spoke to athletes at Alma College, Northwood University, Baldwin-Wallace University and Trenton High School.
Since 2015, Martin has taught life-changing breathing techniques to hundreds of athletes — from the high school level to professionals with million-dollar contracts.
“I was always a bad breather and a mouth breather,” said MLB All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman, talking about how Martin helped his performance. “I slept terribly and snored loudly. Breathing was the next component that would take me to the next level on the field and give me longevity. It is the one thing that people in general take for granted.
“As Harvey taught me, breathing is the one thing we both enter and leave life with. I’ve been very keen towards my breath ever since meeting Harvey. I practice my breath work daily. It has elevated me to the next level, because I unlocked a fear of mine but realized how important breath work was for not only performance but for life.”
Farmington remains close to his heart
Martin may have left Farmington, but Farmington will never leave the now-33-year-old’s heart and soul. Born and raised in the city, his family moved to Columbus, Ohio, when he was 12, but moved back to Farmington before his sophomore year in high school.
“The first 12 years of everyone’s life impacts the rest of their life,” Martin said. “As adults, we carry the behavior traits we learned during the early stages of our lives. Farmington raised me, if you will, and I have so many incredible memories.
“From the people I met, the teachers I had, the teammates I competed with … they all had a positive impact on who I am today. (Friday night) I’m meeting with 12 of my childhood friends for dinner, which says a lot about what my hometown means to me.”
Martin recently released his debut book — Breathe, Focus, Excel — and has created a popular website — www.TheArtOfSomething.com — that includes his biography, blog and a podcast that he uses to interview famous (and not-so-famous) people about their life experiences.
Regardless of the platform, Martin is making an impact on people’s lives.
One breath at a time.
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