Keeping Pitching Simple – Setting Artificial Ceilings for Your Athletes

At the 2015 ABCA Convention, the overarching message from pitching coaches and attendees alike was the idea that things need to be “kept simple.” That going into deep detail was ultimately very confusing and hard to understand, and not necessary – after all, pitching effectively simply involves throwing strikes, locating well, having a good pitch selection, and keeping the hitter off balance. What could be more difficult than that?

Let’s back up. I think most people would agree that sprinting is a much simpler activity than pitching – it’s mostly in a single plane, it doesn’t require a second party that is reacting to what you’re doing, it’s generally easier to train for, etc. As we all know, Usain Bolt is one of the best sprinters in the world and of all-time:

Usain Bolt

Unfortunately, sprinting turns out to be quite a bit difficult to understand – according to lead researchers in the field like Dr. Frans Bosch:

“It’s very early stages in understanding,” he says. “It could be many, many years still before we know more. If you look at a very important development in science over the last 15 years called dynamic systems theory and complex theory, we have learned that the answers to our questions are actually further away than ever before. We’re probably not getting closer to the answer, we’re just getting closer to asking the right questions.”

Pitching is heavily triplanar (sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of movement) and tough to analyze using video without multiple cameras – often synchronized to get actual joint kinematics and kinetics through deeper analysis. If an Olympic sport that has been researched to death isn’t even close to getting the final answers, how can we hope to “simplify” pitching for our instructors and coaches?

A pitching coordinator who was recently at my facility for a week made probably one of the smartest comments I’ve ever heard in my life. He was talking to a group of us including me, two college pitchers, and two pro pitchers who train at my facility. When the topic of pitchability came up, he said: “We honestly don’t know a damn thing about how to get guys out. Or really how to throw strikes.” This is a guy who has been a pro coach for 10+ years in multiple organizations, and he’s absolutely correct. If we knew how to teach throwing strikes and getting guys out, everyone would have sniper-like command and would never walk hitters – and offense would be even more abysmal than it is in today’s MLB game. It is no different with velocity – if it was easy to teach velocity, then everyone would throw 90+ MPH. Instead, you have coaches claiming: “It’s impossible to develop velocity, and that should not come before ‘proper’ pitching mechanics anyway” as a safe valve for their own ignorance.

Your Job is NOT to Make it Simple for Yourself – But for Your Athlete

I’m not saying you should explain complex mechanical concepts to your 12 year old pitchers; we don’t do that, either. We’ve designed specific drills and underload/overload training mechanisms to help train those concepts without our verbal instruction, however, since verbal discussion of complex mechanical movements is largely useless outside of an education setting. You absolutely need to make the athlete feel and understand what is going on without verbally terrorizing him (kudos to Brent Strom for the phrase), but to take that attitude yourself is to deny the very reality that throwing hard and throwing strikes and increasing spin rates and staying healthy and, and, and…. are all REALLY hard problems that are as of yet, totally unsolved.

We’re getting better at asking the right questions, but to simplify your approach and ignore the deeper pool of research – like the 261 pages in Hacking the Kinetic Chain hopes to detail – then you’re only doing yourself and your athletes a huge disservice by setting an artificial ceiling on them. It’s impossible to get better if you aren’t interested in delving into the unknown; experiment and research as much as possible to turn over all the rocks you can.

Hacking your Arm Action: A hidden power of overload training

By Ben Brewster

Weighted baseballs can be controversial. I get it. If throwing a regulation 5oz ball leads to insane injury rates amongst pitchers, even at the highest levels of the game, it stands to reason, then, that heavier balls must equal more stress, stress is BAD, and injury rates would be higher. Furthermore, there is a fear that weighted implements might actually screw up a pitcher’s movement patterns, since they have become accustomed to throwing a regulation ball their whole life. Unfortunately, these interpretations fail to understand both the basic mechanism of adaptation to stressors and the actual biomechanical outcome of throwing weighted implements.

A misinterpretation of stress as being bad:

We need progressively increased but intelligently managed stress over time to drive our bodies to continue adapting and strengthening. This is called the SAID principle in exercise physiology, which stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Your body will adapt to the specific stressors / stimuli being applied to it – if a stressor stays exactly the same, week after week, month after month, adaptation comes to a halt. This intuitively makes sense – you wouldn’t lift the same weight every week and expect to keep getting stronger without needing to add weight or reps.

The Common Approach to Stress Adaptation in Baseball

We also acknowledge this fact when it comes to throwing regulation baseballs – progressively trying to long toss further (increase intensity) or gradually do more daily throws in bullpens, games, etc (increase volume). Most coaches accept the fact that we need more stress to build arm strength. Arms take time to “get into shape” and we are okay with overloading the tissues progressively via increased intent and/or volume. Increasing the load, however, is just another way of varying the stress on the body to achieve the desired outcome, which, presumably, includes improved velocity. Nobody is saying to go long toss with 10lb balls, just as nobody would advise throwing 200 pitch bullpens every day of the week. There are safe and progressive methods for incorporating  overload principles into an athlete’s throwing without compromising recovery ability.

 

Yes, but wouldn’t weighted balls “screw up” a pitcher’s arm action and mess with their command?

Efficient arm action and refined command are not 100% linked. From a purely biomechanical perspective, I define an efficient arm action as one that allows for maximum application and transfer of kinetic energy into the ball. A efficient arm action, first and foremost, is one that helps you throw hard. Weighted implements are therefore tools to create better efficiency.

However, command is complex. It is a product of a high number of repetitions and deliberate practice with a refined motor pattern. There is also a large mental component. Of course, more efficient and well-coordinated mechanical movement patterns should help improve command once the athlete has had enough repetition to internalize that pattern.

For a lower velocity pitcher who has adjusted to and even mastered sub-optimal mechanical patterns after tens of thousands of repetitions, re-mapping his arm action will likely cause an initial decrease in ability to locate pitches, but it is a one step back, two steps forward scenario. Suddenly his ceiling is 88mph instead of 82 mph, for example, and he now begins learning to harness a newer, more biomechanically efficient movement pattern.

 

Is taking a small step “back” to re-map an athlete’s arm action worth it?

That’s up to the athlete or coach to decide. There will be a learning curve and adjustment period to any mechanical change. Barry Zito, in his prime, was dealing at the major league level throwing mid to upper 80s – only a fool would have told him at that time that he needed to re-work his arm action to get to a 95 mph ceiling.

barry

Not the most efficient arm action.

But let’s consider a high school pitcher throwing 81 mph or a collegiate pitcher throwing 87 mph – is the goal to just have a successful senior year and then hang up the cleats? Or is the goal to get your foot in the door at the next level? Why spend effort refining an inefficient movement pattern if you are trying to further your career at the next level? I constantly fought advice at every level of my career to “just throw strikes” because I kept the bigger picture in mind. I could have refined my 84-87 mph sophomore delivery, probably played more and put up better college stats that year, but I chose the path that would give me a shot at reaching the next level.

Unless you are already at the professional level, velocity is what matters for continuing your career. Even at the pro level, the finesse pitchers are given less opportunities and generally face a much harder uphill battle to progress through minor league systems. Not because they aren’t good enough, but because who is going to give an 84 mph crafty lefty a shot when there are dozens of 95 mph arms around him – he has to flat out dominate to claw his way to each successive level of the minor leagues while the 97 mph pitchers get promoted with ERAs of 7.00.

The point being that making any kind of change to a pitcher’s mechanics might mess with their command, initially. However, rather than “screw up” a pitcher’s arm action, weighted balls continually appear to show this “re-mapping” effect where they create more biomechanically efficient movement patterns (increased efficiency of force transfer).

 

What does this arm action “re-mapping” look like?

Here is Brady, a college sophomore. He had been stuck at 82 mph for 2 years when he visited us. Intent was not his problem (he throws the crap out of the ball), neither was strength (all his numbers are in the 95th+ percentile for his age), or mobility (ankle, hip, thoracic, gleno-humeral, scapulo-thoracic all good). What he had was an inefficient arm action.

 

With some instruction on what exactly his mechanical deficiencies were, and an idea of what he was trying to achieve and feel with the weighted ball drills, he threw 86 mph several days later even after just learning the new movement and after the high volume of resistance training and throwing he had been doing that week.

Experience tells us that once he fully internalizes and masters the new movement pattern (synchronizes his hips, torso, etc. as he continues strengthening those new neural pathways), more velocity is up for grabs. Of course this was not the only way for him to have learned a cleaner arm action. But the weighted balls allowed him to “feel” it and speed up the coaching/instruction process tenfold.

 

What does throwing weighted balls feel like?

It might be hard to picture what weighted ball training is like if you have never done it. First, consider that the weight of a baseball is somewhat arbitrary. Footballs are 14-15 oz, tennis rackets weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 oz and softballs are roughly 6.5 oz. There is nothing inherently special about 5 ounces besides the fact that it is the weight you used since you were in little league (when, by the way, that 5 ounces was far heavier relative to your body mass, hand size, arm length, tissue strength, etc.). For an 8 year old weighing 70lbs, that 5oz baseball was big and HEAVY. For a strong 25 year old at 6’5” 230 lbs, that thing is like a golf ball. It’s totally arbitrary.

Throwing a significantly heavier ball (1-2lb+) should feel “connected,” “fluid,’ and “whippy.” It’s like the ball is telling your arm where to go. This is not a scientific description, but it’s unanimously what the collegiate and professional players training at Driveline Baseball describe as the feeling.

 

Overload Training and Improving the Kinetic Chain

With a heavier ball, there’s more resistance for your arm and body to use as a guide through space and time. You must conserve the momentum of the ball on the arm’s downswing, and efficiently transition and transfer force throughout the arm path to execute the throw with any sort of intent or fluidity. If you have an egregious timing issue or hitch in your arm path, the heavier the weighted ball, the harder it will be to get away with flaws. The more efficient your arm will have to become in order to propel the object with any meaningful amount of force.

For example, try throwing a football with a long arm swing behind your body or with an inverted-L position at landing – it just won’t happen. Your arm is guided by the constraints of the task (the shape, weight of the object, the target, etc.). In this case, the heavier weight is a very loud and constant feedback loop that makes it incredibly difficult and awkward to have massive arm action inefficiencies. This is not to say that just picking up a heavier ball will give you a perfect arm action. Slight arm action inefficiencies may still be present, in which case the weighted balls will still speed up the coaching process by allowing the athlete to instantly feel to a much greater extent whatever arm action tweaks the coach is attempting to make. Pushing a 2 lb ball feels labored and awkward, but feeling a connected arm spiral “up the staircase” is a breeze.

Arm Spiral

The arm spiral “up the staircase”

More tips on throwing weighted balls, and throwing hard in general.

  1. Let the throw loosely unfold, pulling down aggressively as the ball begins to accelerate.
  2. Don’t “muscle” the throw from the first movement of the hands separating, this has a tendency to screw up proper sequencing and ruin the smooth flow of energy.
  3. Think about how you crack a whip or a wet towel. There is looseness to the wrist, fingers and elbow until the final CRACK. It’s the same “wave” of energy that you should feel in your arm action. Sure, there is a small amount of muscular activity being used to initiate your arm action, just as there would be to initiate the countermovement of a whip strike, but it’s a loose, fluid and connected “wave” of energy until the final CRACK (the “pulldown” phase) once your front leg has braced, hips have opened and now all this potential energy and proper sequencing can be unleashed via active intense muscular contraction. You see the same phenomenon with boxers or martial artists, who rely exclusively on the kinetic chain to sequence complex movements and generate power – throwing a powerful punch is loose and connected, driven from the hips up the torso until the final POP just prior to impact.
  4. This video shows the whip-crack mechanism in slow motion. Pay attention at the 0:25 mark. The “spiraling of the staircase” is this loop or “wave” that we are creating in our arm action. Next watch Trevor Bauer’s arm in slow motion (skip to 1:20 in the video). This is the effect we are after.

 

Some Perspective – Just a training tool

Weighted balls are just another training tool to use, just like long toss. There are hall-of-fame pitchers that loved long toss, just as there are hall of fame pitchers that never threw a ball over 60 feet in catch play. It’s about what training tools and techniques produce the desired level of performance. For those of us who can’t just roll out of bed and chuck a ball 90 miles-per-hour, it’s always worth keeping an open but critical mind of whatever possible tools may best help you achieve your end goal. Don’t blindly accept that weighted balls are good because I said so (they probably aren’t optimal for every pitcher in every single case) – think critically about the ideas presented and make an informed decision about which training tools you want to use.

About the author

Ben Brewster is a professional pitcher in the Chicago Ben BrewsterWhite Sox organization, certified strength coach and current intern at Driveline Baseball. Follow him at www.treadathletics.com

 

By |December 20th, 2014|Training|0 Comments

Sequencing the 95 MPH Delivery

In Hacking the Kinetic Chain, we’ve developed a system that has evolved over six years of research and development and took over two years to fully write. Unlike other products, we do not shy away from the reality that all other “gurus” ignore – developing elite-level velocity and staying healthy is hard. In Hacking the Kinetic Chain, we outlined the 12-step mechanical model that illustrates and describes the 95+ MPH delivery, and today’s giveaway is that sequencing chart.

(Click the image for larger size)

Sequencing the 95+ MPH Delivery

The pitching delivery is broken up into three main groups and twelve subgroups, and they are:

Lower Half

  • Loading
  • Striding
  • Rotation
  • Blocking

Trunk

  • Rotation
  • Stabilization
  • Flexion

Arms

  • Separation
  • Pickup
  • Disconnection
  • Driveline
  • Recovery

As you can see in the chart above, some subgroups have overlap while others do not. This is a 178 frame analysis of Trevor Bauer’s pitching mechanics, who averaged over 95 MPH and touched 99+ MPH in the big leagues in 2014. Images of the various conventional stages of the delivery are provided for reference – balance point, stride foot contact, maximum external rotation, ball release, and maximum internal rotation.

Hacking the Kinetic Chain

In Hacking the Kinetic Chain, we’ve outlined this sequence and provided 261 pages of reading material, 30+ videos, and 10+ programs for in-season, off-season, recovery, and other modalities to ensure you can develop an elite set of pitching mechanics expressed like only your anthropometry and anatomical structure are capable of. We do not put pitchers in a box; we provide them the tools and training methods to develop as a complete pitcher.

Pre-orders Ending in Less than One Day

You can save $100 on Hacking the Kinetic Chain, but only if you buy the book by December 16th at 11:59 PM. After that, Hacking the Kinetic Chain price will permanently go up to $299.

Don’t delay. Pre-order your copy and books will begin shipping on December 17th, 2014 in the order they were received. You will get your 261+ page spiral lay-flat copy of Hacking the Kinetic Chain, online access to the PDF for easy reading on your tablet/smartphone, online streaming AND downloadable training videos shot in high definition (many shot at 4K resolution with Hollywood-studio grade cameras), detailed spreadsheets for specific training programs, and a constantly updated membership sections with Q&A files and member results.

 Click here to pre-order today.

By |December 15th, 2014|Products, Research|0 Comments

Hacking The Kinetic Chain – Sample Chapter and Full Table of Contents

kb throw

Hacking The Kinetic Chain will be shipped on December 17th, complete with video library and in-season/off-season workout guides.

We are excited to present the full table of contents and a sample chapter.

Table of Contents
Foreword by Alan Jaeger

Overview of the Driveline System 
Stress-Response Cycling: Understanding Basic Physiology
Mechanisms of Adaptation: How we Improve
Constant Iteration: Train, Test, Evaluate, Repeat
Recovery is King: Staying Healthy is the Best Velocity Program

Assessing the Body: Starting from Scratch
Taking Inventory on Day 0
Assessing Pre-Existing or Previous Injuries

Pitching Mechanics: Developing a Deeper Understanding of Movement 
The Traditional Model of Pitching Mechanics
Anatomy 101: A Brief Overview of the Baseball Pitcher’s Body
Avoiding Emulation: Checkpoints and Comparisons
The Lower Half: Loading, Striding, Rotating, Blocking
The Trunk: Rotation, Stabilization, Flexion
The Arms: Separation, Pickup, Disconnection, Driveline, Recovery

Mobility and Activation: Pre-Throwing and Post-Throwing Training 
Self-Myofascial Release: Foam Rolling and Trigger Point Work
Dynamic and Static Stretching: Striking the Balance
Resistance Bands: Shoulder and Elbow Care
Wrist Weights: Overload Corrections
Oscillation Therapy: Dynamic Stabilization
Joint Strengthening: Isometrics and Compression

Strength and Conditioning: Physical Preparedness 
Understanding Strength: How to Train It
Core Movements: Getting the Form Right
Accessory Movements: Training Specificity
Endurance Training: Building the Right Motor

Throwing Program: Developing Healthy Velocity and Efficient Mechanics 
PlyoCare Ball Training: Positive Pattern Building
Long Toss: Auto-Regulated Throwing
Weighted Baseballs: High-Intensity Throwing Training
Medicine Balls: Heavy Ballistic Development
Pitching Work: Velocity off the Mound
Throwing Injuries: Red Flags in Your Delivery

Programming Cycles: Putting it All Together 
Evaluating Testing Data to Build the Roadmap
Seasonal Training: Identifying the Correct Strategy
Yearly Suggestions: The 10,000 Foot View
Sample Programs: Off-Season and In-Season

Nutrition and Supplementation: Fueling the Body 

 

Sample Chapter

Overview of the Driveline System

Our approach to training athletes is unique. The generally accepted method of learning how to throw and pitch is to take private lessons from an instructor – typically one who has college or professional experience – and try to apply what you’ve learned on the mound. Questions on arm care, recovery, velocity-specific development, weight lifting, and corrective exercise are left to the trainee to answer himself. Hacking the Kinetic Chain is significantly different in that we aim to have an all-inclusive system that attacks the problem from multiple angles, since throwing 90+ MPH and staying healthy isn’t a single-input single-output simple machine.

Internalizing the ideas of stress-response cycling, adaptation, auto-regulation, iteration, and recovery are key to grasping the entire program. While templates are provided in the Programming Cycles chapters and on the companion website for a good foundation, each individual athlete has different motivations, work ethics, injury histories, and starting ability levels. As such, individualization of the programs is not only recommended, but expected after the initial phases are completed.

This chapter will focus on the general concepts of the book at large. These pillars of the training program are the theoretical planks that build the platform and a solid understanding of this entire chapter will enhance your ability to apply the lessons from all the chapters. While the remainder of the book was designed to be a reference book – flipping to the chapters as needed during a reading session – this chapter should be read straight through.

 

Stress Response Cycling: Understanding Basic Physiology

Athletes in various disciplines do the same thing over and over again for years, hoping to see improvement. Many athletes and coaches accept that physical maturity is the only way to improve performance. If the athlete simply continues doing the same amount of work for years, he will reach his goal. Unfortunately, sports science does not agree with this methodology. Hans Selye developed a general model for biological stress in the 1930s, which boiled down to three phases:

  • Alarm Stage: Initial stress is placed on the body.
  • Resistance Stage: Recovery of the stress and increased resistance is seen.
  • Exhaustion Stage: Chronic stress or too much acute stress has caused maladaptation or dysfunction, and performance goes down.

In the 1970s, Hungarian scientist Nikolai Jakowlew put forth the concept of supercompensation, which most informed coaches base their training around. Jakowlew’s ideas were built around single-factor supercompensation, where an initial fitness level is observed before a training stress is applied. Immediately after the training stress, the target’s level of fitness is decreased due to fatigue from the training. Later, recovery kicks in and allows the athlete to enter a period of supercompensation, where the now-current fitness level surpasses the initial fitness level.

If another training period is scheduled before the recovery portion completes, overtraining may occur, possibly causing negative effects or even injury. However, if a training period is scheduled too far out from the last training session, the positive effects of supercompensation may be lost. It’s easy to see how timing plays a vital role in any athletic training endeavor – yet that doesn’t stop your average gym-goer from sitting on the bench press and putting up 225 pounds every single training session for the same amount of reps and sets, or watching your fellow pitchers throw on the sidelines and staying at 120 feet every time they go play catch.

This simple model of fitness improvement is sufficient for novices when it comes to training, but not for those who are more advanced. Novice trainees are simply those who have a low tolerance for work capacity and a low threshold for developing a higher fitness level. The word sounds loaded and negative, but it merely describes a state of training – in fact, most athletes who have been training for any considerable length of time long for the days they were novices and saw “beginner’s gains” when velocity was easy to come by and weight kept flying on the bar!

As an athlete sticks to a program and develops fitness through a well-modulated program, a plateau will be reached where the athlete starts to see fewer and fewer gains and they come about after longer and longer intervals of time. This places the athlete squarely in the intermediate category, where training complexity must go up. The goal is no longer to see increased results from workout to workout, but rather on a longer time horizon achieved on by planning ahead. (Mark Rippetoe explains these stages rather well in the books Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength Training, and any reader looking for more information on these topics is highly encouraged to purchase said material.)

For the purposes of the Driveline Velocity program, all athletes are considered novices at the onset of the training period. You may disagree with this classification, particularly if you already throw hard for your age, but, once again, this is not a negative descriptor. It merely labels your current training levels – not your current performance levels. As such, the programs that come later in this book start off basic with significant rest periods. If you have ever had the pleasure of training on a program that has a heavy squat-based workout day, then you know the first few weeks of heavy squatting cause severe delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Training for the first few weeks with the PlyoCare and weighted ball training methods outlined here can and often does produce short-term soreness and discomfort in areas that were previously never stimulated.

The two largest factors that cause trainees to regress in their ability level are excessive time off from training and loss of lean body mass. Athletes who do not adequately maintain their levels of achieved fitness will find themselves quickly losing their hard-won gains. Those who do not pay enough attention to proper nutrition and maintenance training will lose lean body mass, extending recovery time and reducing fitness levels as well.

It is therefore imperative that all athletes complete the on-ramping phase of their programming and get into the novice stages smoothly where they can make the largest gains as quickly as possible. This usually takes 3-4 months, which is well-timed for an athlete in the off-season. The athlete can enter maintenance programming throughout the season, getting in spare workouts and “banking” tough training periods when he can.

Athletes who continue to train for months and years on end will eventually reach a plateau where simple day-in and day-out weekly programming is not sufficient to stimulate progress. Any attempt to add extra reps, sets, or intensity causes overtraining. At this point, recovery becomes the most important goal of the program to reduce the chances of injury, and high-intensity training may need to be cycled in slightly more sporadically to ensure progress without overstressing the body or central nervous system.

All of these points are taken into account in the Programming Cycles chapter. Individualization is generally necessary beyond the on-ramping cycle. For pitchers with an abnormally poor mechanical pattern, pre-existing injury, or structural issue piling on tons of work may not be appropriate. The same can be said for the professional pitcher who is already close to the top of the ranks of baseball.

 

Mechanisms of Adaptation: How We Improve

Adaptation is simply the decreased physical response to a stressor on the body due to constant exposure of the stressor. For example: after prolonged exposure to loud construction noises, that noise level blends into the background and is not perceived as loud as it was when it started.

This phenomenon is a double-edged sword and closely ties into Stress Response Cycling. As you continue to train using PlyoCare balls for arm care and mechanical smoothing, your arm get stronger and your mechanics become more efficient. After all, those are the goals of the program! However, over time, these workouts become part of what you must do. They now form the “maintenance” cycle that will you must continue for years on end to ensure your arm stays healthy and your mechanical pattern does not regress. These exercises no longer improve your arm strength or delivery, but they do reinforce it and keep it solid. To make further improvements, you will need to increase the stress levels or change the modality of training.

Adapting to the workout determines how your maintenance program will be chosen and designed. What used to be a grueling workout that taxed your body will now simply become your daily warm-up. This is a clear adaptation to the stressor and shows that you have become significantly stronger and holds true across all domains – strength, endurance, plyometric ability, etc.

Multi-factor training is the method by which this program improves your ability level across many domains simultaneously to maximize overall gains. All throwing drills done near high intensities are multi-factor – many changes are happening, though not all of them are good:

  • Physical mechanical pattern is changing based on the demand / drill being performed (good)
  • Positive structural changes are occurring (muscle recruitment, increased mobility around targeted joints – both good)
  • Central nervous system is becoming more efficient at coordinating motor units (good)
  • Negative structural changes can occur due to initial faulty technique and/or general stress (decreased internal rotation of the shoulder, decreased elbow flexion/extension range of motion – both bad)

Using a multi-factor training methodology maximizes efficiency and overall return on training time, but it is vital to manage the negative adaptations that occur from a high intensity throwing and training program. Recovery plays an enormous role in this program. For advanced athletes, recovery is the most important part of their training program. You are only as good as your ability to train, and coaches and athletes alike too often neglect recovery.

This training program has specific sets, reps, and workout schedules. These are great places to start; however, as your body adjusts to the stress they will no longer continue to propel training gains. The programs outlined here serve two purposes. First, introduce you to a multi-factor training program while you figure out which modalities work best. Second, provide a basis for individual test/re-test iteration beyond the novice stage. Not all pitchers are built the same, so it would be highly inappropriate to prescribe a one-size-fits-all program. That being said, most “throwing” programs on the market lack structure. One of the aims of this book is to clarify an appropriately structured pitching training program so future generations of pitchers can achieve their goals.

Auto-regulation describes the ability to discover limits through training. Alan Jaeger’s long toss program is perhaps the best example of this when it comes to baseball, and plays a prominent role in this book. By not setting time or distance restrictions on yourself, you can break through barriers and limitations or figure out when to ease off the accelerator. The mental and psychological gains are equally as important as the physical gains, and auto-regulation is the best method by which these limits can be discovered.

 

Constant Iteration: Train, Test, Evaluate, Repeat

“What gets measured gets managed.” –Peter Drucker

The single best thing you can do to improve your quality of training results is to write down everything you do related to training. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sets and reps of every exercise done in the gym
  • Number of minutes or hours spent reviewing your mechanics on video
  • Amount of calories and their macronutrients that you consumed
  • Hours of sleep obtained on a nightly basis
  • How well you paid attention to recovery protocols

By daily committing to paper (or an online journal) everything you’ve done, you will see your results laid bare as you compare your day-in and day-out routines.

At the Driveline Sports Science Lab, we chose the exercises and movements in this book over the course of years and years of experiments – most tightly controlled and analyzed! The scientific method forms the basis of all of our attempts to add or remove training modalities:

  • Formulate an idea / attempt to solve a problem
  • Hypothesize
  • Prediction
  • Testing
  • Evaluation

By coming up with a test case, we make a prediction and hypothesize what may happen. We then test the modality in a controlled environment and see what the impacts were to our athletes over a given time period. If the results are positive, we make the change. If they are inconclusive, we may schedule further testing. If they are negative, we scrap the change.

This methodology is laid out later in the book to ensure that you find your best individual way of training and maintaining your fitness levels.

 

Recovery is King: Staying Healthy is the Best Velocity Program

There is nothing cool or manly about being injured due to insufficient recovery. Losing weeks to months of training time because you skipped mobility and passive training methods due to their “boring” nature is what will eventually cause you to miss your goals and will keep you from competing at the highest level.

One of the greatest stats a baseball pitcher can have in today’s game is not wins, strikeouts, or ERA – but simply innings pitched. How many pitchers are injured on a regular basis in Major League Baseball? Serious elbow and shoulder injuries were responsible for over 80,000 days on the MLB disabled list from 2001-2010. That’s over 219 years stolen due to arm injury as a result of throwing. College and professional organizations alike highly covet an average pitcher capable of throwing 200+ innings per year. Yesterday’s standard is now becoming increasingly rare as velocities spike and pitchers neglect their recovery protocols.

Hacking the Kinetic Chain features many exercises meant to promote recovery of the pitching arm and the entire body. As you become more advanced and throw harder, recovery becomes significantly more important – as it takes higher and higher intensities to disrupt homeostasis and generate a neuromuscular stimulus. Fatigue is a byproduct of increasing the intensity and volume of the work. To dissipate and mitigate fatigue, a great deal of attention must be paid to both active and passive modalities that improve recovery time. Not all recovery modalities are exercises – proper nutrition, sleep, rest, study, and passive work play large roles in maintaining a healthy and productive body.

This program has many recovery training options, tested thoroughly in the Driveline Sports Science lab. Active recovery techniques like PlyoCare Rebounders and J-Band cycles restore bloodflow and provide positive stimuli to the affected areas. There are also recommended passive techniques like electrical muscle stimulation, compression therapy, and trigger point work. While not all modalities will be available to every athlete, it is important to find which exercises and options work best for you and use them religiously.

 

Save $100 when you Pre-Order Hacking The Kinetic Chain until December 16th

 

By |December 11th, 2014|Training|0 Comments