Pro Baseball Summit, New Underload Baseball Record, Seminar Dates, Mariners’ Scout Team, and Wireless EXG Sensors – MaxVelo News

I’m going to try to make these posts a little more frequently since the 2013-2014 offseason is here, which means tons of action. Let’s get to it!

Pro Baseball Summit

Driveline Baseball will be hosting the first annual Pro Baseball Summit at our facility in SeaTac, WA from September 15th-21st. This seminar/group work session is open to all current professional pitchers, pitching coaches, and athletic trainers attached to a professional baseball organization. We will be covering a wide variety of topics, including – but not limited to:

  • Pitching Mechanics
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Rotator Cuff Training
  • EXG Sensor Measurements – Muscle, Heart, and Brain Measurements (more on this later)
  • Command/Control Training
  • Velocity Development

If you are interested in attending, please contact Kyle Boddy for more information.

Confirmed attendees include Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians), Jack McGeary (Boston Red Sox), and Michael Boyden (Washington Nationals), with many other invites pending.

New Underload Baseball Record!

Resident flamethrower Julian Archuleta (Peninsula HS, 2015) hit 109 MPH on a run-and-gun throw with a 2 oz. underload ball, which shatters the amateur record of 107 MPH set by… himself.

Julian - 109 MPH Underload

Hell of a job, Julian! Keep blowing it up in the MaxVelo Program!

Seminar Dates – Mount Mercy University, ShoulderWorks

Driveline Baseball will be hosting a small seminar/hands-on demonstration at Mount Mercy University (IA) from September 13th-15th. Desi Druschel (head coach) and I are considering opening up part of the seminar to the public on Saturday, September 14th. If you are interested in attending, please contact Kyle Boddy ASAP for more information.

Mount Mercy Pitcher

I will also be presenting at the ShoulderWorks & OrthoEd conference – The Modern Overhead Athlete.

OrthoEd Mailer

I look forward to presenting some unique data on how we train the medial forearm to withstand injury and improve performance, as well as demo preliminary studies that use our new EXG sensors from Somaxis.

To sign up, go to lakewashingtonpt.com and contact them for more information!

Seattle Mariners Scout Team – See Driveline’s Guys

We are pleased to have strong representation on the Seattle Mariners Scout Team this fall. The list of pitchers on the roster from Driveline Baseball include:

  • Chris Carns (Decatur HS, 2014 – committed to Seattle University)
  • Janson Junk (Decatur HS, 2014 – uncommitted)
  • Julian Archuleta (Peninsula HS, 2015 – uncommitted)
  • Drew Rasmussen (Mt. Spokane HS, 2014 – committed to Oregon State University)

Their preliminary schedule is:

September 15th @ Meridian Park vs the Texas Rangers Scout Team and Shoreline CC
September 22nd @ Everett CC
September 29th @ Bellevue CC
October 6th @ Tacoma CC
October 10-14 @ Arizona Fall Classic

Wireless EXG Sensors – Dominating Objective Measurement

Any fan of ours knows that we are all about objective measurement of everything related to pitching. That’s why we use the following tools to evaluate our training methods and our pitchers’ mechanics to design the optimal training program for them:

  • Multiple high-speed cameras that shoot from 120-1000 Hz
  • Wearable computers designed in-house with built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers
  • Goniometers to track and measure ranges of motion of various joints
  • Stalker/JUGS radar guns to measure not only fastball velocity, but velocity of underload/overload throws to uncover discrepancies

We’re extremely excited to add Somaxis EXG Sensors that should be at our facility within the next two weeks. These sensors will measure muscle activity (sEMG) during training and throwing without significantly impeding performance.

SomaxisEXG

Previous EMG sensors require invasive procedures to get muscle activity readings and thus degrade performance significantly, which causes issues when trying to replicate and/or apply conclusions found from related studies. With wireless, self-powered units, Somaxis EXG sensors stand to absolutely change the game of athletic training. My hat is off to Alex Grey, who has worked tirelessly over the last year to get these to his first-round investors and backers – a group I am proud to be in. Not only will they measure muscle activity; they also have accelerometers built into them to allow us to measure kinematics of the delivery as well.

I couldn’t be more excited about this development, and I encourage you to watch the following TED talk that I first saw over a year ago that led me to spamming Alex’s blogs, email accounts, social media sites, and even TED.com to beg him to sell me some units.

It could totally revolutionize how we – and everyone else – will train baseball pitchers, and I am incredibly excited!

If all of the above excites you, then join us today. We are going to do some amazing things this offseason. Don’t miss out.

Missed the Velocity Development Open House? Listen to the Audio!

If you missed the Velocity Development Open House for the 2013-2014 off-season, never fear, you can listen to a partial audio recording (redacted some of the colorful language as well as the in-depth analysis of our program – those are trade secrets not for public disclosure) on SoundCloud here:

By |August 5th, 2013|News|0 Comments

Frustrations with Fastball Velocity Gains: Understanding the Long Run

We’ve had a ton of success with our MaxVelo program, which just continues to be improved and improved upon (and always will be – the only constant is change). Athletes are getting a lot out of the program, but the rate at which athletes improve is not similar. The most common pattern for our athletes – backed up by the MaxVelo Study Data – shows a pattern like this:

  • First six weeks: Immediate jump in velocity. Arm feels fatigued.
  • Second six weeks: No gain in velocity. Arm durability goes way up, fatigue sets in less and less.
  • Next eight weeks: Very slight gains in velocity, if any. Arm durability trends sideways as the athlete is training 4-6 times per week.
  • Sometime after week 20: Another big jump in velocity.

Now, why this pattern exists is something I am trying to figure out (it suggests we might want to periodize our training in a different way), but the first six weeks is common when it comes to any form of training. As I am fond of saying (paraphrased from Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength):

  1. Everything works.
  2. Some things work better than others.
  3. Nothing works forever.

Athletes who have done a lifetime of nothing productive who jump into a productive program will see immediate gains, even if that program isn’t very good. If all you do is throw bullpens and play catch out to 120 feet, the worst long toss program in the world will show very fast results. So will the worst strength program.

Smith Machine

Yes, even if you use this stupid thing.

However, progress over time isn’t a linear upwards trend. You don’t simply gain 0.1 MPH every day you’re in the gym. In fact, you’ll often go backwards or trend sideways while training. What gives?

Physiological Adaptation

Hans Selye discovered what he calls the General Adaptation Syndrome, which basically describes the concept of reacting to stress. The stages are Alarm, Resistance, and Recovery/Exhaustion, where a stressor is introduced, the body resists the stress and expends resources to do so, then it recovers (so long as the stress wasn’t so bad, otherwise you enter exhaustion).  This forms the basis of understanding the concepts of exercise science; you want to gradually introduce increasingly more difficult stressors over time to improve your fitness levels. This is commonly known as the single-factor model, and while the dual-factor model is a little more descriptive and accurate, that’s a topic for another day.

Driveline Baseball trains athletes in a manner that is far more consistent with the Bulgarian style of training, though we’re a lot easier on our guys than they were due to connective tissue being under a ton of stress and much faster ballistic movements are occurring in baseball compared to Olympic lifting. The Bulgarian style of Olympic lifting doesn’t involve any sort of periodization at all, but rather training every single day to that day’s maximum intensity level. That means you work up to your “max” effort for that day – not necessarily a personal best, but how good you can be on that given day.

Borislav

Needless to say, this doesn’t fit well with the single/dual factor model. The body is constantly in a form of regression, and over time output levels drop or trend sideways, and psychologically this is a very difficult long-term proposition.

Most of our athletes are training 3-4 days per week, but we do have a few that train every single day after they’ve been on-ramped over 4-6 weeks of regular training. I’m going to talk about one of them in this blog post to illustrate how psychologically tough this kind of training can be, and why fastball velocity doesn’t simply improve at a constant rate.

Ezekiel’s Story

I have a client who trains on a daily basis. We’ll call him Ezekiel. (Not his real name. But it sure would be awesome if it was.)

Ezekiel is a terribly unathletic person. When he ran the sixty-yard dash for his HS team, he ran it in 10.1 seconds. I don’t know how else to explain it, but that is unbelievably bad. Actually, bad is not the right word for it. Bad is 8+ seconds. 10 seconds is unheard of.

When he first started training here in November (six months ago), Ezekiel was throwing 70-71 MPH – after being plenty warmed up and on-ramped when he threw for weeks beforehand.

Today he set a personal best in velocity, and I’ll just tell you what it was before I go any further: Ezekiel threw 88 MPH twice and sat 86 MPH. He threw a 2 oz. ball 98 MPH and sat 96 MPH. In six months Ezekiel gained 17-18 MPH on his fastball velocity. But if you think for a second that it was smooth sailing, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Like everyone else in our program, Ezekiel gained a ton of velocity very quickly and was running up against the 80 MPH barrier pretty quickly, which had him super excited. He threw 81 MPH in front of scouts in early March. His velocity chart over the last six months looked something like this:

Ezekiel's Velocity

Ezekiel’s Velocity

Ezekiel trained every single day in his basement and his garage when he wasn’t at my facility. He was doing his Backwards Chaining work, Reverse Throwing protocols, Arm Durability circuits, and everything in-between. He also threw in tons of general physical preparedness (GPP) work to become a better athlete. He was throwing baseballs, weighted baseballs, or sand-filled balls every single day, using wrist weights twice per day, and getting tons of crap from his high school teammates day in and day out (but they used his bands and Shoulder Tube when he wasn’t looking).

For months, Ezekiel was stuck on 80 MPH. In fact, he went backwards and was throwing 79 MPH quite a bit. He got frustrated – he was working so hard and yet his velocity wasn’t increasing like it had been in the past. I sat him down and told him that I understood the frustration, but as John Broz (Olympic weightlifting coach) says, you will have to push through the “dark times” where your performance is sub-optimal. You will still be getting a good training effect, but you will be going backwards or trending sideways in your development.

This is the hardest part to internalize as an athlete – tons and tons of hard work, time, and effort seemingly go down the tubes. Your coaches tell you that you are doing the right thing and that over time you will see the benefits, but after two months of busting your ass, how much longer is it going to take?

There are a few reasons that velocity/performance peaks sharply. The one reason we already discussed is that fatigue is masking the fitness underneath, so while you have it in you to throw over 79-80 MPH, you simply can’t do it because your central nervous system (CNS) is over-taxed, your muscles are too fatigued, or you are just mentally unprepared that day. The second reason is that mechanical things that need to be ironed out don’t click into place in a linear fashion. You throw weighted baseballs five to six times per week and it just feels like the same thing over and over again, until one day, wait a minute, I figured out how to lay my arm back a little bit more on the 4 oz. balls. Maybe I’ll try to translate that to the heavier balls… okay, now what about the regulation baseballs? COACH, GRAB THE RADAR GUN!

Hard Work…. Isn’t

What really angers me is when athletes on Twitter talk up how they had a great training session, how they puked or how they had one good outing and that they were working super hard. That’s not hard work in the MaxVelo program. That’s Wednesday. The real hard work – adults who work a backbreaking job and raise children can attest to this, by the way – is showing up every single day, day in and day out, and never giving up. Hard work is weathering the mental fatigue you get, the constant derision you receive at the hands of your opponents and teammates because you dare to do something different, and the self-doubt that comes with all of this – and still busting your ass close to 100% in the gym and the pitching tunnel.

Hard work isn’t one day of training. Hard work is a constant psychological assault that constantly taunts you and tells you that you should quit, and you deciding to fight it off for just one more day. Every day of your life.

When you’re not gifted athletically, that’s what it takes to throw 90, 92, 95 MPH, to play Division-I baseball, to play professional baseball. Oh, and by the way, if you think hard work stops there, just wait until you get to that next level when you’re now standing next to players who are willing to work as hard – or harder – than you, as well as players who never had to work hard in their life because they were gifted with ungodly athleticism.

Understanding and seeing the long run is the hardest thing anyone can do in their lives – it’s why we have so many instant weight loss, get rich quick schemes, and other scams that totally succeed in our society. But it’s the one thing you have to master if you want to reach your ultimate goals.

Velocity Development Program (MaxVelo) Study Data and Conclusions

All around the Internet, you can find people with pitching programs that claim to improve velocity and arm strength – including the MaxVelo program, which is our in-house program. However, most of the programs just have average velocity gains for a given population without a ton of detail given. I’ve always been a proponent of publishing as much data as possible, so I plan on doing just that today.

At RIPS Baseball, I was lucky enough to influence the throwing program for many of our athletes. Additionally, there were a group of athletes who followed their own throwing program, or didn’t do one at all. This gave me three groups of athletes to work with:

  • Control Group: Did their own thing (usually nothing, or very little)
  • Basic Group: Standard throwing program (detailed later)
  • MaxVelo Group: Advanced velocity training

The Control Group did their own thing. This was usually limited to bullpens, some band work, and their own weight lifting.

The Basic Group included athletes who did not miss more than 20% of their workouts, and performed basic strength, conditioning, and velocity development work developed by me. Here’s an example of a workout:

  • Warm-Up (Wrist Weights, Band Work, Foam Rolling, Dynamic Stretching, Boxing Bag Punches)
  • Resistance Training (Squat Variant, Single-Leg Work)
  • Plyometric Work (Skaters w/ Medball, Box Jumps)
  • Corrective Exercise (Pallof Press, Side-Lying External Rotation)
  • Throwing Program (Indoor Long Toss Variant, +/- 20% Weighted Baseball throws [4 and 6 oz])
  • Cardio Finisher (Kettlebell Swings, Tabata Timing)

Basic Group weighted baseball training rarely exceeded 9 oz. baseballs on the overload side and never exceeded 3 oz. baseballs on the underload side. (They performed a weighted baseball throwing routine that was very similar to the Free Weighted Baseball eBook that I published in 2011.)

The MaxVelo Group included our advanced velocity development training methods, which are well-documented throughout this site, as well as our extensive YouTube channel. Examples of training include, but were not limited to: Connection Ball Training, Advanced Deceleration Training, Plyometric Training, Reciprocal Stress Training, High-Speed Video Analysis, Rhythmic Stabilization Methods, etc. Again, only athletes who made 80%+ of their workouts were included, though none had to be cut from this group for qualification.

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