This article was written by Travis Hergert, the head coach at North Iowa Community College and a long-time user of Driveline Baseball’s programs and equipment.
In 4 seasons with Hergert at the helm, the NIACC baseball program has a 152-81 record, and won 3 Region IX Regional tournament championships, 3 North Plains titles, and 3 trips to the NJCAA World Series.
Hergert was honored with the 2013, 2015, and 2016 ABCA/NJCAA Division II North Plains District coach of the year and won the 2-year college coach of the year by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association in 2013 and 2015.
In my last blog, I spoke briefly about how we incorporate max intent throwing to the pitching mound to develop a pitchers full arsenal. The body will organize itself when it is moving at a high rate of speed. Pitchers who are trained for this will develop the arm speed they want to achieve by pushing the envelope rather than “taking it light” between outings.
We do monitor the pitcher’s prior workload, arm fatigue and overall need (point in the season) to decide if a Max Intent pen is necessary as part of our preparation for our next outing. It also could be a certain pitch we are looking to get the feel back for or continue to develop.
For a Saturday starter, we typically will do a “Max Intent Pen” on Tuesday’s. After all the warm-up and movement prep protocols, the pitcher will go through his daily Plyo Ball ® work. Once ready to go, he will then take to his long toss program. Here, he will take the arm out as far as he can for that day, then when he has reached his max distance, he will start to lessen the distance and do his pulldown compression throws. (Note: Because of the extra work during Run N’ Gun and mound work, keep long toss pulldown/compression throws to a lower volume on these days.)
After long toss is complete, we immediately go into our “Run N’ Gun” velocity throws. We will start with the regular 5 ounce baseball for 2-3 throws. Then overload 6 ounce for 2-3, back to the 5 ounce for 2-3, then the underload for 2-3.
Throwing intent is high during this work and we do monitor the velocities with the radar gun.
Blending Pulldown throws to the Mound
After the ‘Run N’ Guns’ are complete, we go to the mound. Depending on the pitcher, his arm and what we are trying to accomplish for the session, he will typically make 10-15 pitches.
We tend to focus most on fastballs such as two-seams, cutters, and four-seams to focus on the feel of them coming out of the hand with consistent arm path. If a guy is struggling with a change-up, we will go with a fastball/changeup combination.
The key is to throw with max intent. Don’t have the focus to be on location. When the pitcher finds the rate of speed his body can produce and handle with that max intent, they should deliver the baseball to the location they want.
We want to use the “Max Intent Pens” to rev-up and build up the pitchers gears and horsepower. Obviously, we never want to put a pitcher in harm’s way and possibly hurt him.
We make sure there is constant communication between our coaching staff and the pitchers. Plus, we always have a radar gun on them.
Here are some brief video examples of “Max Intent pens”:
Fastball/Change-up Combo Part II
“Max Intent Pens” can also be a great tool for relievers that maybe don’t get a weekend appearance during a series or go with a long break between outings. This helps keep up intent and feel for stuff at max effort to have them sharp for game appearances.
Taking max intent in the pen, with proper monitoring, can help build the arsenal of a pitcher as the season progresses.
We’ve published other articles that are directed towards coaching, check them out here!