This blog will dive into the importance of having a plyo ball ® routine, examples of a Driveline plyo ball® routine, and how you can use a plyo ball® routine for velocity gains.
A Driveline plyo ball® routine consists of throwing plyo balls® prior to any work with a baseball. From research in our lab, we know that heavier balls (including leather overload balls) make the arm travel slower. Thus making them great for a warm-up. So what specifically makes it a ‘Driveline’ routine? It all comes down to tailoring or creating a plyo ball® routine based on the movement deficiencies. At Driveline, we identify these issues through our biomechanics lab and the athlete’s motion capture report. Our coaches will then tailor a plyo ball® routine based on those findings., let’s dive into some basics.
As a reminder, at Driveline we use both Plyo Ball’s® and weighted balls. Plyo balls® are what we use every day in our constraint pitching drills nearly every day at sub-max intent. Weighted balls are typically used for catch play, such as long toss, and velocity work.
What are Plyo Ball® Drills?
The following is a comprehensive list of our current plyo ball® drills. This list does not include any drill focuses or slight modifications our coaches may use with an athlete.
Reverse throws – these will always be performed first
Pivot picks – Always follow reverse throws
Each athlete that trains with us will perform 2 of the bolded exercises depending on what they need to work on
Walking windups – The last exercise performed in our driveline plyo ball routine
How does a Driveline Plyo Ball® routine change by the day?
The number of drills, the intensity of the throws, and the volume of throws change depending on the day.
There are typically three types of training days that we schedule:
Recovery days – these are lower effort days, typically thrown at 50-60% intensity
Hybrid days – these are medium effort days. Hybrid B’s are thrown around 70% intensity, Hybrid A’s reach 90% intensity.
Velocity days – these are high effort or high intent days. The highest effort throws on these days are going to be at max 100% effort.
There are also different variations of these days that we will program, which variation is programmed depending on the time of year. We break up an athlete’s training into different training phases, with each phase having a specific focus. These phases include:
- An on-ramp phase
- Time to get use to throwing weighted balls, or getting back to throwing after taking time off. This time period is capped at 80-90% intent on its highest training days.
- A Velocity training phase
- Once or twice a week the athlete is scheduled to throw at 100% effort. These days are more commonly pulldowns or plyo velocities.
- A Mound Blend Phase
- This is a shorter phase where athletes will go from flat ground throwing on medium intent days, like hybrid B days, to throwing at the same intensity off the mound during Mound Blend B days
- A Pre-season/Blend to Season Phase
- This phase typically includes pitch design and live at-bats to prepare the pitcher for the season
- In-season or competition phase
You can read more about how different training phases fit together here.
Do Plyo Balls® Increase Velocity?
Plyo balls® can increase velocity. So long as they are used properly within a structured throwing program. In other words, buying a plyocare set and then throwing them max effort is not a good idea and, very possibly, will not increase throwing velocity.
This is why there are limits to specific drills to gain velocity. Certain drills are important, to address players’ movement patterns, but making sure that all the days fit together on a weekly and monthly basis is important to help players improve.
How can you leverage plyocare balls to maximize your chances to throw harder? It all comes down to having a plan.
If you feel throwing mechanics is a potential factor holding back your velocity, then performing specific drills with them (such as pivot picks to help improve your arm action) can be a great addition to your warm-up routine. When used in this manner, throwing plyocare balls can be a very useful tool to potentially increase velocity.
Additionally, throwing plyo balls® at a high intensity after a proper on-ramp period can also be a method to improve throwing velocity. As there are numerous studies showing the positive effects overload and underload training has on throwing velocity.
Having a plan is also more than just having a throwing routine. There are athletes who can throw harder because:
- they have PlyoCare® drills that address their needs
- they understand the basics of programming and follow the prescribed throwing intent day by day
- have a solid strength training program that they follow
What is a Plyo Ball® routine for velocity?
As touched on earlier, after a proper on-ramp period, throwing plyo balls® at a high intensity (synonymous with max effort) can be a viable method to improve throwing velocity. One part of having a PlyoCare® ball routine for velocity is knowing that you have drills that are focused on movements you need to improve. Athletes can perform these drills multiple times a week at medium to low intent. Then during a velocity phase, when performing a PlyoCare®velocity, they will perform the drills at 100% effort.
However, the frequency of when you throw them max effort must be taken into consideration. If players perform a PlyoCare®ball® routine for velocity too frequently, such as 3x/week, is not recommended.
The key to using a driveline PlyoCare® ball routine successfully is not only understanding the drills that you are working on, but also understanding the purpose of each training day.
A good starting point is throwing them max-effort 1x or 2x/week, with lower intensity throwing days completed in between. Don’t be afriad to start with one velocity day per week and see how you feel after a few weeks. This is a case where more isn’t better, we don’t want to perform velocity work 3x per week as that’s too much high intent throwing.
The table below provides an overview of how a Driveline PlyoCare® ball routine changes throughout the week.
Having a PlyoCare® routine is important because athletes should know what they need to work on to throw harder and have a path to do so with the best drills. Using a Driveline Plyo ball ® routine for velocity is more than just drills but knowing how much and at what intensity you should throw each day.
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This article was written by Stephen Hart and edited by Michael O’Connell