Disappointing Results from Training? : By Ron Wolforth
For most of us, one-size-fits-all programs and programming have always been an undeniable fact of life. We had a coach, mentor, or teacher who followed a specific philosophy, recipe or process and simply hoped for the best.
After all, most systems are better than no system at all, so we quietly accepted reality and moved forward.
We intuitively realized that some coaches, mentors, teachers, philosophies and/or processes fit some individuals far better than others. Many have come to grasp the fact that such a universal reality will never completely go away. Perfect just does not exist.
That is the reason many of us are unconsciously in the constant search for a better “fit” for ourselves, our children, our family, our teams and/or our organizations.
But as far as physical training is concerned, technology and the evolution of thought behind training has evolved considerably in just the last 10 years.
We are just now fully grasping the incredible benefits of customization and hyper-personalization of our athlete’s training protocols. In fact, when we step back and look at it from a distance, such a process actually makes perfect sense. Instead of forcing each unique athlete to conform to a rigid choreography and a universal cookie cutter model of training, we go through a four-step process that, at the Ranch Consortium, we refer to as Assess, Categorize, Customize, and Prioritize.
Without getting too abstruse and deep into training methodology, here is why such a process is a gigantic leap forward.
The science behind this is good. Whenever we take a group of dynamic systems… such as a collection of baseball pitchers… and expose them to a strict process or protocol… such as a one-size-fits-all weighted ball program… the results are fairly predictable.
Some flourish, most show very little change, and some get injured or go backwards.
For a vast majority of the history of training athletes, this was simply standard operating procedure.
It was great if your athlete was on the “flourish side” of the bell curve and it was unfortunate if he happened to get injured or went backwards.
The authors of the particular “process” would champion and highlight their successes and for the most part ignore the failures. (By the way, that certainly included our early days at the Texas Baseball Ranch®.)
If you happened to be on the wrong side of the curve, you often went in search of the next process, hoping that this next one was a better fit.
This went on for years and years. Nothing to see here, simply keep moving forward.
But slowly things began to change. Technology improved. Thinking and understanding evolved. Some of us in multiple disciplines and arenas of athletic training and performance enhancement rejected the status quo, consensus, conventional thinking and group think. Thanks to works of Bernstein, Nyman and Bosch, we began to understand “Dynamic SystemsTheory” and how it relates to our athletes individually.
We started down the complex road of hyper-personalization and built training processes which were led not by efficiency, but by the individual constraints of each individual athlete.
In short, we wanted to assist each athlete in overcoming and/or reducing the specific constraint that was MOST limiting or interfering with his performance right now… currently… today! At the Ranch Consortium we refer to this by its Motor Learning equivalent: A Constraint-Led Approach to Motor Skill Development.
I wrote a whitepaper entitled, “The Case Against Weighted Balls?” We made it into a short book. If you would like a copy of it, please call or email our office and we will mail you a copy for free: Please let our Office Manager, Anna Dugger, know if you are a player, parent or coach.
Now to be clear, the title was intended to be provocative. We in fact believe that over-weighted and underweighted balls as throwing tools are exceptional. However, they are simply tools. They are not a silver bullet nor a panacea, and if used incorrectly, they can in fact place athletes at greater risk of injury.
The purpose of my paper was to share our 20-year relationship with the utilization of weighted balls in training so that players, parents and/or coaches would have a better understanding of how to maximize the benefits of weighted ball training while minimizing their risks.
If you are interested in utilizing weighted balls as part of your process, I believe the book is quite helpful and informative.
However, after reading it again for the first time in several months, I realized I omitted a very, very valuable piece of the puzzle and a critical influencer, and I wanted to correct that now.
A huge component of our success has been the assessment phase. No one single person has been more influential in that regard than Phil Donley. Not only is Phil one of my most favorite people in the entire world and a wonderful man, he was light years ahead of his time, helping us understand what sound structural assessment entails and how to interpret the testing information.
Today his influence is all over our processes. For those unfamiliar with Phil, here is a little about him:
Phillip Donley is a retired Colonel U.S. Army Reserve. He was Chief Physical Therapist at Akron City Hospital (1958-1960), Instructor and Assistant Athletic Trainer at West Head Athletic Trainer and Professor of Physical Education at West Chester University (1965-1991). He owned a private Sports Physical Therapy Clinic in West Chester in 1981 to 1995. Since 1997, he has served as a Consultant to the Philadelphia Phillies for 10 years and the Philadelphia Eagles for 5 years. He now treats patients part-time at the West Chester office of Optimum Physical Therapy Associates. He also performs research and clinical care lectures on shoulder and full body kinetic chain topics.
In closing, the primary reason so many people are often disappointed with their training is because their specific training is simply not a great fit. It may have been a better fit a year ago or it might be a great fit 6 months from now, but right now, there are things that are far more important. It may even be a great fit for your roommate or teammate, but it isn’t for you.
Getting the wrong plan will at best minimize your gains and at worst ruin or significantly sidetrack your career.
To have the BEST chance of your training having a large positive impact on your performance, you should:
- Assess your current physical structure, mobility/flexibility, strength/strength balance, movements/mechanical efficiency, recovery/ability to bounce back and performance parameters (velocity, command, swing-and-miss stuff).
- Then Categorize– from those assessments, guide each athlete to the exact area(s) and protocol(s) that they need most at this moment.
- Then Customize– building a hyper-personalized, holistic plan for the next 8-12 weeks so that each athlete works on the specific areas they need most.
- Then Prioritize– creating a hierarchy of our process to make certain we hit the most urgent things first.
The best news in all of this is that today in 2020, there is a viable, far more effective way to train than following a mail order program on the internet. And indeed, sometimes your very career may depend upon it.
Until next time, stay curious and keep fighting the good fight.
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Important TBR Updates
- We have only 2 remaining Elite Pitchers Bootcamps on the summer schedule after this weekend. The August 7-9 is SOLD OUT but there are still spots available in our Labor Day Camp, September 5-7. Due to current COVID-19 state mandates, we have reduced the number of attendees to 2/3’s of out normal 45 cap. For more information on these popular events, please visit www.TexasBaseballRanch.com/events. We are also loosening up our cancellation/change policy so that people can be comfortable in making plans now in the face of current and future uncertainty. **We also have an option for you to extend you bootcamp weekend and stay for an additional week(s) and participate in out “Extended Stay Summer Developmental Program”.
- Would you like to train at the Ranch for a longer period of time this summer? Our “Extended Stay Summer Development Program” is the program for you. We have one session remaining this summer. It is a two week mini session, August 3-13. More information is available at www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/tbr-summer-program/.
- Response to our “Ranch Remote” training option has been exciting. It’s a program for people that would still like to get access to, and ongoing instruction from, the TBR staff but prefer to avoid travel due to the virus. Click here to get more information on this NEW, hyper-personalized training option. The number of participants in this program is limited to 36 so if you’re interested, don’t dealy.
- Like many of you, we have heard the news that many Junior Colleges across the country have cancelled their fall season and in some cases, the entire 2020-2021 athletic season. This obviously is both disappointing and frustrating for many young men. At the Texas Baseball Ranch®, we have decided to put into place a fall training program for those young men who would like to take a ‘gap’ year, focusing on a structured developmental program that will best prepare them for college baseball when it finally does return. Please email info@TexasBaseballRanch.com if you would like more information on this option.