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Tag Archives: velocity

  • My Experience With the Recruiting Process- By: Gunnar Thompson, NASM-CPT, PES, CPPS

    I wanted to start a series of articles that depict my experience with the recruiting process (primarily the collegiate recruiting process). I have talked with many parents and young athletes who are unfamiliar with how the system works. I sure did not know how the process worked until after the fact.  Therefore, I want to use my experience and my take-away that I hope will help others through this difficult but necessary process.  This post will be focused on how to get recruiters’ attention.

    The first and most important thing is to know your numbers, attributes, and differentiators. If you are a pitcher, it is absolutely critical to know your velocity, percentage of strikes, percentage of strikes with the off-speed, and what is your best pitch. As a hitter, this may mean what type of hitter you are (such as power vs average), what type of pitches you hit best, and whether defense and speed are part of your game.  The key is that when someone comes up to you and asks what makes you different than the thousands of other athletes you need to be able to give them an attribute that makes them remember you. I strongly believe in what coach Ron Wolforth preaches about showcases. He states that showcases might be great if you are ahead of your peer group or if you would like see how you can handle the pressure-filled atmosphere.  But without knowing your numbers, how are you going to know if you are ahead of your peer group? You have to be your own analyst. It is not being arrogant, it is being prepared.

    The second thing I would like to talk about is “Travel Ball”. The trend today is to play Select or Travel ball in the summer and fall in an attempt to get recognized by scouts. But there are plenty of doctors and coaches criticizing this approach as increasing the chance of injury. So what should you believe? Here is my experience. I played for a 1A high school in Texas home to roughly 200 people in the whole school. Many people think that with a school that small there won’t be any athletes that are all that good, but I don’t look at that way.  In my perspective though, it is just less likely that there will be a whole team of elite players. At least this was my experience. Each team in my district had one or two players that were really good. The rest of the team was either average or below average. This meant I was not facing the best competition, so I joined a select team called the “Texas Prospects”. I will tell you that this was the best decision my parents and I ever made. I fully believe that without playing for this team, I would have never received a full scholarship to play collegiate ball. Does this mean you should join a select team? Maybe not. If you need to work on developing certain aspects of your game then you should probably look at training more than playing. But if you are not facing the highest competition in the regular season, and your “stuff” is ahead of your peers, then you should look for a solid travel team to play with (but not one that is just a “pay to play”).  The “Texas Prospects” gave me an opportunity to play against the best competition, and they were not quick to pull me when I faced adversity or didn’t have my best stuff.  I gave up more hits, homeruns, and runs in one season with the Texas Prospects than my whole high school career combined, but I learned so much from the experience. You must determine your “NEEDS” before deciding whether or not to join a select team.

    Last, you need a coach that will do everything in his power to get you noticed. Every coach knows someone at the next level, but the question is whether he is willing to reach out to those contacts on your behalf? I know that without Coach Ron Wolforth and Coach Jeff Casey, I would not have gotten the chance to play college ball.  There is something to be said for someone willing to put their reputation on the line for a 17-18 year old athlete. I strongly believe you must have that high school coach, select team coach, or pitching instructor that is willing to do this on your behalf. They can open so many doors and provide guidance that you cannot obtain anywhere else.  I encourage you to talk to your high school coach about your desire to play at the next level.  More than likely he will be willing to do anything he can to help. If not, seek the coach that is.

    So, my advice to all of you who want to be recruited to the next level is to know exactly what you bring to the table and think strategically about where you are showcasing your attributes and against what competition.  And finally, you need to identify who your “guy” will be that will promote you and fight for you to make it to the next level.  Critically thinking about these factors will significantly increase your odds of making it to the next level.

    In my next installment, I will discuss the things that I learned when visiting colleges I was considering, and the questions I wished I would have asked then to gain a better understanding of where my development would take me in the future if I chose to go there.

    Be Unique and #BeELITE

  • Bowlvalanche! Should Strasburg “Simplify” His Mechanics? by Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS

    Bowlvalanche… That’s what I call it.

    It’s a term I coined a long time ago.

    Any time 3 or more of anything falls, I call it a “that thing” valanche.

    This is an Avalanche…

    This is a Ballvalanche…

    A Toothpickvalanche

    And this thing…

    This accident waiting to happen…

    If you attempt to add to or take away from this chaotic cluster nut, the slightest perturbation of the equilibrium could begin a cascade of events resulting in a bona fide bowlvalanche.

    How do you avoid this catastrophe? To paraphrase hall of fame pitching coach, Elmer Fudd, “Vewy carefully.”

    Take away what you must.

    Add what you need.

    But be very cautious in doing so.

    It’s like that when you work with pitchers too.

    Imagine this Tupperware Jenga display represents the complexity and individuality of the throwing motion (and its probably not far off). One can easily visualize its precarious nature. When attempting to make mechanical adjustments, if you add too much or add it too quickly you could get a bowlvalanche. On the other hand if you take the opposite approach and start minimizing movement, taking things away… one wrong move and… you guessed it… bowlvalanche!!

    When you’re adding or subtracting from a pitcher’s mechanics, to have to tread very lightly. It’s the message Coach Ron Wolforth gave me a few weeks ago when he referred our shared client, Justin Verlander.

    “Do what you need to do, but leave as little fingerprints as possible.”

    My intent is not to disparage anyone, and by no means do I ever claim to have it all figured out. Every pitching coach I know truly has a heart for helping his players improve, but often our knowledge is incomplete.  In our attempts to help, we do more harm than good. Sometimes we add too much, putting a disruptive personal stamp on the athlete, forcing movement patterns that inhibit the pitcher’s ability. What often follows is a cascade of disconnections and kinesthetic confusion that leads to an erosion of performance that can progress to pain or injury.

    Sometimes we fall into the archaic 1980s approach of reductionism. We try to “minimize movement to maximize efficiency”.This represents a deep lack of understanding about injury and performance.  It’s a failed model. For over 30 years pitching coaches at very high levels have taken a “less is more” approach while attempting to produce “a repeatable delivery”. We continually misunderstand the difference between simplification and efficiency. We “simplify” the pitcher’s mechanics to the point of robbing him of athleticism and more importantly, his adjustability.

    The hardest thrower we’ve ever developed (99.7mph on our mound and 98 in a nationally televised Division 1 game) was

    drafted in the 12th round by a MLB club. Over the next 12 months, they “coached him” down to 85 mph, then released him. Well done!

    A recent AP article suggested that injury-plagued pitcher, Stephen Strasburg might ditch the windup and pitch only from the stretch this season. “I’m not trying to reinvent myself, but just trying to simplify things as much as I can and be able to repeat my mechanics.”

    And here we go again. In pursuit of this elusive “repeatable delivery” the pitcher’s movement is pared down to it’s simplest form. The athlete loses athleticism and explosiveness, but more importantly he loses his adjustability.

    So what does it mean to have an adjustable delivery?

    To explain this we must address the fundamental flaw in reductionist thinking – that a repeatable delivery is even possible. Listen closely…

    The repeatable delivery is a unicorn!

    It does not exist.

    You cannot repeat your mechanics.

    Every pitch will present a unique set of subtle, yet important deviations or errors. Instead of repeatable mechanics, what we need to pursue is world-class, in-flight adjustability that gives the athlete pre-organized solutions to self-correct when his delivery begins to veer off course.

    Dr. Nikolai Bernstein proved it with his famous Blacksmith experiment back in the 1920s. He
    took some of Russia’s greatest blacksmiths, tagged them with lights at strategic places on their bodies (the first biomarkers) and used serial photography and rudimentary motion pictures to observe them performing the singular task of driving a nail into a log with one swing. What he found was revolutionary to the motor learning industry, yet many coaches still don’t get it. When he compared the movement patterns of these high level hammer swingers across all subjects, Bernstein noted that they all demonstrated slightly different swings. They all achieved the goal every time, but no two subjects displayed the same pattern. But, more importantly no single blacksmith was able to repeat the same movement pattern on any of his trials. The results were always the same – the nail was pounded into the log — but the path to get there was different every time. It created a problem in motor learning science known as “the degrees of freedom problem”. Top down, centrally controlled models frequently used to explain movement patterns do not account for the variability present in all human movement.

    Instead of seeking repeatable mechanics what we’re really looking for are repeatable results.

    Many times when you eliminate complexity, you remove the margins for adjustability.

    If an athlete can’t make real time adjustments to his movement, he has no means to self-correct and he is left to the mercy of his connective tissue restraints (e.g. UCLs and labrums). Training subconsciously with variable stimulus (weighted balls, varied surfaces, multi-dimensional drills, and modulating goals) while permitting creativity allows for self-organization of patterns with built-in adjustability. When the athlete’s arm begins to stray off course he already has a pre-formatted solution to the error and his body automatically rights itself and returns to a mote efficient, powerful, accurate, and durable pattern.

    As a matter of principle, I avoid making injury predictions. But in my humble opinion, Stephen Strasburg should not try to “simplify his mechanics.” Instead he should develop an efficient throwing pattern that minimizes his disconnections while maximizing his adjustability. Otherwise, he may be looking at another trip to the DL and ultimately a catastrophic…  bowlvalanche.

    Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS

     

    P.S We’ve recently announce the dates for our Elite Performers Bootcamps for the rest of 2017… CLICK HERE!

    P.P.S. Learn all about our incredible 2017 Ultimate Summer Training Program RIGHT HERE.

  • I Couldn’t Have Been More Wrong - by Randy Sullivan

    “Just throw strikes.

    Don’t worry about velocity.

    Just get lots of out…

    Win lots of games…

    And the college recruiters will see you’re a winner and they’ll want you to be a part of their program.”

    That’s what I told my son, Ty.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong...

    Continue reading

  • I Don't Know Why Your Arm Hurts! by Randy Sullivan

    Good Afternoon,

    My name is Randy Sullivan.

    I am a physical therapist and a baseball coach.

    They call me “The Arm Pain Assassin.”

    I am one of the best arm pain specialists on the planet and if you ask me why your arm hurts I will tell you…

    Continue reading

  • 3 Questions About Weighted Ball Training - By Randy Sullivan

    Not a day goes by that I don’t get a flurry of questions about the “latest rage”… weighted baseballs (ironic that the “latest rage” began nearly 30 years ago).

    With process development and advocacy from a cadre of progressive thinking instructors and coaches, and support from several high level programs, a  a throwing modality once considered radical is rapidly becoming mainstream.

    Last winter the Tampa Bay Rays approached me for advice on implementing an off-season weighted ball velocity enhancement program.

    I was intrigued.

    Continue reading

  • Start With The Pain - by Randy Sullivan

    In 2010, Coach Ron Wolforth coined that phrase, and it changed the way I practice physical therapy and forever altered the way I train throwing athletes.

    It just made sense.

    You see, in the Ranch System, pain is neither good nor bad.

    It is simply information  -- a beacon that lights the way toward dysfunction.

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  • New Product: TAP Khaos Ball

    Oates Specialties has a number of new products that I plan on featuring in the coming posts.  One of our newest additions is a line of products that will share the name “Khaos.”  Our line of Khaos products are uneven and/or unstable training products designed to challenge athletes during their workouts, often taking routine exercises and making them much more difficult.  And for those of you who know anything about Greek Mythology, Khaos (or Chaos) was the name of one of the Greek gods at the beginning of the universe.  Khaos was the lower atmosphere which surrounded the earth—comprised of invisible air and gloomy mist, which seems apt to name such a line of products.

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  • WEIGHTED BALL RESEARCH - by John LaCorte

    Introduction 

    Throwing velocity is a performance measurement used for assessing baseball players, particularly in pitchers. Pitchers are constantly seeking out ways to increase their pitching velocity, as higher velocity is looked at as a measurement of success. Research has been conducted to look at the effects of weight training, medicine ball training, ballistic training, proper mechanics, and throwing under- and overweighted baseballs on throwing velocity.

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  • Is Improper Weight Lifting A Problem? - by Randy Sullivan

    Company Logo
    Hi,
    Last week, a young man flew into Tampa to train with us for a few days. I’ll call him Cade. A barrel chested Lefty who, at 6’0” and 210 lbs, Cade clearly excelled in the weight room, He was having pain in the lateral upper arm and forearm. He said he had experienced the same symptoms during every high school outing this year.  Each day, when he started his throwing routine here, he could only manage about 10 throws before succumbing to throbbing/radiating pain and weakness in his left arm.

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  • The Process of Progress By: Coach Flint Wallace

    It seems like every time I drive somewhere I see some type of infrastructure enhancement going on, AKA...Road Construction. There always seems to be a road that is getting fixed, expanded, or a whole new road or highway being built. Most, if not all of these things, would be considered by most as progress. But, with progress there is always some inconveniences. Like, when road construction is taking place, often the traffic is actually worse than it was before the construction started. Usually, before the construction started, traffic moved ok, but not great. Then when the construction starts, the traffic moves much slower than before the actual project began. There are back ups and jams and the project always seems to take longer than planned. Usually because of an obstacle, that was not originally foreseen. Like a week straight of rain, or a busted water line, or a piece of equipment breaks down. But, once the project is completed, the road is better than before: the traffic flows much better, much faster, and more smoothly.

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