U. Mass Lowell Baseball commit Nolan Geisler, a rising senior at Bayonne High School in New Jersey, has been having quite a spring and summer season. Nolan started training at RPP, in September 2021, near the start of his Sophomore year. On July 9th of the same year, his peak velocity according to a Perfect Game event was 77 mph. Fast forward to this spring and summer, Nolan has been sitting 86-88 and touching 89.
How did he do it?
Although his training with us began nearly two years ago, in this summary we are going to review his progress during the past year.
This particular profile is a really good example of how efficiency and velocity gains don’t always comes from identifying and addressing just one or two “big players”, but rather identifying and making small improvements to many different areas.
Nolan’s training last summer began with an initial assessment, which included the following:
- Lean Muscle Mass
- Movement screen
- Video analysis and motion capture
- Strength testing
- Power testing
Following the evaluation, we assembled a comprehensive plan for the upcoming year to address the lowest hanging fruit.
At the time of his assessment last June, Nolan was 6’3” and weighed in at 152 lbs., which put his height to weight ratio at 2.0x at the time, a bit below our 2.5-3.0x target. In addition, below is a summary of what we felt should be the focus of his training in order to give him what he needs while maintaining what he already does well.
Cuff / Shoulder Strength / Stability – Cuff strength and / or stability issues can limit the ability to move through more functional positions. This is in part due to the orientation of the humeral head migrating anteriorly (front of shoulder). As a result, we’re not in an optimal position to get the rotator cuff to function to center the head for a clean ball in socket rotation. This will also add more torque to the shoulder joint since we have more range of motion involved in getting the hand to full lay-back before accelerating to release. The following is a summary of Nolan’s initial assessment versus recent results.
Hip Impingement/ Lumbo Pelvic Disassociation – During his first baseline assessment, Nolan presented with a hip impingement both externally and internally. This prevented him from efficiently separating rotation from his hips and his torso and thus negatively affecting torque (hip / shoulder separation) in order to create a higher amount of torque and ultimately velo. Fast forward to his re-assessment and all systems are a GO!
Strength / Power Testing
Nolan’s upper body strength (Bench Press), while only 20 lbs. higher at 147 lbs., represented a 16% increase in max strength which meant more upper body power to help transfer into the hand and ultimately the ball.
During a full off-season of training, we generally see a 15-20% increase in power overall. But as I mentioned earlier, Nolan’s improvement is a great example of many “smaller gains” adding up to big changes overall. So, we’ll take that 10% increase in lower body power highlighted below from last year and make if a priority this coming off-season.
Pitching Mechanics – Motion Capture / Video Analysis
Our video and motion capture analysis together looks at over 60 different disconnects, from arm action to trunk movement and lower half movement/timing patterns. It leaves nothing to chance, especially when it comes to including metrics such as angular velocities that can’t be seen efficiently by the naked eye.
Nolan’s pitching and motion capture report pointed to several disconnects that we thought needed to be addressed in order to get him to a higher velocity ceiling while at the same time cleaning up other issues in the delivery.
Pelvic / Glute Engagement / Timing (mocap) – This is defined by proper weight distribution on the back leg/foot and slightly hinging at the hips. This is key for maintaining posture into FP and avoiding a “push” or “vaulting” off the rubber. The longer we can keep the rear glute engaged the later we can create lateral force and sequence energy up the chain later in the delivery.
Early trunk Rotation / Hip-Shoulder Separation – Early trunk rotation puts the upper body in a more compromised position to accept ground reaction force and effectively block with the lead leg while a trunk that is overly counter-rotated (late) can negatively affect timing issues and force transfer up the chain and into the arm. Gaining back hip mobility and lumbo-Pelvic disassociation while implementing walking torques during throwing worked wonders here.
Late Arm / Forearm Flyout – Low shoulder ER, otherwise known as a “late arm” can force the athlete to lead with the elbow creating a “push” and increasing the risk of injury to the shoulder. To clean this up, we needed in this case, to improve shoulder and cuff strength and stability in order to allow the arm to get up on time and move through more functional positions.
Hip-Shoulder Separation Timing (mocap) – While how much hip/shoulder separation is important, timing is the key. Athletes need as much separation as needed to stretch the middle/sling. Elite throwers achieve max hip / shoulder separation at or just after foot plant. Nolan’s was slightly early, just behind the long blue line representing foot plant (below).
As a part of his throwing program, Nolan was prescribed the following specific throwing drills to address his disconnects.
- Walking Torques – Help the athlete “feel” hip / shoulder separation.
- Figure 8 Rocker – Helps keep arm loose throughout and sync up arm swing with rear hip load
- Step Back Drill – Used to improve back foot contact with the ground in order to create better rotation
- Step Behind Drill – Used to improve timing of the pelvis and early trunk rotation
Nolan has made significant strides during the past year. He began the spring at 170 lbs., which is nearly 20 lbs. heavier than last fall. Overall he is a substantially better mover on the mound and this has translated into a higher velo ceiling. He’s been sitting 86-88 and touching 89 this summer and as highlighted earlier, his velo is up 11-12 mph since he began his training with us nearly two years ago.
The following is a summary of his spring performance. His stats speak for themselves. Nolan has exceptional command and control. His 0.84 WHIP and 0.99 ERA this past spring basically says it all.
In addition, as the chart below summarized he has great ball movement with four differentiated pitches from a low arm slot. U. Mass Lowell is getting a great one.
Well done, Nolan, keep up the great work!
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore and Bahram Shirazi
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