Athlete Highlight: Wayne Hills Senior and Stevens Commit Dean Qira up from T84 mph to 87-88, T89 mph

Stevens Commit Dean Qira (Class 2024) joined us in August 2022 looking to improve his overall strength.  This past off-season, he also enrolled in our fall and winter pitching programs to help improve his mechanics and raise his velocity ceiling.  During this time period, Dean has made some major improvements. The 6’0” southpaw began his training in the fall weighing 173 lbs. with a FB topping out at 84 mph (6/9/2023 PG). Fast forward to May 2024, and he is absolutely dominating his high school season. Dean is sitting 87-88 and T89 mph, with a 1.13 ERA in 31 IP.

How did he do it?

Dean’s off-season training began with a complete assessment, including a movement screen, strength and power testing, and a mechanical breakdown of his delivery, combining both motion capture and video analysis.

Every pitcher wants to throw harder and getting them to do so varies from athlete to athlete and is usually best achieved by targeting each athlete’s lowest hanging fruit. As for Dean, we identified several aspects of his assessment that had room for improvement.

Let’s get down to the specifics.

Movement Screen / Mobility

The mobility portion of the assessment is vital in evaluating movements that may help or hinder a pitcher getting into more efficient positions both on the mound and in the weight room. In many cases, the issues that are presented in this part of the assessment will be evident when we are evaluating the pitcher’s mechanics in the latter part of the assessment. In Dean’s case, here are some issues that stood out:

Lower Half Strength/Stability/Mobility – One of Dean’s biggest room for improvement was his lower half. When assessing this, we pinpointed inefficient movement strategies with his hips in all planes of motion. With Dean being a naturally tighter mover, we addressed hip mobility within the lower portion of what we consider an acceptable range as to help with his mobility but not take away what makes hip efficient in the first place.

Making sure we have a strong, mobile, and stable base is crucial for not only force production and using the ground to our advantage but reducing injury / setbacks as well. Dean also presented with weakness in adduction and extension (typical Narrow ISA) in his hips, as well abduction.

He was also lacking strength and stability in our OH Squat, Single Leg Squat, and SLDL tests. This in turn hinders Dean’s ability to hinge and produce force on the mound.

Static / Dynamic Shoulder Movement – As stated above, Dean is a tight mover, and this holds true for his upper half as well. Dean presented with tight Lats, Pec Minor, Upper Trap, and insufficient Mid-Lower Trap strength. In conjunction, Dean’s scapular positioning presented depression and abduction.

Stiffness is essential to be an elite pitcher and, as we mentioned earlier, we need to have stability in the ranges of motion we possess, but we cannot be too stiff as it will hinder one’s ability to maintain a loose / whippy arm and get into plus positions on the mound.

Posterior Rotator Cuff Strength – The posterior rotator cuff is a dynamic tissue that changes stiffness immediately after throwing a baseball. During delivery, the rotator cuff muscles provide compressive force to resist shoulder distraction from the upper torso’s torque.

During the cocking phase, the infraspinatus and teres minor provide external rotation, while the subscapularis and supraspinatus provide stability to the glenohumeral joint. The posterior cuff is a main decelerator of the throw due to the high torques placed on the shoulder, so we put an emphasis on improving this with Dean. As a result, training the decelerators was in order here.

Body Composition

One of the biggest game changers for Dean this off-season was putting on additional lean muscle mass. Dean walked in the facility last September at 173 lbs. with 18% body fat.

Gaining weight is often one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle when it comes to improving strength and athleticism. We discussed this topic with Dean numerous times and the message was well received. Since September, Dean improved his body composition by putting on 21 pounds and he now is 194 pounds at 16% body fat.

Strength and Power

Strength and power testing gives us more information regarding the type of athlete we have in front of us strength-wise. In some cases, we have athletes who are strong and need better plyometric ability while others need to focus on pure strength in order to be more explosive. As seen in the movement screening portion of the assessment, there are instances where the findings will be more evident in the mechanical delivery on the mound.

In Dean’s case, we were able to retest his strength and power metrics from beginning to end of the offseason to compare his baseline numbers from the fall versus his recently tested numbers at the end of the winter pitching lab. These were the findings.

Upper Half Strength

    • 44% increase on his Bench Press


Lead Leg RSI: Dean’s ability to manage ground reaction force and decelerate his lead leg went from a .833 to a 1.134 which is a 36% increase.

Initial Decel Eval

Final Decel Eval

This was huge as the ability to decelerate the lead leg quickly is one of the big players in creating and transferring force more explosively up the kinetic chain and ultimately into the ball. For this we focused on a combination of strength and plyo drills to help shift Dean’s curve.

Mechanical Delivery

The final part of Dean’ evaluation was his mechanical breakdown, which we assessed through Motion Capture and Video Analysis. Motion capture data is great with being able to pick up things that are difficult to see with the naked eye, such as angular velocities and thus supplying us with greater insight as to what is really happening throughout his delivery.

Things he did well:

Elbow in Line with Shoulders Foot Plant to Release – Keeping the elbow in the line of rotation with the shoulders helps create a cleaner arm slot as well as maximizing the athlete’s ability to accelerate through rotation more efficiently. As stated before, Dean is a Narrow ISA, so we want to maximize his rotational abilities while keeping his arm action on plane with his shoulders through the delivery.

Lead Leg Foot Position – How we land is crucial for an athlete when it comes to decelerating and accepting force. When we land with our front foot slightly closed (Between 0-20 degrees), the athlete is now optimizing how much force they will send back up the chain all the way through ball release. This also helps with creating stability in our lead leg block and allows for continued rotation into the front hip. Dean does a great job at landing in an advantageous position.

Things that needed work:

Shoulder Horizontal Abduction at Ball Release – Shoulder Horizontal Abduction at Ball Release is an athlete’s ability to get their arm up on time through release. We want to make sure an athlete’s angle is around 90 degrees. Dean presented with a “low elbow” which is when Shoulder Horizontal Abduction is below 90 degrees. We want to get our arm up on time to avoid leading with the elbow and injury. Due to Dean’s tightness in his upper half, he was unable to get into these positions to create a loose / whippy arm action.

Weight Shift (Drifting) – The purpose of drifting is to initiate the athlete’s movement down the mound in order to apply force in a linear direction once the athlete starts to work down the mound. Drifting allows an athlete to put his body in an elite position to move effectively and efficiently. Dean, being a stiffer mover needed to work on upping his tempo through his motion and using the slope to his advantage.

Early Heel/Rotation – This allows the athlete to stay fully grounded and be able to apply force into the ground over a long period of time. This has a lot to do with the way our hips are built and as stated before, Dean is a tighter athlete and mover. By focusing on increasing his tempo and improving his initial positioning / move of his back foot (ER Bias), he was able to produce more force and maintain his back leg load longer.

How we addressed his movement deficiencies?

Following the video analysis portion of the assessment, we generally prescribe throwing correctives in addition to his strength and mobility work to help improve overall movement patterns on the mound.

Below is a summary of Dean’s movement drills to help address his deficiencies

    • Figure 8 Rocker: Used to help feel a loose arm and shoulder to eliminate muscling up while also putting the trunk in a stable position @ FP.

    • Toss-in Drill: Used to help create a smoother and more fluid arm path throughout delivery

    • Hook’em Drill: Used to help glute engagement in the loading phase of the delivery.

    • Step Back Drill: Used to help shift a pitcher’s COM (drifting) and also anchor the back foot as weight is traveling down the mound

Summary Results:

Dean is one of  the most consistent athletes in the gym, day-in and day-out. He loves this lifestyle and has done everything he can to master his craft. After a rigorous and successful off-season, Dean is seeing the fruits of his labor.

Dean is T89 mph with improved mechanics and he ultimately feels much better after the improvements to his body. By getting after it in the weight room and following a strict nutrition plan, he made great progress with his body composition and lead leg RSI. As well as improving the static and dynamic movement of his shoulder, which led to a 44% increase in his bench press.

Overall, with improved strength, mobility, power, and mechanics, Dean is feeling the best he has ever felt, and it is showing on the mound. Dean is one of the more dominant pitchers in North Jersey right now and with his work ethic, the sky’s the limit!

Keep up the great work Dean!

By Matt Hartshorn and Niko Leontarakis


You live too far to train with us in-house at RPP? You can now train with us on a REMOTE basis.

You can also reach us through our various platforms or simply click below to schedule a phone call.

If you’re interested in receiving our blogs, please enter your email address below!