To be a more efficient baseball player, it’s important that you have both high amounts of force (power) and acceleration in your throw or in the box. For a pitcher, it can be a deal breaker in terms of college recruiting or ultimately being an MLB prospect. As far as hitters go, having a faster, more powerful swing allows the hitter more time to make better decisions at the plate. While going from 80 to 85 mph may only require more absolute strength, once we get into more elite velocities, max strength is simply not enough. This is where the Proteus machine shines.
What is the Proteus?
A few weeks ago, we had a Proteus Motion machine installed here at RPP. This is a highly advanced piece of technology that can visualize movement and the human body in three dimensions. It allows athletes to train with “constant resistance” through a full range of motions, better enabling athletes to optimize their tissue health, movement patterns and ultimately power development. This is a much different training protocol than traditional training with cable machines, barbells, and dumbbells where the movements happen in very specific planes of motion and the resistance is not constant.
Proteus is a much different and effective training tool than your standard cable machine.
What does Proteus do?
The Proteus measures and tracks data on power and acceleration, better known as “strength/speed” and “speed/strength”, two training adaptations that, up until now, have been hard to assess and train accurately along the force-velocity curve. Proteus can also work hand-in-hand with velocity-based devices such as a the Tendo, GymAware or the PUSH band accelerometer.
To my knowledge, in this day and age of data analytics, this is the first time we’re not only able to look at and measure an athlete’s power in the frontal plane but also receive immediate feedback. This makes Proteus an invaluable tool in assessing and training rotational athletes such as pitchers and baseball players. The following is a summary of a typical report.
We have begun incorporating the Proteus into our assessments and will be running different types of testing to see the correlation between different “types” of strengths and throwing / hitting velocities. It also gives us valuable benchmarks we didn’t previously have in order to re-assess as well as view improvements and insight into the effectiveness of our training programs in regard to “all things POWER”.
Getting information on an athletes’ ability to create power and/or acceleration makes Proteus a potent tool to help athletes create power more efficiently.
With all that said, one of the key features of this device is its ability to provide an individualized program specifically designed for each athlete’s needs based on the assessment performed on the machine during the athlete’s initial assessment.
Baseball Power / Acceleration: It’s more than just about strength
Many athletes, including ours are strong, I mean very strong. But, while absolute strength is the glass that all other types of strength sit in, once an athlete can lift at loads that we consider “strong enough”, they then need to focus on these other types of strength (accel strength, strength speed, speed strength) if they want to be more explosive. Simply continuing to lift heavy can actually miss the mark\ and actually make things worse and result in what we call diminishing returns.
Understanding these building blocks used to help build a high-velocity athlete is key when looking to optimize performance on the field.
Power vs. Acceleration
A high velocity throw not only requires speed, but also power and acceleration, which are two different but inter-related topics.
Power – refers more specifically to how much force an athlete produces with his muscles during movement.
Acceleration – tells us with how quickly that force develops, and, in a sport like baseball where things happen at lightning speed, the quicker the better.
Being able to get information on these two variables within multiple planes of movement can be the golden ticket for both athletes and coaches when creating programs and getting baselines on the force / velocity curve.
Core Strength and Elasticity
Another great parameter with Proteus is the ability to test an athlete’s elasticity (the ability to use their stretch shortening cycle) by testing the core with both non-counter movements and counter (plyometric) movements. This is one area that can be trained on the Proteus machine by adding constant resistance to the movement. This enables the athlete or coach to augment med ball work more to the strength-speed side, if necessary, by emulating a “heavier” med ball movement without the negative change that may result in the movement pattern by using a heavier ball.
Recovery / Arm Care
With resistance ranging from 1-35lbs, we can also use the Proteus on recovery days as an arm care program and/or before games/ bullpens to better activate the cuff and surrounding musculature in a more specific way as well as through the full range of the movement. This can go a long way in helping to prevent injury.
(Horizontal Shoulder Abduction)
Constant resistance allows the user to use lighter loads to better accommodate arm care pre and post throw.
Increased Explosiveness and Tissue Health
Another great benefit of Proteus’s ability to create “constant resistance” is its ability to increase time under tension to a specific area of the body as it moves through its range of motion. This forces the athlete to work harder and recruit more of the stabilizing muscles through the entire range of motion.
Many times, athletes will be a bit awkward as they get used to handling constant resistance while moving through a complete ROM rotationally. This will eventually lead to the athlete digging in and eventually sequencing movements better, all leading to an improved transfer of force up the kinetic chain.
For pitchers, this type of training will also help with injury prevention by helping to improve tissue quality (fascia) while strengthening the muscles around various joints. When your tissue retains (or regains) its natural spring, the rebound effect of the fascia allows you to create more power while using less muscle and therefore fatigue less rapidly.
Proteus helps improve tissue quality through constant tension allowing more explosive movements with less muscular effort.
There are many different factors that contribute to a throw with a high velocity ceiling. So understanding the building blocks of a high-velocity athlete is key when looking to optimize performance on the field. On the strength training side, there are many different strength adaptations which need to be all tied together. Without all of them working in sync, any improvement will be minimal at best.
Creating hard throwers can be connected to not only training max strength, but power and acceleration as well. Power refers more specifically to how much force an athlete produces with his muscles during movement, while acceleration deals with how quickly that force develops. Now with Proteus power and acceleration can not only be tested, but trained as well.
What side of the power curve have you been living on? Maybe it’s time to take a visit to the other side of power.
See ya’ in the gym…
Nunzio Signore (Owner RPP Baseball)
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