By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
If you haven’t noticed by now, we spend a lot of time getting our athletes to be more powerful. When it comes to pitchers this brings up the obvious topic of velocity. While we don’t hang our hats on the “V” word exclusively, we do realize whether we like it or not, throwing gas is what gets the attention of most high school players searching for a great learning institution (education), fame and/or fortune.
A big part of our job here at RPP in addition to helping an athlete get to “X” mph is helping them to stay there through the course of a game, season and/or year. Strength coach Eric Cressey put it best when he said, “erratic radar gun readings are as much a problem as insufficient radar gun readings”. Today I’m going to go over three points which I call the “killer trifecta” that I believe contribute to inconsistent velocity during the season. They are as follows:
- Poor Sleeping / Eating Habits / Weight Loss
- Losses in Mobility / Strength
1. Poor Sleeping / Eating Habits / Weight Loss – Let’s face it, towards the end of the spring season, and when summer ball is upon us, is when the big damage gets done. When body-weight drops often so does the readings on the gun (for more on this read my blog titled “Muscle Mass and Throwing Gas”). No two things affect body-weight more than poor sleep and poor eating habits.
This is most prevalent in the summer months when playing multiple games with travel teams, heat and road trips take their toll on a young athlete’s body. Eating insufficient meals and erratic sleep, in sometimes less than optimal hotels or even in the back seat of the car, can wreak havoc on the body and arm, drastically affecting velocity.
2. Losses in Mobility / Strength – Losses in strength and mobility are big contributors to an inconsistent and even declining velocity:
Mobility is not simply hopping on a foam roller for a minute or two to improve tissue quality. Although tissue length does play a big part in the mobility story, stability, tissue quality, and kinesthetic awareness are all equally as important. Any missing piece… mobility work, static/dynamic stretching (whichever is appropriate) and foam rolling, can have a profound effect on an athlete’s overall mobility. For example, losses in t-spine mobility can affect things such as the ability to layback or create good hip/shoulder separation. Compromised hamstring and adductors can really do a number on stride length as well. Let’s not forget the importance of stability as well, which brings us to our next topic…Strength.
Strength – I’m sure I don’t have to tell you (or maybe I do) about the importance of a year-round plan as far as the weight room goes. I tell my guys all the time to try and get in at least 2-3 days of strength training per week immediately the day after an appearance on the mound. This guarantees at least several days to get in some good quality strength training before they pitch again. As for summer ball and relievers, 3 innings or less and you can hit a big lift the next day as well. This will go a long way in helping increase appetite and strength, keep weight on and manage that “controlled fall” I have referred to before (click here).
3. Overuse – From my experience, many of the guys who fall prey to the “velo roller coaster” throw at or near velocities that sit between 85-90 mph. These guys have a tendency to get used a lot on the mound, and often times also as two-way players. This cuts the amount of recovery time down significantly. Combine this with points #1 and #2 above and you get a recipe for sudden and unexpected drops in strength and/or velocity.
This is the reason why guys that are sitting under 80 mph don’t find themselves dealing with inconsistent numbers as much. Truth be told they just don’t see as much playing time so weight loss and fatigue don’t really come into play as much.
As for the pro guys sitting at 93 and above, they’re older, stronger and more experienced. They make sure they’re getting their reps in the weight room and consuming the extra calories during the season (especially the summer months) to ensure they’re at optimum levels when called upon.
Basically, combine these three elements and you’ve got the “killer trifecta”. They can zap your power and can cause inconsistent velocity and command.
In closing, make sure your consuming caloric-ally dense meals and packing high calorie snacks while on the road, getting in your 8 hours of shuteye a night and getting in the weight room on days off. This will go a long way in helping level out that yo-yo factor going on with your velo, as well as your command.
See ya’ in the gym…
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