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The 12-week Summer Throwing Program is specifically designed for pitchers whose main priority is to improve their velocity. There is a great deal that goes into a velo program and it’s important that a comprehensive program incorporate all aspects of the process.
Upon starting the program, each athlete will receive a thorough assessment that will provide us with the necessary info to provide each with a customized blueprint and a plan. All athletes in the program will also receive nutritional guidelines as well as the opportunity to receive manual therapy during the program. The following is a summary of the various components of the program which would be included in each athlete’s programming:
- Movement Physical Assessment
- Motion Capture Evaluation
- Video Analysis
- Pitch Design
- Throwing Program
- Strength and Conditioning Program
Movement and Physical Assessment
Pitchers move in all three planes of motion so their program and assessment should reflect that. The Assessment is an extensive anatomical evaluation of the pitcher’s overall physicality and mobility. Physical limitations and imbalances, from a strength and mobility standpoint, can have profound effects on a pitcher’s ability to perform at his max potential. The assessment covers a variety of topics, including:
- Mobility / Stability
- Strength and Power Testing
- Power/ Force Production Testing
The assessment is an important part of program. Furthermore, we will re-evaluate every 4 weeks and adjust training if necessary to ensure our pitchers retain the necessary mobility and stability.
Motion Capture Evaluation
Our mocap system allows to evaluate pitchers in a more comprehensive fashion. Simply put, a static assessment can provide a very comprehensive picture, but there are gaps in the information. And in a movement pattern that takes 1.5 seconds, the mocap system allows us to fill most of these gaps. Parsing through the different parts of a delivery, you can effectively reduce the relevant data points to a more manageable data set.
The following is a very brief snapshot of what we consider to be some of the relevant metrics calculated during a mocap evaluation:
- Elbow Extension Velocity
- Shoulder Horizontal Abduction (scap load)
- Torso Angular Velocity
- Shoulder Abduction (from Foot Plant to Ball Release)
- Hip-Shoulder Separation Timing
- Front Knee Angular Velocity
- Peak Pelvis to Peak Torso Timing
Every pitcher receives a complete bio-mechanical analysis of their delivery covering a dozen different elements in their mechanics. Our 4-camera video system is a state-of-the-art technology that captures delivery from 4 different angles simultaneously and is an invaluable tool, not to mention a big part of how we evaluate a pitcher’s timing and postural disconnects from both a movement and mechanics standpoint. Features include:
- 4 high speed cameras
- 4 views: Top view, left side, right side and front side
- Simultaneous recording from all 4 angles with pitch-by-pitch playback
- 120 frames per second slow motion playback
Pitch design is about using cutting edge technology by incorporating data analytics and high-speed video capture to help pitchers develop their pitching delivery and movement patterns. Pitching is about many things, including strength, mobility, mechanics. However, the advent of technology is also demonstrating that the point of release is just as relevant in being successful as a pitcher as anything else. Movement pattern analysis includes a pitch-by-pitch review, spin rate and spin axis analysis, movement pattern review and potential realignment, pitch sequencing and tunneling.
Often times, a pitcher’s movement pattern isn’t exactly what he thinks, or what he has been told, it is. However, new tech is now enabling us to evaluate each and every type of pitch with a high degree of certainty. Every single pitch has a certain velo, spin axis and spin rate and they all contribute to ball movement in various ways. The key is understanding what the data is telling you and being able to properly cue pitchers to improve their delivery.
The chart below (on the left) provides a good example of a pitcher with limited differentiation. However, with trial and error and hard work, pitchers can develop improved movement patterns that can help them be more effective on the mound (chart on the right):
The program also utilizes Rapsodo Insight camera to demonstrate each pitcher what release points look like for different types of pitches. The visualization is an important element of the program as each pitcher will observe how they are releasing a specific pitch vs. how it should be released to generate the desired movement pattern.
The Throwing Program is designed to build arm strength, durability and athleticism by gradually exposing your arm to the intensity levels that you will face while creating a higher velocity ceiling. The program incorporates throwing correctives, precision long toss and weighted balls, along with pitchers specific warm-up and recovery protocols. It’s designed to be highly customized to the individual and progressive. While the programming assists in speeding up the arm by adapting to changes in the stimulus, it helps the arm stay connected and maintain command throughout the program. The following is a brief summary:
- After a complete physical and movement assessment and video analysis, the program begins with a Throwing Correctives protocol with specific daily drills to ingrain new pathways to clean-up any disconnects found as well as improve mechanics and ensure that we aren’t building arm speed on top of mechanical dysfunction. Disconnects may include lower body engagement, arm action, lead leg action, postural alignment and/or decel patterns.
- The purpose of the Throwing Correctives is to throw the ball with Intent and “As Hard As Possible” (AHAP) in a controlled and supervised setting. It is a significant part of how we help to further improve mechanics and increase velocity. Every pitcher is prescribed specific drills for their specific disconnects.
- The programming incorporates overload and underload weighted balls. Throwing a weighted ball is not for everyone and only those who have first built a decent foundation of strength are qualified to use them in our throwing programs. Unlike most weighted ball programs where the intensity of the weighted balls are the same for every pitcher, our dosage is customized for each individual pitcher based on first assessing strength, anatomical maturity and training age (experience). Throwing overload and underload weighted balls helps remap mechanics and recruit the pitcher’s natural ability to throw harder.
- Warm-up and post-throwing recovery are an integral part of the program. After the arm adapts and the athlete progresses to a higher velocity ceiling, recovery becomes the most crucial aspect of the program. As a result, weekly maintenance must continue in order to ensure strength speed and re-patterned mechanics don’t regress. A complete and individually customized warm-up and post-throwing routine for every pitcher is an integral part of programming. It mush be 100% adhered to in order to prepare pitchers for the next session.
Strength and Conditioning Program
Our strength program for pitchers is 100% designed around the pitcher and is highly specialized and customized for each pitcher’s strengths and imbalances. It is the cornerstone of our programming and every pitcher must participate in it. The program is a complete top to bottom protocol with a focus on further developing movement (mobility) and functional strength to help improve overall pitching mechanics and performance on the mound. It is designed to go hand-in-hand with our Throwing Program and it’s completely correlated.
The reality is that every pitcher is different in every way and each needs a different approach to developing their strength and power. Our programming takes pitchers out of their comfort zone and trains them in all three planes of motion, sagittal, frontal and transverse. 100% of our programming reflects the rotational yet linear aspect of the sport and it’s 100% designed for pitchers. The following provides a brief summary of our weekly training program:
- Upper /Lower Body strength training
- Tri-planar core development
- Movement (eccentric, concentric power development)
- Energy System Work (specific to game-time performance and time of year)
When talking about a complete or comprehensive training or throwing program, the conversation has to begin and end with “recovery”. Fatigue is the enemy of mechanics. In other words, when an area of the body is fatigued or sore, movement is compromised throughout the entire chain, causing a negative effect on bio-mechanics and increasing the risk of injury. Being that throwing is a repetitive movement, along with it comes the possibility of overuse injuries. By expediting the recovery process immediately following a workout or bullpen you:
- Reduce muscle fatigue or soreness
- Help maintain pitching bio-mechanics
- Enhance future performance
- Reduce the risk of injury
Active Recovery is an integral part of our programming and EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) was designed for just this.
In addition, upon request our pitchers can also take advantage of manual therapy. The majority of pitchers need work on soft tissue quality. After throwing, the posterior cuff can get tight causing the arm to lose as much as 10 degrees of IR, even after a single outing or a 30-count bullpen. If soft tissue work is neglected this lack of mobility can become cumulative over the course of a season, greatly inhibiting the ability to decelerate or slow the arm down after ball release.