I’ve been a huge proponent for the longest time about every single rep that you take matters. Your brain is constantly absorbing the information that you(your body) gives it. This is why you see a lot of kids, in my personal opinion, having poor motor control patterns which leads to injury or lack of power output (velocity). Obviously there’s a strength component too that is more than likely the biggest factor in the equation but I wanted to strictly talk from the delivery side of things.
Be sure to checkout the article I did on Arm Path Drill Progressions
Just so we’re clear I’m NOT saying that those w poor motor control patterns are 100% of the time linked to unintentional reps.. Sometimes we just develop things out of habit without truly knowing why or even knowing that it was deemed “inefficient” in the first place. Just so you have an idea of what we’re working with here take a look at this side by side video below. There’s a lot of things that I see right off the bat that really jump out. The throw on the left is a regular 5oz baseball throw. The throw on the right is a 4lb Counter Balance with a Connection Ball, a 7 oz ball in his throwing hand, all while in a preset rocker position. You’ll notice the breakdown on the left (if you don’t we’ll dive in below) and on the right it’s all basically cleaned up just by giving him a few different pieces that he’s potentially lacking on his own.
My boy Tye and I have been working at correcting a little hitch in his throwing arm that leads to a couple of different things. How did he get there? Don’t really know that part but I will say it’s the least important because now our focus is on attempting to instill the correct movements so his brain can start sequencing those. Although this may seem fairly easy.. it’s not. Your brain does an incredible job at consuming the movement patterns that we give it daily to therefore always want to revert back to. This is why it’s so crucial to make sure that we are very very intentional when performing any type of movement pattern related to throwing a baseball. So if you think that your warm up throws don’t really matter.. think again. Now the fine line here is this. You want to instill correct motor control patterns in athletes, yes. But you tell any younger athlete to move a certain way it can get very “mechanical” and “robotic.” This is what we absolutely DO NOT want! We want to be sure that the athlete is first n foremost remaining athletic. This is why after each rep I ask Tye, “What did you feel?” Feedback is crucial because like I talked about in the Blog I did on Pitching Drills – What’s The Goal, I as the instructor can’t feel what the athlete is feeling.. therefore I can’t really instruct on specific movements. The goal is to have the athlete be mindful of what we’re trying to accomplish so he can feel for it in a “drill-type setting.”
We have a ton of different modalities to use in todays day n age. The most important part is actually identifying what it is that we need to work on.. In our second session together Tye and I came to the conclusion that majority of his deficiencies were stemming from that hitch in his throwing arm. If you look closely you’ll see that right before foot strike he actually retracts his scaps to create more separation but it’s occurring out of sync with the rest of his motion therefore he compensates by turning/pulling out of it which causes him to not use the ground optimally (see trail leg or click HERE for better understanding) See this video below.
More often times than not one deficiency will lead to another which will lead to another. That’s why the identification process of figuring out the underlying issue is so crucial. This process, for Tye and I, was literally just trial n error until we found a little sweet spot.
We’ve found windows where we clear that “hitch” and you’ll actually see it in this video below his energy transfer is much more efficient. We found that when we preset Tye with a Connection Ball in that position we want to get into at foot strike and we give him a Counter Balance of 4lbs as well as a 7.5 oz weighted ball in his throwing hand; his body responds accordingly. His body has to sync up to protect itself against the heavier objects that he’s holding. This is a great way to find and feel for the efficient throwing patterns that we’re seeking out. Check the video below.
Now that we’ve identified the issue and found windows of opportunity to be efficient, we must hammer home these patterns so the brain can start identifying as normal. This will be the tough part for Tye. It’s going to take a ton of intentional reps, video work, constant mindfulness during throws, and maybe even shutting throwing down all together. I believe that where we can go wrong as athletes is getting a movement down a couple times then thinking you’re ready for game action.. It’s not really that simple. Think of it as you’ve been “moving” a certain way for a LONG TIME! You now have to spend just as many reps with the correct throwing patterns as you did with your old ones. Yes, that is a lot. But I believe you can expedite this process if you’re stupid intentional and your attention to detail is exceptional. Here’s a comparison of the two throws at Front Foot Strike.
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