AHhh… spring is in the air, the MLB season is officially underway, and I’ve got the soundtrack from “The Natural” pumping in the background…

Makes me wanna get outside and throw the ball around!

Alas, those days are over…

So instead, on this fine spring day, I’m gonna share a little tidbit for maximizing your throwing program I picked up from my JERK teammate (at least that’s what I thought of him at the time).

It’s my freshman year at Northwestern, and I’m coming off a fall and winter of rehab and limited throwing.

After a thorough introduction to the brutal cold of winter in Chicago, we’re finally getting outside as a staff to get our throwing in.

Coach Stodds takes us out onto the football turf while the position players are working on… whatever they do when us pitchers aren’t around.

I’m pumped to finally be able to air it, let it go… unleash my arm after being forced to keep it contained… and at the same time I’m a little nervous.

I got paired up with one of the seniors – he was built more like a bodybuilder than a pitcher, and let’s just say he wasn’t the friendliest of guys.

I could tell he wasn’t especially happy to be throwing with me, either… In his mind, I was just a DUMB freshman who was probably gonna steal innings from him.

And with the perspective you only get when removed by time and a thousand-plus games, I can look back now and realize he was pretty much spot on.

I had a LOT to learn…  (and he made sure I knew it)

Anyway, we work it back to about 120 feet, then 150… and I have ZERO feel for the ball.

Every throw from HIM hits me right in the chest.

Every throw I make forces him to reach up (or JUMP up) to keep it from flying over his head.

I can tell he’s getting annoyed.

Then I completely airmail one 10 feet high, sending him trotting after it. I hear him say to a fellow senior, “Are you KIDDING me with this guy?”

He fires it back at me on a line and hits me right in the chest…

My next throw?

15 feet over his head.

This time I can literally SEE the fire burning in his eyes…

He gets the ball, regroups, and in angry fit of rage proceeds to launch one 100 ft over my head…

I watch it sail over and CLANG against the metal bleachers halfway up the stadium steps.

“What a complete #&*%!”   I think to myself.

I turn to glare back at him, only to be met by a smile and look that says, “No, YOU’RE the #&%!”

“Go get the BALL!” he shouts.

I can hear some my teammates laughing, telling him to take it easy on me as I’m climbing the steps to retrieve the ball.

But I also realized (even though I didn’t appreciate his approach) he was right…

Here I was playing D1 baseball and I can’t even go through my throwing program without it turning into a circus. Something had to change.

I had to demand MORE of myself, hold myself to a higher standard…

I had to learn to make an ADJUSTMENT.

As I geared up for my next throw I was fuming…. But I was also determined NOT to overthrow it and give him more ammunition.

I purposely reset my sights LOW, made a good hard throw, and one-hopped it off the turf, hitting him right in the chest.

Gradually, my throws got more and more accurate… His anger subsided, I got in a groove, and all of sudden I was feeling pretty good.

And while I may not agree with (or condone) his approach, I will say this:

My teammate taught me a valuable lesson that day. 

It was the start of me turning into a PITCHER instead of a thrower…

And taking a new approach with my daily throwing program.

And today, it’s something I preach all the time with my pitchers…

Your daily throwing program is one of your most valuable training tools if you know how to use it.

Over the years I developed a system that worked for me. And I encourage my pitchers to try it out for themselves, while giving them the freedom to tweak things to fit their style.

And it starts right in your warmup.

They’re often amazed at first by how they can improve their command and velocity at the same time.

Every throw matters.

You can see this approach in action inside my Motion Mapping Method program (and discover a step by step process for getting IN-TUNE with your pitching delivery).

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – Dealing with “jerks” is an unfortunate fact of life… (another little tidbit – a lot of times, they’re really just mad at themselves).

Don’t let ’em get you down… Instead, look for what you can LEARN to help you get better (even if it’s from someone you think is a jerk at the time). Maybe someday you’ll even thank them for it.

I want to let you in on a little secret.

As you know, I’m a big fan of using video with my pitchers. Motion Analysis can be a powerful tool…

But here’s something that might surprise you…

When I’m working with a pitcher, I DON’T record every pitch. In fact, there might be entire sessions where we don’t look at video at ALL.

Why would I do that? How do you make any progress if you’re not constantly evaluating and assessing?

Fair question.

We all know those pitchers who are just OBSESSED with their mechanics.

After every throw they want to know, “How’d I look?”

Their desire – that craving for outside feedback – becomes overwhelming. And you soon get what I talked about in a recent post (what I learned about coaching from Mommy Hippo).

Video is great. But you also need to give the pitcher some space.

Give him the freedom to work on things, make adjustments, feel his way through it.

[h4]There’s a METHOD to it.[/h4]

Early in the process, it can be really helpful to get a baseline.  I’ll usually show the young pitcher side by side with a pro. With a young Little League pitcher, it can make more sense to use a high-level high school pitcher – someone closer in age who’s already developed a powerful pitching motion.

There’s just something powerful about being able to look at the videos side by side.

You get those “light bulb” Aha moments where the pitcher finally “gets” it.

BUT… as I’ve mentioned  before…

[h3]The Goal is NOT to move EXACTLY like another pitcher[/h3]

Try to find a high-level pitcher that would be a good model for YOU.

Similar build, similar style.

Key in on what you do that’s similar… (reinforce the positive).

Then what do you see in the big league pitcher that you could get more of in your own delivery to get more powerful.

For example, here’s a shot from an initial analysis I did for a 13 year old pitcher a while back.

 

ythvskersh2

 

Kershaw’s not a guy I’d typically use for comparison. For lack of a better word, he’s got some FUNK in his delivery… But there was enough similar with these guys.

Similar body type. Similar habit of taking the glove arm to the target early.

But what’s the big noticeable difference?

HINT: It has to do with TWO main things:

  • Weight Shift
  • And Timing…

Now frankly, I didn’t need video to know these were big issues with this pitcher.

And I could have spent all day TELLING him what he needed to work on.

I could see it right off the bat.

But by letting HIM see himself – and then see how a guy like Kershaw gets his body moving powerfully – I saved myself a lot of needless (and probably unproductive) talking and explaining.

Once he knows what to work on (and has a clear image in his mind), it’s about getting to work and developing the right feel.

In the next couple sessions we barely looked at video at all… Then came time to break out the camera again for a VERY important next step.

[h3]Tracking The Pitcher’s Progress[/h3]

For now, at this stage, we’re done with the big league comparisons…

We’re gonna revisit the old video… Check if he’s made any progress.

Not a finished product, of course… but in a short time, this pitcher made some really good improvement.

He could start to feel when he was getting his body moving more powerfully.

And looking at video at this stage does two big things…

It provides some solid, positive reinforcement…

He can SEE and verify the progress he’s made.

He feels good about himself… He’s learning that if he puts in the work and has the right focus, he’ll see the results.

And two, he can then turn to what he still needs to work on and how he can get even more powerful.

Here’s another short clip from that same Before & After sample.

Could he have made these improvements without using video?

Probably… In time.

But without that initial JOLT to get him out his old patterns, you can bet it would’ve taken a lot longer…

And been a whole lot more frustrating.

Hope you found this post helpful. As I mentioned, in the very near future I’m going to be releasing my new Motion Mapping Method program…

It’s going to dive deep into motion analysis and show you EXACTLY how you can use video to help skyrocket your pitchers progress.

 

Okay… now if you read all the way to the bottom here, I’ve got something special for you…

A chance to get this new program FREE along with a FULL YEAR of Pro Features to Powerchalk (the same program I use for all my motion analysis work).

Just head over to this Facebook post and (IMPORTANT) follow the steps detailed in the post.

A winner will be picked on February 9th.

Good luck!

That’s all for now. Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

 

So in my last email about learning by “copying” the pros, I left some things unsaid…

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up with a fellow baseball coach. He’d spent some time in the minors, AA and AAA (even played with my brother for a bit).

Anyway, here’s the point. His kids are getting to little league age, and he had some concerns about the way his boys were learning to pitch.

“Things are a lot different from when you and I learned how to play…”

I knew what he meant… See, like me, he learned how to play as a kid (largely) by watching big leaguers and trying to mirror them… Borrow a little of this, a little of that. Make it your own.

We didn’t spend countless hours practicing positions or repeating drills that made little or no sense.

It’s funny, I stumbled upon a scene from The Bad News Bears not long ago (classic from the 70’s for any of you poor souls who came along too late to appreciate it)… and the pitchers I saw looked a lot different from what I often see nowadays.

They were fluid, smooth, natural… not stiff, slow, mechanical the way so many kids are these days. Hmm… before the rise of the “pitching mechanics by positions” craze… Interesting.

Anyway, a key point going back to how we used to learn pitching… Sure there was some instruction, some addressing the fundamentals…

But when it comes to developing good athletic movements, one of the best ways to learn is simply watching the way world class performers do it.

And if you have a coach who REALLY understands it and can show you the key things to look for… well, that’s how you can accelerate the learning process big time.

Now as much as I may long for those simpler times (man, am I getting old), there are some definite advantages today’s young pitchers have…

Things I would have given my left [arm] for growing up.

One of them is easy access to video. If I were growing up today I would have sat on MLB.com and YouTube for hours on end watching clips of big league pitchers…

Trying to DECODE their secrets…

(I’ve done this since… doesn’t do me much good now – but good for my pitchers)

And another big advantage is how easy it is to TAKE your own video. Practically everyone nowadays is walking around with their own personal camcorder right in their pocket (thank you, Mr. Jobs).

Personally, I don’t think I ever saw myself pitch on video until I was a senior in high school (maybe a junior)…

GOOD in that I avoided some of the big motion analysis traps… BAD in that I missed out on recognizing some fundamental bad habits that ultimately led me down a very tough road…

And that leads me back to why pitchers DON’T make progress…

It goes back to how they learned to pitch… There is something seriously wrong with the way many young pitchers are learning “good pitching mechanics.”

See, you can’t build on a flawed system… Sometimes you’ve got to rip out the operating system, give it an upgrade… and get to the root of the problem.

Now I’m not suggesting everything you see big league pitchers do is worth copying (that Joba Chamberlin madman beard, for example).

But when you really know what to look for, good things happen…

  • Hours of frustration saved…
  • Personal empowerment boosted…
  • Progress accelerated

I’m going to be sharing more on this in the days and weeks ahead. In fact, I’m going to open up early access to a new program I’ve got in the works.

It’s still in development (and it won’t be cheap when it comes out)…

Go here to get on the waiting list: http://motionmappingmethod.com

MMM_Mac_Cover
Okay, that’s all for now.

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Phil

PS – For now, the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint still comes with a free motion analysis

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