Blog

 

Stop “Getting Ideas” From Social Media…

 

 

We see it all the time. Assessment day comes and a new athlete will begin to get ready for their pen with us. I typically stand back and observe the new players routine while trying to understand why they might be doing certain things to get ready. The player does a back bend, then grabs a wiggly stick to go through some odd gyrations, then he’s on a knee throwing plyos and finally its onto “athletic catch play”. 

I walk over and open the dialog up… “Question for you, can you walk me through your routine and tell me what you are targeting there?”.

A long pause usually ensues, “uhhh well I do this drill because of (insert mechanic problem) and that stretch for (insert make believe mechanical problem) and ummm well I saw this drill on social media and uhh well honestly my routine just comes from some stuff I picked up when watching YouTube”. 

I quickly gather the facts and realize this athlete is just doing things because they were influenced by the most relevant video to hit their feed in the last few months. No objective measure that actually diagnoses what is wrong, no understanding of the actual subject matter, no goals for the actual implementation and no understanding for how much to actually implement. Just, “it looks cool” and “I was told it would help”. 

Todays athlete faces the constant allure of “staying up with the times”. Coaches today face the same problem and are influenced by this as well. It’s a vicious cycle. 

Let’s talk about social media. 

 

 

Pick a social media platform. When is the last time you saw a common lunge posted of an athlete doing less than 80lbs? Can’t think of one right? Thats because if someone does post an athlete doing a basic exercise it doesn’t get traction. People scroll right past it. The algorithm to these social media platforms won’t reward any accounts for posts that don’t garner a response. 

So what does it take for a response? What does it take to get attention? It takes controversial or reaction provoking posts. Its a guys doing a run and gun to pull down 105mph, its a banded single leg rotational med-ball throw, its anything that makes you go “woah that’s dumb” or “woah that’s interesting”. Combine that with a title “how to fix….” or “how to gain…” and boom someone somewhere is interested. 

Often we assume these coaches know something because their social media post “looked cool”. We feel that maybe there is something about this content we don’t understand. Maybe it looks funny but the material is useful. Quit being influenced. 

Players. Stop “getting ideas” from social media. 

The reality is that no matter how advanced content sounds, no matter how advanced content looks, you don’t know the knowledge level of the coach providing it. Worse is when athletes ask for help on social media. Players ask for a mechanics breakdown or recommendations to their training programming. Athletes somehow aren’t connecting the dots. Just because your page has interesting content doesn’t mean you are a good coach. Just because someone chimes in on Twitter and says you need to do “insert mechanic change”, doesn’t mean you should listen. 

A few years ago I went into our 3motionai dashboard and downloaded 3 players 2D video and posted it to Twitter asking what people thought about these players and what they would change. The answers were hilarious. 

From stick figure videos people were throwing out general insights. “Get deeper on the back leg”, “this players arm action isn’t good”… etc. 

Well the one thing I didn’t tell everyone was that all 3 players were MLB players and throwing 100+ mph. Ooops. 

 

Watch this video to hear the whole story… 

 

The point to this blog? Careful what and who you trust on social media. Simply put, you don’t need a bosu ball banded lateral single leg elevated med ball rotational throw. You probably need to show up regularly to the gym, be consistent and really good at the basics. Training doesn’t have to be complicated.

No individual aspect of your training should “go viral”. You want to “go viral”? Be the best in the game. Build yourself into someone people talk about. To do this you need to find a great coach you can trust to guide you and be consistent with you. Again, it’s about the basics. The basics, the basics, the basics.

Put the phone away for a bit. Stay consistent on a reliable program, set difficult goals and become a great athlete over time. 1 day of a velo program won’t gain you 5mph. No single exercise in the weight room will “add velocity to your fastball” today.

Quit falling for the marketing. I’ll say it once more. Go become great at the basics. 


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

100 Pitches.

Thats a lot of pitches right?

What about 50? Doesn’t seem so bad.

What if the guy who threw 50 pitches also threw 50 pitches in the pen before the game?

Is that not 100 pitches also?

Pitch counts are a big problem in our game today. Coaches hide behind the rules of pitch counts taking the practice of pitch count recommendations as the holy grail of injury prevention.

It’s time we begin to look at a new model. The research collectively does not support the idea of using pitch counts to protect arms. Don’t take my word for it though, here is some excerpts from some of the research…

-“A majority of healthy (actively competing) youth baseball players (76%) report at least some baseline arm pain and fatigue, and many players suffer adverse psychosocial effects from this pain.” (Makhni et al.)

-”Epidemiological studies and personal experience indicate that the incidence of throwing-related injuries in adolescents is on the rise for many reasons.” (Parks et al.)%20is%20highly%20recommended.)

-”The increase in participation in youth baseball and softball with an emphasis on early sport specialization in youth sports activities suggests that there will continue to be a rise in injury rates to young throwers.” (Feeley et al.)

Pitch counts though well intentioned, with the goal to stop fatigue and injury, are a massive problem in our game today as they do not offer useful insights to track fatigue. Let me explain…

 

When looking at the number of pitches in a game day I like to reference this study “Unaccounted Workload Factor: Game-Day Pitch Counts in High School Baseball Pitchers—An Observational Study”. In this study they observed 13,769 pitches from Florida based high school athletes and concluded that only nearly half (57%) of the pitches on a game day are what we call pitch counts. The other half of these pitches were from bullpen and warm up pitches between innings. This means using only pitches on a game day, we are making decisions on an athletes readiness to pitch in the future from only half of the pitching specific activity they did that day.

It’s important to note that in this study they did not account for warm up throws, plyocare throws, or even an athlete playing another position. This study also doesn’t account for the throwing that happens on non game days. We cannot overlook the importance of all of these throws and their potential impacts on fatigue. When we begin to account for all of these throws we can begin to see that pitch counts amass for substantially less than 50% of our total throwing but dictate whether or not an athlete should be pitching all the way down to our lowest levels of the game.

This is problematic as other research has identified amateur injury as an indicator for additional future injury.

+”55% of pitchers with a UCL injury had a history of elbow injuries as an adolescent/child.” –(Vance et al.)

+” Pitchers have a high prevalence of UCL reconstruction in professional baseball, with 25% of major league pitchers and 15% of minor league pitchers having a history of the surgery.” – (Conte et al.)

This research indicates the injuries you see from your favorite player in the MLB today could have been in part due to overuse when they were young. No matter the age the injury occurs we know that majority of the time it is a workload issue where an athlete is either underprepared for the load or is over trained.

“Fatigue and inadequate rest were of greatest concern among all pitchers for an increased risk of UCL injuries.” (Vance et al.)

Pitch Counts ARE a form of workload management with the intentions to stop fatigue and injury. The efforts of groups like Pitch Smart (the industry leader in pitch count recommendations) have lead to broad adoption of pitch counts with the intentions to curb fatigue. Again the intentions of pitch counts are good but they simply have not worked due to the limitations around the work that is tracked. Some don’t understand this, but workload management is a broad topic referencing any form of managing the amount of work or load a player sustains.

Let’s be clear here that Pitch Smart is an organization making workload recommendations. Again Ill say it, pitch counts are a form of workload management. Going back to our intro section, it is funny to me to hear people tell me why “workload is too complicated”. Reality is that most who make this claim also use a workload process of some sort daily many adhere to the guidelines of Pitch Smart. The evidence though as referenced is heavily stacked against the workload models that govern innings limits or pitch counts. It is overwhelming the research supporting the fact that we need a better model.

You shouldn’t think that this is an exclusive problem to amateur baseball though. Pro organizations have been equally as guilty of throwing together arbitrary restrictions around players throwing year over year. Some organizations have innings limits they place on their elite arms while some have general pitch count restrictions they increase universally from spring training into season.

We have already established the issues around unaccounted workload and these professional organizations are well aware of the risks. They are confronted with the same issue annually but the lack of response leaves some of the top players in the game to continue to sustain career altering injury.

What is the issue they confront annually? The month of April.

 

Epidemiology of Major League Baseball injuries

A study called the epidemiology of Major League Baseball points to some hard truths about injury at the highest level. Many would think as the season wears on that athletes would fall injured due to the rigors of the 162 game season. Reality though is year over year MLB teams are confronted with the highest incident rate of injury being April.

What does this tell us about most injuries? It tells us that a large number of MLB players do not build up properly in the offseason, they show up to season undertrained and then become fatigued/ injured in the first few weeks of season.

Not sold that improper progression of throwing in the off-season is causing injury? In 2020 we saw just how dangerous the improper progression of throwing can be.

 

Injury Rates in Major League Baseball During the 2020 COVID-19 Season

I remember presenting to an MLB team the concepts around how we scale workload management to the masses when a member of the staff came into the room and said “hey spring training is closing down. There is a deadly virus that is shutting down everything.” COVID became a national news story and I quickly left Arizona to travel home to Florida.

On my way I was talking to some of our MLB players and it dawned on me, we are about to see a limited window to build up and when these players return to the field we are going to see a massive injury spike. Gyms were closed, players weren’t thinking about throwing, safety and the health of their family was the focus.

In the moment of first realizing the possible problems the MLB faced, I wrote up an article and immediately began to talk to some of the best journalists in the country. Here is an excerpt from an article by Eno Sarris in the Athletic titled “**Sarris: How to avoid a possible injury spike among major league pitchers”.**

““With no games, the question is can pitchers get the needed workload to build up before the season starts,” said Casey Mulholland, founder of KineticPro Performance in Tampa, a facility that trains many major leaguers in normal times. “The repercussions of this time off could greatly alter any future season, but if not managed properly, could alter the careers of many of the game’s top athletes.”

Mulholland predicted that we will see a spike in Tommy John surgeries this year, particularly if the downtime — and the return to action — isn’t managed with a sense of care and a knowledge of the existing research. If this sounds like saber-rattling from outside the league, most of my sources within baseball agreed with him.”

I reposted this article on social media outlets, I did interviews on podcasts trying to tell everyone about the dangers we were facing, I even sent emails to organization front offices trying to get some sort of acknowledgement that their might be a considered solution.

The 2020 season came and went, a short season full of odd moments and forgettable games. With so much going on in the world the idea of tracking injury rates in the MLB wasn’t the first thing on the minds of most. Heck some would’ve told you to be thankful there was a season that happened in the first place. The 2020 season came and went with the commissioner standing out front expelling how great of a job the league did as a whole ,“I think baseball should be proud of what it accomplished this year’’ said Rob Manfred.

Reality is there was a lot to be learned from the 2020 season and when the study “Injury Rates in Major League Baseball During the 2020 COVID-19 Season was posted it was revealed just how bad the year was for the health of MLB players. A true master class in what not to do from a workload standpoint and a true learning experience for all at the dangers presented by poor workload management.

Reflecting back the question has to be asked, what would it have taken to assure a healthier season? Just a better progression with more time before the season would have started. Simple.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that proper progression is key to sustain a healthy season but you might be asking the question what is a “proper progression” when it comes to throwing?

Organizations have offices full of analysts who’s job is to break down everything from how pitches move to how many pitches are being thrown in the year. Using the data they have they devise curious ways to evaluate workload seasonally using advanced algorithms that break down pitch counts or innings limits into what they hope are better prediction systems.

The problem goes back to our main point you cannot track throwing workload when only viewing less than 50% of all throws. These analysts break down pitch counts or innings limits because they typically do not have access to all throws a player makes. In the past this has been in part due to a lack of technology, a lack of understanding of technology or just a general lack of compliance from the player. This doesn’t change the point though. Pitch counts and innings limits are rendered useless without the context surrounding the other throws an athlete completes daily. Though well intentioned you cannon’t establish proper progression without a complete dataset or based on pitch counts/ innings limits alone.

Proper progression into a season is something that is objective in its approach. Proper progression into a season has a goal in mind around how much throwing an athlete must do to be ready for a season. Proper progression into a season must have a rate of progression to which the progression of throwing must follow.

I like to use a simple example to illustrate this, often times this example shows that tracking all throws with a better workload model only makes sense intuitively.

Are you ready to run a marathon today? Most would answer with a resounding “no”.

Why aren’t you ready to run a marathon today? Most would answer “because I haven’t built up”.

Isn’t it funny how we instinctually know this to be true. Most upon being asked this question would identify the fact that a full marathon is roughly 26 miles and that they haven’t trained to handle that much running.

I then continue on with the questioning, “if I give you 6 months to train for a marathon do you think you would be ready run it?” Most slowly begin to consider the task and nod their head yes.

What most begin to consider is the progression rate and try to do some quick math to figure out if 6 months is enough time for them to build up.

I press into the thought process and ask “so week one of training you are going to run 1 mile 3 days a week?”

Long pause with a “sure I think that could be good”.

Then I follow up “week 2 of training Im thinking we do 10 miles 3 times a week”.

Long pause “no no thats way too much for week 2!”

Its instinctual and intuitive. You consider the length of time needed to be ready for the demands you face and you progress slowly in training the skill to be ready for those demands you face. This is proper progression and the idea of it isn’t just for building up in the off-season. Progression and regression matters in season as well.

When looking at the paper “Epidemiology of Major League Baseball injuries we already have talked about the dangers of the month of April but its important to note that the only other time injury goes up again in this article is shortly after the All Star break. This is because players who don’t make the All Star team can often be found regressing their throwing workload substantially as they take a mid season trip home or on vacation. Rarely do you find these athletes maintaining their throwing volume through the week. When they return, the load leaves them fatigued and we know when an athlete is fatigued they are at a much higher risk of injury (more on this in our next section).

Pitch counts and innings limits though well intentioned are leaving our game in a difficult position. Looking at athletic performance and health through the subjective lenses of pitch counts and innings limits has left todays game in a dangerous position.

Industry leaders didn’t intend for pitch counts or innings limits to be used this way. Dr. Fleisig of ASMI is quoted in an article saying “pitch counts should be used as “guidelines” rather than “rules,” and that the emphasis should be on spotting and managing fatigue rather than on counting pitches and innings.

“The rule should be that when a pitcher has arm fatigue, he should come out. So when he has arm fatigue, he should not pitch again until the fatigue is gone””. Dr. Fleisig is on the Advisory Committee for Pitch Smart.

As Dr. Fleisig points out and as we have established through this section our real goal is identifying fatigue. Its clear pitch counts and innings limits lack the overall insight to protect our athletes from fatigue but what is the alternative?

In a future blog post we will dive into the discussion of a better solution and we will discuss fatigue as a concept to more fully grasp the injury problem at hand. 

To conclude this post though. Let’s all agree. Pitch Counts and Innings Limits are not working. The future of the game, a healthier next generation, depends on us implementing a better model. 

 


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

 

Bases loaded in a big game, 3-2 pitch… ball 4. I watched a fastball go arm side high at a high school baseball game as the pitcher looked in with frustration. From somewhere next to me I heard what was obviously the voice of a concerned father, “you’re flying open”. Then I heard it again from the dugout and the kids coach, “HEY! Stay closed a little longer…”. Then again from the outfield, “keep the glove side closed dude!”. 

It’s hard to be on the island when things aren’t going well. Some days you just don’t have it and when you don’t have it everyone else seems to have all the answers. 

Maybe you are just “flying open” though? 

Maybe it’s so noticeable that 3 people from over 100ft away were able to spot it with the naked eye? Then you stop and think about it, do these people even know how to define “flying open”? Do I know how to define it?

How do I even know if “flying open” is why my command was poor? Is there research promoting this? 

Baseball in many cases is an oral tradition where baseballisms are passed down generation to generation. The term “flying open” is one that gets tossed around at nearly any level and can be heard echoing off the walls of nearly any venue. 

In this blog we are going to get deep into the weeds and define what Trunk Rotation is and how to measure it. We will look at and define what it means to “fly open”. Spoiler alert. There is no research that correlates flying open with poor command. We will have to talk about command another time in a deeper blog on the topic but you can ignore the “stay closed” remarks from parents, coaches and teammates moving forward. The reality is they just want you to throw strikes but have found a creative way to say it so they don’t have to feel so direct.

With all of that out of the way let’s dive in and investigate how to best understand Trunk Rotation…

At KineticPro we identify and correct mechanical issues in a 3 step process. Below we will dive into each step explaining what to look for when evaluating and correcting issues with trunk rotation… 

 

1. Assess

  • To establish what “flying open” might look like we have to first determine what a normal range for trunk rotation might look like.

Generally speaking different arm slots require different rotation from the trunk. Over the top can mean a more extended and laterally tilted trunk while a side arm slot can mean more of a flexed trunk with nearly no lateral tilt at the time of foot plant. 

So we have to account for both of these type of throwers when discussing an “acceptable” range of trunk rotation. Again this is generally speaking… but we can identify a trunk too open or too closed as the following…

 

    • A trunk too open when the front foot plants into the ground. We generally look for the trunk to be around 10 degrees of rotation at the point of foot plant. If the trunk is substantially above 10 degrees this tells us the trunk has rotated too early into foot plant making it difficult for the athlete to get into a
      good position with the trunk through the rest of the throwing motion. This ultimately will cause timing issues in peak rotational velocity impacting the Kinetic Chain and the ability to deliver energy to the arm. This lack of energy to the arm ultimately slows the accelerating of the arm and in return can reduce ball velocity.

 

    • A trunk too closed when the front foot plants into the ground. We generally look for the trunk to be around 10 degrees of rotation at the point of foot plant. If the trunk is substantially below 10 degrees this tells us the trunk is rotating too much 
      into foot plant making it difficult for the athlete to get into a good position with the trunk through the rest of the throwing motion. This ultimately will cause timing issues in peak rotational velocity impacting the Kinetic Chain and the ability to deliver energy to the arm. This lack of energy to the arm ultimately slows the accelerating of the arm and in return can reduce ball velocity.

According to our data sets an athlete can be “too open” or “fly open” at the time of foot plant but its important to note that an athlete can also be “open” by definition and be ok. If an athlete is throwing from a high slot and rotates his trunk at the time of foot plant to 8 degrees open, its fine and part of his natural ability to create rotation while throwing from a higher slot. 

In this case if you are a coach, parent or teammate and you are observing with the naked eye from 100ft away its important to realize that in real time determining the difference of 5 degrees is an impossible task. The guy throwing and who looks to be “opening early” could in fact be “opening early” but that might also be part of what makes him who he is as a pitcher. “Flying open” implies you are breaking that 10 degree line we have established but a further question we have to ask is can a pitcher fix this in game, in real time? The reality is the probably cannot. 

Let’s move to Feel in our mechanics progression and begin to talk about how we would actually go about making a change to someones trunk rotation. 

2. Feel

Feels are movements we specifically have designed to deliver the specific “feeling” of a moment. The goal behind feels should be to help an athlete identify the right movement while allowing them to reinforce cuing to execute the needed movement in the throwing motion. Lets look into what feels can potentially help us understand how to fix the issue of Trunk Rotation… 

NOTE: Feels should be the time a coach can teach/ educate or an athlete can wonder. It’s an athletes time to define “good” in movement and start to create “cues” that might possibly help them create the outcome they are looking for in the movement.

Lets look into what feels can potentially help us understand how to fix the issue of Trunk Rotation…

Prayer Feels- 

We like Prayer Feels because with the stick they provide feedback of trunk direction. The goal is to hold the tip of the stick back as the pelvis rotates. This provides the athlete some sense of outside feedback on successfully holding the trunk and how long they need to hold the trunk during the throwing motion. A reminder here that this is to simply provide a cue or cues to begin the drill process with. 

3. Drill

Drills are where we begin to introduce the feeling or cue into the throwing motion. We move from most constrained to the least constrained of drills in order to transfer the correction of movement to the mound. Our goal is to get comfortable with a new movement and through time in drills we can begin to release the active thought associated with the drill thus transferring it to the movement we will see during competition. 

NOTE: Drills do not fix the problem. Drills are created to help an athlete build more conscious corrections to the problem. We simplify the movement and give the athlete a better chance at success by constraining the movement. IF you are not actively evaluating the movement to determine if the cue you are using is working then you are ultimately not getting much from the drill itself. Athletes must develop a quality feedback loop and understand what they are looking for to determine if a movement can be defined as successful. Video, 3MotionAi or other objective tools are a necessity for improvement. The coaches “eyes” are subjective and should not be your only source of correction/ approval. 

Pivot Picks-

Hop Back Throw-

Janitors-

 


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

 

Is Your Throwing Program Putting You At Higher Risk Of Injury?

 

10 throws at 50%…

Most throwing programs look something like the above. What is 50% though? Is it 50% of your max velocity? Is it 50% of a range of velocities? 

The debate around this has been the focus of Twitter arguments and conference presentations. Everyone seems to feel they have an answer for the best way to utilize RPE. 

Let’s take a step back though and consider what RPE actually is. In this post we will investigate RPE and talk in depth about if we should even be using RPE in our throwing programs. 

RPE by definition is “Rate of Perceived Exertion”. It is a self identified exertion level by the athlete in an activity. In this case we are talking about throwing and identifying the effort of a throw on a 1 to 10 scale. 

Typically coaches or practitioners will tell an athlete a certain RPE that they should throw at for a specified volume of throws. This for years has been how throwing programs are constructed and it has been widely accepted as the way to manage the throwing process for athletes across the game of baseball. 

Our staff wanted to objectively understand an individual athlete’s ability to maintain or “achieve” a certain RPE range. We know many athletes struggle to maintain or “feel” a certain RPE range when asked to. What we really wanted to know though was how many athletes were able to achieve the actual range of a requested RPE. So we set up a study at KP. Here is how we did it…

To start we took a group of 18 athletes ranging in ages 14 to 19yrs. 

We pulled max fastball velocity from each athlete using our Trackman data from these athletes.

We then scaled their velocity from their maximum fastball velocity and broke out expected velocity ranges by percentage.

To conduct the study we did 2 throws at 50%, 70% and 100% while tracking the velocity with a radar gun.

We gave the athletes no other context for what to do except “throw the ball at (insert the intended RPE)”.

Below is our dataset showcasing our measures on each athlete…

 

Lets review some of our findings… 

 

Across our population of athletes for this study the average fastball velocity was 85.7. When asked to throw 100% what we saw was that our athletes on average missed their peak velocity by -3.8mph. Meaning they threw 3.8mph slower in our study than their prior peak velocity. So if our dataset held true for all athletes this would mean that when asking an athlete to throw 100% RPE we would routinely see them not reach our intended goal velocity for them and they would miss that goal velocity by almost 4mph. 

 

Next we went to 70% RPE and thought that our athletes might hit this number more consistently than other requested RPE. On average the 70% RPE for our athletes was 64.3 MPH. What we found was that our athletes actually were off on this number by +8 mph on average. This is concerning because it means that in situations like a return to throw athletes can be up nearly 10mph higher than we intend them to be when planning their throwing program. The amount of stress on the arm when looking at throws with 10mph variance is substantially different. We learned here that 70% and 100% throws for many athletes are quite similar when measuring total stress on the arm and this is in large part due to the lack of separation in velocity from these throws in many cases.  

 

Lastly we looked at 50% RPE. This one we expected a large difference from the objectively calculated 50% and the athletes ability to produce a 50% RPE throw. The average calculated throw velocity for our population was 42.8mph. Athletes were asked to throw 2 balls at 50% RPE and what we found was that on average athletes were +23mph high of the calculated 50% ball velocity. Again this is substantial in projecting stress accumulated by the athlete during a throwing progression and indicates that RPE isn’t trust worthy across a population when designing individualized throwing progressions. 

So you might be looking at our results and considering that maybe these numbers are off due to the population averages. In this study we also looked at individual variance in throws at each RPE. We wanted to determine if the RPE would be different throw to throw when an athlete expects they are in a certain range. 

So this means even if an athlete didn’t fall within the range of 50% the question is were the throws made consistently at the same velocity outside of the 50% range? Many coaches and practitioners would like to think if the velocity is consistent they can teach an athlete to get to a certain percentage of RPE and the athlete can repeat that RPE accurately. Here is what we found…

 

When an athlete was at 100% the variance in velocity was .9mph throw to throw. The confidence at the highest effort that an athlete could throw routinely the same velocity is high. However as we went to 70% and 50% we began to see substantial variance in velocity throw to throw. By 50% athletes have a velocity variance of 3.7mph on average. This means the lower the velocity goes for the athlete the more they struggle to maintain consistency of their velocity throw to throw. This means projected stress on an athlete can become substantially varied if using RPE in progressing a throwing program even when the individual athlete RPE is well know. 

To conclude on this study we found that using RPE can lead to substantially over or under training an athlete due to the substantial variance in projected exertion. RPE should not be utilized as a trusted measure to progress training load in throwing programs. For years we have needed a better measure of throwing exertion and a more objective way to individual throw exertions. Workload management is only as good as the individual throw measures we can collect.

Wearable technology such as our KP Sleeve brings forth a new way to more accurately govern the progression of a throwing program. When determining an athletes throwing progression it is critical we not over or under train an athlete. Wearable tech such as our KP Sleeve provides a solution to assure training load is progressed appropriately. With wearable tech such as our KP Sleeve athletes do not have to rely on subjective measures such as RPE to progress their throwing any longer. 

 


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

 

Is Your Lead Leg Why You Aren’t Throwing Harder?

 

Many coaches today teach that players need a strong “lead leg block”. You see coaches everywhere today teaching that players must “straighten” their lead leg during the throwing motion. This idea of “straightening” your lead leg however is a bit over simplified. In this post we are going to talk about the different ways to evaluate the lead leg and help you fully grasp its role.  

At KineticPro we identify and correct mechanical issues in a 3 step process. Below we will dive into each step explaining what to look for when evaluating and correcting issues with the lead leg block… 

 

 

Step 1. Assess

  • When identifying a problem with Lead Leg Block we are looking for the following 2 major issues when using within our 3MotionAi biomechanics reports. Note: The lines you see on the below graphs represent Front Foot Plant, Max External Rotation and Ball Release in left to right order. 

 

    • A lead leg too bent from front foot plant to ball release. We generally look for the lead leg to be around 45 degrees of flexion at the point of foot plant. If the lead leg is substantially above 45 degrees this tells us the lead leg has flexed too deep into foot plant
       making it difficult for the athlete to get into a good position with the lead leg through the rest of the throwing motion. This ultimately can cause a problem stabilizing the lead legs extension and also the athlete producing lead knee velocity. These issues with the lead leg can impact the energy delivered to the kinetic chain. This lack of energy through the kinetic chain ultimately can slow the accelerating of the arm and in return can reduce ball velocity.

 

    • A lead leg that doest extend rapidly enough from MER to Ball Release. We generally look for the lead leg to be around 45 degrees of flexion at the point of foot plant. If the lead leg doesn’t move from 45 degrees to less knee flexion in above 200 degrees per second this can be anindicator that the athlete is not producing the needed ground force to provide adequate energy to the kinetic chain. This ultimately will cause timing issues in peak rotational velocity impacting the ability to deliver energy to the arm. This lack of energy to the arm ultimately slows the accelerating of the arm and in return can reduce ball velocity. 

 

 

 

 

Using 3MotionAi we went back in our database and pulled some biomechanics data on 20 different pitchers. We then categorized them into high ball velocity and low ball velocity groups. We wanted to see if the data collected in research aligned with the data collected against our population. Below you will find our data… 

 

It’s clear to see that the average for each category aligns well with the data we see in research of the past. However take special note of the following players…

  • Player 3- This player has the lowest lead leg extension velocity of the high ball velocity group. However he has the highest velocity of the entire group! 
  • Player 4- This player has a substantially high knee flexion angle but still produces 95 mph.
  • Player 20- Produces substantial lead knee extension but only produces 189 degrees per second and only 84 mph. 

How can this be? How can individual players be so off? Some of these players defy research of the past and still produce elite ball velocity. Some do what is required by research of the past but cannot produce elite ball velocity. Lets talk about this further in our assessment section “editors notes”.

 

  • Note: these guidelines to understanding what a “good” lead leg looks like are great when first evaluating a lead leg. However biomechanics are not absolutes. Not everyone who throws hard has a “good” lead leg. These guidelines should be used to evaluate and should provide context for a coach/ player to consider trying a possible change. Biomechanics provide objective data so we can make educated decisions in development. There is no such thing as “perfect” mechanics. There are not “good” or “bad” mechanics. The human body develops and achieves high performance through a lifetime of compensations. Proceed with caution when choosing to make any change. Be sure to measure this change in time with biomechanics to assure an objective determination on if changes have made an impact. 

 

Step 2. Feel

Feels are movements we have designed to deliver the specific “feeling” of a moment. The goal behind feels should be to help an athlete identify the right movement while allowing them to reinforce cuing to execute the needed movement in the throwing motion. Lets look into what feels can potentially help us understand how to fix the issue of Lead Leg Block…

Note: Feels should be the time a coach can teach/ educate or an athlete can wonder. It’s an athletes time to define “good” in movement and start to create “cues” that might possibly help them create the outcome they are looking for in the movement.

Lets look into what feels can potentially help us understand how to fix the issue of Lead Leg Block…

 

Banded Punches-

We like banded punches at KP because though constrained this movement expresses the full function of the lead leg. When doing banded punches it is important to recognize that the continued rotation of the pelvis over a properly flexed lead leg can organically create extension velocity of the lead knee. Players should not be trying to fully extend their lead knee before ball release. They should instead be focused on a firm connection to the ground with the front foot and should be cuing continued rotation of the pelvis to bring lead knee extension velocity at the right time. 

Step 3. Drill

Drills are where we begin to introduce the feeling or cue into the throwing motion. We move from most constrained to the least constrained of drills in order to transfer the correction of movement to the mound. Our goal is to get comfortable with a new movement and through time in drills we can begin to release the active thought associated with the drill thus transferring it to the movement we will see during competition. 

Note: Drills do not fix the problem. Drills are created to help an athlete build more conscious corrections to the problem. We simplify the movement and give the athlete a better chance at success by constraining the movement. IF you are not actively evaluating the movement to determine if the cue you are using is working then you are ultimately not getting much from the drill itself. Athletes must develop a quality feedback loop and understand what they are looking for to determine if a movement can be defined as successful. Video, 3MotionAi or other objective tools are a necessity for improvement. The coaches “eyes” are subjective and should not be your only source of correction/ approval. 

 

For lead leg block improvements we like the following drills to help athletes develop awareness…

 

Roll-In V1-

 

Roll-In V2-

 

Walking Wind Ups-


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

What Is Throwing Workload Management?

 

The above video was created for the virtual event World Pitching Congress. The discussion is our position statement on throwing workload management in pitching. 

 


Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance

Lessons Don’t Work… 

 

We live in a world today where unsupervised play doesn’t exist. Local parks have become “rentals” and local kids only play sport while Mom or Dad have a watchful eye on the process. Kids used to bike around their neighborhoods. They used to meet up at local parks and they used to organize sports amongst each other. There is a book called “Raising Empowered Athletes” by Kirsten Jones and she points to 2 major major things that drove kids away from unsupervised free play…

  1. Child Abduction and the circulation of wide spread news that it could happen.
  2. The onset of 2 income households. Gone were the days of a parent at the house while kid ran off to play.

Parents have dumped their kids into “after school programs” to accomplish both baby sitting and custom curation of a child’s play curriculum. Past the after school program we see a stark uptick in travel sports where it is obvious to see the continual focus on parent supervised play more routinely.

Parents want “better for their kid” and believe the way to give that to them is by designing a world for them where their attention is on a skill that the parent believes is useful. Most parents will tell you they want their kid to choose what they want to be in the future and that they want to be supportive of what ever the kid find “passion” in. Then you look at what the parent has signed the kid up for and the schedule the parent has created. It becomes obvious to what path the parent is pushing the kid down, in hopes the kid becomes “passionate”.

“Snow Plow Parents”, a term I once heard from Todd Bean who authored a book called “Clear Coaching”, is the term most useful to describe this parent. They are out in front of the kid trying to assure the pathway to “passion” and “success” is a smooth one that has no bumps along the way.

 

This “Snow Plowing” though is exactly what is leading the next generation to failure and internal struggles with confidence.

In pitching specifically today we can see the ramifications of a generation unable to explore freely or think outside the adult guidance in the room.

The coaching style, adopted by most in the game today, drives a wedge between opportunities of true individualized skill development and bias ideology of what a coach thinks is the “perfect form” for the athlete.

Coaching in baseball has largely been an oral tradition over the years. Coaches build bias based upon their own experiences playing or their own education from other coaches during their playing career. It’s like a game of telephone in many cases.

Coaching in baseball has largely been an oral tradition over the years. Coaches build bias based upon their own experiences playing or their own education from other coaches during their playing career. It’s like a game of telephone in… Share on X

A coach today teaches a philosophy that he learned from his coach 20 years ago. His coach learned that same philosophy from another coach 20 years prior to that. So on and so on, we begin to realize that information we are learning today in many cases has been passed down through 2, 3 and even 5 generations.

When seeking justification for a philosophy most coaches say something like “Well (enter player name) did it… if this was good enough for him then shouldn’t it be good enough for you!?”. This is a non answer and an attempt to deviate from the actual complexity of the issue. Many times coaches themselves haven’t considered that what they have learned, might be wrong. What they have taken to be reliable insight could in fact come from the unreliable opinions of others. Thus faced with questioning from their athlete they revert to a non answer in hopes to deter the conversation from expanding to substance.

Now before moving forward I want to be clear about something. This post isn’t to bash oral tradition or the way things have been done in the game. There are great things passed down generation to generation within the game. Many of these oral traditions or philosophies do carry merit and the true art of coaching should be highly praised . Experience in the game and learning how to translate those experiences is as stated, a true art.

Good “coaching” requires great buy in and the highest levels of relationship building. Some coaches change players lives through the art of story telling. They have a process that has impacted careers and many of these individuals are highly observational. Observation alone though isn’t enough in todays game. With continued advancements in skill acquisition research, growing technologies and a continued growth in snow plow parenting, the approach to coaching in baseball needs to change. Our athletes today find themselves in a divide. We call it the vicious cycle…

 

The Vicious Cycle

-Snow plow parenting.

-Finding a magic pill.

-The need for instant gratification coaching.

 

Snow Plow parenting…

-Kid never learns to fail

-Kid never learns to self explore physical skills

-Kid is behind the 8 ball by the age of 16 due to lack of skill diversity

-Parent is frustrated and starts seeking for ways to give their kid an edge as the kids peers mature and the game passes their kid by.

 

Finding the magic pill…

-Product marketing is aimed at the desperation of parents and players to improve the skills the player is most judged by… (ex. Velo, Exit Velo, Stuff…)

-Once parents buy into a product or philosophy the parent goes through magic pill over magic pill trying to boost performance and give their kid an edge… (ex. new bats, cleats, glove, training aids, supplements, instructional videos or books…)

 

The need for instant gratification coaching…

-The parent becomes desperate. The player needs to improve and they begin to feel opportunity to play the sport at a high level is coming to a close.

-The parent believes the kid needs the most elite level coach to solve the problem to why their kid is falling behind.

-The parent hands the kid off but the damage was already done. Due to the years of snow plow parenting and magic pill hope the kid doesn’t know how to be coached. The kid and parent come in with a noticeable desperation that permeates the undue pressure on the kids shoulders.

-The assessment gets done, the problems are identified, the process is set in place to fix the problem. The problem though? The kid cant self educate and they look to the coach to solve the problem for them. Why? Every coach they have ever had does this… gives instruction to every pitch, exclaims subjective successes through the session, makes the kid feel they are always having success and never letting them evaluate failure. When a good coach forces them to face failure, communicate and self explore, the kid is simply unable to do any of these things thus leading to quitting or blame of the coach for “not coaching”.

When a good coach forces them to face failure, communicate and self explore, the kid is simply unable to do any of these things thus leading to quitting or blame of the coach for “not coaching”. Share on X

 

So how do we fix this vicious cycle?

At KP we believe to solve this problem we have to reconstruct the skill development model within baseball. We have to rethink our system and set new standards for real, applicable instruction.

Today the lessons model permeates private coaching and private coaching is what influences/ markets the industries philosophies.

Lessons today go something like this… kid shows up, instructor has the parent or kid pay their money for the hour. Instructor has the kid throw a pen and barks some insights as the player goes through the pen. The coach is using their eyes to watch the ball move or how the players mechanics look. A pitch will be a bad pitch and the coach will say “no not that one!”, then another pitch will be a good one and you’ll without fail hear the coach say “yes that was it!”, as if the request of the coach has been met and the kid has somehow showed a sign of major improvement in a single pitch.

Pens last maybe 30 pitches and the coach finds some ways to be creative in filling the hour purchased. This could mean some story telling, some general conversation or some non specific drills. The kid ends the hour and thanks to all the success affirmations the kid leaves feeling successful. At the end of the day the coach wants the kid to come back next week so they feel they have to remind the kid of those successful affirmations and deter them from dwelling on the failure of the session.

The kid and the coach schedule again for the next week and the lessons repeat like this week over week. Every week something new to work on, every week the kid being told they are getting better over the 30 pitch session and ultimately the kid ends up with zero understanding of the process. If the kid struggles in season the parent or player will want to do a “little check up” with the private instructor because they feel any lack of success on field is just a lesson away from being fixed by the coach.

If you go out to a little league field we see this play out in the way of volunteer coaching at team practices. There is always a kid unable to hit the baseball during batting practice. You’ll watch a handful of parents offer an unending amount of insight to the 8 year old who cannot even tie his own shoes well yet.

“Elbow up”

“Make sure you keep your eye on the ball”

“Spread out your stance a little bit”

Pitch over pitch the poor kid gets a new “thing” to think about or a change to his batting stance. We want the kid to hit the ball so bad and we try everything we can to tell him how to do it. Sometimes it even comes to a parent running up to the plate and grabbing the bat with the kid only to hit the ball “with them” so that the kid can feel what it is like to hit the ball. To assure this moment isn’t awkward everyone cheers as if the kid “did it themselves” and without fail the kid stands there in confusion or disgust.

We struggle to let kids fail. We struggle to see the future in our actions when we don’t allow kids to fail. We don’t understand that by grabbing the bat and hitting the ball for the kid we aren’t helping that kid. We are actually telling that kid that we don’t believe that they can do it.

We struggle to let kids fail. We struggle to see the future in our actions when we don’t allow kids to fail. We don’t understand that by grabbing the bat and hitting the ball for the kid we aren’t helping that kid. We are actually… Share on X

By trying to give the kid a solution after every failure we remove the ability for the kid to self evaluate and problem solve to find his own success. Why do we do this?

The reality is that it takes repetition, lots of repetition. To wait long enough for the kid to problem solve how to hit the baseball might substantially stall practice. You might have a team of 8 year olds bored on the field and everyone catering to the need of 1 kids requirement of time to develop. We don’t get that and we all know what happens if a team of 8 year olds get bored.

The reality though kids need practice and lots of it in environments where they have ample time to fail and explore. They need safe places to challenge themselves and not be afraid to “do bad”. No parents reacting to a missed fly ball, no over coaching after swinging and missing 10 times, kids need free play and time to develop new skills.

See the problem with the lessons model yet?

Lessons allot 30 pitches or so, which is not nearly enough volume to improve any skill. Coaches want you to come back so their focus is not in letting you fail during all 30 pitches. They feel they have to show you progress and affirm some sort of success other wise you will go see someone else. These coaches tell you that you are doing great and find creative ways to express your improvement even though their was no measurable improvement. They over coach pitch to pitch because you are paying them to do something and you feel if they were just watching for an hour that you got ripped off.

This is the problem though. This structure leads to over coaching, it leads to no real understanding how to develop skills and ultimately it sets the kid up for a reliance on the pitching coaches magic wand for a lifetime. The reality is kids need REAL coaching, not a magic wand.

Real coaching isn’t always telling you what you want to hear, real coaching takes time and is done over large amounts of repetitions. Real coaching doesn’t happen once a week or even twice a week. Real coaching consumes the athlete and energizes the learning process 24/7. Real coaching is relational and not transactional. Real coaching is long term focused not seeking quick fixes along the way. Real coaching requires “Training”.

Kids need “training” not lessons.

Kids need training and training means time. Its easy to identify the weakness in the lessons model but lets talk about how training works and why the approach to training properly is the only actual way to yield results when discussing skill development.

We have a skill acquisition model at KP. It’s is Assess, Feel and Drill.

Most people walk into a training facility and think about it like a doctors office. You go in, you get assessed and you get prescribed some drills to “fix” your problem. The reality is that drills are worthless unless you can first understand the Assess and explore the Feel.

 

Assess

On assessment day a KP we bring our athletes in and objectively measure things such as, body comp, ball flight, biomechanics and throwing workload. From there our team sits with the athlete and reviews what we see as points of focus.

Now the key here is in the detail we go into when explaining the problem and educating the athlete on the reason it is a point of focus for us. Athletes generally just sit and listen to the analysis wide eyed and excited about the data. For most this moment of “getting evaluated” is something they felt they needed to do.

We explain to them at length the problem and don’t hold back on the research. At the end we always ask “any questions?” and without fail most athletes just shrug saying something like “no it all sounds great I’m just ready to get started”.

For these athletes that have no follow up its easy to see there is excitement for the process however there is no retention of the substance.

From our dialog we can always tell who understands how to train and who doesn’t. Without fail the guys that have no questions are the guys that most often expect we will “do it for them”. The guys that do actively look to ask questions to better understand, are the ones who are wrapping their heads around what they need to do before they dive into the training process with us.

In the assess phase of our skill acquisition model its critical the athlete asks questions and learns the requirements of the skill to the highest level of detail. Failure to fully comprehend the Assess phase of our model means that an athlete will be unable to think creatively about how to solve the problem at hand and they will be unable to identify right from wrong when attempting to put the skill into action.

Athletes that have been raised by a parent or coached since a young age by coaches who do not take the time to fully understand the skill put a kid in a tough position. A lot of parents or coaches bark orders or constantly recommend change in hopes their words somehow teach the kid how to do the skill. There is no deeper digestion of the complexity that is the skill. There is no aid in education on how to compartmentalize the the separate actions of the skill. The kid is unable to understand what to analyze or strive for.

Its the instructor that constantly leaves each session finding a silver lining in hopes to give the kid a feeling of success. This instructor is failing to teach the kid how to self analyze. The instructor has created an environment where the kid will see the instructor as a genie, not a coach. The difference is a genie can magically fix things and grants success session over session in a linear progression of made up success. A coach however allows his athletes to grow. We often identify growth by success but the reality is growth happens through failure. A good coach recognizes this and creates the environment or the tasks necessary to allow the athlete to experience failure in the right way to learn how to find success. Good coaches know this takes time and are ok with days, weeks, even months of failure.

Identifying genies from coaches is pretty easy. It often times just comes to substance. Do you fully understand the skill at hand or not. Assessing someones skills objectively is why technology in the training environment is so paramount. We need useable feedback. We need a way to understand on a deeper level the finer changes we make over long periods of time. Technology holds us accountable to bias. Its often that even a good coach wants their player to improve. They will sense their frustration and a good coach will want a player to grasp the skill in hopes to keep pushing this athlete. Reality is with technology you cannot hide the lack of change. Good coaches love technology because it holds no bias.

When we move through the Assess phase we must hold no bias. We must educate to the depth of the skill as coaches. Players have to be receptive. They have to seek the concept on a deeper level. They have to fully comprehend the goals and requirements of the skill before moving to the next phase. Once they grasp the skill from an educational perspective it is time for the Feel phase.

 

Feel

I will never forget walking down the cereal isle at our local grocery story when I saw a kid in baseball uniform pretending to throw. While his mom inspected the cereal label the maybe 13 year old was deep in thought considering his hand position when throwing. He would stride out and put his hand up by his ear. As he landed he would make “fangs” with his fingers and focus on pointing his hand away. Clearly he had been taught to turn his hand away at the time his front foot would hit the ground. Clearly this wasn’t natural for him as he would correct himself time and time again through various repetitions. Turning around his mom said “stop that” and the kid jumped on the front of the cart to get escorted down the isle for more shopping.

Think about that incident for a second. We can all relate to the kid right? I’m an avid golfer and guilty as charged you can find me just about anywhere with an invisible iron in hand focused on the position of my left wrist at the top of my swing.

In my head the dialog goes like this, “keep the palm flat, keep the palm flat, keep the palm flat” then I reach the top of my swing and decide if my swing felt comfortable or not. I try to decide if I can repeat that cue and accomplish the swing I want or not. This is what the 13 year old was doing at the grocery store. He wasn’t saying anything but you could almost read his mind, “fangs back, fangs back, fangs back”. He had a cue he was considering and was trying to associate that cue with a specific movement that would yield the throwing motion that his coach wanted.

The Feel phase is not an actual throw. It is the consideration of the throwing motion. Its a moment for our brain to work through the process of the throw and assign cues that will make the possible throw successful in change. “Feel’s” as we like to call them are non throws that help the athlete create an awareness for a cue that will translate to accomplishing the throw in the way we want. Most products such as water bags, belts, towels, pvc pipes… etc are all just items that we would assign to the Feel phase to help build awareness of a cue to translate to throwing. All of these items mimic the throw, they help an athlete consider the throw but they are not however the act of throwing.

An illustration of this comes from research showing the variance in mechanics when an athlete performed throws with a towel vs their actual throws with a baseball.

A research article labeled “Shadow pitching deviates ball release position: kinematic analysis in high school baseball pitchers” explains the following…

“Although shadow pitching, commonly called “towel drill,” is recommended to improve the throwing motion for the rehabilitation of pitching disorders before the initiation of a throwing program aimed at returning to throwing using a ball, the motion differs from that of normal throwing.”

These modalities like towel drill all elicit similarities to a throw and have their place in offering conceptual knowledge for an athlete to understand the skill deeper. These Feel’s offer some feedback and allow the athlete to conceptually begin to design cues that hopefully bring success in the early stages of the Drill phase.

This will be a controversial statement as many want to believe that certain modalities do more than this. When focused on mechanical patterning it is important to express the patterns we actually find in a throw. It has to be asked, if we aren’t getting into the same ranges of motion, we aren’t replicating the same timing and we aren’t moving segments in the same speeds as we find in the skill, then are we actually practicing the skill?

No. We are instead doing something similar to the skill in order to gain awareness for the actual Drill phase. There is nothing wrong with using modalities but once the athlete has grasped the basic conceptual cue the modalities can probably find a storage box for another athlete at another time.

There is nothing wrong with using modalities but once the athlete has grasped the basic conceptual cue the modalities can probably find a storage box for another athlete at another time. Share on X

Whether you are a kid in a grocery store doing dry reps behind your mom in the cereal isle or you are using a water bag to better understand lead leg at your teams practice, you are establishing a cue and practicing in the Feel phase. Your next step is to take your cue and apply it to the actual skill within the Drill phase.

 

Drill

A video came across my feed a few weeks ago and it showed a guy on a factory line sorting boxes faster than I believed was humanly possible. Hundreds of boxes coming at him sorted in lanes by color. Red to the right, green goes up, brown goes down and he repeated that cycle over and over and over for minutes at a time. It was unbelievable. He did it so effortlessly. It was second nature to him, like he wasn’t even thinking as he executed.

How many years must he have practiced this on this same line to become this fluent? In skill acquisition research there is a term for this. Its called being “autonomous”. Thats the ultimate goal for any skill. We want to be able to perform the skill without thinking about it, we want the skill to become “second nature” or “effortless”.

The Drill phase is the practice of the actual skill. To get here we have built the education of what the skill is supposed to look like and we have established a cue to put to the test. We want to work through constraints to assure we implement and test the cue in environments that allow for a successful progression of the skill to autonomy.

In the Drill phase we work from the most constrained drill to the least constrained drill.

We simplify the task or modify the environment to give the athlete the best chance at success when testing their first throws with a new cue. The drill begins and the cue from the Feel phase will be tested in these steps…

  1. The athlete will identify the task that is the drill and consider successful execution of the skill.
  2. The athlete will begin the throw using the adopted cue from the Feel phase.
  3. They will complete the throw and self evaluate “good” or “bad”, meaning success in the execution of the skill or failure.

Throw over throw this feedback loop permeates. Another throw, “good”. Another throw, “bad”. Dang. Another throw, “Good”. Ok we have it now. Another throw, “bad”. Ahhh!

If too many “bad” throws are made the athlete pauses. The athlete reverts back to the Feel phase. You can see them talking with the coach, doing dry reps, watching a video on youtube on how someone else does it do come all to come up with another cue that might yield more success. They know what they are trying to accomplish but are battling to find the right cue to execute it. Then a break through.

The new cue worked and now the athlete is “good” on every throw in this most constrained position. It’s time to move on to loosen the constraint. Maybe this is going to another drill. Maybe this is going to more of a full throw. This is where the art of coaching comes in. Setting up another environment or task to give this athlete a better chance at taking a step closer in success to achieving autonomy in time.

To master these constraints might take months of failure at times. It’s ok. Moving the athlete during that period from Feel to Drill, testing the process meticulously, and holding your standard up to success is all key to bring change to the skill.

To master these constraints might take months of failure at times. It’s ok. Moving the athlete during that period from Feel to Drill, testing the process meticulously, and holding your standard up to success is all key to bring change… Share on X

The least constrained “drill” we can have is a pitch off the mound. Our goal as coaches is to develop the path from most constrained to least constrained in the skill. We need to guide our players in the process allowing them to learn from failure each step of the way. We need to equip them with the tools necessary to not stall in failure. This stalling leads to many guys walking away from changes due to discomfort and failure.

I’ll never forget watching an MLB pitcher at KP try to improve a change up one year. The change was so simple. He had to move his index finger down on the baseball about a half inch to induce a bit more arm side run.

We stepped off to the side and I went through the process.

Assess- I showed him the Trackman data and the need for more arm side of the change up. I educated him on both what horizontal break was and how we would create more with a slight grip adjustment.

Feel- I got him with a baseball in hand. We set the grip and he played around with what it should feel like at release. We talked about cuing “stay inside of it”.

Drill- I had him start off throwing to an outfield screen to see the shape and remove the concern of command. Then we moved to catch play with me at 70 ft as a partner to exaggerate the feel of the movement. Lastly her got on the mound and started throwing it with a catcher.

It was in my mind the perfect progression and the MLB player was seemingly grasping the concepts quickly. Then the objective data came…

The Trackman data was ok but not quite where I hoped it would be. Then he threw about 5 balls glove side. I realized he got frustrated with the result even though we had only thrown a few. It dawned on me he was looking for immediate gratification. A few more pitches with the same result and he turned to me saying “I can’t do this I don’t feel comfortable”. Right there on the spot he reverted back to his old grip and proceeded to throw terrible change ups the rest of the session. He quit on the skill development and reverted back to his comfort zone.

Slight failure deterred an important change for this athlete. Maybe he was blind to his prior success, maybe it was a change up he was taught by another coach at an early age and he felt he needed to hold onto it, maybe he tuned out and just appeased me when I explained the importance of a better change up in the Assess phase. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

It is funny that sometimes we as coaches can set up the perfect process but yield no result. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes when an athlete “doesn’t get it”. There are so many factors that define success, especially as an athlete gets older.

For my MLB pitcher trying to learn a change up. I desperately wanted him to learn that change up and find success with it. During his failure I sat quiet and let him sort it out. Could I have jumped in to interject cue reminders? Sure. Could I have stopped his session to get hands on with the grip? Sure. Could I have completely adjusted the environment to give him the illusion of success with the pitch? Sure.

What I knew was that if we really wanted this change to last it would take a great volume of practice. What this player did in about an hour would have to be repeated daily for weeks to truly get “comfortable”. Quitting after 5 pitches meant this player just didn’t grasp how to learn and wasn’t really committed to making a change. He gave me a chance to do it for him but I couldn’t and I wasn’t going to pretend I could.

It doesn’t matter the level of the game. What players are taught at a young age goes with them through their career. They ride their talent and natural abilities until confronted with the idea that their career could come to an end. Then its panic, some spiral their career to its end and some reset with an open mind on change only to resurrect their career path.

It shouldn’t take the fear of a career ending to wake us up. The game needs change. We need to teach athletes at a young age how to learn. We need a better development model for skill.

Assess.

Feel.

Drill.

It takes days, weeks, months of practicing the skill.It’s time we train. It’s time we shift our perspective. It’s time we give our athletes the tools necessary to develop their skills.

True change has to happen with rigorous, consistent work. Not just 60 minute lessons with success affirmations from some genie once a week.


 

Want to get started training with KP? We offer both remote and in person training (Tampa FL). 
To get started with remote training: Click Here 
To get started with in person training: Click Here
 

Want more KP? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels…
Youtube: @KP3
Twitter: @Kinetic_Pro
Instagram: @KineticProPerformance