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Ron Wolforth's Elite Thrower Mentorship

Jerry Ford         Ron Wolforth        
Photo: Perfect Game
Ron Wolforth probably knows more about the throwing arm and arm care than anyone we know. Many of you may have heard about the famous Texas Baseball Ranch that Ron has been running for many years. We have built a great relationship with Ron and his wife Jill over the years.

It all started a few years back when Ron sent his son Garrett to a Perfect Game event. His son was a catcher/infielder and set some all-time PG records for pop times (1.75) and velocity (89 mph) at the time. He also threw mid-90s across the infield. He is now playing professionally. Being an average-sized kid, this really drew our interest. Once we realized who his father was, it became clear.

Since then we have followed the Texas Baseball Ranch closely. Ron is a very humble man, which is a reason so many speak highly of him. We have never run across a single person that shows any disrespect for him or the Ranch. So we decided to ask him to help our millions of followers.

Over the years he has helped thousands of pitchers, including many that became Major League All-Stars. Yes, he teaches velocity gains, better control and command, and everything a pitchers needs to be successful. However, unlike many others, he is an absolute stickler when it comes to doing it safely. His interest doesn't just involve velocity gains and other improvements, all of which are very important. He wants his students to understand arm care and how to throw and stay healthy. He does this without a cookie cutter program. He understands that all players are different individuals.

Perfect Game's interest in prospects, arm care and keeping young kids healthy is the major reason we have decided to work with Ron Wolforth.

Below is the first of an ongoing column he will be doing on our Perfect Game website. This information will be gold for any player interested in improving their throwing ability and staying healthy. Make sure you read every column he contributes and feel free to comment on them.

If you want to attend one of his camps and improve your throwing ability, here is the link to the website:
https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/


Jerry Ford
President
Perfect Game

. . .

Where The Sidewalk Terminates

Several years ago, while traveling to Ft. Lauderdale to watch our then-21-year-old son play baseball, I ran across this very peculiar sign.

Every morning and every evening my wife, Jill, and I go for a 15-45 minute walk. One morning, while walking to breakfast, we ran across this sign. The next morning, I made sure we walked the same way so I could take a picture of it.

My initial reaction to the sign was, ‘Why on Earth would we spend tax payer money on such a sign? After all, don’t almost all sidewalks terminate into a street or another sidewalk at some point? Do we really need to have a sign which points out the obvious?'

The more I thought about this, it occurred to me that common sense is really often nothing more than the behavior of recognizing and respecting the obvious. I thought the sign was a perfect metaphor for what I wanted to share in this series.

In this series, I endeavor to point out the obvious things that are critically important to the development of an athlete’s throwing tool. As a vast majority of readers would attest to, there are no shortages today in terms of velocity enhancement programs, weighted ball programs, as well as various tools and processes that promise spine-tingling improvements in a very short period of time.

I will not berate nor chastise any philosophy, tool, process or procedure. It is not my intention in this series to play judge, jury and executioner to the myriad of fabulous, good, poor and awful options out there. I will leave that discernment to you, the reader. I sincerely do trust the good judgement of the average athlete and his/her parents. After all, it is your and/or your son’s career, and at the end of the day, it will be only him and his performance that will be held into account. That ‘buck’ stops with you.

Instead my job will be to state and restate the obvious; to articulate the principles, requirements and demands that are involved in skill development for the elite throwing athlete and his subsequent quest for ascending in levels of competitive performance and let you guys forge your own personal path of discovery behind these principles.

Trust me when I say that such a goal is more than enough for any mere mortal. I believe I do not need to critique or besmirch others to make these lessons a worthwhile read each and every week. It is my hope that this series will be a welcome companion in your walk to high-level skill development.


Lesson #1- Start With The Pain.

Always.

The very first thing we attempt to ascertain when any young, aspiring athlete and his parents drive through our gate at the Texas Baseball Ranch is to determine the regular recurring status of discomfort of his throwing arm/shoulder/elbow and its specific location.

In other words, how PRECISELY does his arm feel and respond to the stresses that he is placing on it on an everyday basis?

It may seem like a strange place to start. After all, most athletes, their parents and coaches spend a high percentage of their time avoiding conversations about arm pain and discomfort. Maybe, just maybe, if they don’t focus or talk about arm pain, soreness, fatigue or discomfort, it really isn’t that serious and it will solve or rectify itself.

The truth is clear. Sometimes it will. But sometimes it won’t.

You see, there are at least four very good reasons we struggle with having an honest and frank discussion regarding an athlete’s arm pain.

1) No one likes to be viewed as physically soft or weak. It is widely accepted that one has to be ‘tough’ to pitch at the higher levels of competition. Part of being ‘tough’ is the ability to ignore and or endure pain. Furthermore, don’t we often hear from many different sources that "Pitching is pain, they simply go together. When you pitch your arm will rarely feel awesome”? So "suck it up buttercup". Players learn the lesson quickly: Don’t complain of arm pain. If you do, it means you are soft. So players are very reluctant to share their arm pain. Who can blame them?

2) No one likes to be viewed as a chronic complainer or an excuse maker. Players learn the lesson quickly: Don’t complain of arm pain. If you do, it means you may, in short order, be labeled a complainer or an excuse maker. So players learn to not express their arm pain. Who can blame them?

3) Every athlete wants to pitch…to play…to perform…to compete. If we complain of arm discomfort to our parents or our coaches, one of the more likely scenarios is that the player will be withheld, at least temporarily, from competition or practice for health and safety sake. So players learn the lesson quickly: The arm pain better be pretty significant if I’m going to complain of arm pain, because the chance of parents and coaches shutting me down is pretty high. So players are very reluctant to share their arm pain. Who can blame them?

4) It is very natural that when we experience arm pain, we immediately have this initial thought: ”Is this pain significant and an indicator of something much more serious, or is it just normal throwing discomfort?” We desperately hope its the later and if we can just ignore it and not make it that big of a deal, maybe it isn’t that big of a deal. So players learn the lesson quickly: Don’t talk about arm pain. If we start talking about it, maybe, just maybe, there is something really wrong. So players are very reluctant to share their arm pain. Who can blame them?

At the Texas Baseball Ranch we START our relationship with our clients by having an open and honest assessment and subsequent dialog about arm pain and discomfort.

Why?

Very simple.

Each and every one of the goals of our pitching clients, their parents and coaches have can ONLY be achieved and sustained via a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Velocity/Throw Harder- Can’t produce velocity or maintain it without a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Command/Throw a Higher % of Strikes- Can’t develop command or sustain it without a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Bounce Back/Recovery/Consistency- Can’t build recovery or preserve it without a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Improved Swing & Miss Stuff/Better Breaking Stuff and Offspeed Stuff/More Strikeouts- Can’t generate it or maintain it without a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Ascend In Levels By Being a Work House Who Always Is Able to Answer the Bell When Called- Can’t move up in levels and stay there without a robust, healthy and durable arm.

Bottom Line: If we are indeed looking to create steady, long term, sustained growth and development, we believe we must always ‘start with the pain’ and then routinely check on it. The reason is quite obvious. An athlete will rarely make significant gains without high levels of health and durability but will never sustain those hard-fought gains without health and durability.

Thousands of young men today are working extremely hard on velocity enhancement. Some of them may even be able to trick their body into some nice velocity gains in the short term. The harsh reality is that without a true foundation of health and physical soundness, those gains are often short-lived and many of them come at an extreme cost. Hundreds of young men go in search of a velocity boost to advance their careers and instead end up needing UCL reconstruction or labrum repair and are out of the game for 9-18 months. A vast majority of these can be avoided.

That in large part is what this series is centered around: Bringing sound, common sense application to the aspiring young baseball player and his family.

In My Next Lesson- ‘The Exact Location of Your Pain Is Valuable Information', I will discuss the specific location of the pain and why that location is exceptionally important. There are four primary locations of pain: Medial Elbow, Anterior Shoulder, Lateral Elbow, Posterior Shoulder. Each location tells us something extremely important about our pain and gives us important clues on how to reduce/eliminate it.

I look forward to continuing our discussion.

Ron Wolforth
CEO- The Texas Baseball Ranch

Coach Wolforth has written 6 books on pitching including the national best seller, Pitching With Confidence. Of the players Wolforth has trained at the Texas Baseball Ranch, 122 have been drafted since 2003, and 458 have broken the 90 mph barrier. He consults with 13 MLB teams and dozens of NCAA programs and has been referred to as 'America's Pitching Coach' by many of the game's top experts. Coach has a son, Garrett, who currently is a catcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He lives in Montgomery, Texas with his wife, Jill. They are intimately familiar with youth select and travel baseball and PG events, having recently had a son go up through the process.

If you would like a free copy of Pitching With Confidence go to www.freepitchingbook.com.
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