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Wolforth Thrower Mentorship: Article 10

Jerry Ford         Ron Wolforth        
Photo: Johnny Tergo/Truth Baseball
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 tenth 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

. . .

Article 1: Where the Sidewalk Terminates
Article 2: The Exact Location of Your Arm Pain is Incredibly Valuable Information
Article 3: No Pain, No Problem...Right? Not Quite So Fast.
Article 4: The Secret to Accelerated Skill Development: Hyper-Personalization
Article 5: The Case Against Weighted Balls?
Article 6: The Truth About Pitch Counts, Workloads, and Overuse
Article 7: Velocity Appraisal: How 'Hard' Is 'Hard Enough'?
Article 8: Command Appraisal: How 'Accurate' Is 'Accurate Enough'?
Article 9: Swing & Miss Appraisal: How 'Nasty' Is 'Nasty Enough'?

5 Common Mistakes Baseball Players Make In Their Training Which Restrict Their Growth And Development

Read through these five very quickly. Chances are astronomical that one of these is limiting or constraining your development.

1. They Have No Plan!
 
Winston Churchill is credited with saying, "He who fails to plan is planning to fail."
  
Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don't much care where—"
The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”
Alice: “—so long as I get SOMEWHERE."
The Cheshire Cat: “Oh, you're sure to do that, if you only walk long enough."

–Lewis Carroll's classic children's tale, Alice in Wonderland

 
Too many players simply “hope” everything will turn out in their favor.  Hope is a wonderful and powerful thing, but hope is not a plan.
 
I have had the honor of working with three Cy Young Award winners over the past six years. While, as you can imagine, they are talented athletes, it wasn’t primarily their skill that separated them from their contemporaries.
 
Each one of them was process driven and they had developed a very specific plan. They worked that plan, and furthermore, they constantly modified their plan to fit the changes and challenges in front of them.
 
I often ask young pitchers visiting the Ranch to share with me their plan for the future. Without exception, they all have hopes, dreams, ambitions, and aspirations. However, less than 10% have a clear plan. Those 10% who have a plan almost always vastly out-achieve the other 90% who do not, and many of those 90% have superior skills, talents, and abilities compared to the 10%.
 
But just as the Cheshire Cat counseled Alice, if one is headed nowhere in particular, it really doesn’t matter which way you go.
 
Wolforth Recommendation: Create a plan — commit to it, write it down, review it often. Constantly polish and modify it to fit the changes and challenges in front of you.

2. They Have The Wrong Plan!
 
“No matter how committed you are to a specific process, no one can sprint East fast enough to see the setting of the sun.  It’s important that you have a plan. It’s far more important that it’s the right plan.” Tony Robbins

Successful men are influenced by the desire for pleasing results. Failures are influenced by the desire for pleasing methods and are inclined to be satisfied with such results as can be obtained by doing things they like to do. The common denominator of success — the secret of every man who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do.” –Albert L. Gray
 
So, you have a plan? Good for you!
 
Too many players that actually have a plan have one which primarily offers them comfort and simple structure. The problem is that exceptional performance and growth necessitates the athlete to become comfortable being uncomfortable.
 
Wolforth Recommendation: Personal development is often complex, nuanced, and multifaceted. High level planning will require assessment, categorization, customization, and prioritization. It will also require the constant shaping and reshaping of the plan as the athlete grows.

3. They Don't Have the Correct Equipment or Resources to Make the Changes That Are Needed!



So, you have a great plan? Good for you!
 
Unfortunately, too many players are, in essence, trying to fix a watch with a pipe wrench.
 
Improving a human movement pattern is very challenging work indeed. Corruption and degradation from well intending drills are always a real and present danger, that is why most young top professional baseball prospects are rarely taught anything.
 
The fear of injuring or interfering with their “magic” is profound, that is why many coaches at the higher levels of baseball are far more interested in keeping their job than in doing their job. The risk/reward for interceding into a young man’s skill development is no small concern.
 
For example, the introduction of the connection ball was a profound help for Justin Verlander in 2015 when returning from core surgery. While the tool may not have been the only catalyst to his recovery and bounce back performance, it was indeed a significant influence.



Wolforth Recommendation: Finding the right tools and the right resources are very important. Having the right tools can accelerate the change, and time is almost always a huge factor in skill development. We are all up against a clock of some kind and that clock is ticking.  Having the right tools can also reduce the risk of corruption or skill degradation and can optimize the transfer from the drill to gametime performance.

4. They Do What Everybody Else Is Doing!
 
“We cannot solve our current problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” –Albert Einstein

I shall be telling this with a sigh.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

 
It has always struck me as odd that most coaches, parents, and players state that they want to separate themselves from the herd and distinguish their preeminence from their competitive peer group, yet they are somehow inexplicably drawn to the habits and behaviors of the mediocre and to the status quo.
 
Exceptional players are, by their very definition, not ordinary. Therefore, it would seem to me that the goal would be to reject and avoid the habits and behaviors of the herd and the status quo, and to seek out and adopt new pathways, methods, philosophies, tools, processes, and procedures.
 
The late Earl Nightingale, in his famous treatise, “The Strangest Secret,” brilliantly articulated that the secret of high performers was in their ability to reject and prevail over established patterns of behavior which directly led to ordinariness and inferiority. 
 
Wolforth Recommendation: If you do what everybody else is doing, you are going to get what everybody else is getting — which isn’t much. If you do what you’ve always done, you are going to get what you’ve always gotten.

Don’t be afraid to be different. In fact, seek out the extraordinary. Success leaves clues. Don’t study or comply with the average. Taking poetic license from Forrest Gump, “Mediocre is what mediocre does.” If everyone is doing it, I suggest it is high time to find a better way.

#5 They Dabble… They Pretend… They Major in Minor Things!

"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular." – Tony Robbins
 
“Mastery does not come from dabbling. We have to be prepared to pay the price. We need to have the sustained enthusiasm that motivates us to give our best.” –Eknath Easwaran

 
Regardless of the profession — from teacher, to waiter, to plumber, to doctor, to lawyer, to baseball athlete — the Pareto principle (the 80/20 Rule) plays out. 20% of the population of a specific skill or vocation will always outproduce or outperform the remaining 80% combined.
 
How is that possible you might ask?
 
I think you may already suspect the answer.
 
Roughly 80% of any specific skill or vocation will simply follow the path of least resistance, they will only do the minimum required. Whenever they can cut corners, they will do so. They will simply try to blend in. They very well may enjoy the trappings of their skill or vocation but becoming exceptional at their craft is not a driving factor in their life or in their job performance. They just want to be “good enough” to retain their current status.
 
At the Texas Baseball Ranch®, I refer to these individuals as “dabblers”.
 
In case you doubt me, I want you to recall the last time you ate at a restaurant and your waiter or waitress was exceptional. I promise that most of you can clearly remember the experience primarily because the behavior simply stood out. The waiter/waitress was not ordinary. They did not dabble. They didn’t just clock in and clock out and go home, the quality of your dining experience really mattered to them.
 
So it is with every other skill or vocation, one can’t be great without the focus on being excellent. Exceptional performance does not happen by accident. Dabblers or pretenders will never achieve the higher standards of performance and execution, that will only happen on purpose.    
 
Wolforth Recommendation: If you ever find yourself dabbling or pretending, stop! Catch yourself. Ask yourself the question, “Is what I am doing really important to me?” If the answer is no, choose something else as quickly as you can.  If the answer is yes, then follow the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s advice:
 
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
 
Until next time,

Stay curious and keep reaching for the stars.

Coach Wolforth
CEO - The Texas Baseball Ranch®

P.S. Our next topic will cover “The Truth About Curveballs”.

Coach Wolforth has written six books on pitching including the Amazon Best Seller, Pitching with Confidence.  Since 2003, 122 of the players Wolforth has trained have been drafted and 458 have broken the 90mph barrier.  He has consulted with 13 MLB teams, dozens of NCAA programs and has been referred to as “America’s Go-to-Guy on Pitching” and “The Pitching Coaches Pitching Coach”.  Coach Wolforth lives in Montgomery, Texas with his wife, Jill.  They are intimately familiar with youth select, travel baseball and PG events as their son Garrett (now a catcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization) went through the process.  Garrett still holds the PG Underclass All-American Games record for catcher velocity at 89mph which he set in 2014 at the age of 16.

If you would like a free copy of Pitching with Confidence, go to freepitchingbook.com.
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