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General  | General  | 8/21/2021

Wolforth Thrower Mentorship: Article 15

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 15th 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:

Jerry Ford
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'?
Article 10: 5 Common Mistakes Baseball Players Make In Their Training
Article 11: The Truth About Curveballs, Sliders, and Cutters
Article 12: What is Involved in Deep, Deliberate Practice vs. Traditional Practice
Article 13: The Truth About Long Toss?
Article 14: The Truth About Conditioning of Pitchers?

Let’s begin our discussion this week with one of the most common questions I have gotten over the last 25 years: “What should my son do after he pitches?”
For many years, I resisted giving specific advice to pitchers, knowing full well just how unique, esoteric, and idiosyncratic individual pitchers are. For example, Barry Zito had a very different process that he followed than Justin Verlander does, yet they are both Cy Young Award winners and established superstars.
The best advice I can offer is to experiment and find out what works best for you. There certainly is no magic bullet or secret recipe.
I realized that my painting with a broad brush really frustrated some people. They just desperately want a definitive answer, yet I knew there were only guidelines and principles that applied.
About 3 years ago, I heard my son, who is a professional catcher, give a college pitcher this simple strategy. As soon as I heard it, I knew that he had solved at least a piece of that puzzle.
Garrett said, “Take whatever you personally like to do to prepare to pitch or throw, cut it into ⅓, and then do that with a ⅓ of the energy/intensity that you did in pregame. That becomes your post throwing routine.”
This is a brilliant post throwing strategy in my opinion.
It is personalized.
It is already what you do.
It is simple.
You are already very familiar with everything you need to do.
It doesn’t create any additional trauma to soft tissue.
You limit the volume by cutting the reps down by ⅔ and you limit the intensity by doing it with far less energy. This allows the neuromuscular system to reset without any further trauma or additional stress. And the best part is, it’s all personalized and pitcher specific!
That day, we instituted Garrett’s suggestion as our official post throwing process. It has been a tremendous success.
The next question is: “When should he do this? Right after he is finished, or can he do it that night or the next morning?”
We believe it is best to do fairly soon after you are finished. (We suggest that your best window is within 45 minutes of completing your throwing.) However, it is important to state that, in our opinion, even if you couldn’t get to it until the next day, there still would be some benefit in going through the process. So, try to create the habit of going through your post throwing recovery protocol soon after your throwing is complete, but if you happen to miss it, get it done as soon as you are able.
So now what about conditioning?
At the Texas Baseball Ranch®, we have had tremendous success with using circuit training as our primary method of conditioning for our pitchers. We vary the circuits between 8-12 seconds, and we include a mix of upper body and lower body activities. We utilize water bags, plyo boxes, core balls, elastic bands, sleds, and simple full body activities. We also make certain we include rotational and diagonal activities and not just linear movements.
In our Summer Program, we train 60+ pitchers every week. Typically, we break them into 2 groups of 30. We then create 15 stations with 2 athletes per station. The first athlete will go through the activity, then he will rest while his partner goes through the exercise. They both will then move to the next station and repeat the process. 
In the beginning, the athletes go through the stations twice. That’s 30, 8-12 second bouts of activity with 8-12 seconds of rest. By the end of the summer, our pitchers easily flow through 60 bouts of exercise.
Why is this process superior in our view than long distance running? I could go on for pages but let me hit the highlights.
Long distance running is completely outside of the energy system we use to pitch. Pitching a baseball takes less than 2 seconds; it is a full body explosive movement.  The pitcher then rests for 15 seconds, and then he explodes again. He will do this 10-20 times, then he will rest in the dugout for 10 minutes while his offense is at the plate. A starter will repeat this process 4-9 times. Does ANY of this remotely look or sound like long distance running would be a good idea to enhance performance?
Long distance running can be hard on your joints, especially ankles, knees, hips, and lumbar spine. Long distance running also limits and restricts range of motion. None of this is a good idea for the elite pitcher.
Long distance running is good to stimulate the heart, respiratory system, and the brain, and also reduces cardiovascular mortality. However, circuit training can do that and so much more because we can hit the body with more variety and functionality. With circuit training, we are not just simply elevating our heart rate and taxing our cardiovascular system, we are developing movements that will actually help us perform better in a game.
One final thing with regards to conditioning for pitchers…
Every now and again, a trainer will endorse the mental toughness component of long distance running as a reason for conditioning pitchers in that way. I find this conflation very disappointing. Competitiveness and tenacity don’t have to be created by pounding 3-5 miles on pavement. I’ve never met an elite distance runner that is also an exceptional pitcher. In all my researching of elite warriors, such as the Navy SEALs, they will tell you that it is next to impossible to predict who will make it through BUD/S. Creating the mindset of a champion is about so much more than physical taxation and exertion.
In my opinion, it is malpractice to get a quality pitcher hurt while running long distance for conditioning or mental toughness purposes. Unfortunately, I see it every week. The great news is that many professional and top college programs have seen the light and have changed their processes. However, some old archaic processes are hard to extinguish.
I have told my staff many times that one of my goals by the time I have completed my time on this Earth is to be able to look back and say that baseball, as a collective universe, has moved into a far more enlightened era, and is training and conditioning their pitchers with a combination of science, wisdom, and common sense instead of worn-out traditions and antiquated thought processes. 
I look forward to continuing our discussion.

Ron Wolforth
CEO - The Texas Baseball Ranch
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 467 have broken the 90 mph 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, TX 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.