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General | General | 9/16/2021

Wolforth Thrower Mentorship: Article 16

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 16th 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'?
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?
Article 15: Simple and Effective Post Throwing Strategies for Pitchers


12 Common Pitching Narratives That Often Sideline, Impede, and Constrain Thousands of Young Men from Approaching Their God-Given Potential:

Part 1 of 3

1. Mass = Gas. (Size and Strength Are Omnipotent to Performance.)

2. Simplifying the Delivery is the Key. (Minimize Movement to Maximize Efficiency.)

3. Poles and Long Distance Are Good for Pitchers. (Strong Legs and Mental Toughness.)

4. Weighted Balls Are Dangerous. (Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson Didn’t Need Them.)

5. Weighted Balls Are the Key to Success. (It Builds Arm Strength.)

6. Long Toss is Bad for Pitchers. (It Trains the Wrong Release Point.)

7. Long Toss is An Absolute Must. (It Develops Arm Strength.)

8. You Need to Take 3 Months Off of Throwing. (Overuse Is Very Bad — Soft Tissue Needs a Break.)

9. Pitching In Games Is the Only Way to Develop as a Pitcher — You Need to Pitch. (Learn to Compete.)

10. You Need to Stop Pitching and Start Training — Take a Gap Year and Develop Yourself as A Pitcher. (Develop Your Skills and Abilities.)

11. Scrap Your (Curve) and Go to (Slider)/ Scrap Your (Slider) and Go to (Curve). (Pitch Design Is the Key to Success.)

12. Drop Your Arm Slot/ Raise Your Arm Slot.

I turned 62 years old last month. I have heard versions of these 12 phrases articulated on an amazingly regular basis (forwarded as if they are straight out of the Holy Bible) for the past 45 years.

How do they hold up to scrutiny?

For many of them… Not very well at all. It appears to me that our intellectual development (from the pitching side of things) over the past 50 years has been uneven and limited at best, even downright archaic and regressive at times.

Many times, in the past 61 years, I have chosen the easy, non-confrontational response… To simply shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, everybody has their opinion and while I definitely don’t agree with it, they aren’t the only ones who think like this”.

So why the change in me in 2021? Because I’ve witnessed a significant shift over the last 10 years. Primarily because of social media, in my opinion, we are witnessing an alarming percentage of the baseball instruction universe who are absolutely certain they are 1,000% right… Even when they are incomplete, illogical, misinformed, or simply erroneous.

To add insult to injury, some self-proclaimed experts attack and disparage others who don’t happen to agree with (or acquiesce) to their tenets. They take their so-called “facts” and beat their antagonists over the head with them, often in a nasty and vitriolic fashion.

I recently told my family and my staff at the Texas Baseball Ranch® that it is time for me to speak out. To speak what I believe is truth to those who attempt to shove a specific ideology down the throats of grassroots players, coaches, and parents. To push back. To point out to the “emperor” when he has no clothes on.

The biggest challenges in getting these 12 worn-out paradigms to go the way of the horse and buggy are: 1) There are almost always pieces and fragments of truth in most of them. Therefore, they are forwarded, repeated, and accepted with very little further examination or inspection and become recognized as “true”, even when they are far from it. 2) People love simple. We long for the “easy button”; just give us the recipe, the silver bullet, the surefire blueprint, and we will do it!

And how exactly is that proverbial, obsolete “easy button” working for us today? You know the answer to that question... Not very well at all. Injuries and surgical interventions are at an all-time high.

Let me see if I can offer some commonsense counters to each of these worn-out conventional wisdoms so that, at the very least, you will question the efficacy of these supposed performance remedies and avoid their potential harmful side effects when you hear them forwarded as “Gospel”.

1. Mass = Gas.

Sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? I wish I had a dollar for every baseball player I have known over the past 40 years who was told that he needed to put on 15+ pounds of muscle mass.

Surely this is the missing link to success, yet everywhere we see evidence to the contrary. For example, not one offensive or defensive lineman in the NFL can out throw their quarterback, yet in every measure of mass and strength, they are far superior in every regard to their quarterback.

Obviously then, common sense would tell us throwing a football effectively is about so much more than simple mass, power, or strength, it’s also about neuromuscular coordination and motor control.

I would estimate about 30% of our athletes who attend the Ranch are significantly limited by their mass and their strength. Yet even with this specific targeted population, almost none of them will see significant improvement in their game time abilities (even with an exceptional strength and nutritional program) without first addressing arm discomfort, improving mechanical inefficiencies, and enhancing neuromuscular coordination and motor control.

In short, before added gains in size and strength will be of benefit, an athlete’s training priorities may need to change. Arm health, coordination, and motor control almost always come before mass and strength.

Many of us might like to believe simply developing a 425-pound back squat would do wonders for every one of our pitchers’ performances. It is certainly possible that what an individual athlete needs most right now in his career path is the increased power and stability that such an impressive lift “might” do for him.

That, I fully admit, is “possible”.

However, in my 25+ years of training pitchers, it is my experience that for every athlete who adding mass was the single catalyst and positive turning point for his career, there are:

· Many more athletes that injured themselves in the weight room under dubious, misapplied, or mismanaged training processes while trying to add mass, and instead missed significant time at critical junctures in their career. One thing is a certain fact, a pitcher can’t make the all-star team from the disabled list!

· Many more athletes gained the mass, but it did very little for their performance despite all the hours they dedicated to it. We all have limited time to train and chasing the wrong training emphasis can really prove to be the death knell for many athletes. ROTT (Return On Training Time) is a real factor in building skill and improving performance, and we ignore it at our peril.

· Many more athletes that needed reduction of arm discomfort, increased mobility/flexibility, improved structure and alignment, increased mechanical efficiency, and/or enhanced recovery far more than they needed more mass, size, or strength. Often, they missed their window of opportunity because they were spending their time working on the wrong things. Almost no stronger argument can be made for the critical importance of assessment and the hyper-personalization of training protocols than that common phenomenon.

While we certainly can do several things at once, and at The Texas Baseball Ranch® we’re all for skill-specific strength and building a bigger motor, the truth remains: Mass decidedly does not always equal gas.

2. Simplifying the Delivery Is the Key (Minimize Movement to Maximize Efficiency)

Again, it sounds almost poetic doesn’t it: “minimize movement to maximize efficiency”. Who could possibly be against simplicity and efficiency?

Certainly, a portion of the pitching population needs to improve their mechanical efficiency — They may be disconnected, out of sync, and/or out of rhythm. The need to become more efficient is a very common and often valid objective.

The $64,000 question is: HOW EXACTLY do we go about improving someone’s movement efficiency?

I will confirm that sometimes a pitcher’s delivery is so discombobulated that we may need some intervention and reconstruction. However, what I see so frequently are well-meaning coaches and instructors, at the first sign of performance issues (and sadly many times before the athlete has even had a chance to figure his pattern out naturally), immediately race towards strict choreography and cloning. They attempt to place their personal stamp of “ideal mechanics” upon the athlete. That path should be saved as the very last resort.

In truth, I see many, many more athletes harmed by trying to oversimplify their delivery than those that are helped by it.

Bottom line: Whenever in doubt, return to athleticism first. It is often amazing how much better an athlete moves when he forgets about looking a certain way, and instead flows with good tempo, rhythm, freedom, and athleticism. Instead of forcing an athlete to conform, encourage him to experiment and find his own way.

Next time we will discuss #3-7.

I look forward to continuing our discussion.

Coach Wolforth
CEO - The Texas Baseball Ranch

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Coach Wolforth has written six books on pitching including the Amazon Best Seller, Pitching with Confidence. Since 2003, 127 of the players Wolforth has trained have been drafted and 488 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 www.freepitchingbook.com.

If you would like to learn more about the Texas Baseball Ranch and its training programs, go to www.texasbaseballranch.com.
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