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General  | General  | 11/9/2021

Wolforth Thrower Mentorship: Article 17

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 17th 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?
Article 15: Simple and Effective Post Throwing Strategies for Pitchers
Article 16: 12 Common (Yet Often Dangerous) Narratives For Pitchers, Part 1

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

1. Mass = Gas. (Size and strength are everything)
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. (Builds arm strength)
6. Long Toss Is Bad for Pitchers. (Wrong release point)
7. Long Toss Is an Absolute Must. (Develops arm strength)
8. You Need to Take 3 Months Off from Throwing. (Overuse is very bad and 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 Ball) and Go to (Slider)/ Scrap Your (Slider) and Go to (Curve Ball). (Pitch design is the key to success)
12. Drop Your Arm Slot/ Raise Your Arm Slot.  
I have heard the above 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? Let’s continue our discussion from last month and find out.
            4. Weighted Balls Are Dangerous.

            5. Weighted Balls Are the Key to Success.

First and foremost, every ball has a weight. In other words, all balls are “weighted”.  It is frankly impossible to throw a truly non-weighted ball. What people typically mean when they refer to “weighted balls” are balls that weigh more than the 5.25 ounces.
People who self-identify as “anti-weighted ball” typically espouse the position that in a fine motor skill such as pitching a baseball, the 5.25 ounces of weight is sacrosanct and “safest” to the user. What many fail to consider, of course, is the paradox that more injuries occur utilizing the 5.25-ounce ball than any other weight. That’s very much an inconvenient truth for the anti-weighted ball folks. 
A softball, by contrast, is 6.25-7 ounces and a football weighs between 14-15 ounces.  So, following the anti-weighted ball logic, the athlete would be 25% more at risk throwing a softball and 300% more at risk throwing a football than they would be throwing the regulation baseball. Yet the research is clear on this, softball players and quarterbacks are far less likely to be injured throwing their ball than the baseball athlete.
So, is a 5.25-ounce ball really the “safest” weight, or perhaps is it possible the weight of the implement is simply a tangential contributor to pain and injury?
Our take at the Texas Baseball Ranch®: Every ball thrown, regardless of weight, has the potential for injury. Injuries occur most frequently when the stress on a specific tissue exceeds the body’s ability to organize, dissipate, mitigate, manage, and/or regulate that force.

Weighted balls are a tool. They are a very specific type of stimulus that can be beneficial if applied appropriately and intelligently. They are not a panacea and if used incorrectly, can contribute to injury.
In many of my discussions with the medical community and elite baseball minds, sometimes they rail against my comparison to football quarterbacks stating that “QB’s simply throw the football differently”. My retort is, “I agree with you wholeheartedly and that is exactly my point. The weight of the ball matters far less than how you organize yourself to project the ball”.
Bottom Line: The weight of the implement is far less important than the mechanical efficiency in which it is thrown.
Before entering a weighted ball program, we suggest you ALWAYS consider 6 fundamental questions:
1. Is this an appropriate time in this athlete’s seasonal cycle or maturation to utilize overload and underload implements for anything other than arm care and arm prep (e.g., preseason, offseason, in season, postseason, younger than 14 years of age, or returning from injury or arm tenderness)?

2. Is specific athlete prepared well enough for the added stress that will occur from utilizing weighted implements in a velocity enhancement process (e.g., history of injury and throwing foundation)?

3. What specific implement weights should we utilize with this specific athlete? Are there any weights that are contraindicated for this athlete (e.g.,12 year olds vs. 22 year olds)?

4. What specific volume/frequency should we incorporate (once a week vs. twice a week)?

5. What specific intensity cycle should we utilize (e.g., 1 or 2 heavy day(s) per 7-day cycle)?

6. What specific processes are appropriate for this specific pitcher at this moment in time (e.g., is an underload the best idea for this athlete or should we stay exclusively with overload)?
Texas Baseball Ranch® Recommendations: One-size-fits-all programming not only will not work very effectively for any general population of pitchers; one size won’t even fit ONE pitcher forever. The plan that worked well last month or last year will almost certainly need to be altered to some degree.  Every athlete’s process should evolve, adapt, reorient, and change based upon where he is currently and what his present goals and objectives are for the next 6 weeks to 6 months. 

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.