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General  | General  | 9/2/2022

Wolforth Thrower Mentorship: Article 23

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 23rd 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

Article 17: 12 Common (Yet Often Dangerous) Narratives For Pitchers, Part 2
Article 18: 12 Common (Yet Often Dangerous) Narratives For Pitchers, Part 3
Article 19: Things To Consider When Embarking On A Velocity Enhancement Program This Year
Article 20: Is Your Pitcher Headed Straight Toward An Injury?
Article 21: The Season Has Started And You're Struggling With Command: Here's How To Turn It Around Quickly
Article 22: The Challenges & Dangers of an In-Season Velocity Program

In my 40+ years of coaching, I have learned one very important question every athlete should ask himself when heading into his off-season.

That question is this:

This offseason should I be chasing capability, or should I be chasing consistency?

This is what Paul Nyman in 2003 referred to as the ‘ability’ vs. ‘skill’ dilemma.

The answer to this question isn’t always a simple yes or no…either A or B.

I would estimate that 60% of the athletes we come in contact with fall into the category of needing to significantly increase their capability in order to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves. They need to dedicate a vast majority of their time, efforts, energy and resources this off season into building ‘capability.’

In short, they are simply not powerful, athletic, coordinated, connected and/or explosive enough to move to the next level of performance or competition.

Think of the otherwise good college running back that can only run a 4.8 40-yard dash. He may in fact do multiple things very well but for him to play in the NFL, this lack of speed would be a disqualifier. He must improve this specific element, or his career path will be very limited.

In pitching, a classic example would be the junior or senior in high school that is otherwise a very good pitcher, but his throwing velocity is 78-82 mph. Likewise, he must improve this element or his career will be limited.

This specific athlete profile is in large part what the Texas Baseball Ranch® has built our foundation upon. Think no further than our Athletic Pitcher Programs™.

Over the last 10 years, we have significantly expanded our processes to be much more holistic, targeted and inclusive to the needs of pitchers anywhere along the capability/consistency continuum. However, developing ‘capability’ remains today a central part of what we do at TBR.

What if that description doesn’t quite fit my athlete?

Ok. Let’s investigate further.

I would estimate 15% will fall into the category of needing to significantly increase their game time consistency in order to achieve their goals. They need to dedicate a vast majority of their time, efforts, energy and resources this off-season into improving the consistency of their game time execution.

In other words, they are very capable. They simply cannot yet consistently execute those abilities on a regular basis at game time.

This particular avatar would be the junior or senior in high school that sits in the upper-80s and low- to mid-90s but is clearly uneven in his game time performances from inning-to-inning and/or outing-to-outing.

Our quip for these types of athletes is that they are Sandy Koufax one night and Mrs. Koufax the next night. Clearly, they are capable. They are just not as reliable as they need to be.

And finally, roughly 25% will fall into the category of needing to improve BOTH their ability and consistency.

This specific profile example is the junior or senior in HS that sits 83-87 and is also inconsistent in his game time performances from inning-to-inning and/or outing-to-outing.

Of course, I could include similar profiles for 12-15 year old and college pitchers but for simplicity sake I used juniors and seniors in high school to make my point.

Furthermore, certainly there are skills and abilities that are impactful to performance other than velocity such as command, spin/shape/movement and recovery. However, I didn’t want to get too deep into the weeds and risk losing the primary point of this article.

I want to return to the key point in this piece.

The question every athlete should ask himself when heading into his off-season is: This off-season should I be chasing capability, or should I be chasing consistency?

The Mistake 95% Make In The Off-Season

Typically, athletes and their parents make a mistake and take a very generalist approach to their off-season training.

So often if you ask them what their primary goal was, they would tell you something along the lines of … “They just want to get better”… “to be a better pitcher.”

A high percentage of the time I have found that this very common objective of ‘getting better’ is so general that in essence the work often becomes ineffectual and uninspiring to the athlete.

We do not ever want this to happen. Our goals and objectives need to drive us and motivate us. Motivation is critically important to development and anything that limits or diminishes that motivation is a bad idea.

We find less than 3-in-10 athletes we work with is truly clear on exactly what ‘better’ actually entails.

They all realize that if, let’s say, they improve from 82 mph to 86 mph on the radar gun that is a very tangible and apparent ‘improvement.’ So therefore, simple velocity gains often become their default objective.

But does that velocity increase automatically translate to improved game time performance?

Short answer. Of course not.

If you gain 4 mph but now your arm begins to hurt, we have done you no good.
If you gain 4 mph in your velocity enhancement session but none of those miles per hour transfers to the game itself, we have done you very little good.
If you gain 4 mph but after the third inning or 30 pitches, you can’t maintain that velocity going forward, we have done you very little good.
If you gain 4 mph but in consecutive starts, you can’t sustain that velocity outing after outing, we have done you very little good.
If you gain 4 mph but you can’t throw it over the white thing, we have done you very little good.
If you gain 4 mph but the guys you used get out on a regular basis, now are hitting .400 against you, we have done you very little good.
If you gain 4 mph but you have lost all feel of your secondary pitches, we have done you very little good.

Clarity Is Invaluable For Development

Bottom line:

1. If you want better answers you must first ask better questions.
2. Assess yourself honestly and determine what you need to accomplish this off season. Do you need to build capability? Do you need to increase your consistency at game time? Which one is more critical for you to improve at this particular stage of your career? Almost never is that answer equally both capability and consistency.
3. Do not be a generalist. Instead, be precise. Be clear. Be specific. Vagueness, ambiguity and platitudes are frequently the death knell to development.
4. Remember that time is the most valuable of all commodities. Use it well. Deep, deliberate, purposeful practice is the best way to close the performance gap if you trail your peer group and also to further separate yourself if you are ahead.

-Coach Wolforth

Coach Wolforth is the founder of the Texas Baseball Ranch® and has written six books on pitching including the Amazon Best Seller, Pitching with Confidence. Since 2003, The Texas Baseball Ranch® has had over 524 pitchers break the 90mph barrier, 186 have topped 94mph or better, and 129 of his students have been drafted in the MLB’s June Amateur Draft. Coach Wolforth 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.

Upcoming Texas Baseball Ranch® Fall/Winter Events

• 3-Day Elite Pitcher’s Boot Camps for pitchers ages 12 & up. Five camps, one per month, between October and February. More information at https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/elite-pitchers-bootcamp/

• The once-a-year “Youth” Pitchers camp for players ages 8-11. This year’s event will be October 15th & 16th. Space is limited. Details at https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/youth-elite-pitchers-bootcamp/

• Elite CATCHER’s Boot Camp December 9-11th for catchers ages 14 & up. Learn more at https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/catcher

To Learn More About the Texas Baseball Ranch, go to: www.TexasBaseballRanch.com