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General  | Blog  | 11/20/2023

Offseason Arm Care

Ron Wolforth     
What Should Pitchers Be Doing In November, December & January?

Part 1

Every year, from the end of October to the beginning of December, our professional clients begin to filter in at the Texas Baseball Ranch® for their off season training.

Many times at one of our 3-Day "Elite Pitchers Boot Camp” events during November through January, the parents will see our pro guys arriving or leaving our facility and ask… “Coach, what do those guys do during these months?”

My response has become a bit of a cliche. “Well each of them has different constraints, limitations, strengths and capabilities. Many of them are also at very different places along the journey. Some are looking to become established professional pitchers. Others have their back against the wall, running out of time and needing to make some rather profound changes quickly. And a select few are trying to solidify their place in the Hall of Fame. So…as you might imagine, their workouts are often quite different.”

While the curiosity of how these elite athletes train in the off season is completely understandable, the real question should be… “What is the very best way for my 12-14-16-18 year old to spend his time this November through January?”

Obviously all of us only have 24 hours each day, so how we prioritize and utilize that time is incredibly important. Time is a very limited commodity and a universal constraint for all of us. How we customize and maximize that time will be a huge factor in the type of success we will experience this coming spring and summer.

So here are two guidelines I share with parents regarding their November through January:

Time Off / Ramp Up

How much time off and when to take time off is a very complex and individual question and beyond the purview of this specific piece. However, what is universally important is the steepness of the ramp up. In other words, regardless of the amount or the timing of your time off, soft tissue absolutely requires time to prepare for the stress and intensity of the season.

Soft tissue unstimulated will atrophy. Period. Soft tissue will require time from that period of inactivity to begin the process of adaptation and regain full strength and robustness. (Davis’ Law)

The following statement is oversimplified but for the role of this article, the general rule is muscle tissue adapts very quickly, connective tissue adapts considerably more slowly than muscle, and bone tissue adapts even more slowly. The reason this reality is

important to recognize is that a vast majority of pitching injuries occur at the connective tissue level (ie. Ulnar collateral ligament, flexor tendon, labrum, rotator cuff etc).

We estimate that for most athletes it will require a minimum of 6-8 weeks ramp up for an acceptable level of adaptation to occur.

If an athlete’s ramp up back to game intensity is too steep (meaning too short), he is at a significantly increased risk of injury.

At the Texas Baseball Ranch®, our 25+ years of experience has proven to us that the quality and steepness of an athlete’s ramp up is THE single most notable variable in terms of arm heath and durability.

In fact, we believe, the steepness of the ramp up is far more indicative to health and durability than is pitch count and work load.

Empirical evidence in the injury rates of professional pitchers would clearly support that assertion.

The most common months in professional baseball for UCL and labrum tears are March and April. The least common are September & October.

Obviously workloads in professional pitchers are by definition lowest in March and April. Why then would injuries be at their highest frequency?

We believe there is only one reasonable explanation: The athlete’s ramp up was too steep and the soft tissue was not yet prepared for the demands it was placed under.

Bottom Line. Regardless of when and how much time you took off this off season, your planning should involve an 8-12 week gradual ramp up process prior to your first full effort throws off a mound, giving your connective tissue ample time to adapt to the intensity and demands of competition.

Working Hard & Smart

So often young men and their parents look for secret recipes and/or go on social media for the hot idea of the week.

I suggest a much more practical, logical approach.

Take this simple self assessment test and prioritize the list from 1-5. One being the thing you believe is most constraining to your performance currently and 5 being the least constraining.

____ Arm Health & Durability: My arm simply is always barking at me. It rarely feels great and even when it does feel pretty good, the feeling doesn’t last for long. I just know if my arm felt better on a regular basis I’d throw harder and more consistently in every area. I’ve tried rest and in short order my arm always returns to the same level of discomfort.

____ Velocity: I am behind my competitive peer group in terms of velocity. If I don’t throw it harder I simply will not be given the opportunities to pitch in games.

____ Command: I am behind my competitive peer group in terms of throwing strikes. If I don’t throw more strikes on a regular basis, my opportunities to pitch in games will be limited.

____ Swing And Miss / Stuff: I fill up the strike zone and have decent velocity but I can’t seem to avoid regular solid contact. I need to improve the effectiveness (sharpness, shape, tunnel, deception) of my secondary offerings ( curveball, slider, cutter, change) or my opportunities to pitch in games will be limited.

____ Consistency: One game I am very good. The next game I may be quite ineffective. I seem to have wild swings in my outings and I never seem to know when I’m going to pitch lights out or when I’m going to pitch very poorly. If I’m not more consistent, my opportunities to pitch in games may eventually become limited.

My first suggestion is to focus on intentionally addressing the items you listed as a 1 and a 2.

Hoping things get better or corrected in the off season with the same program everybody else is doing is not a great plan. Prioritize and customize your work.

We say at the Ranch that long term exceptionalism is created via Intention AND Attention.

Intention = The Why…the vision…the purpose…the specific intent.

Attention = The How…awareness…recognition…consciousness…presence.

We need both.

Hall of Fame Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

That is correct. If you are reading this, probably working hard is not your problem. It is working hard AND smart that you can improve upon.

Next week I’m going to be offering simple guidelines for improving in each of the previous five categories during the months of November through January.

Until then.

Stay curious & keep reaching for the stars.

-Coach Wolforth

To help point out the incredible impact a quality offseason can make in your career and it’s never too late to change, just read Erik Johnson’s story.

Erik Johnson’s Story Regarding His 2014 Off Season

‘My initial visit to The Texas Baseball Ranch in the off season of 2014 changed the trajectory of my career and my outlook on baseball. Ron and his team helped me formulate an individualized plan to attack my flaws and inefficiencies and become a healthier, pain-free and more impactful pitcher. Yes, my velocity improved but more importantly, I gained the tools needed to be my own coach. The amount of knowledge I acquired in such a short amount of time changed the way I look at growth and improvement in baseball and honestly, all aspects of my life.’

The following is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated in 2015 By Tom Verducci

How one fading pitcher rescued his career—and what it means for others

Erik Johnson looked like a busted prospect for the White Sox until he took ownership of his plan and became a better and more efficient pitcher. Is his path one that could help prevent other pitchers from getting hurt?

“Johnson knew right away in spring training that he was fixed. He could tell by the way the ball came out of his hand. He could tell by how good his shoulder felt. He could tell by how easily his body recovered between starts. He went back to Triple A, and this time he dominated. He posted a 2.37 ERA, increased his rate of strikeouts per nine innings from 5.4 to 9.2 and was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the International League. The White Sox called him up in September. He made six starts and went 3–1 with a 3.34 ERA. His fastball sat at 90–93 mph, but with life like he never had before. He threw four-seam fastballs 73% of the time—much more often than ever before—and hitters batted only .203 against it….I could feel the difference,” Johnson said, “and see the different way the ball came out of my hand and the movement, location and the reaction of the hitters.

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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 2023, The Texas Baseball Ranch® has had over 577 pitchers break the 90 mph barrier, 205 have toped 94mph or better, and 135 of his students have been drafted in the MLB’s June Amateur Draft. Coach Wolfoth 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 professional catcher) 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. Three camps, one per month, between December and February. More information at

To Learn More About the Texas Baseball Ranch®, go to: