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General  | Blog  | 2/14/2024

Wolforth Throwing Mentorship: Article 35

Ron Wolforth     
A Vital Message for Those Struggling to Boost Velocity

One of the most frequent queries we receive at the Texas Baseball Ranch® revolves around a familiar theme:
"Coach Wolforth, my son has dedicated immense effort to enhancing his velocity. He's noticeably bulkier and stronger compared to a year ago. He diligently practices long toss, we invested in a set of weighted balls, followed the prescribed regimen, or he even completed a six-week velocity enhancement program nearby. Despite all this, he just can't seem to make the velocity gains promised to him. Not only did he fall short of the 4-7 mph increase pledged, but his progress has been minimal, and his arm health has deteriorated since starting the program. He's incredibly frustrated and disheartened. We've heard about the Texas Baseball Ranch's reputation for boosting velocity while improving arm health and resilience. Can you offer guidance or point us in the right direction? We're at our wit's end and desperately need advice. Please help. Thank you."

Here's my response:

Let's start with a reminder of something you're likely aware of but may not have fully considered. Human beings are incredibly unique and complex individuals. Athletes don't neatly fit into one-size-fits-all programs or processes. Each athlete is distinct and has their own characteristics. 

Humans don't adhere perfectly to a 'recipe'—each person reacts uniquely to the same stimuli. While not every reaction is vastly different, it's common for responses to vary slightly. So, it's natural for one athlete to respond differently to the same stimuli compared to their teammate.

Why does this happen?  There could be countless reasons.  Here are just seven examples:

• Varying levels of preparedness and readiness for specific stimuli.
• Differences in mechanical efficiency.
• Diverse mindsets, mental approaches, and beliefs in the process.
• Variances in skill-specific strength and stability at extreme ranges of movement.
• Differences in mobility, flexibility, and adaptability.
• Varied physical structures, alignments, and strength balances.
• Diverse levels of effort, energy, and intention.

Considering these factors, it's actually more surprising when two people react identically to a stimulus.
Now, let's explore a fresh perspective that could significantly aid your velocity enhancement journey. While oversimplified, the following equation provides a more comprehensive view of velocity enhancement and how to adjust your program when results are unsatisfactory:

Velocity Gains = 

Mindset/Belief System + Intention + Current Status of Preparation for Maximum Effort + Skill Specific Mobility + Skill Specific Strength + Physical Mass/Size/Lengths of Levers + Motor Control/Coordination/Neuromuscular Efficiency + Utilization/Synergy of Entire Body for Optimum Summation of Force 

Minus - Mechanical Inefficiencies - Pain/Physical Discomfort - Physical Constraints - Interference or Confusion - The Debilitating Influence of Others.

When introducing a velocity enhancement program like extended long toss or a weighted ball regimen, results can vary widely:

• Some athletes may not be physically prepared for the intensity and could experience soreness or injury.
• Others may see no improvements at all.
• Some may excel and make significant progress.

It's common for coaches, even at the college and professional levels, to seek my opinion on velocity enhancement programs. Unless a program raises clear red flags (and some do), I usually respond:

"The program seems solid, but the crucial question always is: How well does it fit each of your athletes right now?"

Let me offer an analogy outside of baseball for a moment. 

Suppose I have a method for teaching Algebra I concepts. After determining its soundness, the vital question becomes: How suitable is this method for each of our current math students?

• For a student struggling with basic math, the process may be far too advanced, leading to further struggles.
• Conversely, for a student well-versed in advanced math concepts like derivatives and functions, the process may be redundant.

In essence, while the process matters, its effectiveness primarily depends on how well it aligns with the needs and capabilities of each individual. This crucial aspect is often overlooked because we live in a one-size-fits-all world.

Success isn't solely determined by the efficacy of a program but also by its compatibility with the athletes using it. This is where many athletes experience frustration, disappointment and disillusionment—the program simply isn't the right fit.

And here's where it gets complex:

• A program that isn't a good fit today might be suitable later.
• Conversely, what works well today might not be effective in the future.

As athletes progress, factors like periodization, arm health, readiness, and changes in physical or emotional state can dictate the appropriate course of action.

So, if your velocity enhancement program yielded unsatisfactory results, consider these twelve variables:

• Mindset/Belief System
• Intention
• Current Status of Preparation for Maximum Effort
• Skill Specific Mobility
• Skill Specific Strength
• Motor Control/Coordination/Neuromuscular Efficiency
• Utilization/Synergy of Entire Body for Optimum Summation of Force
• Pain/Physical Discomfort
• Mechanical Inefficiencies
• Physical Constraints
• Interference or Confusion
• The Debilitating Influence of Others

Bottom line:  Almost any exceptional skill development process is grounded in and directed by customization and hyper-personalization. Yet, that is why so few programs are highly effective. One size fits all programing, by definition, rarely if ever will create extraordinary individual results. If one has disappointing results with a velocity program, it very well maybe the program itself but it also may be a solid program and for whatever reason is not currently the right fit for you.  

Until Next Time,
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 579 pitchers break the 90 mph barrier, 208 have toped 94mph or better, and 135 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 professional catcher) went through the process. Garrett still holds the PG Underclass All American Games record for catcher velocity at 89 mph which he set in 2014 at the age of 16.

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