Before you begin, I would highly recommend that you read two previous posts:
I’m a huge fan of Shark Week but I don’t have the time to watch it. Imagine, having a week dedicated to pitching instruction on the cutting edge, thought provoking!
Information, so powerful and innovative, that hitters shiver at the thought of putting their feet in the box!
So, I had an idea, why not have Paul Nyman Week, “It’s A Bad Week To Be A Hitter!”
And that’s what I’ve done. This entire week, I wanted to pay tribute to Paul.
Here’s the schedule for the week, so make sure and continue to check back each day.
Shark Paul Nyman Week
Monday: Pitching Instruction: Pitching Mechanics Instruction vs Pitcher Training
Tuesday: Pitching Instruction: Form vs. Function, Risk vs Reward
Wednesday: Pitching Instruction: Form vs. Function, Return on Training Time
Thursday: Pitching Instruction: A Pitching Coach or A Throwing Coach?
Shhhh……It’s about to start, quit talking!
Warning: The information you are about to read is unlike anything else in the world of pitching instruction. Please TRY this at home!
Pitching Instruction Part 2: Pitching Mechanics vs. Pitcher Training
One of the “benefits” of progress and technology is a higher degree of specialization.
One would expect (hope?) that at the top of the baseball player development “food chain” (major-league baseball) technology would be paramount .
Every major league baseball player development’s organization is structured pretty much the same way.
There is a director of player development who may have an assistant reporting to him.
Underneath them are a pitching and hitting coordinator whose job is to work with the various minor-league coaches/players with respect to those aspects of pitching that don’t involve specific game type management i.e. what we might classically call pitching mechanics.
Also buried somewhere in the organization is usually (although not all organizations think it’s important function) is the minor-league strength and conditioning coordinator.
90% of player development activities simply track the progress of a player and place the player at a development level, perceived to be compatible/appropriate to the players developmental progress.
With respect to actual instruction and development there are only two people in the organization that potentially have an effect on that players throwing development:
But what effect can these two individuals really have on a players development?
“Managers and coaches often get too much credit and too much blame,” said Randy Wolf, who last season led the National League in starts and posted his best earned-run average in seven seasons under Honeycutt before signing as a free agent with the Brewers. “I’ll never blame a pitching coach because I’m almost positive a pitching coach has never thrown a pitch for me.”
Some pitching coaches say their job title is misleading because, with countless hours of video work, tedious bullpen sessions and long game-planning meetings, they spend very little time coaching pitching.
Here’s what Angels Manager Mike Scioscia had to say:
“It’s very, very difficult to change a pitcher’s mechanics when they’re 18, let alone 28,”
Added Mike Butcher, in his fourth season as the Angels’ pitching coach:
“By the time most guys get here, they’re their own personal coach. They should understand themselves very well.”
And then, there are……
Each group also has a significantly different “purpose and mission”, especially at the major league level.
In today’s professional game the people who exert the most control over what a pitcher does or does not do are the doctors and trainers.
The investment that major league organizations (business’s) make in their players dictates virtually all policy. As with any high dollar value investment it must be protected, the number one issue then becomes the health of the player and his arm.
Nowhere is this situation more evident than in the restrictions that the strength and conditioning people must work under. Typical of a teams priorities is what happened several years ago when a major organization eliminated their entire strength and conditioning organization as a cost reduction measure.
I also don’t think this thought process (protect the investment) takes into account “how did the player become so valuable (perform so well) to begin with”?
Is the training regimen, types of activities that got the player to a first-round status before the draft the same after the draft?
Most of the time it is not, resulting in the decline of the player’s abilities to throw a baseball.
In attempting to protect their investment, organizations are potentially putting the player at greater risk of either decreased performance or increased susceptibility to injury or both.
I can relate a story from the National Strength and Conditioning Associations Sports Specific Training Seminar for Baseball. A strength and conditioning coach for the MLB team told the audience that if a player wants to do a certain lift in the weight room that is not on the “standard”,as in “acceptable lift” of lifts, that he will still let the player perform those lifts.
Because the player wants to do this, the player is taking responsibility But if Fernando, the strength coach, wants the player to do a lift that the player has not totally “bought into” and the player injures himself.
The next day, Fernando the strength coach would be calling 1-800 TRUCKMASTER looking for a job!
Today, this same “fear” and “protection” affects much of what is taught and marketed as good pitching information practice.
The “irony” is that the purveyors of this information are promising opposite ends of the spectrum as in protect your arm by resting it and then every fifth day go and try and throw 100 mph.
All other things being equal, increasing velocity INCREASES the stress on the arm, which by all of the principles of physiology and physics INCREASES the probability of injury.
When in reality they should be throwing MORE and MORE aggressively!
Two very important points:
When it comes to the physical aspect of professional player development there continues to be a developmental paradox. The throwing work load of today’s Major League pitchers (and by direct association, all levels of baseball) is not controlled by those who have the most training and experience (the trainers and physiologists).
It is controlled by the medical staffs!
Work load such as pitch counts have become the “property” of the medical community. The irony is they are not based on any real science.
To the best of my knowledge, pitch counts recommended by the ASMI were determined from a poll taken of doctors and trainers (please note, trainers are not the strength and conditioning specialists). In other words there is absolutely no research or studies (that I am aware of) to support these pitch count numbers.
The reason all of this is important to understand is……..
What adds even more confusion to this situation is…..
It’s called marketing 101!
Here’s what I want you to do…