Saturday, December 27, 2014

Practice 10 minutes a day

Do a little, a lot

A little practice, everyday will help you improve your pitching
– Ken Knutson, former ASU pitching coach


Start off easy throwing and work your way up to pitching

Remember, to become good at any sport, you have to practice with focus. Ten to fifteen minutes a day of practice is all it takes for young players. A good dynamic warmup before picking up a baseball, and then five minutes of throwing with each arm works well.

Alternating throwing days with each arm is a good strategy. This process allows you to focus on the mechanics of one side and make small adjustments each day. After band exercises, stretching and warming up throwing, 20-30 pitches on flat ground is plenty - that's equal to two innings of pitching.


Throw hard daily

Primarily work on throwing the ball straight using the 4-seam fastball grip. Throw the ball hard with a complete follow through on every throw. Throw long toss twice a week.

Work on throwing a change-up and two-seam fastball – using the same arm motion and speed as the 4-seam fastball. 


Proof that daily practice works:




"Throw more and pitch less." 
- good advice from a top coach


Arm stress is much higher when throwing off the mound, as compared to flat ground. For long-term development, throw more and pitch less. - Eric Cressey

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Reasons to become an ambidextrous thrower

The majority of ambidextrous throwers are naturally right-handed. 

Kids under three often throw with both arms, but only 1% of the population is naturally ambidextrous.

Scrappers' pitcher highlights rarity of ambidexterity



Here are a few reasons why a player might start throwing with both arms:

• Just for fun 
• Natural ability to throw with both arms
• Kid wants to throw like switch pitcher Pat Venditte 

• Gain an advantage over the hitters  (Pat Venditte)
• Shut down the running game


• Prevent overuse (Henry Knight)
• Improve coordination and balance (Yu Darvish)

• Arm injury (Billy Wagner, Tony Mullane, Ed Head)
• Tommy John Surgery motivates the player to start throwing with the other arm


• Baseball dad always wanted a lefty pitcher (Ryan Perez)
• To see if it could be done (Greg Harris, Pat Venditte)

• A lefty wants to play shortstop but the coach says no (Brandon Berdoll)
• A lefty wants to play catcher, so they start throwing right-handed


• Only a right-handed catcher's mitt was available 
   (Babe Ruth was a lefty pitcher and right-handed catcher in school)




• Parent bought the wrong glove when the kid was young (it happens)
• Natural lefty started using his older brother's right-handed glove
• Coach makes you throw right-handed when you are a natural lefty


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Examples of ambidextrous throwers

Arm Injury

Ed Head switched throwing arms after a bus crash

In 1935 Head was a cleaver sandlot southpaw for the Ouachita Parish high school team at West Monroe, La. In a bus crash Head's pitching arm and shoulder were crushed. The surgeon, his uncle, said he might be able to save it, but that he was through as a pitcher.

Changed to Right Arm.

Head refused to give up. Like a baby learning to walk he learned to toss stones with his right hand and soon got enough distance and accuracy to play ball again. In 1938 he got a professional job with Jackson, Miss., and moved to Abbeville of the Evangeline league in 1939. Finally he reached the Dodgers and was just hitting his peak when he convinced army doctors his arm was sound enough to become a G.I., and he left in mid-season of 1944.


Ed Head Hurls No-hit Game


Warsaw Daily Union - Apr 25, 1946

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Tony Mullane

Hall Of Fame Nominee, Switch-Pitcher Tony Mullane 
by Lew Freedman,  Si.com - Nov 19, 2012

Mullane began as a right-hander, but when he hurt his arm he taught himself to pitch lefty, too. Then, when his original injury healed, he pitched from both sides, sometimes in the same at-bat. This was facilitated by his not wearing a glove.
Read more

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Prevent Overuse

A few pitchers became ambidextrous throwers to prevent overuse of their dominant arm. This can work in the role as a relief pitcher where you throw one or two innings in a game.

Henry Knight alternates throwing arms to maintain fitness and prevent overuse. He uses his ambidextrous skills to field every position during summer ball - including pitcher and catcher.

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Pitching Advantage

Pat Venditte Sr. trained his son to throw with both arms to give his son an edge in athletic competitions. 

For Pat Jr., it's meant a way to chase his dream of playing in the Show someday. "I know I wouldn't be this far without it," he says. "I don't have dominating stuff from one side or the other. I need both." (ESPN)

Venditte switches throwing arms to adjust for the platoon situation. In general, right-handed batters hit better against left-handed pitchers, while left-handed hitters have the advantage against right-handed pitchers. By being ambidextrous, Venditte has the advantage by pitching right-handed to righties, and left-handed to lefties. Plus coaches can save pitchers in the bullpen who normally would be used to face one or two batters.
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Throwing with both arms for fun

A Wacky Wannabe Southpaw
Robertson Earns a Living With His Right Arm but Has More Fun Throwing Lefty


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Bridging the Gap - Academics & Inner City Baseball


Baseball Beyond Borders 2014 Annual Film: Bridging the Gap

Baseball is a beautiful game. It teaches you a lot about life.EC Parker, coach



Watch the cameo appearance 
by switch pitcher Henry Knight - throwing long toss.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Game strategies for a switch pitcher

Coaches typically don't have a good strategy on how to use a switch pitcher in games – since they are so rare. It's easy to develop a strategy if you treat an ambidextrous thrower like two different pitchers. Here are a few strategies for ambidextrous pitchers that will work in games.


Little League Switch Pitcher ...
Throw Strikes ...
A young ambidextrous thrower should be able to throw at least 50% strikes with both arms before pitching in a game. I prefer the 60% strike average. Remember the goal is to get outs, not to walk the bases loaded.

Game Strategy
Pitch from one side only in a game to gain experience and maintain a rhythm. Use a standard fielding glove for pitching (ambidextrous gloves are too large and heavy for young pitchers).
This strategy keeps things simple and allows the pitcher to focus on throwing hard and in the zone. 
If the pitcher struggles to throw strikes or get outs, then they could try switching to the other arm (if their head is still in the game and they still want to pitch). 
Note: Switching arms between every batter will disrupt a pitcher's rhythm and is a waste of time for youth pitchers. Remember, pitching is not a circus act. Respect the game.



High School Switch Pitcher ...
A HS switch pitcher can be treated like two different pitchers – a starter and a closer. Because of their ability to throw strikes and get outs, ambidextrous pitchers are likely to throw a complete  game.

It's very important to warm up properly, with both arms, prior to taking the mound

Since HS batters often struggle to hit off of good left-handed pitchers, I recommend starting out the game throwing lefty. Throwing lefty also works well for keeping runners from stealing second base (if you have a good pickoff).
In a game: The coach can have the switch pitcher throw to the entire lineup left-handed, then switch to the right arm when the opponent gets to the top of the order. This way batters aren't able to figure out the pitcher.

This strategy works well for switch pitcher Henry Knight, who pitched on varsity since his freshman year. He averaged 76% strikes in his junior year and had a 12:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

By staying with one side at a time for an entire inning, the switch pitcher gets in a grove and acquires valuable game experience with the non-dominant arm. If the pitcher struggles to get outs, then they can switch to the dominant arm and be their own relief pitcher.

Another strategy is to pitch the first four or five innings lefty, then throw the last few innings right-handed. Or throw 3 innings lefty, then 3 innings righty, and have another pitcher close  the 7-inning game.

College Switch Pitcher ...

At the college level, ambidextrous pitchers are used as a starter, or middle reliever. 

In a game, a college switch pitcher will typically pitch an inning with one arm only, since it's easier to warmup one side. 

Occasionally, starters will face right-handed batters as a right-handed pitcher; and lefty batters as a lefty pitcher. Relief pitchers will rely on the platoon advantage to get outs.

Some pitchers will alternate games throwing lefty and righty, depending on the number of pitches thrown.



Pro Switch Pitcher ...

At this advanced level, ambidextrous pitchers will mainly be used in relief to get outs.

In a game, skilled switch pitchers face right-handed batters as a right-handed pitcher; and lefty batters as a lefty pitcher. They do a warm up routine before throwing both ways in the bullpen.


On coaching Pat Venditte

Pat Venditte, successful right-handed and left-handed pitcher for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, presents a significant matchup problem for any opposing manager in the late innings of a game. ...

But if he confounds opposing managers, Venditte's own pitching coach in Trenton, Tommy Phelps, has a much easier solution to instructing the switch-pitcher. He just treats coaching Venditte like coaching two separate pitchers.
"Exactly," Phelps told me as we spoke just outside the Thunder video room Tuesday afternoon, prior to Trenton's game against New Britain. "I treat it as two different deliveries, two different pitchers. You know, in his case, his keys for one side may be different than the other side. So I treat them both totally different."
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Weighted Ball Program for a High School Pitcher


Why use weighted balls?

Weighted implement training is a proven way to increase arm strength and throwing velocity. Many college baseball teams use weighted ball programs to prevent arm injuries and add velocity. Now elite high school players are learning how to safely train with weighted balls to become stronger and healthier throwers.

Oregon State freshman Drew Rasmussen pitched a perfect game. Rasmussen uses weighted balls and long toss as part of his workouts.  

Average high school pitchers who do regular workouts – using overload-underload training – can increase their throwing velocity by 5 mph in six weeks.


This 2 minute video highlights a few exercises to build strength in the arms, shoulders and back. This was the first training session for Henry Knight – a switch pitcher – who does equal reps with both arms.

Strengthening the decelerating muscles will improve your ability to accelerate a baseball.



Switch pitcher weighted ball workout. 
Over six months, Knight gained strength and velocity – with both arms – after training with exercise bands, weighted balls, and wrist weights. 

Weighted balls work! 
Knight gained 5+ mph in velocity over the first six weeks with both arms.

Note: His height and weight remained constant, so the significant velocity gain can be attributed to the daily workout routine.

Arm health 
Knight did not have any arm injury or elbow strain while pitching for 4 years in high school and summer ball. A proper warm up and a post-throwing routine is highly recommended.


Setting goals
In order to improve, it's a good idea to set goals and evaluate your progress. Knight's goal was to strengthen his rotator cuff to prevent arm injury – while increasing throwing velocity and command. 

The basic concept of the weighted ball training program is to strengthen the decelerator muscles and stabilize the shoulder joint. Pitchers will develop a "feel" for throwing while  improving their arm motion and mechanical efficiency.


At Driveline Baseball, each pitcher uses a personalized workout routine in the MaxVelo Program. Pitchers from Oregon State University use a version of this workout routine and several college and pro pitchers train at Driveline in the off-season.

There is no shortcut to increase throwing velocity. The typical workout takes 1 hour x 4 sessions a week. Plus, all the pitchers do long toss twice a week.
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Weighted Baseball Training Programs >>




Ballistic Training Methods for Pitchers


Request a free Weighted Baseball Program eBook >>

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Reading


by Duggan Moran, Crossover Symmetry

The decelerating muscles of your arm, the brakes for your arm, need to be the primary focus for all ball players. The latest research shows that strengthening these vital decelerating muscles in the preseason will protect your arm from injury as well as increase your throwing velocity.


Hacking your Arm Action: A hidden power of overload training by Ben Brewster

Some Perspective – Just a training tool
Weighted balls are just another training tool to use, just like long toss. There are hall-of-fame pitchers that loved long toss, just as there are hall of fame pitchers that never threw a ball over 60 feet in catch play. It’s about what training tools and techniques produce the desired level of performance. For those of us who can’t just roll out of bed and chuck a ball 90 miles-per-hour, it’s always worth keeping an open but critical mind of whatever possible tools may best help you achieve your end goal. 

Velocity Development Program (MaxVelo) Study Data and Conclusions
by Kyle Boddy, Driveline Baseball

Overload-Underload Training for Baseball
by Jon Davis, CSCS

Pitching Workouts by Steven Ellis

Strength Ratio Between Internal and External Rotators Defined
by Jim Moran, PT, Shoulder Specialist

Training with Weighted Balls to Improve Throwing Velocity
by Bobby Congalton

Janssen sings praises of weighted-ball program | bluejays.com
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com

Tom House's Velocity Plus Program will be a gamechanger in multiple sports
By Adam Revelette


References

Bagonzi, J. A. 1978:  The Effects of Graded Weighted Baseballs, Free Weight Training, and Simulative Isometric Exercise on the Velocity of a Thrown Baseball.  Master's thesis, Indiana University.

Coop DeRenne, Kwok Ho and Alan Blitzblau. 1990: Effects of Weighted Implement Training on Throwing Velocity. The Journal of Applied Sport Science Research, 4, 16-19.

Rotator Cuff Tutorial - Anatomy
3D anatomy tutorial on the rotator cuff (YouTube)

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

How to order an Ambidextrous Glove for switch pitching

Pat Vindette, the famous major league switch pitcher, uses a custom ambidextrous baseball glove made by Mizuno in Japan. Custom-made glove are very expensive and usually take four to six weeks for delivery.

In college, Vindette used a custom Louisville Slugger TPX Ambidextrous glove ($400). The  leather glove has 6-fingers, with 4-finger holes plus two thumb loops. It looks cool and was easy to change from one hand to the other. See the video: Double-Handed Pitcher



How to order a Ready-made Ambidextrous Glove:

Akadema Pro Soft Ambidextrous Glove - ABX00

Akadema, based in the USA, makes the only ready-to-order ambidextrous glove on the market. You can order the Akadema ABX00 online:
with free shipping from Amazon.com (List price: 119.99)

(Dec 2014) prices are subject to change



How to order a Custom Made Ambidextrous Glove:


Louisville Slugger Ambidextrous Glove



You can custom order the Louisville Slugger Ambidextrous Glove for $399.99 by calling 1-800-282-2287 and a representative will be happy to assist you. (updated June 2012)



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Mizuno Ambidextrous Glove


Mizuno GMP1A Ambidextrous Baseball Glove


The suggested retail price for the Mizuno GMP1A is $450 and it takes 4-6 weeks to make.




See photos of the Mizuno GMP 1A ambidextrous glove

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Carpenter Trade Ambidextrous Glove



Carpenter Trade crafts light-weight custom ambi gloves to fit each individual. 

The ambidextrous model measures 11.75″ and has a shallow pocket. This symmetrical design will fit either the left or right hand.

Cost: $599 with FREE DELIVERY to the 48 contiguous United States.

Learn more at CarpenterTrade.com




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Barraza Pro Ambidextrous Glove

Barraza - Personalized, Handcrafted Ambidextrous Baseball Glove 
12.75" pitcher glove, 100% Top-grain cowhide leather.
$199.95 includes free shipping. Personalize the glove for $14.95
Order online from barrazapro.com


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Rawlings Ambidextrous Glove?

Rawlings made custom baseball gloves for amateur pitchers in the past, but these are  expensive and took about 6 weeks to deliver. I don't know if Rawlings still makes any ambidextrous baseball gloves. Add a comment below if you have purchased a Rawlings ambidextrous glove in the past year.
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