Enhance the Pitcher that You Are, and Stop Chasing the One that You're NOT
Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself, regardless of how disappointing the truth may be. This is true in all aspects of life, and the baseball field is no different. In order to maximize your skill set, reach your ceiling of potential as a baseball pitcher, and find success, you must first come to terms with who you are as an athlete, and where your capabilities lie. In doing so, you make way for a valid and efficient training regimen that allows you to target and enhance the tools that you have, instead of chasing the ones that you don't. To reinforce this concept, shown below is a clip from a presentation given to the pitchers of the United Shore Professional Baseball League.
Embracing this concept as an athlete, regardless of the sport, is CRUCIAL in maximizing your health and performance potential because it allows you to emphasize the areas that give you the largest return on investment. For example, if you have two hours per day set aside for training and improving your craft, the majority of that time should be spent on your pitching delivery and body functionality, as those are the two areas that relate most to the health and performance of a baseball pitcher.
Unfortunately, too often in today's baseball culture do guys get caught in the pipe dream of throwing harder, and they lean on modalities that place tremendous strain on other aspects of their game, particularly their health. Not only that, but I would even argue that most modalities that claim to improve velocity are either ineffective at doing so, or only yield short term benefits that aren't sustainable. However you slice it, the Risk/Reward ratio isn't good. The reason for this shortcoming is simple; these types of programs fail to appropriately target the components that have the largest influence on velocity. As straight forward as that sounds, validation behind this reasoning is a bit more complex as we have to get into the nuts and bolts of the human body. To help us do this, we will use another video clip from the same presentation as before, except this time the topic of conversation relates to how velocity is created inside the body, and the variables that influence it the most.
Those concepts should sound familiar if you've read The DVS Score, Part 1: A Pitcher's First and Largest Step Towards Success, an article in which we presented the 4 Pillars of a Pitcher's Success: Velocity, Health, Consistency, and Mental Fortitude. Not only does the article remind you that there are other factors besides velocity that are pivotal to a pitcher's success, but they break down each Pillar so you can understand the "why." And without the "why," and formulating your own understanding of how all the pieces fit together, the current culture will likely drift you in a direction that is inefficient, injurious, and limiting. With that said, shown below are two additional video clips from the presentation relating to the final three Pillars: Health, Consistency, and Mental Fortitude.
After watching those videos, hopefully it's easier to see some of the misconceptions that are frequently embraced by the baseball community. The current culture embraces a "more, more, more" mentality, instead of one that is based on validity and efficiency. This is unfortunate because "it's not how much you do...it's what you do, when you do it, and how you do it" that will have the largest impact on your success as a baseball pitcher.
Now, coming back full circle, all of this starts with a good, honest look in the mirror. In combination with an understanding of the 4 Pillars, and how to get the most of each one, coming to terms with who you are as an athlete and a pitcher can drastically change the direction of your career. If you haven't done so yet, perform this quick task and relate your current skill-set to someone you see in the Big Leagues. Don't stop yourself from setting goals, but try to be as realistic and honest with yourself as possible. Just so you know, we think Mark Buehrle is a great example for this exercise. Check out the video below and see why.
As you just heard, Buehrle doesn't have insane, "Syndergaard-type stuff" in regard to velocity. It's simply not in his cards. However, he uses the other three Pillars extremely well, and he has ENOUGH velocity to be successful (the type of success that earns you upwards of 140 million dollars over a career, by the way). This, along with the 4 Pillars, is one of the most important concepts for a player to firmly digest; you don't need as much velocity as you think to be effective, you just need enough. Yes, 95 will get you noticed quicker, but at the end of the day you still have to know how to pitch and put up numbers. This is exactly why it's the lower levels of professional baseball that have the hardest throwers on average. Not to mention, velocity is something that you really don't have that much control over as genetics plays a dominant role, so why sacrifice everything else in pursuit of an unrealistic goal?
With that said, there are ABSOLUTELY ways to acquire sustainable velocity gains (i.e. the only kind that matter) that don't sacrifice health, and promote improvement in other aspects of your game as well. However, much of it depends on each pitcher's unique set of variables and circumstances. What's their DVS Score (i.e. Mechanical Efficiency)? Is the body and muscular system functioning well? Are they strong relative to their body weight? Are they overweight? Are they at risk for a throwing related injury? These, among several others, are just a few of the variables that need to be assessed when determining a pitcher's overall health and performance potential so an efficient plan can be set in motion. And in the world of a baseball pitcher, Efficiency is above all else. Without it, inefficiency will likely rule your career, and if you happen to find success, don't think it was because you did yourself any favors.
Therefore, I would encourage you to read, if you haven't done so already, our three-part series related to the importance of the DVS Score. In addition to Part 1, which was mentioned earlier, you can find Part 2 and Part 3 by clicking the respective links. Not only that, but if you're interested in knowing where you stand in regard to your overall potential, getting your DVS Score is where the process begins. From here, our online Player Consultations provide us with the means to improve your Score, and implement an efficient training regimen that will increase your likelihood of success.