The DVS Score, Part 1: A Pitcher's First and Largest Step Towards Success
Whether a pitcher realizes it or not, what they are truly seeking is the opportunity to maximize their genetic potential and achieve the highest level of success possible. Unfortunately, a pitcher's success is a concept that has become foreign to the ears of pitchers all around the country. It has been lost to the current trends of travel ball, weighted balls, long toss, the weight room, and numerous other distractions that the current baseball culture has embraced. These cultural values have become synonymous with success over the years. However, a good argument could be made that the success a pitcher achieves actually has little to do with any of these. In fact, I would even argue that many times they get in the way. Just because a seemingly successful pitcher embraces or endorses any these trends, doesn’t remotely mean that they are successful because of them.
"A Pitcher's Success" - To play at the highest level of competition that their physical capabilities allow, for the longest period of time possible.
To understand this concept, and thus find the most direct and efficient path to your success, we first have to define the essential components that all successful pitchers share. We refer to these as The 4 Pillars of a Pitcher's Success, and they are Velocity, Health, Consistency, and Mental fortitude. In some way or another, these four components sum together to form a successful pitcher. Or, as we stated before, how far a pitcher travels up the ladder is directly determined by how well they exemplify each of these characteristics. As this process is primarily regulated by your genetics, which can’t be changed, the trick to stacking the odds in your favor depends on how effective your training regimen is. That is, are you focused on the things that give you the biggest “bang-for-your-buck” concerning these four characteristics?
ARTICLE SERIES BREAKDOWN
In this three part series, we are going to shed light on what aspects of your game you should emphasize the most in order to get the largest return on your investment, and ultimately strive towards "A Pitcher's Success".
- PART 1: Why is the DVS Score the key to enhancing your own "4 Pillars"?
- PART 2: Understanding the DVS Score, and why it's the best tool to measure where you currently stand relative to your overall genetic potential.
- PART 3: How to improve your DVS Score.
The 4 Pillars of a Pitcher's Success
Let’s start by breaking down the hottest topic surrounding the game of baseball today, velocity. Yes, velocity is important, and there is a minimum amount required for a pitcher to advance up the ladder of competition; however, contrary to what you may believe or may have heard, you have a relatively small influence on how fast the ball comes out of your hand. Not to say throwing velocity can’t be improved, but how you go about doing it makes all the difference in the world. Take a sprinter for example. Healthy male, not overweight, with no major muscle weaknesses or underlying injuries present. What do you think is the quickest way for this individual to see the largest gains in speed? Dead Lifts? Over-speed training? Under-speed training? Actually, none of the above, and it’s not even close. The answer lies within his technique, which ultimately boils down to Mechanical Efficiency, or how effectively he’s able to transform energy into output force and movement. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually really simple when you think about it!
Consider any other common performance measure in sports; dunking a basketball, power-lifting, or a hitter's ball-exit-speed. Take any of these, and aside from genetics, mechanical efficiency is going to have the largest impact on performance. You can sit in the weight room all day long, add weight, or take away weight; the bottom line is that nothing is going to give you nearly the same punch as the efficiency within your technique or mechanics.
How is velocity created? Well, let’s break down how velocity (power) is manifested inside your body. How hard you throw is driven by three primary components.
THREE COMPONENTS OF VELOCITY
The first, your muscle fiber-type, is almost entirely regulated by your genetics and can’t be altered to any significant degree. Second, leverage consists of your bone structure (i.e. height, arm length) and joint structure (i.e. external rotation, flexibility), the majority of which is also driven by your genetics. Last but not least, we have health. As this is the body’s primary biological priority, if health is compromised, velocity will suffer as well. The good news is that health is also the one variable of the three that you have the largest influence over, so it’s something you can keep in check if you know what you’re doing. However, let’s take our “sprinter example” from earlier, except this time make him a baseball pitcher. Therefore, we have a healthy, relatively fit, college-aged male pitcher with no significant muscular weaknesses or underlying injuries. What is the best and most efficient way for this individual to improve throwing velocity?
To answer this, we have to look back at the second component, leverage. Remember how I said, “majority of which is driven by your genetics”? Well, that minority left over is often rich with untapped velocity potential. Leverage is more than just the physical attributes related to your genetics, as a large part relates to HOW you actually use those attributes to your advantage. By creating greater leverage and better timing within your pitching delivery, you can put physics on your side, and begin to increase your throwing velocity.
Interestingly enough, through more leverage and better timing, your throwing arm will endure less stress when throwing a baseball, which positively impacts your health. Therefore, by focusing on Mechanical Efficiency, not only do you give yourself the greatest opportunity to achieve your true velocity ceiling, but you do so in a way that benefits your health. Seems like a pretty big bang-for-your-buck to me, accounting for two of the four essential characteristics that all successful pitchers share, by focusing one aspect of your game.
CONSISTENCY & MENTAL FORTITUDE
Now, all that’s left to account for is consistency and mental fortitude. Since consistency is simply just the repetition of Mechanical Efficiency, we can go ahead and cross that off the list as well. Lastly, we have mental fortitude, which essentially boils down to how confident a pitcher is in their ability to execute. Although it’s almost impossible to simplify anything related to a player’s psyche, it’s safe to say that if a pitcher has good velocity, good health, and good consistency, then they will likely have success as well. Success builds and instills confidence, which is then expressed as strong mental fortitude. So there you have it. By essentially focusing on one thing, Mechanical Efficiency, you have also accounted for health, consistency, and mental fortitude.
PART 2: MEASURING MECHANICAL EFFICIENCY
So what’s the secret then? If Mechanical Efficiency is the largest driver of performance and health, your next question should be, "how do I measure it?" The answer to this can be found in the next article, Part II, but it all centers around the DVS Score. By becoming aware of your DVS Score, you can begin to understand how much of your athletic potential you're expressing, which is the key to reaching your genetic ceiling.