The Importance of TIME to Your Success as a Pitcher

A commonly asked question that I get from new clients is “How long does it take until my son gets it?” By “gets it”, they mean the understanding of movement and how their bodies build energy into the throw with the ability to repeat and perform. That is a fair question and the honest answer depends on many different factors including athleticism, genetics, health, and most importantly time committed. Entering into a new training facility to train your body and mind differently on throwing should come with questions and expected progression, but also self-expectations and the understanding of the time commitment to the craft.

Development can oftentimes be misunderstood, especially as a pitcher. After playing professionally, I realized many pitchers at the higher levels misunderstand development as simply throwing harder. In today’s baseball culture, an increasingly larger number of pitchers spend a majority of their development time with a “throw harder” mentality. Throwing harder may be achieved but the skill set of what success requires may go untrained. The ultimate goal of a pitcher is to be successful, which can be defined as playing at the highest level of competition that their body physically allows for the longest period of time possible. Other skills of pitching often go untouched like the ability to repeat mechanics and show high levels of consistency, develop late depth or “heaviness” of pitches, and commanding the zone all at high intensities that allow for velocity to develop along with the other skills. All of these skills require much time spent practicing and understanding the delivery and how a pitcher can maximize his body. The student below is only 10 years old, but after his first year of building a supported mechanical foundation, he is progressing to executing pitches on a consistent level.

 

10 Year Old Pitcher works on FB Command during a DVS Training Session

 

Like many, my vision of my development was simply to get stronger and long toss more, which would make me throw harder and become a good enough pitcher to play professional baseball. This led me to an unhealthy shoulder and an inconsistent collegiate summer league season with around a 4.00 ERA and no hopes of playing professionally. The shoulder injury led me to dig into more information on why injuries happen and ultimately I discovered DVS Scoring system, which numerically values a pitcher’s efficiency in his delivery. Through the DVS System, the concept of energy was introduced as a product that we are trying to build and maximize into a consistent release point, which opened my eyes to a whole new world. Developmental time and progression then took a different view and practice.

The focus of my development became finding ways to improve my DVS Score and maximize what my body had to offer. The biggest change that I made was time became allocated to different areas of my craft. I understood that my skill was throwing, so spending more time feeling different cues and working directly on that skill would lead to the best results. I developed a nightly routine of 25 minutes of honing my craft, allowing my body to reach new goals in throwing. This routine consisted mainly of mechanical work to allow my body to build more potential energy, along with more time applying the mechanics down the mound. This helped build more feel of my delivery and pitches as well as throwing as often as I could while trying to maximize my delivery. With bigger and better energy, my body was able to recover faster, allowing me to throw more often. Over time, my routine showed results. After 3 months, my DVS Score had improved from 13 to 15 and finding 4 more mph on my average fastball. Similar results show in clients who also found the DVS System. On average clients that go through the DVS program improve their DVS score by 2-3 in three months.

Throughout the training, constant checks and challenges were created to focus the energy built in my throw to a repeatable ball release. Making sure that my release point was consistent in all my throws allowed me to direct the built-up energy to a target. Being able to repeat the same wrist angle, arm path and slot, and feel of the ball whipping out of the fingers as often as possible directly transferred to performance. Being able to feel and repeat the same ball release also allows for the ability to manipulate it with control. If I wanted more downward action, cut, or run on the fastball, I knew how to change the wrist angle to make the ball do what I wanted.

The routine training of my body’s energy to a repeatable release point changed the outlook on my career. After another few months of the consistent mechanical and energy training, my DVS Score improved to 22 and allowed my ERA to go from 4.0 to 1.5 in the same summer league, opening the door for professional baseball. My game and understanding of pitching by this point had completely changed for the better. The groundwork I put in allowed for confidence in the game. My new throwing routine allowed for feel of all of my pitches, giving me control of where I am locating and the flight of the ball. The strengthening of my body’s energy systems allowed for the same delivery every time on the mound leading to more consistent performances. I continued to commit time on my delivery, which helped me earn Pitcher of the Year honors my second year of pro ball.  I accumulated over 100 innings, the most anyone had ever pitched in the league. Smarter training and a better understanding of my DVS Score made me a smarter and more effective pitcher. 

 
Mason throws a pitch prior to the start of a USPBL game in 2018. Photo courtesy of Matt Cripsey

Mason throws a pitch prior to the start of a USPBL game in 2018. Photo courtesy of Matt Cripsey

 

At DVS, we often see the best results from clients who work smarter and implement their training at home. We see it all the time in our data at the USPBL. In 2017, players who improved in average velocity by 2 or more mph also saw the biggest average DVS Score improvement of 3.11. When clients come in, we tend to see that pitchers who participate in the program for 6 months consistently improve their score by 5 points. This all required work at home and the continuation of developing and understanding one’s own delivery. As Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who practiced 10,000 kicks one time, I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times.

-Josh Mason