Embracing Variability in Pitcher Training: The Key to Performance and Injury Prevention
When I was raising my three sons, I had 3 pairs of cheap shoes — one pair for work, one for the baseball field, and one for church on Sundays.
And my feet hurt all the time.
Now, as a self-confessed sneakerhead I sport an array of top-tier sneakers – a different pair for every day of the week.
My feet have never felt better.
This personal revelation is a perfect metaphor for one of the most critical aspects of pitcher training: the importance of variability. At The Florida Baseball ARMory, we’ve long embraced the concept of variability as a cornerstone of our SAVAGE Training methodology.
It’s about understanding that overuse injuries in pitchers don’t just stem from “too much” use, but rather from “too much of the same” use.
The Myth of a Repeatable Delivery:
The traditional coaching mantra of achieving a “repeatable delivery” might sound appealing but is practically a unicorn in the world of pitching. No pitcher, no matter how skilled, can perfectly replicate their mechanics every time. The real skill is in the pitcher’s ability to adapt and adjust mid-motion – a testament to the body’s innate ability to self-organize.
The Role of Long Toss and Weighted Balls:
Take long toss, for instance. Popularized by Alan Jaeger, its value lies not in mere “arm strength” or “arm speed” but in the subtle variations each throw demands, forcing the body to adapt and distribute stress more evenly across different tissues.
Similarly, weighted ball training, isn’t just about building arm strength or arm speed but introducing different stimuli to encourage adaptability.
Variability in Action:
At The ARMory, we live by this principle. Every aspect of our training incorporates variability. This approach not only minimizes the risk of overuse injuries but also enhances overall performance.
After finishing his playing career, he decided he wanted to lift weights like a body builder and a power lifter. He set out on a quest to gain as much weight as possible and to bench press as much weight as he could.
He reached point in this pursuit that he plateaued at and couldn’t get past 270 lbs on his bench press. For 3 weeks he attempted a 1 rep max of 275 and in his words, “got stapled.”
Seeing his frustration, I said, “Ari, you already know what you need to do to break through.”
He looked at me sideways.
“What does the V in SAVAGE stand for?”
“Variability.” He replied.
“Exactly.” I said. “Remember the story of Louie Simmons from Westside Bar Bell, the strongest gym in the world? What did those guys do when they reach a plateau in a lift? They hung weights from elastic bands. The variability of the stimulus will create enough perturbations to elicit microscopic co-contractions that allow force sharing, coordination, and protection.” Alan Kolb, our Director of Performance had just given a presentation on the topic.
For the next 2 weeks, instead of maxing out on his bench press, Ari hung two 25 lb kettle bells on either end of a 135 lb lift.
The next time he maxed, he broke through the threshold, and he hasn’t looked back.
Why Variability Matters:
This approach is akin to a farmer rotating crops to maintain soil vitality. By constantly introducing new challenges and stimuli, we’re not just training muscles and ligaments; we’re training the entire neuromuscular system to be more resilient, coordinated, and capable. It’s about teaching the body to share forces, improve coordination, and protect itself against the rigors of high-intensity sports like baseball.
Join the SAVAGE Revolution:
If you’re a pitcher looking to enhance your performance and reduce injury risk, consider the power of variability in your training. At The Florida Baseball ARMory, we’re not just training pitchers; we’re cultivating adaptable, resilient athletes. Join us and experience the transformative power of SAVAGE Training, where variability isn’t just a concept – it’s the foundation of everything we do.
Embrace variability, enhance adaptability, and redefine your limits. Join us at The Florida Baseball ARMory and be part of the SAVAGE revolution. Your journey to becoming an elite pitcher starts here.
Click Hereto Get Started or call us at 866-787-4533 for a personalized training plan.
Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS CEO, Florida Baseball ARMory