In my opinion one of the true leaders of advanced arm strength development is exemplified at Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch, and their product does not lie. The likes of Trevor Bauer, Scott Kazmir, CJ Wilson and many others achieved success with the help of the ranch.
The overall health and longevity of a prototypical pitcher from the ranch is best seen in their success story of Trevor Bauer. Although it is difficult to advocate a UCLA Bruin who toyed with our Trojan lineup for 9 innings when I was there in 2011, I cannot deny that I have a huge amount of respect for his un-wavering tenacity and approach to the game. Over the course of 3 years at UCLA trevor threw an unnerving 373.1 innings, which by many standards would have been considered arm abuse. Yet, he thrived week in and week out, and often would come back on short rest for big games! That was simply the way he was wired, and his extremely targeted workout regiment put him in the position to thrive as a true workhorse. I had the opportunity to experience the ranch a few years ago, and was immediately impressed by their simplistic yet structured approach to arm development. Not only did they cover the approach to long toss and the throwing program, but they had an entire program which encompassed mechanical training, short-burst plyo/ power training, the mental game, and a strong culture of motivation and confidence.
The biggest take-away I had while at the ranch, was the culture of throwing a baseball. Every day catch play is just as much a part of training as the work you put in at the gym. I learned that power throwing and power training need to coincide together. Training the body is only so good as how you train your arm, and vice versa. This culture also demands that the least strenuous day a pitcher faces during the typical in-season or off-season week should be the day they pitch. Injury prevention is only so good as the work you put in. It is naive to believe that rest and cardio alone can prevent the wear and tear of throwing every week on the mound. This approach certainly does not work in any other sport, and it will never work for a pitcher.
It is clear that over the course of 25+ years we have not progressed in our approach to arm training, and in many ways we have actually taken steps backwards. It is time to take more pride in the way we research, mentor, and ultimately develop young arms. The widespread culture of “throwing minimalism” is certainly not the long term plan of success. Rather, concerted work ethic combined with a clear and proven direction will develop the next wave of elite young power arms.
Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USA-W, TPI
Baseball Performance Specialist, Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy
Tagged: arm speed, arm strength, arm training, Athlete, athleticism, baseball, Baseball Training, Champion's QUEST, major league baseball, pitchers, pitching, plyometrics, speed, texas baseball ranch, velocity, youth training