What Are You Even Doing?
Harness Horse Racing and The Hierarchy Of Pitcher Development
I saw my first harness race the other day. It was quite impressive. If you’re not familiar harness racing, it’s a peculiar brand of racing where the horse trots in a style that looks like a guy who just ate a bag of rotten green apples and is in a big hurry to get to the bathroom.
The animal prances around a track pulling a 2-wheeled vehicle (called a sulky) and a driver who leans back like he’s riding a recumbent bike at Orange Theory while smacking anyone around him with rope on the end of a stick.
The winning horse was a majestic, athletic creature named “Smart As A Whip,” and in my amateur estimation, the name describes him perfectly. In fact, he was actually smarter than a whip. He appeared to know exactly what was going on, and he ran so fast that his driver hardly had to whack him.
In contrast …
The losing horse?
Apparently not so smart.
I didn’t catch his name, but if it was up to me, I’d call him something like, “What Are You Even Doing?”
Unfortunately, we see a similar phenomenon in pitcher development. We get calls every day from players or parents of players eager to adopt the #ranchguy lifestyle, get SAVAGE, and up their game.
The number one need/desire we hear (and it’s not even close) is velocity.
I get it.
My oldest son, the original FBR #ranchguy, had always dreamed of playing college baseball. He was a 17-year-old, 79-81 mph lefty who was great at winning games.
And, no one cared.
Game after game on the travel ball circuit, I watched in earnest as college recruiters re-holstered their Stalker radar guns and walked away. When we looked for help, the “experts” said, “You can’t teach velocity. It’s a gift.” They were right, at least partially.
THEY couldn’t teach velocity.
Once we realized what the college coaches wanted, we did our research, and we got to work. Ty went from 81 mph to topping at 93 mph in two years and coming out of junior college, averaging 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings; the recruiting experience was noticeably different.
Twelve years later, helping players add velocity is just about the most straightforward thing we do. We’ve developed an assessment process that allows us to create hyper-individualized, multi-faceted, training plans that produce incredible results.
Over the past three summers, ranch students who have trained with us for at least four weeks have gained an average of 4.7 mph.
We’ve also gotten pretty good at improving command. The same group of 4-week attendees over the last three summers threw an average of 14.3% more strikes after they completed their training.
And, if you’ve checked out pitching Twitter or Instagram lately, you’ve seen all the buzz around the latest craze in pitcher training —
Cue the dramatic intro music
Wait for it …
Cue the reverb and the Voice of God sound effect ..
Yeah, it’s pretty cool, and we’re all about it. Over the past three years, we’ve added a lot of high-powered tech to help us develop nasty stuff for our guys.
We have a brand new Newt Force® sensored mound (one of only four in the world) that is nothing short of a technological marvel.
Designed by a team of aerospace engineers, it’s even better than “Force Plate” data collection (a concept that is so yesterday). Instead of using clunky, inaccurate force plates, the Newt Force® whiz kids armed the mound with space-age sensors that give us precise ground reaction forces linked to real-time 200 fps video, no matter where or when you apply force into the ground. The entire mound is a giant force sensor. The Newt Force® mound been invaluable as a research and teaching tool and soon will become the gold standard for any organization interested in building a pitching lab.
When you understand anatomy (and we do) ground forces whisper what the muscles are doing. Newt Force® is the real deal.
This off-season, we’ve also used Rapsodo®, Yakkertech®, Track Man®, 4D Motion®, Moutus®, Edgetronics® and a 1000 fps Sony high-speed camera to build a state-of-the-art pitching lab that rivals anything out there.
Since the 2019 season ended, we’ve had the privilege of working with over 75 MiLB and MLB pitchers, 14 of whom MLB drafted in the first or second rounds.
For many of those thoroughbreds, adding a new pitch, changing the shape of a breaking ball, or turning a flat, dead-zone fastball into a hopping rocket full of life is a game-changer.
No doubt about it, PITCH DESIGN is sexy, and we’re ready, willing, and able to help you take your stuff to stratospheric levels.
But, we might want to pull back on the reigns for just a minute.
We don’t want to be like that loser horse, “What Are You Even Doing?”
We need to start with a thorough, multi-faceted assessment and then design an individualized plan that adheres to the following hierarchy of development.
As my friend, coach Ron Wolforth said back around 2014, when working with pitchers at any level, “Start With The Pain.”
As you advance through the FBR SAVAGE Training System, velocity, command, and stuff (spin, shape, movement quality) will ALL be critical to your development.
But, no one is interested in a program that helps you throw hard, accurate, and nasty but increases risk of injury.
And, if you’re having pain or the threat of pain, your body will not allow you the freedom you need to explore and expand your current limits.
Pain is the trump card!
We MUST “Start With The Pain.”
On the other hand, no one is going to hold your hand and give you a scholarship or a pro contract if you don’t throw hard enough, don’t throw enough strikes, or don’t have nasty enough stuff to 1) get high-level hitters out and 2) attract the attention of next-level decision-makers.
It’s our job to help you thread that needle perfectly, and it is with the utmost humility that I report:
We’re great at it!
We’ve done it thousands of times before, and we can do it for you.
What would your game look like if you added 5-7 mph to your fastball?
How about if you could throw 14-16% more strikes with all your pitches?
What if we could help you develop un-hittable induced vertical break (hop) on your fast ball, add a sick slider or a 12-6 curveball?
And most importantly, how good would you be if you were finally pain-free and could confidently train as hard as you want while minimizing your risk of injury?
If gains like that sound life-changing to you, get in your car and get here as quickly as you can.
But, wait. Don’t be a loser. 🙂
Don’t put the cart first.
To get started, click on one of the buttons below, or call our CFO, Amy Marsh at 866-787-4533 and let her work with you to customize a training package that fits you to the tee.
The Pain, The Flame, The Aim, ANDThe Game
You need it ALL.
We want to help you get it ALL.
If that’s not what you want, that’s ok.
We just have one simple question for you.
“What Are You Even Doing?” 🙂
We’ll see you at The Ranch.
P.S. If I was a race horse, my name would definitely be:
“Watch Me Neigh Neigh” and my jockey would be “Watch Me Whip.”