Jive Talkin’: “You’re Flying Open”
“You’re Flying Open!”
I’m sure you’ve heard this and other clichés repeated at ballparks and pitching academies across the country.
But what does it mean?
To the pitcher, these are just words.
If he doesn’t feel what the coach is talking about, it might as well be spoken in Greek…or Latin.
The words are hollow and meaningless.
It would be like a patient coming into my physical therapy clinic with a complaint back pain and me telling him, “I’ve come to the conclusion that you are experiencing back pain.”
If I were that patient I would have two questions.
2) What are we going to do about it?
If I were that pitcher my questions would be the same.
“Flying open”–if I understand what most people mean by the term–is not something you want to ignore. It can be a problem for performance with regard to velocity and command. But it can also be a huge factor in increasing the risk for injury.
What the Literature Says
A 2009 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine identified 3 variables that contribute to increased valgus stress on the medial elbow. (Load on the Tommy John ligament).
1) a sidearm throwing motion
2) early torso rotation (before lead leg weight bearing foot plant) and
3) forearm fly out (when the angle between the forearm and the upper arm exceeds 90 degrees)
(Am J Sports Med October 2009vol. 37 no. 10 2043-2048)
There are no less than 7 movement pattern inefficiencies that can contribute to forearm fly out. And there are at least 10 different physical constraints that can also play a role. The ARMory Assessment, checks for all of them, and serves as the template for our each individualized training plan. You can schedule an assessment of your own by clicking here
Back in March, I scrubbed in and observed several surgeries performed by Dr. Koko Eaton, who is the orthopedic surgeon for The Tampa Bay Rays. Over the past two months, Dr. Eaton has referred 7 different pitchers to me for physical therapy and return to competitive pitching. Two are post-operative labrum repairs, two are post-operative Tommy John repairs and 3 are guys who have tweaked their medial elbow or anterior shoulder but based on MRI results are not surgical candidates.
In addition to performing the traditional physical therapy protocols for these guys, I am tasked with guiding them in their return to competitive pitching. The players range from high school to professionals. Each one has aspirations of returning to his former level or beyond, and they want to be pain free when they do it. Being the curator of a young man’s dream is an enormous responsibility–one that I take VERY seriously.
When ANY of my students report even the slightest amount of pain, I lay awake at night thinking about what I can do to help him. But the guys on rehab assignments hold a special place in my heart. They have had their plans temporarily derailed and their visions of greatness have been interrupted. They have entrusted me with their futures and I cannot…I will not let them down.
But to get them back on the field for good, I have to have a thorough understanding of all the factors that might have contributed to their injury. If they return to pitching with the same movement patterns and physical constraints they demonstrated prior to their episode, they will soon be right back on the shelf again.
This is a step many therapists, and nearly all pitching coaches are missing.
I don’t want to come across as boastful here (those of you who know me personally know that is definitely not my style), but there aren’t many people in the country who possess the blend of medical and baseball knowledge to be qualified to take on such a huge and important task. In fact, as recently as 5 years ago, I probably wasn’t equipped to do it either.
But I have since conducted thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of research to improve my knowledge base and skill set, and our results so far have been impressive.
We have seen dozens of guys overcome injury and return to the game they love. And they are coming back better, faster, and stronger. Our assessment process is truly world class and has been a key component of our success. But we have to constantly remind ourselves to stay committed to the process and reassess often.
I Guess You Can’t Argue With Research
I recently had a student who told me his high school pitching coach had forbade him from coming to see me.
He came anyway.
When I asked him why his coach had taken such a stand, he said the coach didn’t agree with the things we were doing.
For the record, I have extended an invitation to every high school coach in our local area to come watch what we do during our evaluations and/or training sessions. Last winter one local pitching coach visited for about 45 minutes. No other local coach has ever set foot in our place. So I’m really not sure how this youngster’s pitching coach had reason to disagree with what we are doing. In fact, I have never met or spoken to the man in my life.
Anyway, I asked the young man if the coach had anything else to say about his pitching, to which he replied, “He took video at my last game and said my elbow is exposed.”
I said, “I agree with him.”
You see I had been at that same game and had recorded some high-speed video of my own, and I showed it to the young man.
Our young pitcher had recently missed his 60-day reassessment.
During his initial evaluation (2 months earlier), his arm action had been absolutely pristine. Even though he hadn’t experienced any pain at all during 8 weeks of training (in which he gained 5 mph on his fastball), a slight forearm fly out had leaked in.
“This is something we need to work on to get corrected.”, I said, and I outlined a 21 day plan developed by Coach Ron Wolforth, which involves connection balls, bell clubs and up-tempo drills to be done every day. I told him we would video every couple of days to check his progress, and in 3 weeks he would be a lot better and a lot safer.
“Did your coach have any recommendations to correct the problem?” I asked.
He said I should do towel drills.
I said, “ok”.
And we got to work.
I want to share some exciting news!!
First, Matt Furey’s Mind-Body Connection for Baseball “Rocket Science Live” seminar is Monday night Sep 23d at 7:00 pm at The ARMory. Don’t delay any longer. Blending the mind control of Chinese Martial Arts with good old Yankee toughness! This will make you a dangerous pitching assassin. Sign up here now.
Soon we will launch a brand new website format to add tons of new content and to make our site mobile friendly. The renovation will feature a new free E-book called The TopThree Reasons Pitchers Don’t Get The Opportunity to Advance to The Next Level
And we’ll launch my new Book/DVD called
Engineering the Superhuman Pitching Machine, Volume 1: The Fab Four Pillars of Explosive Pitcher Training. The book will feature 40 exciting pitcher specific motor building exercises and 5 day work out plan to guide your off season training.
The DVDs for previous “Rocket Science Live” seminars, Pitcher’s Kevlar: Bulletproof Pitch Selection and Max Force Pitcher Durability Training will be available then too.
We’ll also have a section called The ARMory Insider Platoon where members can get discounted prices on all educational material and ARMory apparel, free annual assessments, a free video lesson, free DVD/digital download copies of our “Rocket Science Live” Seminars, a monthly webinar, access to a video library chock full of dynamic ARMory style drills and exercise, and a weekly e-mail featuring a drill or exercise of the week video to help you build your own personal tool box for training.
And we’ll introduce a new Remote Video Lesson Service. Students will be able to e-mail me their videos and I will use my MotionPro software to conduct an analysis and provide a video lesson on proposed corrections.
And finally, for everyone who has been asking me about weekend hours: we will be hosting 2 Rocket Launchers Training Camps this fall.
October 19th and 20th and on November 2nd and 3rd.
The camps will run from 9-5 on Saturday and 9-2 on Sunday at The ARMory. Each attendee will receive a full 3 phase assessment including a video analysis, 2 ARMory style workouts, and nearly 7 hours of multimedia presentations outlining the foundational science behind our approach will be mixed in throughout. Every student will leave with an individualized written plan for improvement. For our out of town guests, weeserved a block of roooms at The Holiday Express for only $72 per night. All told its $850 worth of stuff for only $300. This will be the launching pad for your mission to greatness on the mound! You can register right here.
Big Things Happening at THE ARMory!
Thanks for your support!