“Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
― James Cook

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Rodent Chuckin’: Deceleration Lessons From an Unfortunate Party Rat

It’s The Sudden Stop That Gets You
Interesting Image
For Jake, Hitting is Church

I have 3 sons.

Ty and Ryan are both college pitchers, and Jake is a 16 year old catcher who loves to hit.

I mean he REALLY loves to hit.

And he loves to hit alone.

He absolutely hates it when anyone talks to him or distracts him while he’s in the cage.

He calls it his sanctuary.

Those of you who know me personally understand that I’m the kind of Dad who would do anything or go anywhere to help his kids improve their abilities and chase their dreams.

A lot of the Dads I meet at our Rocket Launchers Training Camps have the same passion. Fathers, mothers and sons fly in from all over the country to attend these weekend events, and we share a kinship unlike any I’ve ever experienced–kindred spirits completely devoted to our families and willing to do whatever, go wherever, try whatever to help our children achieve greatness.

I live in a deed restricted subdivision in the suburbs of Tampa, FL, but I am skirting the around rules in an effort to help Jake quench his insatiable desire to work on his hitting and catching skills.

About 6 years ago, my wife and I had a little extra cash laying around, so we had to decide if we wanted a swimming pool or a batting cage.

God Bless My Dear Wife.

Here is a a picture of my back yard…

Gee, I hope no one from the Buckhorn Homeowners’ Asssociation reads my emails.

That’s a V-FLex the foreground, There’s a heavy bag hanging from the tree in the background, the wall on the left is for blocking drills, and that blue tarp is the cover for an Iron Mike pitching machine stocked with a 600 ball auto-feeder.

As you can see, I’ve had lights installed for night hitting (wood only after 9:00 pm).

So far the neighbors haven’t complained, but we have noticed a few near misses by confused small aircraft pilots attempting to land.

I built The ARMory for Ty and Ryan.

I built the batting cage for Jake.

Rat Patrol
So about two weeks ago I was running a Rocket Launchers Training Camp on a Saturday, and as usual Jake spent most of the day hitting. When I got home he told me the craziest story I’d heard in a long time.Like any other day Jake woke up, ate breakfast, and went outside to hit. He did his wakeup/warmup exercises, worked on some deep oppo tee drills, and hit the heavy bag to work on slotting his back elbow. Then he took the cover off the Iron Mike, dragged the remote control cord to the batters box and fired up the machine.About 10 swings in, Iron Mike threw a scud. It was high and slower than all the other pitches, so Jake reflexively held his swing and let it slam into the vinyl mat hanging at the back of the cage. As he readied himself for the next pitch, he thought, “Wait. Something was weird about that last one…..That wasn’t a baseball.”He looked back at the ground just below the mat and couldn’t believe what he saw.There lying on the the ground twitching and ultilmately taking its last breath was a 6 inch long citrus rat!

Apparently it had crawled into the pitching machine and somehow made its way to the ball feeder chute where the Iron Mike’s arm had picked it up and catapulted it the length of the cage smashing it into the mat at a very high rate of speed.

(F) Rat Party?

After laughing my head off at the mental picture of that poor rat flying through the air, I started thinking….

That rat had no idea when he crawled into that pitching machine what he was getting into.

He probably thought, “Man this place is awesome!! I’m moving in here! I’m gonna build me a nest, call all my friends, and have some girls over. We’re gonna be partying in my new mansion every night! Hey look, there’s a cool tunnel. Wonder where this leads. I’ll check it out. Wait, what’s that groaning noise? Hey…hold on now! I’m moving! What’s going on here?! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”……SPLATT!!

You know, It’s not the flying through the air at 85 mph that’s the main problem.

It’s the Sudden Stop At The End That Kills You

In the baseball pitching instructor world, there has been a lot of heated debate on the internet about deceleration.

The argument is focused on whether it’s necessary to the teach a pitcher to properly decelerate his arm. Many claim that it just happens naturally and should be ignored–always. One well known internet blogger, wrote something like, (and I paraphrase) “If your pitching coach is wasting your time working on deceleration, you should fire him immediately.”

I agree that many pitchers naturally perform deceleration efficiently and safely. But let me tell you, I have performed thousands of video analyses over the years, and I can state with certainty that there ARE many guys who, for whatever reason, don’t finish their pitches in what I consider to be a safe and efficient manner.

Tuesday night I performed seven ARMory 3-Phase Initial Evaluations on new students. Two of the seven students reported having dealt with chronic posterior shoulder pain that had caused them to miss anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks on the mound over the past year.

Upon physical examination, Student Number 1 had a significant gleno-humeral internal rotation deficit, scapular dyskinesia, and a strength imbalance between his shoulder accelerators and decelerators. In the video analysis, he had an acromial line issue and some lower half inefficiencies, but the deceleration component of his movement pattern was clean.

His finish looked something like this guys’.



Student Number 1 will require a scapular strengthening program, a mobility/stretching program for his entire shoulder girdle, and functional strengthening of his decelerators using our weighted ball holds program. His throwing drills will include some decelerations, but only as warmup exercises. We will work on his acromial line issue for the next 21 days while adding some energy into his lower half as he improves his arm action. As soon as his arm action is clean and his posterior shoulder pain subsides, we will ramp up the intensity and intent of his throwing drills and he will safely gain 5-7 mph on his fastball.

Student Number 2 had a clean physical exam of his shoulder, but he had a lead leg hip internal rotation deficit. The video showed that he failed to continue rotating around his front hip, which caused his elbow to straighten prematurely and cross the midline of the body. This created a late bang on his posterior shoulder as his arm bounced back in a violent rebounding motion. This young man had worked for years on “finishing in a good fielder’s position.”

His finish looked more like this.

The program for Student Number 2 will include hip mobility exercises and lots of work on deceleration drills to create a more efficient and safe finish to his movement pattern. After he cleans up this inefficiency–and only then–I will feel comfortable adding energy and letting him chase velocity improvement.

When a pitcher doesn’t continue rotating around his front hip after releasing the ball, his arm outraces his lower half and slams across the midline of his body. This creates an intense strain on the posterior capsule. The head of the humerus rapidly translates rearward and bangs the posterior labrum. The infraspinatus, middle and posterior deltoid, and midddle trapezius muscles are ballistically overstretched, and the arm comes to a sudden stop and violently rebounds. If this pattern is repeated enough, debilitating posterior shoulder pain emerges.

Now, what if I agreed that NO ONE EVER should work on deceleration–that it’s a natural pattern and should NEVER be taught?

Student Number 1 might come out ok.

But Student Number 2 would likely end up just like our ill-fated citrus rat.

That would be an unfortunate outcome.

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