PRP Baseball

Impactful training and mentoring through the process of success on and off the field.  PRP provides constant assessment, rigorous training, and an unmatched culture to bring passionate athletes to the next level.

The What and Why of Plyocare

What are plyocare balls?

Plyocare balls have become a popular training modality across all levels and ages of throwing athletes.  These plyocare balls are simple rubber-coated weighted balls that are filled with a sand-like material.  The weights range from 3oz to 4lbs depending on company/brand you use. The style of use has a large variety, from “holds” to general throwing conditioning to high-intent throws. They have been branded by major companies such as Driveline Baseball amongst other companies and are used worldwide for all ages of throwers.

Why do we use them?

The easy answer for using plyocare balls is for arm strengthening and conditioning.  The actual reason for using them is adapting better movement patterns while conditioning the arm.  

When training with overload and underload balls, the movement patterns adapt to the load and task.  With certain styles of programming, they can be used for arm strengthening. The volume and style of throw can vary, but some specific drills mixed into general training program can have an impact on throwing velocity and the overall condition of your arm.  

Personally, I am a big believer in warming up to throw instead of throwing to warm-up.  These “throwing” drills are restraint based drills that mix up the tempo, momentum, and allow important patterns to occur during the throw.  By the time we are done with plyocare “drills”, the throwing “mechanics” should have already improved.

Another key reason is the improvement on feel and command.  When throwing different balls of different weights, the body has to program release points each throw.  Preaching the importance of commanding the plyo balls is key to their use. Athletes should retain the feedback on each throw from how they got to a certain release point.

The volume and effort within the throws is where coaching and programming become key.  These weighted balls are not magical toys that will fix movement patterns or add velocity.  Prescribing certain drills and managing the workload throughout the week around game days and bullpens is very important to healthy development.

How to implement plyocare to your program

Plyocare balls are best used as a pre and post throwing modality with different periodization of velocity training and arm maintenance.  Warming-up with the basic shoulder activation drills and arm patterning throws are an easy add-in to your daily programming.  This 5-minute pre and post programming can reduce injury and promote more efficient throwing patterns while leading to better catch play.

Basic drills include reverse throws, upward toss, rebounders, and pivot picks.  These are widely used in programs across the nation. The main difference is how and when they are programmed at different age levels and programs.  

We evaluate players movement patterns and prescribe drills specific to that athlete to attack their movements and feel.  For example, an athlete who struggles with rhythm and tempo we will prescribe more walking wind-ups. If a player struggles with loading backside we will implement step backs or QB drops.  

When and how much to use them is also a challenge that coaches face.  This decision should be based of a few key variables. Time of year, athletes needs, and athlete feedback should be how you shape your programming.  

Typically, off-season (winter) on-ramping should have more plyocare throws than in-season, with a bigger focus on high-intent.  Tracking velocities and videoing movement patterns are great ways to develop throwers during the off-season.

Volume for off-season would typically be 5 days a week with 2 of those being velocity-tracking days.  Volume for in-season would be 3-4 days with 0-1 velocity days depending on the athlete. Each day would consist of 2 or 3 movement patterning drills such as roll ins, walking wind-ups, quick picks, etc.  

Key adjustments:

  1. Athletes who are not competing on the mound regularly should add 1 day of high-intent plyocare.

  2. Athletes who are doing pulldowns should limit high-intent plyocare to 1-2 days depending on comfort and conditioning level.

  3. Give at least 2 days in between competitive bullpens and high-intent plyocare.

  4. In-season pitchers not competing much should maintain 2 days of high-intent plyocare.

  5. Athletes in return to throwing programs should monitor RPE and velocity closely as it should continue an upward progression.

Providing feedback with a radar gun and/or video is key to implementing plyocare properly.  Some athletes struggle to control their RPE. Monitoring soreness week to week throughout return to throwing and off-season programs is key to manage stress workload with plyocare.  

As stated before, a misunderstood aspect of using plyocare balls is the development of command and feel.  Coach the importance of this to your athletes by having targets and competitions for hitting spots!

Take a deeper look

There are a few key components of plyocare use that often get overlooked. We know to focus on movement patterns, arm swing, etc. High-intent or low-intent, we gain feel for our arm, release point, and spin with the extra throwing drills within plyocare programming.

What we often miss is the spin of the plyocare ball. It is very common for throwers to cut (get around) the plyoballs. Pay attention to the spin off of the wall. The ball should bounce directly back to the throwing side if creating true backspin. When athletes throw the ball and it cuts across body, then the thrower immediately knows they got around the ball. If an athlete struggles with it during catch play, this can be a great time to work on staying behind the baseball.

Velocity readings for high-intent plyocare can be the best coach in the room. While managing different levels of intent, seeing feedback in number form helps both the athlete and the coach learn. There isn’t a magic formula for what to expect on velocity readings for different plyo drills, but you can learn from throw to throw and week to week how well you are moving and progressing. The simple goal should be to maximize the velocity of each ball between 1LB and 3.5oz on testing days. For Driveline PlyoCare balls, you should try to beat your positional velocity with the yellow ball in every throw.

Train the decelerators. The reverse throws and rebounders have become more commonly used because of this. Reverse throws are a great drill for posterior shoulder conditioning. Rebounds are equally important for force reception and training the forearm, bicep muscles. These are vital to controlling the arm during deceleration post-release.

Coach the deficiencies. When athletes struggle with specific movements in the throw, there are several drills to attack each pattern. There is a drill chart with a video playlist attached at the bottom of this blog for your use. For example; instead of telling a kid to drive his lead leg into the ground more (when he clearly struggles doing that), try having him do kneeling get ups or move the plyocare drill to going uphill (mound). This will challenge him to use the front leg better from adjusting the environment and task rather than listening to verbal cues.

Having a routine

There are a million ways to implement pre-throwing routines such as plyocare balls.  The programming of drills, managing workloads, and individualizing drills is key but the comfort of your athletes going through a daily routine to improve their game is what matters most.    

Be consistent.  Be firm. Make it a priority.  

Most programs get away from proper plyocare use simply because of practice planning and time management.  There is always time, if it is a priority, to get the daily plyocare work in. Some days it may interfere with other important aspects, but the importance of arm health and having confident throwers often trumps the other practice modalities

Video it.  Track it.

Baseline Velocity to Max Velocity in our Winter PRP using plyocare balls, long toss, pulldowns, med balls, and more!

Baseline Velocity to Max Velocity in our Winter PRP using plyocare balls, long toss, pulldowns, med balls, and more!

The radar guns and videos don’t lie.  Use these as your direct communication to athletes on how well they are moving, managing their RPE, and monitoring their progress.

Summary  

Plyocare has a large effect on the group of players for several reasons.  Implementing a routine of “warming up to throw” or “earning the right to catch play” are key phrases I live by with my athletes.  Developing movement patterns and arm conditioning with the same training tool is another key reason. For some athletes, is a great velocity training tool while most it provides another way to develop command.  



Any way you look at it, plyocare use can develop more confident throwers by challenging them to throw more and throw better.

Free video playlist and drill chart below!


Plyocare Drill Demonstrations - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4zy_hzyhFTEx3Blr4XbN8HCeuoTgnMxT

For more information, contact prpbaseball101@gmail.com!


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The Correlation Between Medicine Ball Run N Gun to Pulldown Velocity

The Correlation Between Medicine Ball Run N Gun to Pulldown Velocity

By Greg Vogt

Overview

Medicine Ball training is used in several facets to develop throwing patterns and rotational power.  It is an underused tool for several age groups in their baseball development. One major tool used for both assessment and development is the “pulldown” throw.  I recently posted two articles about the correlation of pulldowns to mound velocity, as well as mound medicine ball velocity to throwing mound velocity.

This third part of the blog relates to the means of building intent and rotational power through “run n guns” and how the athlete’s medicine ball velocity correlates to pulldown velocity.  By presenting another assessment and training tool backed by data, us coaches can build a development plan that works.

MB Run N Gun Correlation.jpg

What is the Medicine Ball Run N Gun?

The Run N Gun is a term used to describe a throw beginning with a running start to build up momentum.  This throw typically has more velocity produced due to added momentum. The footwork for the pulldown and med ball run n gun should be about the same.  This test can have a learning curve, which is part of the point for using the training tool, as an athlete learns to build intent and process their movements.  

This movement requires the athlete to control energy transfer and put all of their intent into the medicine ball.  The point of this assessment is to see how well an athlete moves and to evaluate their rotational power output. Data on this can provide a foundation for training programming to continue development for the athlete.

As referenced before, medicine ball velocity can be assessed in many ways.  The positional movement (mound delivery for most) is another way to find out how well an athlete moves.  The Run N Gun is a better way to truly assess both intent and rotational power at its highest form.

What is expected for the Medicine Ball Run N Gun?

The MB RnG is used to develop intent and rotational power.  The velocity production ranges between ages. For high school athletes, the average velocity was 31.4mph.  For middle school athletes, the average velocity was 27.6mph.  The assessment was used with a 6 pound medicine ball.   The footwork varied between athletes, but they were given 15-25 feet to build up energy before release.  All throws tested must be with a shot put throw, meaning staying chest height with throwing arm pushing the back of the medicine ball.

For training, overload and underload weights can improve both movement patterns and intent.  Video analysis should be conducted to use as a teaching tool for the athletes. As mentioned before, the style of the run n gun is up to the athlete, but it should be done with a clear focus on producing velocity.   Mechanics and overcoaching can damage the intent from the athlete.

Data Tracking

The medicine ball velocity was assessed twice throughout the program.  Testing included 5 throws with a 6 pound medicine ball. A shot put throw was required after desired footwork to build up momentum.

While the average was 31.4mph across the board, there are some numbers that stand out for the assessments when split up into different categories:

  • 90+MPH pulldown = 33.5MPH MB RnG Average (23 athletes)

  • 85-90MPH pulldown = 32.6MPH MB RnG Average (23 athletes)

  • 84.9MPH > pulldown = 30.7MPH MB RnG Average (24 athletes)

Data shows the post-testing correlated to their pulldown velocity (5oz).  The trendline shows an increase in throwing velocity compared to the medicine ball run n gun.  While the medicine ball run n gun can show a quick increase in velocity with some practice, the correlation to the pulldown velocity stays consistent.  

correlation mb run n gun to pulldown.png

Why?

Assessing athletes is a key component to developing programs and proper training protocols.  As mentioned before, the medicine ball run n gun is one way to assess intent and rotational power.  To throw hard, you have to try to throw hard. Intent shapes more movement patterns than any drill.

Now, you must learn to maximize energy development from the whole body.  Often, throwers rely on the top third of their body to put force into the baseball.  This means learning to rotate from the ground up.  When overloading the object being thrown, the body must program itself in the best way possible.  

Athletes learn from the radar gun.  The radar gun provides immediate feedback to each athlete specific to their intent and movement patterns.  With the footwork and rotational components being so similar, the medicine ball run n gun gives both athlete and coach another assessment tool in the developmental process.

How to program it:

Medicine ball training can be mismanaged very easily.  The workload around other training modalities becomes very important to the weekly stress management.  A few general guidelines are to follow.

  1. Medicine ball training can be done 3-4 times a week depending on other workload.  If in a heavy volume training regimine, the volume of rotational power training should decrease.

  2. In general, the workload should be higher in the off-season compared to in-season due to the amount of high intent competition throughout the week.

  3. Choose 3-5 movements a day to focus on.  At least 1-2 of those exercises should be general rotational movements, then 2-3 at a baseball specific movement.

  4. Rest appropriately between reps.  This is not cardio.  

  5. Each rep should be an explosive movement.  

  6. Video and analyze to check movement patterns.  

  7. Choose 1-2 days (depending on need) to focus on patterns/sequencing and less intent.

  8. Avoid high intent or volume medicine ball days when testing throwing/hitting velocity.

  9. Change the weight.  The weight shouldn’t dictate the intent.  Training one session with a lighter weight should see increased velocities and stress.

  10. Measure consistently.  Velocity should be tracked weekly.

Summary

When looking at the data, there is a consistent trend in those who perform a higher medicine ball run n gun to higher pulldown velocity.  There are outliers. Key aspects of throwing such as arm patterning, sequencing, physical strength, and mobility can have a big effect on the correlation.  But, if you are looking to choose a few specific drills that can have a direct impact on throwing velocity, the medicine ball run n gun should be one of those tools used on a consistent basis.

Training with intent is a must when developing power.  Throwing is a rotational movement. Developing rotational power is key to developing throwing velocity.  Medicine ball training is a great tool to developing rotational power. Keep the workouts specific to what you are trying to accomplish.  Medicine ball run n guns are a way to assess athletes and develop their throwing velocity.

Contact - PRPBaseball101@gmail.com

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