My name is KC Lorow and I am one of the owners of MPH Throwing Academy. Recently we reached out to some guys in the area and the response was great from most of the coaches; However we heard from one of our athletes that their coach believes all we do is “Tear up arms.” For the record that coach has never stepped in my facility or has any clue what we do. That being said, no program can guarantee complete safety. Throwing a baseball at it’s core is a dangerous thing, but more on this topic later. This showed me that maybe people don’t understand our intention with the athletes we train. So I’ll attempt to set the record straight. (Forgive me for the length)
Some of you may know my story and the story of how MPH became a reality, if not here you go. I stood atop the mound at my high school in 9th grade with my 5’2 frame and I remember for the first time getting put on a radar gun. The coach screamed out after my first pitch, “68.” I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad so I just kept throwing and never hit 70. I tell you this because 2 years later I was sitting in the office of that coach having what I call the “bubble talk.” I was told the last day of tryouts that I was “questionable” in all areas. The one that stood out the most to me was that I didn’t throw hard enough. I was a junior in high school throwing 78-81 (I was now 5’10) with plus command. I made the team and pitched to a total of 1 batter and recorded a strikeout to give myself a 0.00 ERA for the entire year. Not sure how I wasn’t at least all-region with numbers like that but who knows. This led to me throwing as hard as possible as often as possible. My senior year I was closing games throwing 84-86 with zero college offers. That summer was the first time I had ever talked to a college coach; his name was Jesse Dyar from Atlanta Christian College, now Point University. He watched me play shortstop and offered me a spot after the game. In college I continued to long toss and throw with as much intent as possible. My freshman year in college I was following the wrong path and was suspended for 5 games. I also had to attend every chapel credit for the rest of the year. In September of my freshman year I became a Christian and that changed my worldview completely. I know this is a touchy subject in our society however it speaks to the way we train athletes. Spring of my freshman year was incredible. I went 0-6 with 7 ND. I was throwing well and getting zero support. That being said I received my first pro look from the Colorado Rockies during a game against Southern Poly Tech. I topped at 91 for the first time. My sophomore year was actually an incredible year. I went 10-1 and received the National Pitcher of the Year award and was a 1st Team All-American. This was the year we won a national title and the pro looks kept coming. Throughout the next 2 years I was looked at by 18 of the 30 clubs and topped 95 mph once a game.
After graduation I played in a summer league called the Sunbelt League for a team called the Tides. I received my heaviest attention from pro scouts that summer. I spoke with a scout and he said the goal was to pick me up in the 10th round. As I sat the day of the draft in the dugout next to guys getting phone calls I never received mine. I called the scout and asked what happened, his response was I was just too short. This led me to an independent league tryout in California where I signed with a team called the London Rippers. I was ecstatic when I signed; the dream of being a professional baseball player had finally been a reality. My reward was $650 a month and long bus rides. I was there for a total of 9 days, during the 9 days I was surrounded by teammates that were constantly smoking and drinking in the locker room, going to bars the night before games and the final straw cussing at kids when they asked for a foul ball.
I have nothing against people who act in this manner but in the realm of being a role model to younger athletes the choice was easy for me that my job was to help the next generation of role models, so I thanked my manager and was on the next flight back to Atlanta.
After that I began training guys at a facility where I lived. I was giving the same model of lessons that still exists, 30 minutes for $35. The lesson included about 5 minutes of stretching and a 20-minute bullpen where I would try to catch a fastball and diagnose a biomechanical failure followed by 5 minutes of talking to the parent about homework of staying balanced and keeping their front side closed. I sat in my office one day and thought that I wasn’t actually making people better I was merely making the adequate for the week until they came back. I was building dependence on a weekly session of “tune-ups.” One day I received an email from a friend of mine that had gone from 78-89 in a year. I had to see what it was all about so I called his trainer Randy Sullivan who was then at the Armory in Florida and asked if I could learn how to train athletes the right way, he generously said yes. Over the next year I studied everything I could on the arm and why it operates. I trained over 40 athletes for free just to see if it worked. I came to one consensus, throwing baseballs is dangerous but kids still love it. We began to work on a proper warm-up and recovery program to help alleviate stress before and after throwing. The throwing itself was to be done at high intensities at times so we can diagnose inefficiencies through video analysis and correct them with proper arm-mapping tools (Plyocare balls.) Certain arm actions can lead to higher risks of injury so the goal was to create efficient and “safe” arm action. No one can guarantee that your arm won’t fail or get hurt; the goal is to limit the stress as much as possible while still remaining explosive. Nobody wants a health RHP who throws 78 with 3 pitches. After about a year and a half we started to study weighted balls. We knew that there was more we could be doing to help our guys. This is when we started our athletes on plyocare throws daily and weighted ball throws (depending on the athlete.) Younger athletes will be primarily working on plyocare throws, long toss, and bullpens to create plus velocity and plus command of the fastball first. The misconception of what we do is that we only chase velocity. Velocity is a huge piece of what we do because scouts want it. Velocity matters because teaching purely command sets the athlete up for failure. The athlete has to be perfect on every pitch if location is their game plan. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner missed his location on average 12 inches. Location doesn’t lead to outs if there’s nothing behind it. We will stop talking about velocity when D-1 coaches start giving out 60% scholarships for 81 MPH guys with good change-ups. Every athlete that trains with us goes through mobility scans, command assessments, pitch design, spin rate assessments, video analysis, etc. We track every throw our athletes make to ensure that everything we do is done with the athlete’s best interest in mind. (That includes command) Weighted balls are a small part of what we do. I understand the fear with weighted balls; everyone believed the heavy balls are bad because they’re heavy. However, the ASMI just published a study that overload balls (Heavier) are actually safer than a baseball. The 5 oz. ball was just a weight that someone chose a long time ago; Quarterbacks in the NFL throw a 14 oz. ball more times in a day than baseball players and have far fewer arm injuries. The fear is with underload balls (Lighter.) This is where higher stress levels will be seen. This is why we have 4 overload balls and only 2 underload balls.
We say this to show that we didn’t just dabble in weighted balls just because we want to chase velocity. It’s because it works and is actually less dangerous than throwing a baseball. I will take the model we’ve built of having a world-class assessment, warm-up, individualized throwing programs, full recovery programs geared for each athlete over the 30-minute model of sitting on a bucket and catching a bullpen. I understand ours seems “sciencey” but isn’t it worth tracking every piece of data we can to ensure our athletes are getting what they pay for and checking ourselves as instructors every day. Our goal is to set the standard for every coach and/or instructor that comes after us. We want our athletes to challenge what they’re taught because baseball is evolving. We chase the goals that our athlete sets because at the end of the day our career is over as players; we do this with realistic views of what’s achievable for the timeline we set. Finally our main goal is to help create young men and women that stand up as role models for the next generation. We want to help build athletes that set the standard of what work ethic and dedication looks like while setting the bar of skill as high as possible. At the end of the day we strive to have our athletes say we taught them to be independent athletes dead-set on achieving their goals with no regard for people who tell them they can.
This is our invitation to come see us and see what we do. We welcome any coach, player, parent, or instructor to come join us and challenge what we do and to learn along side us. If we don’t know the answer we’ll tell you that and see if we can figure it out. If you don’t capitalize on this forgive us for being unapologetic in our refutation of uneducated arguments. If you’d like to come see us or bring your athlete for a free training day (we train position players and pitchers for softball and baseball) with us email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time.
Below is the link to a study done on the stress applied during weighted ball throws, if you’d like any more information we will gladly send it to you.
Our Fall Program is coming to an end. We trained 9 athletes and had great success. We began with simple assessments and built a program for each of our guys. This individualized approach gives us the ability to maximize training for each athlete. One of the things that we do that seems to get a ton of attention is our pulldown sessions. A pulldown session has a simple goal: press the limit of how hard an athlete can throw a baseball. We do this with weighted balls to help with arm strength and arm speed. Both of these are crucial to velocity development. One of the questions we get all the time is does it translate? Short answer is yes. We don’t just aimlessly throw weighted balls into a net. They have to charted and tracked to maintain progression. When our athletes do their command assessments their goals are the same, press the limit of how hard they can throw a baseball. The athletes that train with us see gains on the mound because we press this limit often. Our pulldown sessions are meant to be a portion of velocity development. We pair our pulldowns with arm mapping done with plyocare balls with the same goal. Just doing the pulldown sessions without the arm mapping will not breed the same results. When our athletes can press past what velocity they think they can throw and just purely throw with intent the gains happen. The command on the mound is achieved in the same matter, with the intent to hammer the strike zone with consistency.
If you are looking to train in a way that maximizes the ability to throw more strikes and throw harder give us a call. Our winter Program starts October 24th and could be the difference between being a guy on your high school team and being the guy everyone counts on. Email Mphthrowing@gmail.com to register.
Here at MPH we train athletes differently than most other pitching programs. We train in group settings and have had little league athletes train side by side with our high school and college athletes. We have found it beneficial for athletes to train together because it gives them someone to compete against. This is why we have stepped away from training pitchers and athletes in the typical 30-minute pitching lesson and have focused on group atmospheres to make sure our athletes are always challenged not only by themselves but also athletes around them. One day we had two of our high school athletes training together. One was a righty whose 5oz. run and gun is consistently 90-92 and the other was a lefty whose 5oz. is around 76-78. Although their numbers aren’t extremely close, they were able to compete and help each other strive to break their own personal records. We saw a jump in our left-handed athlete’s numbers and after the training session we asked him what caused his intent to intensify. He told us that when he heard us yell out that the other athlete’s numbers were in the 90s, his intent grew and he was striving to hit 90 himself. We have had many examples like this where one athlete has been pushed by another athlete. When athletes trains by themselves, it can become routine and their concentration and intent can start to slack. By training in a group with others, they will always have others to compete against and let their competitive nature kick in. Another reason why it is beneficial to train with other athletes is for the feedback that they can give with any problems that an athlete is having. When training with other athletes it is easier to see mechanical problems and by seeing it in other athletes they are able to better understand how to fix their own problems. The more people around that athlete that understands and has the same training method allows more eyes and perspectives to any problems or ideas that could potentially help the athlete. One article that made me want to write this blog was a post by DriveLine Baseball about Roger Bannister (the article will be linked at the bottom of this blog). Roger Bannister was a runner who strived to break the four-minute mile and would have other runners to each sprint a lap which caused him to always have someone to chase. By doing this he was using other athletes to push himself and give himself a goal to reach. Our athletes have seen gains by training with athletes that are better than them and strive to catch up and surpass the athletes that are better than them. Every athlete at some point when they have trained by themselves over a long period of time have felt it get boring to a sense because when you train alone you will always be the best and can only challenge yourself so much. https://www.drivelinebaseball.com/tag/roger-bannister/
Four years ago I started giving pitching lessons at a facility here in Georgia. I was fresh out of independent baseball and needed a way to make some money so I did the only thing I was decent at, baseball. I was charging $40 for an hour session at random fields around the area. I started with one kid and we trained every Tuesday for about 6 weeks leading up to the biggest day of his young life, high school tryouts. He was in 9th grade and had a long way to go before putting on that high school jersey. He did show some promise with the ability to run and track down fly balls. However, he couldn’t hit or throw at a high level, which was going to hurt his chances. He was the best player on his team the previous year purely on raw talent and his dad figured I was the guy who could bridge that gap, and so did I. Our lessons were pretty similar to every other lesson out there, we’d warm up with some toss and chatter about school and then it was time for a bullpen. His dad wasn’t going to be able to catch so I’d squat down with all the courage I could muster and catch for him. All while somehow picking minor details out of his delivery that he needed to work on and fix by the next pitch. This went on for about 30 minutes and never seemed to click the way I felt it should. I always thought that he was lazy and insubordinate towards my teaching and so did his dad always reminding me to “be tough on him.” I did this for a living and I was barely decent at it. See I was too afraid to admit that the problem wasn’t my athlete it was me. I wasn’t equipped enough to help that kid get to the next level even with experience at every level throwing a baseball. He didn’t make his 9th grade team and that was my fault. I was so set on doing things the way I was taught I never thought that maybe it was the wrong way to do it. This model of training is outdated and not a quality training tool. Individual training has and always will be a staple for athletic development but the model of sitting on a bucket and yelling out commands simply doesn’t work as well as it should. The biggest focus of these lessons is to throw strikes with consistency (Which is not a terrible goal). The problem with this approach is that it sacrifices the intent in which athletes train, especially in the beginning stages of their training. If the coach’s quick fix is to “keep your front side closed” every time the ball runs towards the inner half of the plate an athlete will now have two goals; front side and throw strikes, this all having to be fixed in a 1.4 second movement at supposedly full speed. If athletes feel that they have to perfect something early in training they’re going to change the goal from training with intent to a plethora of goals that will help him top out at 76 MPH will average command. I talked to a D-1 pitching coach the other day asking him what he needed next fall, his response “one stud.” I asked him what that meant and he said Upper 80’s and good grades. Reread that and see where he asked if he could throw strikes. It’s understood that strikes are a necessity, the issue is that it seems to be the one thing every one is focused on except for every recruiter in the country. The model of pitching lessons are broken down like this: 5 minute warm-up, 25 minute bullpen, no recovery, pat on the back “see ya next week.” That’s the way I did it and the way everyone else does it. It leaves no room for tracking data when you have to catch a ball at 75 MPH and leaves no room for health when the next lesson is right behind the first. Training should be individualized for sure but athletes will not develop by spending 30 minutes a week working on 6 goals at a time.
I don’t write this to say that what we do is right for every athlete, however we know our process does two things: develop and heal. We obviously don’t heal our guys with some witchcraft but we do focus on the biomechanical side with a video analysis of 720 fps. This gives us the ability to analyze the throw at full intent and track progress for later videos. We also track every throw that is made in our facility during our classes. We offer classes instead of lessons, each ranging from 1-2 hours every day. This allows our athletes to develop at their pace while maintaining the ability to recover when they’re not feeling “it.” If we had the old model and soreness happens athletes either push through the pain or have to cut it short and wait for a week to get back in. Daily training mixed with data driven results works and that’s what we do.