IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE: The Journey Of FullReps Athlete Ryan Kutz.
What if someone told you they could solve all of your arm pain in a single weekend? What if they told you that if you follow their program and did all of these weird looking things including throwing balls filled with sand and throwing baseballs into a sock that you would throw 90MPH? Would you take a chance and fly down to their camp? That is how my journey started!
My name is Ryan Kutz and I am a Junior at Lower Dauphin High School. My journey has been one filled with lots and lots of ups and downs. When I was just 13 years old I had a minor UCL sprain. Nothing too serious, other than it felt like I was getting stabbed in the elbow every time I threw a baseball. The day it happened I knew something was terribly wrong. I was always healthy and had never had any arm troubles in the past. But this hit me like a ton of bricks. I was pitching and all of a sudden it just started to hurt like hell. I managed to get out of the inning, but I knew my day was over. As soon as I finished the game, I walked out to see my dad and I told him my arm was killing me. He took me out to the car to grab some ibuprofen and I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I was a wreck. My elbow was killing me and I knew it was not good. We made it through the weekend and we immediately went to my dad’s office (He’s an orthopedic surgeon). I had my first MRI that week and I started to use anti-inflammatory gel. Thankfully it came back negative but none the less, there was lots of inflammation.
From that point on I started physical
therapy, but I was told I could not throw for about 6 weeks. Once I finally got back to throwing I felt really good warming up for my first appearance. But about half way through my warm up, I started to feel some discomfort. It wasn’t nearly what it was before, but it was still there. After that outing, I shut it down on the mound again. We had no idea what was wrong and we thought I needed more rest. I made it through the season and started to get ready for football.
Week later, my dad and I wanted to play catch on vacation for probably the last time before football season began and it didn’t end well. Within five minutes of throwing, I yelled out to my dad and said “something is still wrong. I feel it still. It’s not going away.” I felt totally defeated. No one seemed to be able to figure why my arm hurt so much. Once we got home from vacation, Coach Kyle gave my dad a book called The Athletic Pitcher by Ron Wolforth. My dad probably read it in less than three days and was so intrigued. He looked up the website for the book and found a place called the Texas Baseball Ranch. They ran a camp that directly correlated with The Athletic Pitcher. The camp promised to eliminate ones arm pain and get them to throw 90 MPH. How crazy does that sound? But after talking to my dad, we decided that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain so we decided to pack our bags and get on a plane to Texas! Over the course of that weekend I learned more about the bio mechanics of pitching and the way the body moved than any 13 year old could ever imagine. In less than a day I was throwing pain free and was out of the dumps. My arm felt the best it had ever been. When they did the video analysis, one thing they measure is the degree your elbow is bent at foot strike. When I got in there they said I had the worst "forearm fly" out in the camp. My arm was basically parallel to the ground and completely "disconnected" when it should’ve been at an angle less than 90 degrees. My experience at TBR was incredible and I thanked them many times for what they had done.
A LOOK INTO RYAN'S 2017/2018 ARM CARE ASSESSMENT AT FULLREPS TRAINING CENTER
Medial Elbow: No
Anterior Shoulder: No
Lateral Elbow: No
Posterior Shoulder: No
Coaches Assessment: In this assessment, we will go over what we have seen in Ryan's movement patterns and mechanical efficiency thus far in the program. Ryan has been a pleasure to work with and is the type of player that you want your son to train next to. Ryan is self-motivated, determined, goal-orientated and knows exactly what he wants to accomplish. The best thing about Ryan is that you don’t have to convince him of anything, he gets his work done and he is not distracted by others. Ryan has been a consistent performer with no arm issues so far. However, after reviewing some video, I think there are some key focus areas for Ryan to dial in on now that we have started our corrective portion of the program.
A disconnection is referred to as a possible mechanical flaw that can result in inefficient movement patterns and best described as “an independent body part that moves away from the trunk & t-spine during a movement" that often times can be a red flag for injury and result in lower velos. When reviewing all video, Ryan had some precautionary disconnections but nothing that he didn't already know or was a complete RED FLAG to us. Ryan’s Decel patterns look great and he continues to have a strong glove side. Ryan slightly crosses the acromial line and still has a minor Inverted W. In an effort to keep those disconnections at a ⅔ on a scale of 1-10, Ryan will be using the connection ball in position 1 & 2 during our corrective throwing portion of the program. In addition, some videos show small signs of the arm not reaching the optimal 90 degrees position at foot strike resulting in forearm flyout but this was not a consistent theme. What was consistent was his counter rotation and premature “opening of the flood gates” during his delivery. Since Ryan likes to counter rotate, he does open the “floodgates” slightly early during his delivery causing a slight postural disconnection, early torso rotation and lead leg disconnection. (This is also when we start to see a little of that forearm play in Ryan's delivery). Remember, rotation is great but rotation that takes the arm away from the trunk and t-spine results in lower velos and is again a red flag for medial elbow pain. We will implement more frontal plane movement correctives to help Ryan work more “Directionally” towards his target in the next 6 weeks.
In regards to his lower half, Ryan has good awareness of his glute activation and pelvic load. His rhythm & tempo has also been consistent. Ryan does however lack some Torso Flexion (forward extension) but a lot of this seems to be caused by the counter rotation and postural disconnection that we have noticed. As we enter into our velocity building portion of the program, we are going to implement an intermediate velo program for Ryan where he will go through progressions of throwing underload/overload baseballs during his pulldown days. We are not going to be throwing underload/overload plyo balls during his correctives this year unless we see a halt in adaptation. I know Ryan is used to the use of underload/overload in his correctives but we are going to try and stick to the baseball for correctives this year and use the underload/overload implements every Friday for our VELO BUILDING DAYS. I know this is a bit different than what Ryan is used to but his arm is feeling healthy and his plyo radar numbers are going up! Ryan and I spoke about this and he is excited to change it up. Again, if we need to go back to some of his older workouts we will! (The health of his arm and the charted velos will be the best indicator for this). Changing things up is differential learning at its best and I'm super excited for the next 6-8 weeks!
THE PAST 4 YEARS!
2015/2016: Since my time at TBR, I have had no arm troubles at all. I have taken everything I have learned and applied it to my training at FullReps Training Center & I have continued to throw pain free over the last few years.
However, the results are a roller coaster. Up until this year I never really made any Velo jumps. I stayed between 75-77 MPH between the time I was 13-16 & I can constantly remember talking to my dad about when my velo is going to jump and why it hasn’t already. I went through a 5 day a week throwing program the past 2 years, and while my mechanics were constantly getting better and better, my velo never changed. I tried changing my warm-up, changing my program, and nothing seemed to work. It also didn’t help that my friends started the program too and they saw awesome velo jumps and I could see their disconnections when they threw. I was very jealous but I've learned jealousy is like a cancer. You try to block out the noise and not worry about others but as a young teenager that is almost impossible. I started to become really fed up with it and thought to myself - How do I work just as hard, if not harder than everyone around me but not see any velo jumps? I couldn't understand it at the time but I always told myself it would come. I knew I just had to put my nose down, worry about myself and keep working!
2017/2018: Last year I finally saw some improvement. I went from the usual 75-77 MPH to 79-82 MPH. I started to feel stronger from the weight room and received some gains from my hard work. It still wasn’t good enough. I received feedback from college coaches saying I don’t throw hard enough or my arm action is stiff. I was even told by one of MY OWN coaches that I was never going to be a pitcher. But I wasn’t giving up, I knew what I wanted and I knew that I was a pitcher. I taped the number 90 to the back of my bedroom door because I KNEW that It was only a matter of time before I would be throwing 90 MPH. No one was going to stop me from chasing my dreams.
So just like before, I put my head down and went back to work at FullReps & this year has been different and blossomed some new results. I started my program with the crew at FR back in October and my arm feels the best it’s ever been. We started with baseline testing, video analysis, mechanical efficiency screening & FMS. The program runs 5 days a week and is an absolute process but very individualized to meet the needs of each individual athlete that trains there! I felt very comfortable with the programming and coaches that run the FullReps Arm Care Program because they all have "Desire" and come from the same breed. I'm talking about the breed that preaches and practices the importance of growth mindset, differential learning, Individuality etc. in their training programs. They implement very similar principles and training structures into their programming that I witnessed at the TBR.
All in all, I have made huge strides this year and shattered both my Mound & Pulldown PR! My top Mound Velo this winter was 88 MPH & top Pulldown Velo was 91MPH and I can finally say that I am now part of the 90 MPH club!!!
RYAN KUTZ JOINS THE 90 MPH AT FRTC THIS WINTER AND GOES ABSOLUTELY BONKERS (AS HE SHOULD!!!!!!)
If I had one word to describe my journey it would be PERSEVERANCE! I Could've quit the dream a long time ago. If I have learned anything over the past 4 years it is that hard work pays off and you can't let others get in the way of chasing your dream because ITS YOUR DREAM, not THEIRS! You have to focus less on what others think of you and more on what you think of you! You can’t worry about anybody else because you cannot change or control the outcome of someone else actions. You can only change yourself and make yourself better. If anybody ever tells you that you can’t do something you should respond by saying "Huh? What was that? SORRY, I CANT HEAR YOU!" and then just put your head down and go to work! You work for what you want. I've learned that you cannot let others determine your success.
Baseball is a game of ups and downs and I could tell you all about them. I can tell you all about what it’s like to be inside your own head or about being jealous of your own friends. But I can also tell you that if you want something, if you really really want something, then you are going to have to work through the ups and downs, do it for YOU & start from the INSIDE-OUT.
I will leave you with this quote and it’s one of my favorites. I heard it while at the Texas Baseball Ranch.
“If you do what the common man does, you get what the common man gets. BE UNCOMMON.” -Ron Wolforth