It was one of those frigid cold nights in the middle of the winter here in Central PA as I could hear the snow pounding against the siding on my house. I had just sat down in my office as I typically do after a night on the floor with our athletes. After grabbing a diet coke, I started thinking to myself….“Have we done enough to prepare our athletes for their spring seasons?" "After the off-season is over, will I have any regrets about the work we put in to get our athletes ready?" The questions went on and on and consumed my head for what seemed like hours.
It was around 2:30am and I had just finished reviewing and making some adjustments to a handful of our athletes programs after digging into some ball data and heat map reports from the weeks training sessions. After finishing up some programming, I happened to scroll through our companies google drive and that’s when I came across a spreadsheet labeled “player velos”. It was a document where our team recorded all of the velocity breakdown data on our athletes over the last 6 months. The first thing I thought was “wtf is this!? And why does this spreadsheet look like a bag of skittles just melted all over a google document? Honestly, it looked like my little guy got into a box of crayons and went to town!
The first thing that caught my eye about this document was the amount of GREEN highlighted cells. After sorting through all of the data, I soon realized that the highlighted green cells represented a new PR (personal record) for that athlete. I thought to myself...This can’t be right!! There are over 100 green highlighted cells on this spreadsheet”. Out of the 77 athletes listed on this document, all but 4 had multiple cells highlighted green which meant a new velocity PR.
Not only were PRS being crushed but some athletes had gained as much as 16MPH of velocity in just 6 short months. I remembered thinking to myself “There is no way that this could be right!” But then it hit me…. Holy shit! The data does not lie! VELOCITY CAN BE DEVELOPED and were doing it as we speak!
SO HOW DO WE DO IT!?
Many athletes & coaches have a very short window of understanding for accepting non-linearities in their training or simply lack the knowledge when it comes to how much MOTOR CONTROL actually plays a factor in performance. Player development & improvement in performance is NOT binary! The world we live in is not binary. You have to make the best decisions over and over and over and over again and in the long run, things start to smooth themselves out and become autonomous.
Living systems store, retrieve, transmit & respond to information essential to life processes. Systems that rely on homeostasis rely on feedback mechanisms and can be affected by a number of environmental factors. The human body organizes itself in such a way that it COMPETES (natural selection). Accepting non-linearities in your training creates that guided discovery and kinesthetic feel that promotes our athletes growth and understanding of their movements. And this is exactly what we have been doing everyday for the past 6 months!
Motor learning is simply when complex processes in the brain occur in response to practice or experience of a certain skill resulting in changes in the central nervous system that allow for production of a new motor skill.
Motor learning, skills, and habits are the classic examples of unconsciously learned and unconsciously recalled memories. Learning to Walk is a great example! Walking is an extremely complex task involving intricate motor movements, which we generally perform automatically and with great facility.
BUILDING VELOCITY IS NO DIFFERENT!
Most believe that it cannot be done. Most also don’t have the right plan or desire to actually make this change as it requires hours upon hours of deliberate practice, skill acquisition and a growth mindset framework. But here at FRTC, it happens day in and day out!
Similar to walking, throwing is an extremely complex task involving intricate motor movements. Walking is something that us humans do everyday! Imagine if you were restricted from walking for 6 months and were bedridden for whatever reason. Do you think you would be able to just get up and start walking like you did 6 months ago. NO WAY! Training should be approached from the very same mindset given the fact that pitching involves intricate motor movement - That is if you want to see gains and compete at the highest level.
EVERYTHING WE DO IS IMPLICIT!
Motor learning researchers have also identified 2 basic categories of learning— implicit and explicit. In most traditional approaches to coaching and teaching, we’ve been practicing explicit learning.
Explicit learning is mostly coach driven. The athlete is asked to focus his attention internally, concentrating on what his body parts are doing as he moves. Explicit learning involves a lot of verbal/cognitive cueing. It can be mentally exhausting for both the player an the coach, and it is highly ineffective.
According to Dutch Skill Acquisition and Motor Learning Specialist, Frans Bosch, “The body shows very little interest in what the coach has to say.” Researchers have reported that implicit of teaching and learning is the most effective approach for acquiring movement skills. Implicit learning is athlete driven. It demands an external focus from the athlete and allows the body to organize itself to accomplish the goal of the activity. The athlete learns the skill subconsciously. The role of the coach is to identify the desired improvement and then construct an environment that is likely to elicit that change. Implicitly trained athletes learn skills more quickly than explicitly trained athletes. Their gains transfer more readily to competition, and under the stress of psychological pressure, implicitly learned skills hold up better.
According to skill acquisition scientist and author, Terry McMorris, “Research has shown that skills learned implicitly withstand stress better than those learned explicitly.” In high stress situations, the conscious mind can interfere with performance. When cognition is minimized during training, the athlete is less vulnerable to stress.
According to Bosch, “Over 300 studies have shown that the best performers accomplish their tasks without being able to communicate how they do it.” When you learn skills implicitly, the part of your brain that would allow a conscious thought to interfere with performance becomes so underdeveloped that the athlete is literally incapable of thinking about the skill they are performing. When they don’t think, they don’t choke. FullReps Guys don’t think. FullReps Guys don’t choke.
SO ARE YOU TIRED OF COACHES TELLING YOU THAT VELOCITY CANNOT BE DEVELOPED? READY TO CHANGE
SIGN UP TODAY AND JOIN THE#1 Player Development Training Program in the Northeast!
SIGN UP TODAY!
Over the course of your training you will learn to be your own best coach using various MOTOR LEARNING training techniques that are implemented and guided by our staff daily.
Let us creatively design a practice environment that discourages inefficient movement and encourages patterns that are more likely create favorable outcomes.
And just remember, If you learned how to walk, you can learn how to develop velocity. It's just going to take some conscious effort, hard work and being able to stick to a plan that travels through some
sequential stages of growth!
WELL SEE YOU THIS SUMMER!
# A L W A Y S R E P P I N '
Scott Swanson // Founder, Director of Player Development
FullReps Training Center
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