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The Starting Pitcher Routine for a Pro Athlete

This week at Narrow Path Sports I am going to give you an inside look at my routine as a starting pitcher. My desire with this post is that the insight that I share will help you solidify your routine or get you to ask questions about your routine. What I do is not the only answer or way to prepare but it is something that I believe has given me my longevity and keeps me going.

Day 1 – Start day.

We will begin with game day. Our previous 4 built us up to go out there and eat innings and put our team in a position to win a game. I have an old school mentality about the game and I love when a starting pitcher goes out there and competes for 7 plus innings of baseball. Seeing a starting pitcher go out and face the lineup the 4 th time has become more and more of a rarity. Regardless on the analytics, I appreciate when the managers could judge that the starter has been dominating and let him go until he thinks it is best to use the bullpen. In my routine, I will eat a good meal around 12-1 pm that will fuel me through my game which usually starts at 6:30-7pm. I will then report to the field a few hours before first pitch. I will look at the roster to get a game plan for the line up and see if I have any history with certain guys. The chess match of pitching against someone 20-40 + times makes the game even more fun. My warmup takes around 30-45 minuets. The athletes at Narrow Path Sports go through a condensed version of this when getting instruction by me. Next is playing catch and mound work to get ready for the game. I typically throw 30 or so pitches in my bullpen before a start. This leads to the game time where it is time to compete until the manager decides you are done. I personally do not consider myself to have had a good start unless I pitch 6 or more innings. Following my start that evening I do some gentle stretching to help ease the soreness. I have never been fan of ice because I personally think it impairs recovery.

Day 2 – 1 st day post start

Here is where the work really takes place. One of the things I still do and recommend post start is a nice steady state cardio flush. The pace needs to be at just the aerobic level, and I don’t want the heart rate too high. My body feels immensely better after allowing my heart and lungs to pump and my body to sweat. Having a solid aerobic base allows us to control our breathing when competing. Following that cardio session, I will get into my upper body lift. I like to give my legs a day before I build them back up. I will hit the major muscle groups and do some accessory shoulder movements to help stabilize myself again. Core work is a foundation of my in between start routine as well. I finish the day off with some light stretching or an easy yoga class. My throwing will just be a light game of catch to get my arm moving and work out any soreness.

Day 3 – 2 nd day post start

Today is leg day! Never skip leg day, as it is your base and strongest part of your body. Having strong legs is something I believe has kept me healthy all these years. I am building my body back up to where I used to be, and I strongly think it will help me back to a high level. I will add some good core work into this day as well. For conditioning today, I do some moderate distance build ups which primes me for day 3 which has sprint work. I will typically do some form of banded scapular and rotator work today. Throwing today will consist of a form of long toss, this is my day to stretch it out and work on carrying the ball.

Day 4 – 3 rd day post start

Plyometric and sprint day. Moving fast and powerfully is a key to throwing hard. Today is the day I will train these movements. I will also pair this with my bullpen work. 20–40-yard sprints, med ball throws, lateral bounds, speed ladder, and box jumps are just some examples of what today brings. My bullpen will typically be around 25-45 pitches depending on If there is anything I need to work on like tilt on my slider, fastball command, off-speed strike to ball or ball to strike shape, and change up consistency. I will add in a light stretch or yoga session at the end of the day as well.

Moving fast and powerfully is a key to throwing hard.

JJ Hoover

Day 5 – 4 th day post start

I focus my energy on getting ready for game day which will be tomorrow. This will be a light movement day to make sure my body is feeling well and to address any residual tight spots. I will begin my preparation for what competition I am facing. My throwing program will be on the lighter side, but I will get out to 150-175 feet typically. I make sure my nutrition and rest are on point for tomorrow as well as these are key primers for competing.

I hope this insight has given you some things to think about in your own game or your sons’ game. As always, I welcome any questions or thoughts on my program, and I am always learning. This is a basic set up for me and it changes throughout the season. I will get into depth on certain aspects later in this year. I hope this spring is treating everyone well.
#FollowtheNarrowPath
JJ Hoover

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How To Use Rapsodo Pitching 2.0

At Narrow Path Sports we set out to improve the whole athlete. This trajectory, founded in the four driving forces of Narrow Path, means we have to know where our athlete’s abilities are based in order to frame a mindset for them to improve. Everyone wants to have more velocity, and in this post, we are going to dive into how we help make that work.

There are lots of ‘tools of the trade‘ in any athlete’s training, and one that most professional athletes rely on for feedback is Pitching Tracking Software. There are a few brands to pick from, but ultimately we chose Rapsodo for its reputation and accurate readings. Rapsodo Pitching 2.0 is software Narrow Path Sports uses to track and analyze an athlete’s spin rate, velocity, movement, command, and break down the mechanics of their pitch.

How to Use Rapsodo in your Pitching Routine

Professional grade training software is not cheap or easy to interpret by an inexperienced coach or athlete. It’s helpful to have a mentor with experience in reading and interpreting the output to help place an athlete on a path towards improvement.  The initial Rapsodo readout will give your athlete a RapScore and this is where the coaching begins. This also gives us a baseline so we can measure improvement. This is a must for our more advanced athletes.

How to Use Your RapScore to Improve Your Average Speed and Timing

The average pitching speed for a high-school athlete is 80mph. A college/minor league prospect is going to be in the high 80’s and even in the high 90’s. The major league average velocity has also trended up in recent years. This is not something that happens overnight.  It happens through dedication, grit, and years of minor improvements to weekly practices. Muscle memory can help, but can also hinder when trying to improve timing. Just as separating your hips and shoulders can help increase torque to throw a ball harder, if your timing isn’t adjusted after improving torque you could cause an injury. This is just one example of where muscle memory can hinder performance. That is why we focus very hard on quality mechanics while training to incorporate the strength built in our program.

Rapsodo gives every athlete in the world a RapScore that places them in a ranking with their peers. The Rapsodo 2.0 Pitching Score is a combination of the pitcher’s ball velocity and spin rate. In addition to speed and spin, an efficient and directional readout and provided through immediate video feedback. The release height, angle, and side are recorded, as well as the pitch break angle. These numbers are a great way to compare athletes but playing the game the right way and having a good baseball IQ is what can separate you from your peers.

Is Rapsodo Accurate and Worth the Cost?

All 30 Major League Baseball teams would agree Rapsodo has helped improve the pitching and hitting game for their players. Improved performance is improved revenue for most teams, making it valuable statistical feedback when tracking training progress. What Rapsodo can’t do is break down an Athlete’s score and fill in the gaps for what is missing in their training routine. Only years of professional experience and a well-trained eye can be there to help guide someone down a path that will lead them to improved results. Rapsodo is a great tool but there is so much more to the game than the numbers on the screen.  In short, a pitching score that costs $3000 won’t develop the whole athlete, but having a guiding hand and someone to celebrate your improvements, talk about hard decisions, and keep you on the narrow path will. 

Thanks for reading as always, #followthenarrowpath