While ‘defense wins championships’ is a common cliché that has reverberated throughout the sports world, it’s a virtual non-argument that it’s hard to do much in baseball without a deep and talented pitching staff.
With the emergence of a multitude of unique yet seemingly momentary training programs, two names remain firmly carved into the Mount Rushmore of pitching gurus: Tom House and Alan Jaeger.
House has spent the greater part of his life in the game as a major league player, a pitching coach, a researcher and a motivator. Jaeger has experience as a coach, a personal trainer, and a consultant.
House has Masters degrees in marketing and performance psychology. Jaeger has teaching-training backgrounds in Yoga, Zen and Taoism.
House is the founder and CEO of the National Pitching Association, which provides pitchers, parents and coaches with 3-D motion analysis, functional strength screens, mental/emotional profiles and nutritional assessments. Jaeger has penned his own mental training book, “Getting Focused, Staying Focused,” and produced a DVD, “Thrive On Throwing.”
House spent time as a volunteer assistant at Southern Cal. Jaeger has worked closely with the folks at Vanderbilt, Cal-State Fullerton, Oregon, UCLA, and the Texas Rangers.
Deep and talented pitching staffs? Look no further than these two. House has tutored Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Mark Prior, Robb Nen, and Kevin Brown in the past, along with countless others that are currently pitching professionally. Jaeger has worked with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Andrew Bailey, Trevor Bauer and more.
House is known as the “Father of Modern Pitching Mechanics,” while Jaeger aims to “merge the mechanics of the Western athlete with the insight of the Far Eastern mind.
Inside Pitch had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with House and Jaeger to get some of their thoughts on pitching.
Inside Pitch: Briefly describe your throwing program and the methods behind it.
House: Our main focus is on Personally Adaptive Joint Threshold Training (PAJTT) to remediate glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), a common shoulder pathology that keeps players from performing pain free and/or up to their genetic potential. Throwers and pitchers are only as strong as their weakest link- they can only accelerate what they can decelerate.
Our research compared the tennis serve with an overhand baseball throw and found that even with 10 to 20 times the number of repetitions, tennis players experienced significantly fewer injuries to their shoulders than baseball players, mostly because tennis players serve and hang on to their racquet, and baseball players throw and let go of the ball. With this disparity in mind, we trained and tested various athletes’ throwing motions both holding onto and letting go of balls weighing anywhere from two ounces to two pounds, and our result yielded improved range of motion and velocity. More importantly, the protocols balanced and increased strength, endurance and flexibility in the anterior and posterior muscles, stabilizing the shoulder.
Jaeger: Our throwing program is based on two major principles: surgical tubing and long toss. Tubing is used as a prehab tool, allowing the player to be optimally warmed up out prior to throwing. Long toss is at the core of the development of our players, and we believe that there isn’t any substitution for it.
Our Long Toss program is based on a number of important principles, such as teaching the player how to “listen” to and be intimate with their arm, understanding the importance of stretching out the arm prior to throwing, throwing with an arc for range of motion and understanding how to be more athletic and explosive by translating this angle up into angle down (pull down phase). Ultimately, our long toss throwing program is broken down into two phases: stretching out and pulling down. Listening to the arm is the other key principle to our throwing program. Surgical tubing and Long Toss (along with sound mechanics) are the foundation to optimizing arm health, arm strength, endurance, and recovery period.
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