Years ago some major league teams limited the long toss distance for their pitchers to 150 feet. Needless to say the organization’s injuries increased by some astronomical percentage that is escaping my mind at this time. Other organizations that allowed their pitchers to throw long distances saw their injuries decrease. I personally think 150 feet distance is short for a pro level pitcher. I personally feel much looser after a nice extreme long toss. Alan Jaeger is the master of long toss and I love his concepts on Extreme Long Toss and Therapeutic Long toss.

Arguments against Long Toss at greater distances

  • messes up release point
  • the angle at greater distances creates different angles than you would pitch at
  • not proven to increase speed
  • a pitcher throws 60 feet and should train at 60 feet

Why the above is not true

  1. Your body makes adjustments based on how far you need to throw the ball therefore within 3 to 5 throws on various surfaces or at various distances your body will adjust.
  2. Yes true but who cares about the angles….see Number 1
  3. Maybe not proven but it does stretch the muscles out and elongates the muscle therefore prepping the body for the explosive throwing process
  4. As mentioned above a pitcher needs to stretch out the muscles. This theory of training at 60 feet only is something a “guru” said a few years back to be contrary to other “gurus” Simply ridiculous.

How to implement long toss

  • use as a warmup
  • only use the amount of energy needed to propel the ball the distance you are at
  • continue to “lob” the ball at greater distances until you need to gradually add more effort. This will ensure that you are not throwing too hard too quick. Lob the ball while moving back (every 5 to 10 throws) until you reach a distance where you cannot lob it anymore. This will get you to a point where you are “starting” to stretch
  • From this point you can continue to move back until you are completely loose

Those are the basics please email me with questions

As promised I said I would give some insight into workouts for aspiring college and professional players. As a former professional pitcher I can say that I was not blessed athlete. I was not gifted by any stretch. I had to work hard and push myself to limits that many are not willing to go to. Most players are afraid of failure therefore they never push themselves. The attitude I here a lot is “these kids are not going to the major leagues”. Who are we to tell them they can’t. I am living proof that someone can play professional and make a career out of baseball through sheer hard work. I made myself a pro and how did I do it?

In preparation to make myself better I needed to break down the different aspects that would help my performance and I created different workouts for each part. Then I mapped out a weekly plan. The key here is to map it out, stick to it and write down a training log. This will only help you keep track of your results. If you want to be the best you need to make this your life or at least a huge part of it.

1. Weight Training – This is the basis of all strength and conditioning programs. I designed full body workouts 3 times per week for myself. This allows the whole workout to be done in 1 day and also to make room for the other days of the week.

2. Cardiovascular Training – Great for general health and keeping your heart strong. Also helps with cutting any excess body fat for those of us with thicker frames. Also a great way to build endurance and mental toughness. I would usually do cardio after weight training. One to get it out of the way but secondly to help burn more fat after lifting weights.

3. Rotator Cuff/ Arm Care – Essential for all pitchers to have a rotator cuff program and this needs to be done 2 to 3 times per week. Usually can be accomplished on the days you perform your weight training and cardio.

4. Sprint Training – Sprinting 2 times per week on days that you are not doing the above 3 is essential to making a pitcher throw harder. See my last post.

5. Plyometrics and Medicine Ball Training – Explosive movements such as these are essential to making the pitcher throw harder and faster. This is really important to have this as part of your Sprinting day.

6. Throwing – Long Toss and Bullpen work. Great to do this on your Sprinting days as well. Since you are not lifting weights  on these days you are eliminating a load on the muscle therefore you can us 4 and 5 as a warmup for throwing.

7. Rest – The most underated part of training that athletes neglect. Take an extra day off here and there. Listen to your body. more importantly take 1 day off weekly and make this day a day that you do not do anything at all except rest.

So try designing your workouts this way. 1,2,and 3 on Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday. 4,5,and 6 on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday. Sunday is a rest day. Try it, it’s not easy.

As mentioned in a previous post, I said I would talk a little about sprinting for pitchers. When I was in college I was told as many others were as well, to run distances for leg strength. Now many pitching coaches will say that running distances is a “waste of time” because pitchers are expected to use short bursts of energy in order to pitch a baseball. This article is not about distance running but I will at least say that distance running does have its place in a pitchers routine.

Benefits of distance running

  1. Flushing the system of lactic acid the day after a start
  2. Endurance
  3. Mental Toughness
  4. Strengthening of stabilizing muscles in the hips and legs.

Now Distance running is not an end all be all, and shouldn’t be but as I have said many times: Many things have their place and time when training for Pitching. Just like the HOLDS I blogged about. Are they and end all be all? No, but should they be part of an arm strength program? Yes.

Now back to the sprint training. Back when I was on my journey to play professional baseball a good friends of mine who played professionally, told me to run 10 yard sprints. This was back before anyone started talking about the short bursts that pitchers need to train in order to throw hard. The idea was to try and get to top speed by your 3rd step. This ensures that the focus is on short intense bursts. I liked the idea and utilized this as part of my conditioning program. Did it help? I believe it did. It is one of the many components to Velocity Training.

10 yard sprints – 10 to 15 reps at 3 times per week (alternating days) Make sure you recover fully in between sprints in order to focus on the quality of the work you are doing. Add this into your training. Next blog will be about my 7 different workouts that any aspiring pro pitcher needs to have!

– Bill Bethea

lifted 2 2015How may kids under age 12 do you know throw curveballs in youth leagues? Is it safe? What about the new study that says it is safe? One, I see tons of kids throwing curveballs at a young age. Two, according to the surgeons I have asked, they feel it isn’t. Three, as far as a study, we can always make the results of a study support our ideas or ideals. My point is that there has not been a study on curveballs has not involved youth players throwing them over periods of time and logging the results. The purpose of this is to make one think, not for me to stand here telling you that it is or isn’t. I simply want to present you the information that I have experienced.

I used to have a competitor that taught curveballs to kids under age 12, NONE of his students ever pitched in high school effectively. His own son missed time (2 years) in little league after a “sprained elbow” after snapping off more than 50 percent curveballs per game pitched. Now this person never focused on the Arm Care, Training, or preventative measures for any pitcher. So was it this lack of focus on fitness or the actual pitch being thrown. Maybe a bit of both. What I will say is since the hand naturally pronates 90 degrees or more after a fastball is releases, then this means that the hand pronates more than 180 degrees on a curveball. This could in fact put added pressure on those little arms.

Now personally I can say that back in 2007, at 8am I found myself throwing curveballs to a kid who needed to see curveballs that morning to prep for an All Star game. He was 11. Not only is it sad that I had to throw these pitches to an 11 year old the second part is on the 3rd throw I felt a pop in the elbow. Was it the curveball or the fact that I was thinking that I was the Hulk and that warming up was beyond me? I cannot be sure but I can say that the fact that it was curve didn’t seem to help. I’m convinced that where I felt this POP was a direct result of my grip.

Now my opinion is that all kids should swing wood. It would make the game stronger. Kids would be forced to hit the ball perfect, in turn allowing pitchers to throw less junk, and develop their arms by throwing fastballs. Hitters would get better by swinging heavier bats and they would have to focus differently, making them stronger. But by making them use wood bats the pitchers would not have to rely on tricking the hitter, therefore the could focus on throwing strikes and developing their fastballs. Hence changing the game. Better Pitchers, Better Hitters, Less Injuries and easier on the scouts to know who the real players are! What say you!

Anyone who has followed Baseball Training in the last 2 years or so has had to have heard HOLDS. If you have not where have you been? There was a special on HBO about it how it helped one Major Leaguer rise from the ashes into stardom. Okay I will explain. HOLDS are a concept of making throws with different weighted balls without actually throwing them. Hence the name HOLDS. The reason is to develop strength in the deceleration phase of the throw. For those not familiar, the deceleration phase is where most injuries occur due to the body needing to be strong enough during this phase in order to slow the arm down from high acceleration portion of throwing a baseball. The idea is that the stronger we are in the deceleration phase, the body will allow the arm’s acceleration phase to accelerate faster creating faster throwing velocity. So in a nutshell the body will only allow itself to throw a ball as fast as the body will allow it to slow down the arm. The theory is great, but the Jury is out holds as a Velocity Program.

Now I will say that I do holds myself and that some of my students do holds as well. But many academies have jumped on this program due to one person endorsing it as a Velocity Program. I am here to tell you that HOLDS SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A VELOCITY PROGRAM but PART OF A VELOCITY PROGRAM. I am saying this because there are some students that have received benefits from the HOLDS in my academy from a strength and stability perspective but I don’t think that it should be an end all be all when it comes to building Velocity in pitchers. Now for kicker. Do you all remember the TOWEL DRILL? Why all of a sudden is this drill completely ditched from the teachings of some of the best instructors in the USA? Especially when these same instructors are promoting holds with a 2 oz. ball and a sock. Sounds to me the towel drill is still being used but in disguise of a sock with a 2oz ball in it. I personally like the towel drill from different parts of the delivery. I can honestly say that I gained 7 mph my senior year in college and I can attribute that to training hard but also I did towel drills. My point is if we are going to promote HOLDS why did we ditch the towel drill. The towel drill is the same thing as the holds with the 2oz ball and sock. The towel drill gives the same effect as the hold with a 2 oz. ball inside a sock. In fact the weight of the dish towels that were used years ago to perform the drill weighs about the same anyway. I am not saying to do 1000 reps of towel drills daily, I am just saying that maybe the towel drill has its place, like holds, weight training, sprints. etc..

Speaking of Sprints, My next post is going to be on Sprints and how they can help increase you velocity in throwing! Leave a comment or an opinion!

My Story in Baseball

Posted: January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Bill Bethea – My Baseball Story
My name is Bill Bethea, and I am the founder and owner of Power Pitching & Hitting, Inc.  I have dedicated the last 10 years to developing baseball players of all ages and abilities.  Below is a summary of my baseball career, which I hope will provide insight to the knowledge that I have acquired throughout the years, and help communicate my love for the game of baseball.  My goal is to share this knowledge with players and parents who are as passionate about the game as I am.
LITTLE LEAGUE YEARS As a young player, I was a below-average little leaguer.  I was only allowed to pitch one time when I was 9, and I walked 11 batters!  I was not allowed to pitch again after that.  At age 12, I had a coach (Mr. Jones) who was a mainstay in the Midtown Edison Little League (God rest his soul), was the first coach that believed that I had potential.  I was a big kid that had power, but could never utilize the size to my advantage.  As a hitter, I could make good contact, primarily hitting singles and doubles.  But as a pitcher, I could not throw a strike to save my life.  Needless to say, I never made an all-star or travel team. After Little League I played senior league baseball for two years before moving on to high school.  At this point, I didn’t even want to try out for high school, as I didn’t think I would make the team, and I considered playing Lacrosse.  Although I had never played lacrosse in my life, the team was terrible, and I knew I could make the team.  My mother, however, (God rest her soul too) convinced me to try out for the baseball team instead.  Her reasoning: She liked the way I looked in my uniform!  Out of respect, I obliged, and promised I would try out.
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS Freshman Year After trying out, I made the team.  The coach told me I had some potential, but I had to learn an effective delivery for pitching. “PITCHING!?” I replied.  He said, “Yes, pitching!  You are 6 feet tall and have a good arm.”  He assured me that he would teach me everything from a delivery to a changeup to a curveball.  I didn’t know anything about any of this stuff, and I was on a team that had a ton of talent.  In fact, during my freshman year, we had two junior pitchers that were both All-State.  During the year, I ended up pitching in 17 of 19 games.  Twelve of those 17 games, I was actually the starting pitcher! What a great opportunity for me.  To put it in perspective, there were five All State pitchers ahead of me, one who was All-American.  I was pitching with guys that had pitched their whole lives.
Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes, and was labeled “The guy with potential.”  That’s a tough gig because once you get labeled as ‘having potential’, everyone starts wondering when you are going to reach it…including myself!  My problem was that people all around me would tell me that I should be throwing harder, but no one could communicate to me how; so I decided to seek it out the answers for myself.  I started researching pitching ‘gurus’ and picking their brains. The problem I found was that everyone had different ideas which made it all the more confusing.
Junior and Senior Year Our team finished 27-2, and won the state championship my junior year.  We ended up 4th in the nation as ranked in USA TODAY. We had a high school All-American pitcher who went 15-0 that year, and the remaining innings were spread around to four of us.  After completing my senior year with a 5-1 record, four of us went on to play in college – one stopped playing altogether.  I was still labeled as the guy ‘having potential’, and was trying hard to figure out how to achieve it.
College Years I spent my first three years on a college team that proved to be very average development years.  I would spend countless hours trying to learn new techniques to be an effective pitcher, and I truly believe that this hindered my success.  My ability to change my delivery and try new things, although commendable, did not prove successful, as I was trying all of these different things without any guidance from a good pitching coach (the team did not have one).  So in essence, I had been pitching for seven years now with all of this information, but not truly knowing what was right and/or wrong with my mechanics.  After my junior year, I contacted a pitching coach in Arizona, and sent
him a video of me pitching.  He sent back a reply stating that I had 3 major flaws that restricted my potential, and provided drills to correct them.  Finally some answers! Not just comments on what I was doing wrong, but instructions on how to correct them too!  It’s true that the older a pitcher gets, the harder it is to change his mechanics, but I had the confidence that I could do it because of my ability to change my delivery in the past.  Consistency in pitching is critical, and I didn’t have it, as I was always trying new things without any real guidance.
With this information, I worked every day for three months.  When I returned for fall-ball, they put me on the radar gun.  I had gained seven miles per hour in consistent velocity!  That’s unheard of at age 22.  In my mind, my dream of playing professionally was now a reality.  I had the velocity, the size…now I just had to execute.  I had six different workouts that I performed weekly during the offseason in order to prepare myself to go beyond college baseball.  I had a very good senior year, and racked up 33 strikeouts during my last three games.  My last game in college was a 4–0 shutout. After that game, my coach hugged me and thanked me for all my heard work for 4 years and then he broke the news to me that the Elmira Pioneers called and invited me to spring training.
Professional Baseball The Elmira Pioneers were an independent minor-league team at the time (Red Sox double AA).  Now I was going to get to play on the same field that Don Zimmer got married on; the field where Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens played on. WOW!  I spent some time with playing with the team, but soon after the Mets released their AAA pitcher, Ivan Arteaga, and the Elmira Pioneers quickly picked him up…..and sent me packing. Who wouldn’t release a rookie for a triple guy throwing 94 mph!?
Soon after, I had invites to seven other tryouts including the Kansas City Royals. The Royals said at age 23, I was too old to make it even though I was good enough. If I was hitting 94 mph instead of 88 mph, I truly believe that age wouldn’t have been a factor.  So instead of the Kansas City Royals, I was picked up by the Springfield Ozark Ducks of the Texas-Louisiana league, and I spent the remaining season and part of the next season, but then asked for my release to try and play closer to home.
After the Ducks When I got home I realized the following:  I did something that many kids only dream of… I played professional baseball!  Granted, it wasn’t the major leagues, but it was something to be proud of.  I then thought to myself, “if I only knew how to train like I did the past two years when I was in high school or younger, then maybe I would have had a shot to go further.” The light bulb went off!
I decided to focus on helping young players learn at an earlier age what I had learned so late.  In the beginning, I didn’t charge anything for the lessons until the demand grew larger.  I incorporated a name (PPH), and then started contacting various leagues, with the goal of offering the best baseball instruction available.
After starting PPH, I started to receive offers to play in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, France and Italy, but developed such a passion for teaching that I couldn’t leave my students. Instead, in 2008, I was asked to do some scouting for a league called the Continental Baseball League.  I was allowed to sign players, three of which have signed with major league organizations.
Present Day And that brings me to now.  Now that I have over 10,000 hours of instructional experience with over 60 guys who have moved on to play college ball, my primary focus is to offer the best experience for young players looking to improve.  Regardless if their goal is to play in the majors, or simply develop into a competitive player in a sport that they love, I will provide them with the proper tools they need to achieve their goals and become more than just a player that simply ‘has potential’, but a player who has maximized their potential.

Many instructors teach but how many can say that actively try or have tried the techniques that they teach? How many can teach how to feel the drill? I know I can..

-BILL BETHEA, Owner PPH Baseball

Hey Guys,

Finally I have taken to the net. After 15 years of watching and reading other people’s blog’s I decided that my knowledge needed to get out there. I realized that the only difference between myself and the other pitching “GURUS” is that they took to the net to post their opinions and push there programs. I sat back and watch these guys over the years as they changed their philosophies and ditched the old ones, just to sell some new videos. I love the fact that there is an awareness to Velocity Training in baseball now. Unfortunately too much of an awareness has created many academies to jump on the bandwagon of programs that do no work or have not been proven to work. I have tried them all both personally and with my students and I feel that there are only a few guys in the USA that truly understand what it takes to build velocity. What happens when building a velocity program, is when students reach a certain level, the ceiling needs to be raised. This in turn changes the program and makes it more intense. I think many programs fail to tell you that you need to push the process as the athlete adapts. Anyway more to come on velocity as we get going. My next post will discuss HOLDS and how some academies near me have used this as VELO Program only to find out that many of their players don’t gain the results they expected. This in my opinion ruins it for the REAL Velocity programs out there.

– Bill Bethea