Written by Ben Brewster
Steven Colon is a 17 year old high school junior from Florida that started remote training with Tread Athletics at 6'1" and 182 pounds. After six months, Steven had gained 20 pounds and added 6 mph to his fastball. He is currently uncommitted to play in college.
Backtrack a full year, and before Steven had even heard of TreadAthletics, he was topping out at 81 mph. With no real mechanical knowledge, and no hint of a resistance training background, he spent those first 6 months studying mechanics, visiting local training facilities and getting started with a basic lifting program in his garage. He gained 5 mph primarily by cleaning up his mechanical patterns, improving his intent to throw hard and beginning to build a strength base. On his own, he gained about 7 lbs in 6 months and added 40 lbs to his squat - both very minimal gains for an absolute beginner:
"When I first started training seriously I was quite clueless at first. I didn't know exactly where to start. I was extremely motivated to start getting better during that summer. Me and my dad even built a wooden squat rack and got some weights so I could start doing some basic movements. I began reading every bit of training material I could get my hands on and soon realized the main component I was missing was an optimal strength training program."
We provided this structure, handling Steven's entire strength, throwing, arm care, recovery and nutrition protocols, while our coaches monitored his progress along the way so that we could make sure he stayed on track. Steven also made the bold decision to opt out of his high school's season, knowing that the time would be better spent focusing instead on his own training and development.
The biggest thing for Steven was just getting bigger and stronger - however, another area of focus was to improve his shoulder stability. Steven is a pretty mobile guy (video below), which is a good thing, but it can also cause some issues if left unaddressed. Specifically, we need to make sure the muscles surrounding the scapula and glenohumeral joint are able to do their job to provide adequate stability during overhead throwing (in practical terms, this means that the shoulder muscles keep the scapula flush to the ribcage and the humerus centered in the shoulder socket during violent overhead motion). So, we focused on shoulder stability while also recognizing that just adding balanced mass and strength with appropriate exercises would go a long way towards adding this stability as well.
Steven already had the drive to get better, and knew that getting stronger was his golden ticket to the next level. The problem is, he had been training for 6 months and made relatively little progress, both due to poor programming and limited nutritional knowledge. We taught him how to track and progress his nutrition, just like he would with his other training and throwing metrics, which proved to be the key that unlocked massive strength and power gains in a relatively short period of time.
The scary part? He's only been training for a year (and only with a real program for 6 months) - he'll easily add another 15 lbs of bodyweight and 20% to all of his lifts over the next year or two, raising that velocity ceiling even higher.
Just one year into having ever touched a weight, Steven has gained 27 lbs and 11 miles per hour.
Note: in contrast, it took me 3 years of not knowing what I was doing in high school to make similar gains - I would have done just about anything to have reached this point by 17 and not had to scrap and claw my way into a college walk-on spot.
Increasing Steven's total body size and strength with a well planned nutrition and strength program led to rapid progress.
Steven came to us with good (but not elite) mechanical patterns, and 6 months of experience with weighted ball throwing - we programmed specific constraint drills using varying ball weights to further increase and maintain the efficiency of his patterns. Overload training helped solidify a solid, biomechanically efficient arm path, while we couple this with underload training at specific phases in the program to bring up his arm speed. (For more details on how WB's work, check out this article I wrote for Driveline Baseball back in 2014). What you'll see is cleaner arm and lead leg paths, and much more athletic integration between his upper and lower half, with no forced or overexaggerated follow through.
Steven now couples elite rotational and linear components in his delivery.
A notable mechanical model for Steven was Trevor Bauer, who has similar lower and upper half components in his delivery, as well as a similarly sized frame. This explains why Steven's velocity is already approaching where Bauer's was in high school, now that he is beginning to establish a strength base and adjust to his improved mechanics.
Trevor Bauer served as an appropriate mechanical model for Steven
The day finally came when Steven broke through the 90 MPH barrier, and it wasn't long before he reached back for a couple more. Check out his most recent mound velocity day below:
More than just the external results, Steven admits he learned just how important consistency is; early on in the program he wasn't nearly as diligent with the nutrition protocol, which quickly changed once he realized that his numbers had stopped rising. We made sure to remind him to stay emotionally detached from the day to day rollercoaster of training - knowing that there will be ups and downs frees you up to stay the course and stick to the process through these peaks and valleys.
Moving forward, getting him to be able to express his added strength quickly will be the focus, which should help him reach his goal of peaking at 95 mph or even higher.
**Steven is currently an uncommitted high school junior, and will be playing in Florida this summer, 2017. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org **