FROM 82 TO 91 MPH:  THOMAS WILLIAMS' UNLIKELY JOURNEY FROM COLLEGE TO PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL

After a successful high school career, Thomas decided to stay in his home state of Maryland and attend Mount St. Mary's University.  Unfortunately, an elbow injury, resulting in Tommy John surgery, derailed him early in his college career.  Two-years removed from surgery, he continued to be plagued by chronic tricep soreness, tightness, and pain.  These sensations resulted in the inability to hold velocity late into games, and he had not been able to match his pre-surgery velocity of 84-87 mph. Stuck at 80-82 MPH and desperate to get back to his pre-injury form, this is where his story with Tread began.

The Evaluation:  Addressing Thomas's Immediate Limiting Factor

The first step was addressing his tricep issues.  After a full mobility assessment, we introduced him to various soft tissue exercises including voodoo band flossing, barbell/lacrosse ball smashing, and massage.  The goal here was to both reduce and eliminate the source of his tricep pain, which was limiting his top-end velocity as well as his ability to sustain velocity deep into starts.  

Note: Being in-season influenced our evaluation process with Thomas. Too much stimulus would cause an adverse effect, but to do nothing and continue throwing through pain would be a mistake. The goal with any of our athletes is to best address their needs within their current circumstances (injuries, in-season/out-of-season, or other such limitations).

In-Season Program Implementation and Immediate Results:

From the first day of implementing the protocol, Thomas began experiencing relief. Within a week, he was able to return to an in-season, adjusted long toss program during which he improved by 75 feet from his post-surgery best (a 33% increase in distance). Prior to surgery, he had been out to 275 feet; however, he had only been able to get back to 200 feet.  After just a couple weeks following the mobility protocol and using his new throwing program, he had a breakthrough and got to 300 feet for the first time.  

All of this occurred while in-season with only slight adjustments to his daily routine. Thomas was able to go deeper in games. His velocity increased from a fluctuating 80-82 mph to 84-86 mph. He was striking out more batters (almost doubled his strikeout/game totals) and throwing pain free for the first time in years.

Off-Season Program Implementation and Results:

With the season finished, Thomas was able to fully delve into the long toss and training protocols. Within 3 weeks, he had already set another personal long toss record of 330 feet. His velocity increased to sitting 86-88 MPH. 

Graduated and with a new-found velocity, Thomas decided to continue his education and playing career at Winthrop University as a graduate transfer.  Fast-forward through his final college season and his velocity had jumped again to sitting 90-91 MPH.  Then, it happened... professional baseball came calling.   

At 80-82 MPH, most people would have surely counted Thomas out as a potential professional baseball player; however, with a lot of hard work and little bit of help, Thomas made his dream happen.  Interested in how he made it happen?  Keep reading...

Introduction

After completing his final collegiate season, Thomas decided to make a final push at professional baseball.   His goal was to place an emphasis on correcting his remaining limiting factors:  

  1. Addressing his individual mobility deficiencies.  Specifically, horizontal abduction, shoulder external rotation, and thoracic extension/rotation.  
  2. Re-mapping his arm/lower body mechanics.  Specifically, Thomas used weighted baseballs, especially overload implements, to coax his arm/thoracic into more advantageous positions, while throwing high intensity bullpens to blend his upper and lower body movements to rotate better into landing.   
  3. Improving his total body strength and power production.   Although Thomas was already demonstrating early intermediate strength numbers, we determined he was still around 10-20% away from where he needed to be.  After which, he would start transitioning to a power-oriented program.   

Mobility

Thomas was missing significant external rotation and horizontal abduction, which negatively impacted his ability to apply force over a longer arc of motion.  Although his external rotation is still limited, his horizontal abduction (pec length) has improved considerably allowing his arm to be in better positions and boost his velocity once again.  To improve these limitations, we prescribed various corrective exercises and  soft tissue work, including smashing techniques, functional range conditioning, and manual therapy.  

Mechanics

The next major goal for Thomas was to blend his upper and lower body mechanics on the mound.  The most important tweak for Thomas was to learn how to rotate down into landing.  With his limited external rotation, his upper and lower halves had to work in harmony to elicit higher level velocities.  After many bullpen sessions, his movement patterns began to adjust. See the difference below...

After months of high intensity throwing, Thomas's movement patterns have completely changed.  Notice his improved energy transfer and movement efficiency above.  

Improving Total Body Strength and Power Production

Although Thomas's strength levels weren't a huge cause for concern, we were determined to eliminate any potential limiting factor he may be encountering.  After graduating from Winthrop, Thomas began to push his strength levels past the pre-determined threshold. Once this task was complete, Thomas transitioned to a power-oriented program that included speed squatting, deadlifting, and dumbbell bench pressing.  The goal here was to improve his power production and expression with the hope of transitioning his new-found strength to the mound.

Thomas deadlifting 455x3 in training before getting signed in 2017.

​Thomas came to us desperate to simply return to pre-surgery throwing form. Fast-forward 18-months, and he's playing professional baseball. When it comes down to it, Thomas was willing to exhaust all options...leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of his goals. Are you?

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