The obvious answer is to get better. But the real question is, to get better at what?
When I ask players “what do you want to improve upon?” Most of them give a generic answer like velocity, or command, or my mechanics. Then I probe a little further and realize that what they all really want is to move better. They want a more dynamic, explosive, and efficient delivery.
A better delivery starts with better movements. Siff and Verkhoshansky stated in Supertraining: “Sport is a problem solving activity in which movements are used to produce the necessary solutions.” The problem I encounter with a lot of athletes is that they are not presently capable of making the movements that will allow them to optimize their delivery. They do not possess an adequate amount of mobility, stability, strength, endurance, or motor coordination, or a combination of those mentioned. Basically, they cannot move their bodies through the full range of motion needed to produce a more dynamic, explosive, and efficient delivery.
As I learned from Shawn Myszka (optimizemovement.com), every time an athlete performs a movement with a weakness or compensation, it is leading that athlete towards further movement pattern deterioration. This can allow the athlete to be exposed to micro-trauma as the athlete fatigues or ages, and it will decrease their energy usage and efficiency; meaning there is a greater energy leakage throughout the body and an increased risk of injury. The robustness and durability of the athlete will come from their movement efficiency.
So, I believe the main reason you should train is to learn how to create efficient movements, movements that will help to transfer to the game. Functional training should focus on the “transfer effect”, where gains in functional strength and neuromuscular coordination carry over to the activities on the field; improving performance while decreasing the risk of injury. Proper movement organization is the foundation for a powerful and efficient delivery.
Now is a perfect time to start addressing how you move. And I am not just talking about how you move in your pitching delivery, but how you move in general. Improve your mobility constraints; create better stability where needed and work at enhancing your motor coordination. Learn how to move your body through the proper range of motion without having to compensate. If you can generally move better, then it will be much easier to achieve that “transfer effect” to movements on the field.
Spend a portion of everyday working on how to move better, and in a relatively short period of time, I think you will see huge benefits from that investment.
Flint Wallace is the Director of Player Development at the Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery, TX. He is also the former Director of Baseball Operations at TCU and pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. For more information about the Texas Baseball Ranch visit http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/