Meet Cam Kundig. Cam increased his velocity on the mound from 83 to 88 mph... in 3 weeks. Watch him celebrate.
Cam pitched at Redlands and has one more year of eligibility remaining for post-grad. Like so many pitchers, Cam was struggling to increase his velocity.
He’d been stuck at 83 mph for a couple of years, and regardless of what he tried, nothing worked.
- He spent time with weighted balls and velocity programs that helped him throw harder until he got on the mound, but the results? Those chose to remain on flat ground and refused to transfer any gains to the game mound.
- He tried changing his mechanics because he thought that might help increase his velocity.
- One of his concerns was a lack of hip and shoulder separation. So, his fix was to delay rotating his shoulders, but it didn’t work. He tried to get more from his hips by pushing them forward to ‘load them’ but that made things worse.
- Next thing you know, he was overthinking everything.
That alone is one of the most costly velocity leaks because it slows down and muddies the system. Inefficient movement is thoughtless. If you have to think about it, you’re not efficient.
“Don’t think. FEEL!” as Bruce Lee was quoted as saying.
Here was the process for Cam.
The first step was a video analysis, which was able to capture from four angles as he visited The Core Velocity Belt Training Studio: overhead, open side, rear side, and front view. Honestly, I can’t imagine conducting a video analysis without a few things: context of the situation and environment, knowledge of intentions, cues, perception, video in real-time speed, and from multiple angles.
No slow-mo. Slow motion does more harm than good. Pay attention to how the guys on your staff who spend a large amount of time watching mechanics in slow motion struggle to throw strikes.
- Because their perception or belief of what’s most important pertains to the images and positions they seek out on the video screen. They associate success with mannequin-style poses or positions, I guess you could say.
- Because we are bipedal, meaning we walk on two feet, every movement will have an equal but opposite movement to keep us upright.
- Because of that alone, I’ve got to have access to equal but opposite viewpoints because you will see the “what” on one side and the “why” on the other, or before.
Then, we scanned for all possible velocity leaks after getting the results of his eMotion Capture Screening, which is where you find the real gold. At Core Velocity, we do things quite differently than everyone else.
Instead of training mechanics after foot-plant, we master the simple movements before the foot lands, and they turn into mechanics.
And, instead of zooming in our lens on the body, we start with the mind.
- It’s the mind that controls the motor.
- The brain is the boss.
- He’s the orchestrator of movement, and you could say the puppet master.
The fastest way to change the output is by changing the input.
Something as simple as a change of intention or slight alteration to the mental model, and the entire delivery changes instantly, permanently. And that’s without ever picking up a ball. Trust when I say this. We see changes in minutes that most couldn’t dream of seeing in months. Looking over his results, it was obvious where he was leaking velocity.
The Fastest Way to Increase Velocity is by Sealing Leaks Losing Velocity
1. Wide starting base:
He started extremely wide, which caused problems right away. Ideally, you’d like to set your feet up shoulder-width apart. A narrow starting base enables the hips or middle to be the driver, whereas a wide base forces the pitcher to shift posture, body weight, and unplug the feet. Regardless, it doesn't matter if a pitcher doesn't have control over their hips. Without control over the mid-section of your body, you couldn't expect to be efficient in a rotation-dominated sport.
2. Anchor the Lift:
He couldn’t lift the lead leg independently without it locking the back leg, shifting the weight in the feet, and swaying the pelvis. If you can't get the first domino lined up and falling correctly, you're going to compensate all the way down the line. The first move will affect the last move because, in regards to human movement, every movement is a consequence of a previous movement. Pitchers who can't Anchor the Lift typically struggle with low hip awareness and low pelvic control.
3. Get on-plane:
Cam's initial movement was what he referred to or believed to be, “loading the hips”. The problem was the false tilt of the spine and head, which promoted him activating and relying on the quad to transport or push him forward down the mound. The key to efficiency is getting on-plane with the slope and breaking the hands on-plane of the arm's path. Pitchers who can't “Ride the Slide” never utilize proper ground force and most often struggle with rotation. Which appears as symptoms with little to no hip/shoulder separation. Truth is, nobody has a separation problem, but just about every pitcher has a rotational problem.
4. Keep the middle in the middle
If you can't keep your butt behind you and the middle in the middle, you've got no chance of resisting rotation (IMO that’s loading the hips) too early.
One of my first checkpoints is watching what the body does after the baseball is released because the body will unwind how it was wound up. He didn’t unwind aggressively and obviously didn't rotate through the baseball, which is characteristic of high-level throwers unwinding their body into release.
Context shapes Content
Up until this point, like most pitchers, Cam spent the majority of his training time on flat ground. His drill selections weren’t specific to his needs and placed a heavy emphasis on achieving positions with manufactured, unnatural movements that you’d never experience as a pitcher in real life.
Because he’d spent so much time training on flat ground versus the pitching mound, he’d developed flat ground movement patterns.
Check out the video below, and you’ll notice how the middle of the body stays online into the final frame before landing. Guys that Ride the Slide will continue with the angle of the slope.
- The reason this happens is that flat ground patterns are dominated by the rear foot.
- The rear foot pushes or projects their body forward.
Because it’s the foot and not the hip, it knocks the entire kinetic sequencing out of whack, and it's why so many pitchers struggle with ‘mechanics’ that should happen naturally, if they trained movements instead of constant mechanics.
He never connected or even considered the power of the mind-muscle connection and the role breathing, visualization, motor imagery, and FEEL played. In fact, he literally had never considered the SuperHero level of quality tools he’d had at his disposal.
Mind over Motor:
Next, we sat down with him and, through simple examples using domino analogies and stories he could connect with because he’d had experience with them, cleared up his mental model quickly.
Analogies are a powerful form of communication, particularly when the athlete is familiar with the analogy and it’s out of context from what you’re teaching. That’s the essence of transfer. It’s taking it from one aspect of life, and the lessons can be transferred to another aspect totally unrelated.
One of the first things we did was shut down the excess computer tabs he had running, as Jon Watson is fond of saying.
Because we don’t waste time with pitching drills or chasing outcomes such as separation or lead leg blocking for a simple reason: they aren’t the problem.
- They are merely reactions to a previous action. To find the problem, we’ve got to work backward from the front foot touching down.
- If reactions have equal but opposite reactions, then the front landing is a reaction to the back foot leaving.
Just so it makes sense, think of it this way.
If you found trash floating downstream past the waterfall, where would you begin your search for where the litter bug dumped his trash? Upstream of the waterfall or downstream? Sounds obvious, right?
You could see the focus deepening.
His mind had switched from thinking he’d need months to make a change to realizing he could make a change right now. Why?
- Because it made sense to him.
- He had a clearer picture of what he was supposed to do.
- Suddenly, he had a sense of belief it could be done.
Beliefs are your potential. You will never go further than you believe is possible.
Here were the mechanical flaws Cam was struggling to correct, but with no luck:
- He struggled to keep his torso and shoulders from flying open early, and no matter how long he delayed his shoulders, it was very difficult to get results or see any level of change. (This was caused by him pushing from his back foot and being quad dominant.)
- His lead leg and hips were called a ‘swinging gate’ because they leaked energy by opening them early. (There’s no way around this for quad-dominant pitchers who lack hip awareness, control, and stability.)
- The cause of his problems, his domino effect, was he could not Anchor the Lift because he didn’t have the necessary FEEL for his hips, or control, to lift the lead leg independently without swaying the pelvis, locking the back leg, or shifting weight inside his feet.
- Because he had lower levels of FEEL for his hips and very little control, he relied on his legs to push him down the mound. This type of lower-body action is by far the most common, and we often refer to it as quad-dominant.
Get a FEEL for the middle. We tested different setups and FEELs focusing on heightening awareness for the hips and creating stability in the back leg to enable Cam to utilize ground forces by staying plugged in longer. The primary setup was on the front hip using The Core Velocity Belt at various angles and FEELing the difference between wrong and right, and right and left.
The reason for the various angles was twofold: to feed the mistake of opening early and force Cam to control the middle of his body and prevent being quad-dominant. Meaning, he pushes or extends his hips versus rotating.
Quad-dominant pitchers will always open early with the front leg/hip/shoulder.
Why? Because they aren’t able to segment rotation because these guys push the body forward as one piece, versus segmentally rotating from the middle of the body. Instead, they push from the ends of the body (feet).
Began moving to double cord and isolating his front hip at different angles. We also created a setup we refer to as “Reist-Rotation” which is shown below. You’ll notice how he continuously blends these movements without throws in the beginning. The order of progression is FEEL (hold or resist), Flow, Throw. (Throw a baseball or medicine ball or plyo ball).
Again, every single trianing day was performed on the mound this week with special emphasis on high volume and low intensity. Spent time daily on the stability blocks inside his throwing program combined with a lot of blending (alternating) his timing/rhythm and tempo on the mound with slow motion “Ride the Slide” FEELs, such as the one seen here with the Core Velocity Belt Anti-Gravity Setup.