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  • Writer's pictureMichael Richards

Why we use “Run and Gun” throws and 1RM’s in the weight room.

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

Michael Richards

ISSA Certified Strength Coach

Owner Elite Athletic Performance LLC

18 years of experience training athletes

Public Speaker

Published Author:

Your Student Athlete; Should Do, Must Do, and Don’t

Things you need to know:

- Newton Meter (Nm): Is the unit of measurement in physics used to measure torque. It is used in baseball to measure the amount of torque (stress) is placed on the elbow. - Newton Meters pertaining to stress on the throwing elbow are measured using a Motus Sleeve. It’s basically an Evoshield arm sleeve with a little pocket on the inside of the elbow for a small Bluetooth device. I have always referred to it as a “Peanut” because it reminds me of a peanut for some reason(even though it is blue in color). This device sends several measurements to an app (the device, app, and its measurements have been proven to be quite accurate) among those measurements is the Newton Meter. The higher the number, the more stress on the throwing arm elbow.

- I hate the term “Run and Gun”. It sounds wreckless. If there is one word I would say is 180 degrees opposite of our Velo program, it is “wreckless”. We refer to them as “Pulldowns”. Why? Because it is taken from the Alan Jeager (Yes, the J-Band guy)Long-Toss Program. In his long toss program the thrower builds up daily or every other day to throwing the ball as far as he can “on an arch”. Then he or she and their partner *USING THE SAME INTENSITY THEY THREW THE MAX DISTANCE THROW begin to “Pulldown” by throwing on a line while moving closer and closer to each other. We don’t have a place to long toss immediately adjacent to our gym so we pull down to the radar gun. This is how Driveline Baseball structures the pulldowns in their Hacking The Kinetic Chain program as well. Thats where I learned it. It is of upmost importance to throw as hard as possible “on a line” after throwing as hard as possible on an arch. If you can consistently get guys to pull their heads out of their collective arses and “pulldown” indoors properly without a radar gun, you are a better coach than I. This is extremely difficult to accomplish indoors. Long tossing outdoors, preferably somewhere with distance markers(like a football field) is ideal because the immediate feedback pushes the athlete every single day to throw a little farther. This CRUCIAL to building a durable arm and helping the thrower’s body self-organize into the best mechanics for their anatomical structure. We don’t ask normal people to drive a NASCAR, we don’t ask 3rd graders to do trigonometry. We don’t need to ask throwers to throw hard in a game if they haven’t been throwing hard outside of the game.

- This one might blow your mind. According to Motus Sleeve Nm measurements, Pulldown throws with a 5oz ball are BARELY more stressful on the elbow than pitching from a mound. Read about this here

- /“1RM” (One Repetition Maximum)-“ weight training is the maximum amount of weight that a person can possibly lift for one repetition. It may also be considered as the maximum amount of force that can be generated in one maximal contraction.”When I speak of 1RM’s in this blog, I’m speaking of ALL 1RM’s, weight room and throwing.

- Stress CANNOT be avoided.The more you avoid stress, the more stressful, stress will be.

- My intent for this blog is not to necessarily change your mind, it is more for explaining our reasoning behind our use of these methods. I just want you to be informed, not influenced.

Used in proper context, I’ll never apologize for using 1RM’s

Sports ARE 1RM’s, and no, It’s not for everyone. That’s exactly why we use them, we are trying to get our athletes OUT of that “not for” category. Why? Because YOU need them to perform 1RM’s coach!

I will try not to just completely rant here, but we have this WHOLE thing backwards.

Note: Athletes without a solid level of established strength and a relatively high training age will not participate in weight room related 1RM’s at EAP until that base level strength is acquired. They will however participate in high effort throwing. Not because I want them to, but because their coaches want them to. The worst thing you can do to your body is create a bunch of adrenaline and then force it to do things it is absolutely not prepared to do. It’s a recipe for disaster, but we ask athletes to do it Every. Single. Day.

Training is letting the body know “Hey this is gonna be happening, so be prepared for it.”

We want athletes to go 100% in a game and practice, but are terrified of them training at 100%. Then we scratch our heads when little Johnnys arm hurts after trying to throw someone out at home from CF. Gyms like Elite Athletic Performance are testing grounds. If an athlete’s arm can’t withstand a pulldown throw in our gym with all the extensive warmup protocol they are forced to use, it was not going to make it very long at all, in-game. Unless of course you ride a lot of pine, it’d probably be ok in that case 😁. Baseball, for a well prepared athlete, is about the worst case scenario in a non-contact sport you could possibly ask for with regard to avoiding injuries. Stand around, go sit, get stiff, SWING REALLY HARD!!....go sit, get stiff again, GO SPRINT REALLY HARD TO CATCH THAT BALL...go get it.

You mix being ill- prepared in and it becomes much more clear why every kid has elbow pain at one point or another.

But I get it. I honestly do.

1RM’s do not seem “worth the risk”. I truly believe there is a lot of sensationalism involved. What’s the first thing you think of when you think about 1RM’s?

- Power lifters

- Veins popping out

- Horror stories of kids backs being destroyed.

Here’s what I think of when I think of athletes that have not been training 1RM’s

- A Muscular system that will be completely dumbfounded with regard to stabilizing joints (unstable joints become injured joints) when the athlete makes a max effort throw or swing in-game. The same goes for sprinting.

- A Muscular and Central Nervous System that is leaving performance “on the table” because it has never learned to produce the maximum amount of force it COULD be producing.

Remember, FORCE applied is king, with regard to sport performance.

Weight training, when performed technically sound, is a slower, less stressful way to prepare the body to withstand the stress of doing things with a maximum amount of force.

It is also a slower, more controlled and less stressful way to teach the body how to apply a larger amount of force in those situations. It is the best way to teach an athlete how to do things with a high level of intent.

Common questions/rebuttals I hear regarding this line of thinking:

I/My kid plays 2nd base. I don’t want him doing this.

I get it, I truly do. You just want what is best. I would counter that our methods regarding 1RM’s are equally if not more important for you. With regard time throwing especially, remember an unprepared athlete eventually becomes an injured athlete. Runner on 3rd, ground ball takes a bad hop spins off towards 2nd base. You hustle to the ball, runner is trying to take home. I want our athletes to be able to safely make that throw. If you have ”baby’d” your arm, best case scenario is you get lucky and make a good throw. “Ok” scenario is you don’t Make a good throw because you havent practiced throwing hard. worst case scenario, of outcome, the throw results in elbow And/or shoulder pain because it had absolutely no idea you might ask it to that occasionally. With regard to 1RM‘s in the weight room. Remember

A) If the athlete doesnt have a solid history of training, this discussion is void. 6-12 months of learning to move submaximal loads well are minimum requirement. The younger the athlete, the longer we can extend that period.

B) The body works as a system. When an athlete picks up the heaviest weight they can for one rep, their body gets better at two very important things:

1) Creating more force, particularly in movements that are best when performed quick and powerfully. Everything we do in baseball,that anyone cares about at least, must be performed quick and powerfully.

2) NOT breaking down when the Previous happens (see:Injury)

Im afraid of getting bulky

Contrary to popular belief, lower rep, heavier weights do not create bulkiness. bodybuilders have been using high Reps for ions of time to create bulky,slow “show” muscles. Good strength coaches have been using low rep, heavy weights for ions of time to create fast, healthy “GO” muscles.

We use higher reps in a few assistance exercises that require a low amount of skill to get right. Aside from that, I cannot reminder the last time we squatted for more than 6 reps for a set.

If you‘ve only got so many “bullets in the Gun” I don’t want to waste them on run and guns.

Thats actually not how it works. If it did, relief pitchers would have drastically less Tommy John surgeries and Dominican kids....well there wouldn’t be many Dominican guys playing in the league.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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Your Student Athlete; Must Do, Should Do, and Don’t

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