Are You Ready for a Velocity Program? Take This Assessment to Find Out.

Arm Care Assessment
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Baseball velocity programs (Velo programs) are among the most common training protocols utilized by coaches across the country. These programs often use weighted balls to optimize throwing efficiency, train arm speed, and increase external rotation during layback. Collectively these changes increase throwing velocity, but intense throwing methods do increase the risk of injury.

How do you know if an athlete is ready to participate in a velo program and reduce injury risks associated with this type of training?  The answer is by screening athletes for their readiness and developing each player on a case-by-case basis.

We’ve developed a pre-velo program screening tool to ensure a player is physically ready to meet the training demands of their sport. If a player misses any of these criteria, they first need to get their training, health, and recovery squared away before focusing on any advanced throwing methods.

The Velocity Checklist

It’s a good sign if you pass the Velocity Screen, but just because everything checks out doesn’t mean you should start a velocity program.  It simply shows that you’re a strong and healthy athlete with an adequate training regiment.

The ArmCare App provides an in-depth arm assessment (see Advanced Assessment below) to identify specific strengths and weaknesses if you meet all the below criteria. It then offers ongoing evaluation to ensure optimal development.

  • 1. You Have Never Experienced an Injury That Required Surgery – If you have experienced a prior surgery to your arm; a velocity program is not advised as it is possible that you could have a secondary injury where surgical outcomes are not as favorable. If you have had a previous surgery please consult your orthopedic surgeon prior to beginning a velocity program.
  • 2. You Don’t Have Arm Pain – This is an obvious point: You never want to throw through pain. If you do experience arm pain then communicate with your coach and STOP THROWING.

  • With the ArmCare App you should not report pain on any strength test and your arm should not rate below a 4 out of 10 on throwing soreness/tiredness in the past 7 days.
  • 3.You Are At Least 17 Years Old – Between the ages of 12-16 athletes go through a phase in their lives called peak height velocity which is the body’s fastest growth rate. As a result ligaments

  • tendons and muscles get stretched as bones move further apart from the growth plate. Velocity programs undertaken during this period may result in growth plate injuries for the shoulder and elbow. As a result
  • we advise the athlete to be orthopedically mature before participating in velocity enhancement programming.
  • 4. You Have Taken Time Off If Your Workload was High Last Season – If you have had a heavy throwing workload last season (80 or more innings) you need to take a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of 4 weeks off of no throwing and do not feel fatigued or sore when playing catch.

  • 5. You Are Not In-Season – The goal during the season is to properly manage your workloads and recovery periods so that you feel fresh and strong to compete. This is not the time to perform a velocity program.

  • 6. You Have Been Throwing Consistently For At Least 6-Weeks – You need to build a base of throwing prior to engaging in any Velocity Program. Six weeks is the bare minimum. This base will better prepare your soft tissue for the forces it will encounter during the velocity program. To ensure your arm has had a suitable amount of work it is recommended to start velocity programs after bullpens have started in your throwing program. You do not run and gun before throwing off the mound.

  • 7. You Have a Baseline of Strength – You will need to build a foundation of strength at least a year prior to the start of a velocity program. The following are recommended physical benchmarks to achieve prior to beginning a velocity program that can be assessed by a qualified strength and conditioning professional:

  • a. Able to achieve a vertical jump greater than 28 inches

  • b. Able to achieve a broad jump greater than 8 feet

  • c. Able to achieve a triple broad Jump greater than 25 feet

  • d. Able to achieve a lateral jump (either jumping left to right or right to left) greater than 5 and a half feet

  • e. Able to lunge with half your body weight for 6 reps each leg (Example: If you weigh 200 lbs you should be able to lunge with 100 lbs of resistance or 50 lbs dumbbells in each hand)

  • f. Able to press 80% of your body weight for 5 reps (Example: If you weigh 200 lbs you should be able to press 160 lbs or 80 lbs dumbbells in each hand)

  • g. Can hold a plank for 3 minutes

  • h. Can perform 6 continuous pull-ups with a 1-second pause at the bottom

  • i. You are sprinting at least twice per week for 2 months prior to training

  • 7. You Test & Monitor Arm Health – By using the ArmCare App you will know if your arm is capable and progressing with your velocity program.  The following metrics are used to assess a player on weekly basis via an app-guided assessment and provided to the player as part of their weekly report card.  If your arm is not strong enough or regressing a velocity program is not worth it—you won’t see the results you want and you’re only setting yourself up for injury.  The following are key metrics measured by the ArmCare App to measure and monitor arm readiness:

  • a. Strength-velocity ratio (Total Arm Strength divided by Maximum Fastball Velocity) greater than 1.6

  • b. Strength for internal and external rotation should be greater than 20% body weight and grip and scaption strength should be greater than 15% body weight

  • c. ER:IR ratio (external rotation to internal rotation strength ratio) between 0.85-1.05

  • d. No more than 5 lbs strength loss from average strength tests

  • e. No more than 25-degree internal rotation deficit in the throwing arm

  • f. No more than a 15-degree flexion deficit in the throwing arm

  • g. No more than a 15-degree total arc deficit in the throwing arm

  • h. No more than a 10-degree change from the average range of motion in the throwing arm prior to entering the velo program

    8. Your throwing mechanics are repeatable – Throwing mechanics need to be qualified by your coach to determine that your delivery is consistent. Additional measures to make this determination can be your coach reviewing your strike percentage compared to your competition level. If you cannot consistently throw strikes adding velocity will not make you a better pitcher as you will further lose command and may expose you to increased injury risk.

  • 9. You understand that there are risks involved – There are risks to acknowledge whenever you push yourself to your physical limits. The velocity program checklist and Arm Care app are designed to ensure you are physically ready for the program and extensively monitored. But you have to determine if you are psychologically ready for a velocity program. It is a good idea to consider alternatives if there are any doubts about your readiness and willingness to commit to a velocity program. Your mindset is as important to success as your body in a velocity program.

ArmCare Advanced Assessment

Velocity, accuracy, and durability are characteristics that set a pitcher up for success. Without one of these characteristics, a player may miss their pitching potential, and opportunities may dwindle.

If you do not meet the criteria for the checklist, do not be discouraged.  Just continue to improve upon your weak areas and recheck your requirements again in the future.

Click here to get started with the ArmCare App and to take your pre-velocity screen.

Arm Care Assessment

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