Evidence Based Baseball Coaching

evidence based baseball coachingYour guide to evidence based baseball coaching. Unfortunately, I haven’t been in the business of helping baseball coaches. I have mainly focused on the players but now I begin to turn to the coaches. There is no better time than now coaches to learn this game. There is more evidence on how this game works than ever before and those who are studying the latest information have the edge currently.

Its now time all coaches head over to Google Scholar and begin searching for evidence based baseball coaching information. It is a quick and easy process. Search what you want to learn about this game and more than likely you will find some research on it. We are in a research boom and if you do not start consuming it then you will be left in the dark.

In this article, I will discuss how evidence based baseball coaching information has benefited my coaching abilities, what guidelines I follow, what are the biggest challenges of being evidence based, how to save time when searching for evidence based baseball coaching information and how to organize and promote your work.

How Evidence Based Baseball Coaching Info Has Benefited my Coaching

The biggest effect on using evidence based baseball coaching is the confidence it gives me and the athletes I am using it on to believe in the process. For example, my approach to training elite pitchers is building efficient movement from the ground up to ultimately lower stress on the end of the kinetic chain or arm as pitching velocity improves. This is completely opposite to the conventional wisdom of baseball that believes elite pitchers have stronger arms therefore can endure more stress. The entire baseball industry is built around “Arm Strength” and “Arm Speed” but the science is showing otherwise.

In the research found below we have a poor correlation of internal rotation velocity of the throwing shoulder to ball speed as competition levels increase (Fleisig, Barrentine, Zheng, Escamilla, & Andrews, 1999). We also find research that shows, based on body weight, professional pitchers put less internal rotation torque on their shoulders than all levels of play, even youth pitchers (Aguinaldo, Buttermore, & Chambers, 2007).

This evidence creates a paradigm swing in the mentality of most baseball players who have been told from the beginning of their baseball careers that the arm generates the ball speed. The research is now informing us that the arm is better used as a funnel of energy than a generator.

Taking it one step further we have research defining the value of the energy produced by the legs as being almost worth twice as much as the energy produced by the arm.

Kibler and Chandler calculated that a 20% Decrease in kinetic energy delivered from the hip and trunk to the arm requires a 34% increase in the rotational velocity of the shoulder to impart the same amount of force to the hand (Kibler & Chandler, 1995).

It is hard enough teaching pitchers to better use their lower half. If I didn’t have this evidence to prove its value, most of my pitchers would give up and just follow the conventional wisdom.

Why Evidence-Based Guidelines from Medical Industry Work in Baseball

There are five steps to practice Evidence-Based Medicine effectively:

  1. Ask an answerable question
  2. Search the evidence
  3. Critically appraise the evidence for its validity, impact, and applicability
  4. Integrate critical appraisal with the physician’s clinical expertise and the patient’s unique biology, values, and circumstances
  5. Evaluate and improve personal effectiveness and efficiency in performing the four steps above (Virgilio, Chiapa, & Palmarozzi, 2007)

There isn’t much of an argument that these 5 steps, from the medical industry for better serving the client, isn’t a better alternative for the current baseball environment of coach and player. Mainly because the alternative for the coach or player is “just do what I did when I played” or “do what this pro told me he did when he played.”

I would challenge every coach to take these five steps as a means for truly helping a player advance his career. The only piece of information I would add is to step 1. I would add that the coach should also fully evaluate the player similar to how we evaluate the player in the 3X Evaluation System.

What are the Challenges to these Evidence Based Guidelines

The biggest challenge a baseball coach will encounter with implementing these guidelines is step 1 and 4. Most coaches have a poor understanding of evaluating a players abilities. Mainly because the conventional wisdom teaches everyone to only evaluate the skill and not the athlete. For coaches to effectively help a baseball player with evidence-based practice he must first look at the baseball player as an athlete and then understand how this is influencing the skill.

Step 4 brings in another challenge because the coach will need to program drills and exercises to enhance the deficiencies discovered in the evaluation with training that was advised in the research. Most baseball coaches do not have much of a list of drills and exercises to support this training. This is why my company has been in business for 10 years selling this level of programming with proprietary drill training in the 3X and 2X programs.

Strategies for Searching Literature in Time-Efficient way

The best way I have found to search for evidence based baseball coaching information is through Google Scholar. Google has the best search technology in the world. It also gives you an excerpt below the title of the work which has the search terms you are looking for in it. This will save you a ton of time because you can quickly read how relevant the search terms are to the research in the excerpt. You can also use Google Advanced Search Terms to refine your search which will speed up your search time.

Challenges Searching for Literature

Some of the biggest challenges I have run into searching for literature is finding research that is not available online. Unfortunately, I do not have a library near by that would hold evidence based baseball coaching information, so when I discover literature that is not available online I am forced to move on. The other challenge is when the information is very new and only the abstract has been published. Sometimes you are anxious to post the research but you are not sure that the full study is represented as well as the abstract or vice versus. For example, when Mike Reinold published his famous 6 week study on the effects of a weighted baseball training program he had only published the abstract (Reinold, Macrina, Aune, Fleisig, & Andrews, 2017). I wasn’t sure if the full study was going to support the abstract as well as I hoped. I posted the research below on my Instagram anyways and when Mike Reinold released more of the information from the study in the interview below I was actually blow away because the information was more detailed and to the point than I had thought it would be based on the abstract.

Just Released ASMI Study showing High Risk of Injury in only a 6 week study of using weighted baseballs on a mound. Due to the concerns of only the weighted ball throwing group gaining an unhealthy amount of throwing arm external rotation in a short amount of time, study states further research is needed to evaluate long-term implications of WB throwing programs. PLEASE SHARE THIS STUDY WITH ANYONE WHO USES A WEIGHTED BALL THROWING PROGRAM. #usssabaseball #dixieyouth #littleleaguebaseball #baseball #pitching #weightedball #weightedballs #weightedballs4life #weightedballthrows #longtoss #driveline #longtossing #longtossprogram #runandguns #pitchinginjury #baseballinjury #pitchingprogram #baseballprogram #pitchingtraining #asmi #pitchingscience

A post shared by ???? Snapchat : topvelocity (@topvelocity) on

How to Organize and Promote Your Evidence-Based Practice

Evertime I search for literature and it is in anyway related to baseball I save the document using its title name. I create folders for each skill in baseball. For example, a pitching folder, hitting folder and position player folder. I also organize the research into a strength and conditioning folder. I then use the search feature on my desktop to find the case studies I am looking for if I have already used the information.

I have also found a lot of success with taking my favorite studies and turning them into square shaped cards for posting on my social networks. I basically build a card from a study with the title and authors listed at the top and either the results or conclusion from the abstract underneath. I then take illustration from the entire study to help tell the story more visually. I will also add in some charts and graphs if available. You can see an example of one below.

The purpose is to help educate my networks in short little bursts of information. These cards also help me remember my favorite pieces of research when I want a quick review.

I hope this article promotes more evidence based baseball coaching and helps a coach and even a player change his approach to the game. I promise you, even though it is a ton more work, you will have a lot more success in your training.

Evidence Based Baseball Coaching Reference:

  1. Glenn S. Fleisig, Steve W. Barrentine, Nigel Zheng, Rafael F. Escamilla, James R. Andrews (1999). Kinematic and kinetic comparison of baseball pitching among various levels of development. American Sports Medicine Institute, 1313 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA “K-Lab, Finch-Yeager Building-Room 102, Durham, NC 27710, USA
  2. Arnel L. Aguinaldo, Janet Buttermore, and Henry Chambers (2007). Effects of Upper Trunk Rotation on Shoulder Joint Torque Among Baseball Pitchers of Various Levels. Children’s Hospital San Diego
  3. Kibler WB, Chandler J (1995). Baseball and tennis. In: Griffin LY, editor. , ed. Rehabilitation of the Injured Knee. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1995:219-226.
  4. Richard F. Virgilio, DO Ana Luz Chiapa, MS Elizabeth A. Palmarozzi, DO (2007). Evidence-Based Medicine, Part 1. An Introduction to Creating an Answerable Question and Searching the Evidence. JAOA • Vol 107 • No 8 • August 2007
  5. Mike Reinold; Leonard Macrina; Kyle Aune; Glenn S. Fleisig; James Andrews. THE EFFECT OF A 6-WEEK WEIGHTED-BALL THROWING PROGRAM ON PITCHING VELOCITY AND ARM STRESS: SPO105 Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical. 47(1):A206, JAN 2017
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