Could It Really Be That Simple?

By Coach Jonathan Massey


When I first started training at the Texas Baseball Ranch® 15 years ago, Coach Wolforth presented me with some information that said if an individual regardless of starting point improved at a skill 60% over a 5-year period, they would be world class at that skill.


Could it really be that simple? Could the margins be that small? Well let’s do the math.


Let’s take a well below average 13-year-old and see where he ends up by the time he is 18 years.

  • Start – Age 13 – Velocity = 55 mph
  • Year 1 – Age 14 – Velocity = 61.6 mph
  • Year 2 – Age 15 – Velocity = 68.9 mph
  • Year 3 – Age 16 – Velocity = 77.1 mph
  • Year 4 – Age 17 – Velocity = 86.3 mph
  • Year 5 – Age 18 – Velocity = 96.6 mph


Now before we move on, I’ll be first one to say this is far from how it works in the real world.


There’s a really good chance that if this young man gets on the right plan that he gains 25-30% in year one which puts him back on track with his peer group and then from there each year the gains will be less and less. So, the actual chart looks more like this:

  • Start – Age 13 – Velocity = 55 mph
  • Year 1 – Age 14 – 30% Gain – Velocity = 71.5 mph
  • Year 2 – Age 15 – 15% Gain – Velocity = 82.2 mph
  • Year 3 – Age 16 – 8% Gain – Velocity = 88.7 mph
  • Year 4 – Age 17 – 4% Gain – Velocity = 92.2 mph
  • Year 5 – Age 18 – 3% Gain – Velocity = 94.9 mph


This is a much more realistic on how this young man’s development will look. He still gained the same 60% over the 5 years, but as you can see the returns or gains become less and less each year.


So even a young man who is well below his peer group at age 13 can become world class by the time he is 18 years old if he can just improve 12% a year. Or 1% month, or .036% a day.


Is it difficult to improve .036% a day? No- it’s actually incredibly easy to improve .036% every day. If it’s so simple, then why aren’t there more world class pitchers?


First off, if something is easy to do, then it’s easy notto do as well. We’re all given 24 hours in a day, that is the one commodity that is equal to everyone. What you do with that time is up to you and will make the difference in your career.


Secondly is the Law of Diminishing Returns. We as humans will gravitate to things we are good at. When I first came to the Texas Baseball Ranch®, I loved working on mechanics, and since I wasn’t a very hard thrower I shied away from the radar. Yes, working on my mechanics early on was crucial to my development and set a great foundation to build on, but if it was the only thing I did for 5 years, each year the gains I made from it would be less and less. In order to continue a 12% improvement year after year, you need to constantly adjust your plan according to what is your biggest constraint.


Lastly, what are the odds that this hypothetical 13-year-old is told that is possible for him throw at 96 mph as an 18 year old? I know for me, growing up as below-average velocity guy, I was constantly told that I would never throw hard or that it wasn’t in the cards for me. Or that I should just accept who I am. The thing that attracted me to the Ranch the most was that Coach Wolforth told me it was possible, and actions backed up his words. As Will Smith has famously said, “Before anyone else believes that it is possible, you have to believe that it is possible.” But we as coaches/teachers should always stimulate that belief in our players. 


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We’re so excited to tell you about the latest chapter in our effort to help young pitchers be the best they can and achieve their baseball dream.


Coach Wolforth’s newest book, Pitching with Confidence: A Parent’s Guide to Giving Your Elite Pitcher an Edge, is about to be released! The Kindle version will go live next Monday, October 21st. In it, you’ll learn the truth about velocity, mechanics, conditioning, injuries…and much, much more.


Even better, you’ll be able to get it FOR FREE!


Keep an eye on our Twitter account – where we’ll be sharing with you how to do that.



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