Plyo ball routine for youth baseball

Alright guys, need advice and guidance here! I am a MS baseball coach and I actually do my best to run a program and not just a “team” IYKYK! I am looking into starting a plyo ball program with my pitchers. I have talked to multiple Doctors ( Physical Therapy & Chiropractics ) about this idea and the risk reward system.

I have decided to do more of an underload system rather than overload. Most of the drill will be done with (3.5oz, 4.4oz, 5.0oz) lighter or even plyo balls. The only over load we would do (for the most part) is for constraint drills and decelerator activities and the max we are going there would range from 5.3oz, 7oz, 8.8oz, 12oz. I have the plyo balls and mini trampoline ordered.

My goal is to make them better long term baseball players and keep them healthy. The Dr’s I spoke about earlier both agree the underload is safe and actually should be beneficial for my guys.

Do any of you have any input of this idea, drills, things to watch for, personal resources or programs you’d like to share? Thanks in advance!

I would recommend a healthy arm care program 1st which, if done correctly, can take 10 minutes or more for each player. This would or could include jaerger and cross over symmetry bands and exercises along with scap exercise, reverse throws etc. A good consistent arm care program can add a couple MPH of velo if they have not been doing one. If preferred throw footballs, it gives a heavier ball and if they can spin it or throw with a spiral the arm is pronating correctly. Another option to consider is just throwing an extra day of the week. Many of our incoming 8th grade players that play on our Freshman HS team experience arm discomfort due to their arms not being conditioned to throwing 5-6 days a week at practice. Our HS program does not introduce weight balls until the players have entered HS and only after an evaluation.

A movement assessment is critical before throwing any weighted balls (underweighted and overweighted) which you could possibly find with driveline. Please keep in mind that while kids are developing so are their bodies and growth plates making injuries even more of a possibility. Before I would consider starting a weighted ball program (after throwing and movement assessment) for kids under 13 I would do more strength training that includes chinups, forward and reverse lunges, forward, side and backward bear crawls, weighted med ball throws such as separation throws, stomp throws or scoop throws etc. This can help clean up movement deficiencies which could be far more beneficial in the long run in keeping an athlete healthy later in their career.

Please don’t discount the benefits of proper lower body use for pitchers, hip to shoulder separation and optimal mechanics. Underweighted and overweight balls are a great tool but must be used properly and after a good foundation has been built to minimize possible injury. I read an article this week from an elbow surgeon that does TJ stating he is now doing more TJs on HS position players in a week than he did in a year, a couple years ago.

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coach-E,

“I am looking into starting a plyo ball program with my pitchers.”

Understand, that this trend of training “sport specifically” was brought to the baseball world by Dr. Mike Marshall who perfected it. He recommended Plyo balls (dead blow) for youth only and used with non injurious force application only! This leaves out all those that teach and use the traditional approach. Guess what, they ignored him and applied it to their pathomechanic and we are seeing the results today. Thanks Driveline!

“I have talked to multiple Doctors ( Physical Therapy & Chiropractics ) about this idea and the risk reward system.”

You have talked to the after the fact fixers, making them enablers. They have no clue as to why these injuries are caused.

You need to fix it before it happens thru mechanical mitigation.

“I have decided to do more of an underload system rather than overload.”

All underload should be done from the mound with a 5 oz. ball. No effect can be gained with such a lite load to begin with.

“The only over load we would do (for the most part) is for constraint drills and decelerator activities and the max we are going there would range from 5.3oz, 7oz, 8.8oz, 12oz. I have the plyo balls and mini trampoline ordered.”

We start at 2 lb’s minimum to Biologically aged 12 yo’s and go up 1 pound a year but then we actually follow Dr’s orders (marshall).

“The Dr’s I spoke about earlier both agree the underload is safe and actually should be beneficial for my guys.”

Again these guy’s are not the ones that know but will sure act like it.

Any resistance on a pathomechanic is joint injurious.

“Do any of you have any input of this idea, drills, things to watch for, personal resources or programs you’d like to share? Thanks in advance!”

“My goal is to make them better long term baseball players and keep them healthy.”

Go to DrMikeMarshall.com , read, be patient, leave come back, understand it all, then you will have a chance to do what you say. It’s free and may not be around much longer.

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Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate the break down, to ensure all segments were acknowledged. All of the information and research support the use of only light weighted balls. The heaviest ball we are going to use is the 7oz ball and it will only be on the reverse throws and maybe for the trampoline exercises due to them not requiring as much effort to complete. I disagree with you about the doctors I have spoken with but that is okay for us not to see eye-eye. Both of those guys were also college baseball players and know the human body very well, but like I said that is totally fine for us to disagree on.

I am going to look into Mike Marshall’s information and see how I can add it into the research I have already made.
A lot of the research and studies I have found on the underload system is based of Brandon Erickson (MD) and his work. The main principle behind that: is the lighter the ball, the faster the arm moves, the fast the arm moves, the faster the ball can move out the the hand. I do not think this is a fool proof 100% fact, but I do believe it will work with my young guys. This also is supported by the lower amount of torque put on the elbow and shoulder, the less risk for injury.

But either way it goes, thank you for replying and hooking us up with some good information to start digesting! It really is appreciated.

My 14yo 8th grader does Plyos working with Wasserman High Level Throwing and it’s great, but there is no way on this earth I would want a MS coach not trained in throwing biomechanics or that has to ask for drills on this site to work with my kid with plyos in any capacity. No matter how much website exploring they’ve done. Secondly you will have little ability to run practice and ensure 10 or so pitchers are doing everything right all the time or what they may take from what you show them and do from home. I’d say a big no on this idea…baso83 had a much better idea for you

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Thanks for the reply man! And yeah I completely get what you are saying about not wanting a middle school baseball coach doing anything like this. But I was a pitcher and catcher and college and have done over load and underload programs personally and have worked with pitching coaches who are trained and certified and their guidance would obviously be a huge help as well.

For the record, the post was to get feedback and the pros and cons first hand from a diverse setting. I wasn’t actually reaching for drills and such just wanted to know more of any good and back experiences that have been witnessed or experienced for certain drills.