I have perhaps avoided this topic for far too long. For me, every time I hear of someone running off to dump several hundred dollars on a “holds” program I think of the movie The American President and the exchange between Michael Douglas and Michael J. Fox:
Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I’ve ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-…
Lewis Rothschild: They don’t have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.
I reckon it’s time for me to step up to the mic and shed some water on the subject.
NPA style holds were brought to my attention about a year ago. As always, I dove head first into research. Not finding much information, I began an email exchange with Jamie Evans, one of the men who has been credited as a co-founder of the holds. Mr. Evans answered all of my questions. However, he could not offer up any scientific data to satisfy my advanced level of nerdiness. So I began digging deeper in an attempt to understand how the process worked. Wow, did I jump into the deep end of the pool!
The premise of Mr. Evans and Dr. Tom House’s theory is that tennis players have a similar overhead motion with their serve as pitchers do with their throwing motion, however, they do not have the same injury rate as pitchers. Given that tennis players do not release the racket, the two men hypothesized that was the primary difference and created holds. This is where I started running into difficulty understanding the concept. Although the motions may be similar, indeed they are not similar enough. More on that to come.
Soon I had out my dvds from Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold. Then I switched over to a Ron Wolforth video, and then another; and another; and another; and so began my long slow journey to the bottom of the pool. You get the point. I was inundated with information, but the key point had yet to sink in.
Now, please understand that I do not have a background in exercise science or physical therapy. If I did, my journey would have been much dryer. However, I don’t believe it would have been as productive. Given all of the information I had sifted through and my now refined focus, I began to research the tennis theory in more detail. It was around this time that I would find Kyle Boddy and Driveline Baseball. Mr. Boddy could most easily be described as a baseball scientist. He had done slow motion video on holds and found varied movement patterns of the arm at different ball weights; enough so that it gave him cause for pause and continued research. It was also around this time that I found a study that compared recreational tennis players to professional players with regards to tennis elbow. The study concluded that the recreational players were more prone to tennis elbow because they did not immediately release the tension of their grip on the racket; whereas the pro players did. My logic alarm went off. How do you release the tension in your hand when the ball is trying to leave? The simple answer is, you can’t.
Since my initial research, Kyle Boddy has issued an update on his view of holds based on studies performed at Driveline Baseball. And, although the holds performed better than he thought, he still feels that there are better ways to train the shoulder. As does Dan Blewett of Warbird Academy, who wrote this piece with 5 reasons why Tom House’s tennis analogy may be flawed. http://warbirdacademy.com/holds-pitching-velocity-tom-house-tennis/
I have also conversed with Randy Sullivan of the Armory Power Pitching Academy who consulted with Ron Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch and Brian Oates of Oates Specialties to come up the weighted ball sock. You can read about Mr. Oates observations here http://oatesspecialties.com/blog.php/?p=1300?
There are more out there who can poke holes in this theory as well, but I think you get the point. I stick with mainly Mr. Boddy, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Wolforth because I can almost always get the scientific or physiological answer and then validate it. Mind you, the three of them don’t always agree. That being said, they all do agree that you should not “hold” the ball in your hand.
Further, I do not believe that any player of any age should begin a throwing program without a head-to-toe physical screen.
So before you run off to drink that expensive sand, stop by our facility at 568 George Bishop Parkway in Myrtle Beach or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about how we do things. You will see Ballistic Training Methods as developed by Kyle Boddy as our main focus and all it will cost you is the amount of your physical screening three to four times per year (dependent on age). That’s right. The throwing program is free!!!