Baseball Magazine

Interview - Alan Jaeger of Jaeger Sports Part 2

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Today is Part 2 of our interview with the founder of Jaeger Sports.  In Part 1, Alan and I discussed primarily the mental side of the game and the importance of training that side of baseball players.  Today is mostly the Jaeger Sports philosophy concerning the physical side to training.

BaseballByTheYard (BBTY):  On the physical side, you believe strongly in strengthening the arm through your Jaeger Bands routine and the use of long-tossing.
Interview - Alan Jaeger of Jaeger Sports Part 2Alan Jaeger:  Yes, our arm programs that we train players to do in lessons, camps, and through our videos are more of a “pre-hab” program that lead to dramatic improvements in arm strength that not only improve throwing performance and mechanics but go a long way in preventing arm problems.  Unfortunately, many players only do this type of training after they have arm problems in a “re-hab” setting.  We believe strongly in the “pre-hab” method so the arms don’t get hurt in the first place.  The popularity of our programs, our Jaeger Bands, and our videos are showing that this philosophy is gaining ground among coaches, players, parents, and even Major League organizations.
BBTY:  Speaking of major league organizations, I noticed on your site that you are doing consulting work for the Texas Rangers.  Why have they brought you in?
Alan:  The Rangers, at the organizational level, have changed their thinking on how pitchers should train.  Nolan Ryan (the President of the Rangers) has openly said that pitchers today don’t throw enough and that the emphasis on pitch counts at that level and the pampering of pitchers has led to more arm problems.  They brought us in because our philosophy fits that opinion and our training programs address those problems.
BBTY:  What do they have you doing?
Alan:  We have had meetings with various front office people including the GM, assistant GM’s, the farm director, the pitching coordinator, etc. to explain our philosophy and training methods.  They even flew us down to their developmental program in the Dominican Republic to work with and train the coaches and instructors down there on our methods. 
BBTY:  How receptive have they been?
Alan:  It’s ironic and even comical at times when we work with coaches in that most of them in their own playing days used long-toss as a way to train but along the way have been somewhat brainwashed out of that method of training and developing pitchers when they became coaches.
BBTY:  That’s actually something that has surprised me over the past 10 years or so as well.  I began to see more and more people, even those in the medical community, speak out against long-tossing as a way to train.  When I played, it was just a given that you would long-toss.  When did that opposition start?
Alan:  In the early 1990’s.  At that time we began to see some people in the medical field speak out against long-tossing and a lot of people bought into what they were saying.  Studies were pointed to and statistics were thrown around that made it sound very convincing.  At the same time, gigantic bonuses and contracts were given more to young players just starting pro ball.  There was a greater feeling that organizations needed to protect their investments and limit the strain on these players, especially pitchers.  Limiting their throwing with pitch counts and pushing them away from the 300+ foot long-toss in favor of the “120 program” (120 feet being the maximum throw permitted) took hold in many organizations.  Ironically, the number of arm injuries shot up during this time period.  Many of the rehab programs for procedures like Tommy John Surgery included more of the “120 program” for fear that longer throws would reinjure the arms.  This “rehab mentality” expanded and the downward cycle just continued from there.
BBTY:  Some coaches have said that long-tossing promotes poor mechanics especially when pitchers lean back to throw very far distances.  Is there truth in that?
Alan:  Actually I think the opposite is true.  There has even been some recent work that has been done to prove that the mechanics of throwing the ball 300 feet are in alignment with the mechanics of throwing it at 60 feet, 6 inches.  It’s something to see when the mechanics of a 300+ ft. throw get transferred to a throw at 60’, 6”.  The velocity pitchers can add in a short period of time is amazing.  The same is true for position players as well.

BBTY:  I would agree.  I always felt that it is virtually impossible to long-toss with poor mechanics.  It’s almost as if your body just automatically knows what to do when you long-toss.  That’s one of the reasons why I have been so surprised at the people who speak out against long-tossing.  Is this belief starting to change, though?
Alan:  Yes, it is.  Many of those same coaches who swore by long-tossing when they played are starting to question why organizations have gotten away from it.  As those coaches move up in organizations into higher levels or the front office and at the college level as well, they are making some structural changes to adjust their training policies as an organization.  The Rangers are an example of that.Tomorrow wraps up our interview with Alan Jaeger.  In our final segment, we will deal with his thoughts on weight training and what the future holds for Jaeger Sports.

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