Keys To Individualization

Individualization is a term being thrown a lot around the game lately.   Any elite program players see now, especially on the Internet, where remote training is becoming a huge asset for players globally, individualization is a term that will inevitably be at the forefront of all these programs.  As the data increases, players, as well as coaches, have recognized that no two players are created equal. 

So what actually separates players and how can we measure their progress?

Assessments

Firstly, players need to get an assessment of their body and athletic performance capabilities.  This can come can in many different ways, but the main point is to figure out where the players’ strengths and weaknesses are.  Movement screens, strength numbers, and baseline throwing data all are equally important to the athletes’ complete profile.  For example, a college pitcher with really good strength numbers, but a lack of mobility through the hips. This athlete may not be performing at his best because his body has limited the amount of force he is able to produce/transfer through his body.  He would need to prioritize opening up new ranges of motion above any mechanical adjustments. 

The benefits of an assessment lie in the ability to have one at the beginning of the year, find the weaknesses, attack the weaknesses, then reassess later on to find new ways to get better as you evolve in the sport.

Measurable Goals

Once the athlete is assessed, we can define what specific goals for the individual that can have an immediate impact on their performance.  Unlike in the past, when everything was just based on what a coach sees, having data to back it up can speed up the process of development so there is no wasted time.  The great thing about having measurable goals is that once certain objectives are met, we can reassess and evolve the program to the evolving player. 

The hardest part is figuring out what goals attack first, and what to hold off on.  For example, a slim 16-year-old in high school who is weak and throws 75, would need to get more muscle mass and strength to reach aspirations of playing at a higher level compared to the 21-year-old first-rounder throwing 96 who lacks mobility and needs to focus more on opening up some ranges of motion to protect himself from injury.

Owning Your Process

Taking control in your own development comes down to one main objective: figure out what works best for you then go at it with everything you have.  Development is not a simple linear progression because we are still learning.  No one knows everything about every individual regardless of what they may say.  

But how do we figure out what is the “best”? 

In my opinion, we have to learn as much as we can about our own body in every way possible.  We have all the tools at our fingertips now to maximize our potential and it comes down to putting in the time and effort.

Conclusion

Individualization is a player’s best friend.  We live in a time now where we can measure performance in almost any way.   For players at all levels, it comes down to evaluating honestly where you are now, and where you want to be…whether that be 6 months or 5 years from now. It all starts with being assessed to find your strengths and weaknesses, making measurable goals over time, and then owning your process so you can never say you didn’t do everything you can to achieve what you want.

Individualization is just putting the power back into the hands of the players to maximize their potential.  Always remember, no two players will ever be completely the same, so why should everyone train exactly the same?


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