Bill Bethea is owner of Power pitching & Hitting and a Associate Scout - Houston Astros
Wood Bat Benefit?

Wood Bat Benefit? Yes or No? 
As many of you may know we suggest that our players train with wood bats at least part of the time. We know that amateurs use aluminum during the seaon and may never use Wood Bats unless the turn pro. But who are we to determine who is going to turn pro in 5,7,10 years. We train our players to go to the next level, whether that means an All-Star team, High School, College, or Pro. Here some good reasons to train with wood bats. 
1) The "sweet spot" on wood is smaller and makes the hitter concentrate more. 
2) The hitter cannot "cheat" and get a hit. 
3) The heavier weight distribution makes the player use his/her lower body more resulting in more power. 
4) Aluminum bats allow kids to get away with poor mechanics, that may not show up until a high level of AAU or School Ball, but it will and that player is in for a rude awakening. 
5) Wood Bats weigh more and consistent training with them build strength. 
6) If player trains with wood in the winter 2 times per week, when the season starts and the player then uses aluminum the bat speed will be incredible. 
7) Good Hitting mechanics are the key to hitting for average and power. 
8) It creates better hitting mechanics because the player has to use their whole body. 
9) Using the whole body to swing in turn creates a more powerful hitter period.  
Yours in Baseball, 
Bill Bethea 
Associate Scout - Houston Astros 
Owner - Power Pitching & Hitting, Inc.

Insight into the questions about, throwing, pitch counts, long toss, and training.  
I get asked these questions all the time when it comes to throwing: How much should I throw? Some say throw all the time, youth baseball organizations say don?t throw much. Who is right? Should we have pitch counts? Is the answer really in pitch counts? To throw or not to throw, that is the question? 
I am going to try and provide some insight for you on these very popular questions. 
First of all how many players do you know regularly long toss on a weekly basis? How many players do you know have what?s called a ?side session? in between outings? If this sounds foreign to you, you will understand by the end of this article. 
Let's start by defining some key terms: 
Long toss ? Used to warm up, strengthen, and stretch the arm to prepare the pitcher for the rigors of pitching. Can be used to condition the arm in the off-season if done with proper steps, distances, and number of throws. 
Side Sessions- Either flat ground or off a mound a side session is pitching at anywhere from 50 ? 80% effort level. This session is performed between outings to ensure arm strength, mechanics, and release point. It also reduces injury risk. 
How does Long Toss and Side Sessions reduce injury risk? Once a player builds up a base by throwing on our steps program, regular long toss and side sessions are essential to keep and maintain that base. 
Pitch Counts ? Believe it or not? Well my answer to pitch counts is exactly this. If 85 pitches is the limit what if the pitcher throws 50 in one inning and then the next 3 averaged about 11 or 12 pitches? Is that better than a player who was winning 6-0 the whole game and threw a stress free 100 pitches over 6 innings averaging about 16 pitches per inning? The answer is NO. Anytime you get to that 20 to 25 pitch range in an inning a pitcher starts to fatigue, most untrained pitchers fatigue after 15. When a pitcher fatigues, his mechanics start to go, an he puts himself at injury risk. There is a difference between pitching in a game leading the whole way with good defense behind you versus pitching in tight games where every pitch could mean the game. The stress is different therefore the effort level is different, therefore the stress on the arm is different. I personally have felt more fatigue and tightness after games I pitched with 85 stress ridden pitches and a tight score versus games where I threw 125 pitches and won 8-0. 
My answer to pitch counts is how about we build our pitchers ?throw counts? before ?pitch counts?. What I mean by this is pitchers need to develop the amount of throws they can make before even stepping foot on the mound.  
PITCHING 1 time per week- Most pitchers pitch 1 time per week. If a pitcher does nothing in between outings this can be extremely DANGEROUS! Pitchers need to be active in between outings but most importantly they must throw. 
So what are the answers? 
Off Season- Build a base with long toss this will build ?throw count?, then once base is built start building ?pitch count? off a mound. Arm exercises should be done 4 to 5 days per week. 
In season ? Maintain base by throwing side sessions and long toss in between outings. 
Here is a sample of long toss preparation: 
Can be done 2 or 3 days per week. Advance step each time out. If player feels discomfort or pain go back and repeat steps that the could handle. You can repeat steps as many times as you need. ONLY THROW WITH ENOUGH EFFORT LEVEL TO PROPEL THE BALL THE ALLOTTED DISTANCE!!! 
You will work from 30 throws to 90 throws. If 90 throws seems excessive to you, then I ask you does allowing a pitcher 85 pitches off a mound seem excessive if they have not done this preparation phase. 
STEP 1 - 30 ft ? 30 throws 
STEP 2 30 ft ? 60 throws 
STEP 3 30 ft ? 90 throws 
STEP 4 45 ft.- 30 throws 
STEP 5 45 ft. ? 60 throws 
STEP 6 45 ft. ? 90 throws 
CONTINUE STEPS ALL THE WAY UP TO 200 feet for high school players, 120 for YOUTH league players. 
STEP 1 30 pitches 50% effort 
STEP 2 45 Pitches 50% 
STEP 3,4 60 Pitches 50% 
STEP 5,6 75 Pitches 50% 
STEP 7,8 30 Pitches 75% 
STEP 9,10 45 Pitches 75% 
STEP 11,12 60 Pitches 75% 
STEP 13,14 75 pitches 75% 
STEP 15,16 30 pitches 100% 
STEP 17,18 45 Pitches 100% 
STEP 19,20 60 Pitches 100% 
IN-SEASON MAINTENANCE ROUNTINE (based on pitching 1 time per week) 
Day 1 Pitch in a game 
Day 2 Light tossing up to 60 feet , arm exercises 
Day 3 Side Session at 50 to 60% effort level (25 to 35 pitches work on locations) 
Day 4 Long Toss 
Day 5 Side Session at 75 to 80% effort level (25 to 35 pitches) 
Day 6 REST  
With our pitching program we can advance you as much as you want. Start with us and we can train your pitcher right! STOP PRACTICING AND START TRAINING! Contact us with any questions! 

The rate of arm injuries in youth players is increasing at an alarming rate. There are many reasons why arm injuries occur. The first reason is that many players are not "prepared" to throw. Players today do not throw enough volume to be game ready, and it is not just pitchers, it is all players. All players should parcitpate in a throwing program because without a good arm you can't advance. We suggest to ease into a throwing program. This does not mean go from not throwing all winter to throwing 6 times per week. If you need help designing a program for your player, please feel free to book some time so we can help you. Each player's body is different so it is up to the parent or a professional to monitor the program.  
Number 2 - players do not warm up the right way! Warming Up is essential. We always ask our students to warm up properly before any type of activity. Muscles, tendons and joints need time to warm up regardless of age. We use a series of warmups from beginner to advanced to help all athletes get prepared to throw! 
Arm exercises: It is very important to have all players do arm exercises in order to properly reduce the risk of injury. Throwing a baseball overhand is not natural and proper steps should be taken to reduce the risk of injury. Because it is not a natural movement, there is always a risk involved. All of our students get a set of arm exercises that are backed by the American Sports Medicine Institute. I have provided all of you with a link below for the ASMI's "thrower's ten" program. This program was created by Dr. James Andrews, an arm specialist who works with many major league players to prevent and rehabilitate injury. There are some great excerices we do at our academy so if you need to call us so we can set up a time for you. 
(a good start by no means the end all be all) 
Yours in Baseball, 
Bill Bethea 
Associate Scout - Houston Astros 
Owner - Power Pitching & Hitting, Inc.