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Vegas 2020

Knuckleball Nation started nine years ago with a knuckleball clinic in Las Vegas. I’m now doing clinics all over the U.S., overseas and with MLB greats, but the annual Las Vegas Clinic keeps chugging along. This will be the ninth annual knuckleball clinic in Sin City, and, to honor Knuckleball Nation’s founding, it’s the most affordable clinic of the year.

When?

Columbus Day Weekend

Saturday & Sunday, Oct 10th + 11th

What Time?

Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday from 10 a.m. to Noon

A late start on Saturday and an early start on Sunday allow you to get in and out of town easily

Where?

Uncle Charlie’s Baseball

7200 Montessouri St #190, Las Vegas, NV 89113 [MAP]

Who Is The Instructor?

Pro knuckleballer and founder of Knuckleball Nation, Chris Nowlin

What’s Covered at the Clinic?

Everything taught to me by Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro and RA Dickey. I teach the secrets of the knuckleball through a series of adjustments from the ground up.

How Much?

$295*

Use the PayPal button below to secure your spot!

*All payments are non-refundable unless Knuckleball Nation cancels the clinic for any reason. If you register and are unable to attend, the balance may be used towards other Knuckleball Nation products: lessons, clinics, video assessments or videos

 

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Knuckleball Nation Featured in The Ringer!

Knuckleball Nation Featured in The Ringer!

The knuckleball has always been on the fringe. In fact, at times, it’s even teetered on the edge of extinction. But a new steward of the knuckleball always rises, and he usually enjoys a long career throwing the knuckleball in the Major Leagues.

But these are lean times in the Big Leagues. Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright is hurt, so there’s nobody throwing the knuckleball at baseball’s highest level. And if Wright can’t return to form in next year, then 2020 threatens to be the first year without a knuckleball thrown in the MLB for quite some time.

The media likes controversial headlines, so sportswriters like to splash dire warnings like “Knuckleball Sputtering to Extinction” and “We May Be Seeing The Last Of The Knuckleball” atop their articles.

But, time after time, the knuckleball comes roaring back from the endangered list.

Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer takes a deep dive into the history of the knuckleball and the pitch’s future in his article “The Knuckleball Isn’t Dead Yet.” Ben was kind enough to reach out to me for an interview about technology’s emerging role in teaching the knuckleball to the next generation, and you can catch my take insight this very lengthy and interesting article.

If you don’t want to read the article in its entirety, then here’s are som excerpts:

“Chris Nowlin, a professional knuckleballer who runs an instructional company called Knuckleball Nation, argues that the pressure to keep pace with increasing fastball speeds may be further restricting the knuckleball talent pool. Some knuckleballers, including Dickey, Wright, and Jannis, have dialed up their knucklers into the 80s, but that takes arm strength that not every potential knuckleball pitcher possesses. “Now you’ve dwindled the prospective pool of knuckleballers, because the velocity paradigm has shifted,” Nowlin says. “You now need at least 85 mph in your arm, and guys with that type of velocity usually struggle for more velocity to emerge as conventional pitchers rather than spend years frustrated with the knuckleball. And without time, you can’t make a knuckleballer.”

And…

“As Nowlin notes, hitters have optimized their attack angles and launch angles to counter conventional pitching, but because no one ever knows where the knuckleball will end up, “no amount of swing-plane analysis could counter it.” He also sees potential for evaluation and replication of the pitch to improve. “Tech can help set quantifiable, undeniable benchmarks similar to the ones used for conventional pitchers,” he says. “The proper tech could track hundreds of thousands of knuckleballs in different conditions to build a model of the perfect knuckleball. And that model would dispel the fear surrounding the pitch.”

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Tim Wakefield Knuckleball: A Tutorial

Tim Wakefield Knuckleball: A Tutorial

Tim Wakefield is the guy who inspired me to become a knuckleball pitcher. In fact, I was so fascinated with the knuckleball at an early age that I never pitched conventionally in my life. And it’s all due to that nasty Tim Wakefield knuckleball.

My father had season tickets to the Red Sox, and we lived in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. During the humid summer days, my father would occasionally come home from work with good news. We were going to the Sox! We only got to use the tickets when his clients couldn’t. So, we got to go about a dozen times per year.

One day, my father found me throwing my wiffleball knuckleball in the backyard with my friends. He had tickets to that night’s game, so we loaded up the car and took off for Boston. It was the night I would be introduced to Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball.

For the first time in my life, my father let me and my young buddies loose inside Fenway. We toured the ancient ballpark and tested out different seats. We got kicked out of Steven King’s season ticket seats near the home dugout’s batter’s circle before we ended up right behind the backstop.

Tim Wakefield Knuckleball Near No-hitter

That Tim Wakefield knuckleball would be good enough for a near-no-hitter that night. He flummoxed the Oakland Athletics for eight innings before giving up a double in the ninth. It was one of Tim Wakefield’s best outings as a Red Sox knuckleball pitcher.

In between innings, I had front row seats to one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen — that darting Tim Wakefield knuckleball. The umpire would clear out of the way for the between-inning warmups, and I was treated to no-spin theater. It was so mesmerizing that, at first, I didn’t think it was real.

Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball didn’t spin a stitch that night. It looked like it was drawn like a cartoon, and a flitted right and left before diving right into the catcher’s lap. With my young eyes, I could see “Rawlings” printed on the ball.

And it gave the hitters fits. They’d watch a strike, flail at the second Tim Wakefield knuckleball and then hit a weak ground ball. And Wakefield was pouring in the strikes that evening.

I was smitten. At that young age, I resolved to figure out how to throw the knuckleball. And I had dreams that, one day, I would throw a knuckleball in front of a boy that would make it his dream. On that day, I promised myself that I would perpetuate this dying art in the baseball world.

Don’t Try To Copy The Tim Wakefield Knuckleball

Trying to copy the Tim Wakefield knuckleball is a pitfall. I discovered that the hard way growing up. You see, Tim Wakefield was a great athlete. In fact, he set homerun records in college and was even drafted as an infielder. And if he wasn’t discovered as a pitcher by the Pittsburg Pirates organization, then none of us would have been able to see that Tim Wakefield knuckleball.

After coming home from that experience at Fenway Park, I started to study Wakefield on TV. I wrote down all of his movements and timing. And on TV, it simply looks like he is flipping the ball to the plate without much effort. He doesn’t really use his legs, he takes a short stride and his arm action is really tight to his body.

This type of delivery only works for Tim Wakefield. He had just enough arm strength to throw his fastball 80 miles-per-hour (in his youth) from this compact delivery. As I grew into my body, I discovered that I could throw about 80 miles-per-hour, as well, but I couldn’t do it out of this tight delivery. But it didn’t stop me from trying because I thought that was the best way to get a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.

Not a Tim Wakefield knuckleball, it's a fastball!Tim Wakefield Knuckleball & Fastball Test

You should try as hard as you can to throw the knuckleball as hard as you can. Charlie Hough always told me that he would have thrown the knuckleball 100 miles-per-hour if he could, and he told me that you can’t throw the knuckleball too hard. Charlie Hough, the 24-year Major League knuckleball pitcher veteran, told me all of this before RA Dickey burst out onto the big league scene with his “angry” knuckleball.

Charlie Hough was right. You can’t throw the knuckleball too hard, and you need to be able to get it up and over 65 miles-per-hour to be effective with it at a high level. Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball looks like it’s really slow, but he was throwing it in the upper 60’s, and sometimes he touched 70 with it.

There’s a basic rule of thumb when it comes to the knuckleball’s velocity — you can throw the knuckleball 5 to 7 miles-per-hour slower than your fastball. And the ultimate goal is to get the knuckleball up over 70 miles-per-hour. That means you’ll have to be able to throw a 77 mile-per-hour fastball for strikes. And that’s the bare minimum. You should try for more.

Use Your Body & Loose Arm To Throw A Tim Wakefield Knuckleball

Velocity is going up in the Major Leagues. The average fastball sits at about 93 miles-per-hour these days. This jump in velocity is due to a variety of factors, and some of these factors are under your control.

To get a true MLB-quality Tim Wakefield knuckleball, you’ll need some velocity in your arm. And you can achieve increases in velocity through a couple of different avenues.

  1. Lift. Strength with never go out of style, and you can’t get too strong for pitching. Leg lifts are especially helpful, including back and front squat, deadlift and single-leg accessory work.
  2. Power. First, you need to get strong with heavy lifting, but the ability to lift heavy objects alone won’t help you too much in your quest for a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. You need to infuse your newfound muscles with speed, and that’s how you get the power that makes you throw harder. Strength + speed = power. And you can develop power with plyometric exercises like jumps, power cleans and medicine ball throws.
  3. Weighted ball training. Most of your velocity lives in your body, so strength and power will develop velocity better than weighted ball throws. That’s because weighted-ball throws only focus on the arm which is the last part of the velocity equation. But you can develop a few miles-per-hour throwing overweight and underweight baseballs. It’s not a complex program, but I’ll save it for another knuckle-blog.
  4. Better mechanics. Pitching is all about putting your body into a torqued position to achieve leverage and then letting that torqued body unravel in the proper sequence. This is a lengthy discussion, and you’ll find all the info you need in my Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced instructional videos.

Tim Wakefield Knuckleball: Conclusion

Loading up for a Tim Wakefield knuckleball at Fenway ParkYou need some mustard on the pitch to throw a true Tim Wakefield knuckleball, and that’s why you shouldn’t copy Wakefield’s mechanics. You need to throw like you. You shouldn’t try to throw like anyone else. But you’ll need at least a 77 mile-per-hour fastball to even be in a position to throw a Tim Wakefield knuckleball, and that might require lifting, power work, weighted ball training and mechanical adjustments.

But what if you can already throw a 77 mile-per-hour fastball? Well, you should still lift, perform power work, throw weighted balls and focus on your mechanics to throw even harder. Plus, you’ll want to be as athletic as possible on the mound in order to throw strikes, look confident and compete at a high level.

Posted by Chris Nowlin in How-to, 0 comments

Knuckleball Nation Featured in The Wall Street Journal

You’ll find some nice pieces of advice from the greats in this article written by Brian Gaffney. The Northern New Jersey resident has been bringing his three kids to my clinics for a few years now, and his oldest, Joe, has developed quite a nasty knuck. Brian is an executive at Fox News, and he’s got a keen eye for a narrative. So I knew something was up when he started scribbling in his notepad at each event.

As it turns out, he was gathering quotes for the article. You can find a link to the article below, but, if you hit a paywall, you can also read the entire article in this post. Enjoy:


The Knuckleballer’s Guide to Life 
Life in baseball’s no-spin zone requires faith and patience.

By Brian Gaffney
June 18, 2019 6:38 pm ET

A statue of knuckleballer Phil Niekro at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. Photo: Getty Images

The knuckleball is close to extinction. Only one current big leaguer throws the pitch. That’s sad: It’s among the only skills that can take an athlete without professional-grade speed, strength or size to the top of one of the major team sports.

An effective knuckleball needn’t go 95 mph. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro joked that in 24 seasons his never broke the federal 55 mph speed limit. Charlie Hough, an All-Star who pitched until he was 46, once said throwing it required “patience, practice, faith—and very little physical talent.”

So I was delighted when my son Joe taught himself the knuckleball in our New Jersey backyard. It’s almost a magic trick. If you can stop the ball from rotating as it travels to home plate, it will dart around like a butterfly in a windstorm. Not everyone can master the knack of “killing the spin,” but Joe kept getting better at it. By the time he was 16 I couldn’t play catch with him without a mask and cup.

I thought maybe “the knuck” could be Joe’s thing, so I looked around for a coach. Alas, the half-dozen baseball training facilities nearby offered no knuckleball expertise. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Only several dozen pitchers in big-league history have earned paychecks throwing knuckleballs, which are hard to control and, if they spin even a little bit, as easy to hit as Little League fastballs.

I resumed my search when Joe’s 10-year-old brother, Ben, started throwing the pitch. The internet turned up Knuckleball Nation, run by Chris Nowlin, a former minor leaguer who studied under Mr. Hough. During the winter Mr. Nowlin becomes the knuckleball’s Johnny Appleseed, holding clinics across the U.S.

Flying to Las Vegas for knuckleball lessons was a stretch, but that was only our first trip. When Mr. Nowlin lined up Mr. Niekro—the winningest knuckleballer ever—we flew to Atlanta. The chance to learn the secrets of R.A. Dickey, who won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award with our beloved Mets, lured us to Nashville.

Ben was the youngest pupil in Mr. Nowlin’s no-spin zone. There were a few high schoolers like Joe, some college hopefuls, a woman aiming to become the first female major leaguer, a pair of Japanese pros, and a couple of geezers in their 40s and 50s.

Messrs. Dickey and Niekro spoke about knuckleball mechanics, but dwelled on the knuckleballer’s mind-set. Their insights struck me as valuable to anyone with a unique talent or unconventional vision.

“You must commit to the pitch,” said Mr. Niekro, who recalled throwing 106 knuckleballs one game, out of 108 total pitches. “When it bounces in the dirt or sails over the backstop, act like that’s exactly where you wanted it to go. The hitters always assume you’re up to something anyway.”

The knuckleball earned Mr. Dickey the Cy Young Award, but also the record for most home runs allowed in a game. “Throwing it takes bulletproof confidence and a short-term memory,” he said.

Joe had a nice four-year run with the knuck in high school. We’ll see how far Ben goes. No matter what, I hope they stay knuckleballers at heart. When life throws them curves, they’ll have something to throw back.

Mr. Gaffney is director of special programming at Fox News Channel.

Appeared in the June 19, 2019, print edition.

Posted by Chris Nowlin in Articles, 0 comments

Atlanta Knuckleball Clinic with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro

Knuckleball Nation’s third annual Phil Niekro clinic will take place in early 2019! An announcement will be made before the New Year!

It’s an incredibly popular event that has seen knuckleballers fly in from Japan, Korea and Taiwan! Stay tuned so that you can grab a limited spot!

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NEW* Instructional Video — The Release

The first time I was asked about the release of the knuckleball was when I was being grilled by a Cincinnati Reds cross-checker after a successful tryout. I was 22 and was about to graduate college. I just got done striking out the side with 57-63 mph knuckleballs, and the cross-checker said he’d have signed me on the spot if I was throwing hard. To tell you the truth, I had no clue how hard I was throwing. I could’ve just thrown harder had he asked.

It’s the most pressing question on the minds of young knuckleballers — How do I release the knuckleball? Well, I’m here to tell you that the release is just a small part of what makes a good knuckleball.

The Kinetic Chain

You have to understand the kinetic chain to understand why questions about the release are misguided. As a knuckleballer, or as a conventional pitcher for that matter, you need to be able to transfer the energy developed from your feet on the ground. This energy needs to come up through your body and out of your fingertips at the proper moment.

The release is the very last part of the kinetic chain. But, if the chain breaks at any point before the release, the ball will likely spin. You’ll be serving up meatball instead of throwing butterflies.

It’s imperative that you deconstruct your pitching mechanics from the ground up. Your arm is attached to your body. It goes where your body goes. If your body isn’t in the right position, then your arm will not be able to throw a quality knuckleball. Period. Full stop.

Young Knuckleballers and Inconsistency

This explains the ups and downs that most young knuckleballers face. On certain days, their body just so happens to be moving right. Knuckleballs come easy on these lucky days. But, just as easily, those body movements can be off. Then you can’t throw a good knuckleball to save your life. And you’re left frustrated and wondering. You may even question your value to the game.

This cycle will inevitably continue until you break down your mechanics to rebuild them from the ground up. You need to master every movement, from how your front foot lands on the dirt to keeping your head balanced in three dimensions, in order to become a consistently nasty knuckleball pitcher.

I would love to hear someone ask me about footwork or hip action. That’s where the knuckleball lives. But, so long as there’s enough demand, I’ll share my in-depth knowledge of the release. Knowledge I’ve gained from playing professionally as well as working with RA Dickey, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro.

ANNOUNCING A New Instructional Video

The Knuckleball Nation website will soon start offering a $6.95 instructional video pertaining solely to the release. It’s a teaser for the wealth of information found in the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced instructional videos.

With just a few clicks, you can learn the secrets to a great knuckleball release. Check back soon.

Posted by Chris Nowlin, 1 comment

Chris Nowlin signs AA contract with Cleburne Railroaders!

I’ve just finalized my contract for the 2018 season with the Cleburne Railroaders in the American Association. Cleburne is a suburb of Fort Worth and is in the southwest portion of the Greater Dallas Area. And it’s a great fit for the knuckleball. The weather is always hot and humid, there’s always wind at The Depot and the entire stadium is turf (minus the pitching mound). That means the pitch always has thick air for a good break and the ball won’t ever get wet or muddy for a good grip.

Cleburne plays in the American Association which goes right up and down the heart of the country. The league spans all the way from Winnipeg in the north to Cleburne in the south. And the Depot at Cleburne Station is a brand new ballpark with modern amenities… and a great clubhouse for us players.

The American Association is broken up into two different divisions. As the league doesn’t span too far to the west or east, it is split into the North and the South Divisions:

North

Winnipeg Goldeyes, Fargo Redhawks, Sioux Falls Canaries, St Paul Saints, Chicago Dogs and the Gary Railcats

South

Cleburne Railroaders, Texas Airhogs, Wichita Wingnuts, Lincoln Saltdogs, Kansas City T-Bones and the Sioux City Explorers

The Depot at Cleburne Station, the Railroader’s brand new ballpark, is a bit rural but worth the drive. The brand new facility is an affordable way to experience professional baseball without breaking the bank. The bullpens are in deep right-center field and the home bullpen is far from the fans, so you won’t be able to see the knuckleball up close when I’m warming up. But the seats behind the backstop will get you a good view during the game.

Let me know you’re coming to a game ahead of time, at home or on the road, and we can meet up for a bit during batting practice. You can hit me with all the knuckleball questions you have.

Look forward to meeting you.

Bring on the 2018 season!

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Consistency

I get knuckleballers all over the world contacting me about the difficulty of the knuckleball. I think we’ve all been there. We’re out in the backyard and we want to show off our awesome pitch, but it just isn’t always there. You might throw three good ones only to throw ten bad ones right after

A lot of ballplayers out there can throw a great knuckleball. Every pro team I’ve played for has a position player that can throw a really good one. But what separates knuckleball pitchers from pro ballplayers that can throw a good knuck is consistency.

It is the ability to stand on the mound and throw 100 good knuckleballs in a row that will make you a pro.

How Do I Become More Consistent?

Well, it’s easy — a million reps done well. But therein lies the problem. How do you do a rep well?

I wouldn’t have been able to break into pro baseball without the lessons I’ve learned from RA Dickey, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro. They cleaned up my mechanics which led to more consistency. After repeating thousands of reps correctly, my consistency got better. Once I performed hundreds of thousands of reps, I got even more consistent. And so on.

That’s why I’ve made the Knuckleball Nation Instructional Videos. They teach you everything I’ve learned from working with the greats of the knuckleball. And they are also full of the wisdom I’ve learned from a career in pro baseball.

The videos will clean you mechanics up so that you can perform each rep correctly. That’ll put you on the path of pro-level consistency because you’ll be performing the delivery correctly; you’ll be perfecting the right things.

The videos will remove any mechanical clutter from your delivery. They’ll teach you how to streamline your movements by removing bad habits. And they’ll put you on the path to MLB-worthy consistency.

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Welcome to the New Knuckleball Nation

Knuckleball Nation was founded in 2008. At the time, it was just one instructional video and one annual clinic in Las Vegas. Demand was high and Knuckleball Nation responded. Through the years, how-to throw knuckleball clinics have popped up in Chicago, Portland, Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Taipei (Taiwan), Seoul (Korea), Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas and Boston. The Intermediate and Advanced instructional videos were born, as well.

Now Knuckleball Nation has upgraded once again with the introduction of The Knuckleball Network, The Scoreboard and The Program.

The Knuckleball Network is a social network for knuckleball pitchers, parents and coaches available only on KnuckleballNation.com. You can sign up right now by clicking The Knuckleball Network link on the left-side menu. It works a lot like Facebook. The primary news feed is public and displays posts made by citizens of Knuckleball Nation from all over the world. You may even find a pro knuckleball pitcher posting in The Knuckleball Network.

The Scoreboard celebrates knuckleballers from all over the world. It lists recent stats and scores by Major League, minor league, college, high school and middle school knuckleball pitchers. It also displays amateur results from members of Knuckleball Nation. Every knuckleball pitcher across this country can sign up for the Scoreboard and have their stats displayed for all their fans. And the Scoreboard is just getting starts. Click on the link in the left-hand menu and submit yourself to be included.

The Program is the most immersive training product ever devised for the knuckleball. It comes in three Phases with each phase building on the last. The Program breaks down the knuckleball delivery into easy-to-understand skills. Each skill is explained in-detail in the accompanying booklet. The DVD contains a further explanation of the skill and outlines drills that you can use to master the skill. Once you feel confident in your mastery of the skill, it’s time to move on to the next challenging skill.

When all the skills are mastered and put together, you’ll have your best knuckleball. Guaranteed. Phases I and II focus on the mechanical approach to the pitch. Phase III is special. It is full of the more nuanced skills that the pros use to make their knuckleballs dance violently.

Please take your time to explore the site. Order the Program, join The Knuckleball Network, have your progress tracked with The Scoreboard and join Knuckleball Nation. Together, we can dispell the myths and bias surrounding this pitch. We can take the knuckleball mainstream.

Posted by Chris Nowlin in News, 0 comments

Introducing The Program

The Ultimate in Knuckleball Development

The Program — Three Phases, Three Booklets and Accompanying DVDs

Each phase of the Program is a booklet with an accompanying DVD. Buy each phase individually or order all three for a discount. Click here to order.

Here’s how it works:

The Program breaks knuckleball development down into easy-to-understand skills. You master each skill at your own pace. The Program’s booklet breaks down each skill in-detail. The accompanying DVD explains each skill and presents drills that you can use to master the skill.

When you feel confident in your mastery of the skill, it’s time to move onto the next challenging skill. And so on until you graduate with all the skills necessary to throw a pro-quality knuckleball.

The Program moves at your pace. Take as much time as you need to master each skill before moving on. This makes The Program perfect for any age, arm strength or baseball skill level. You can choose to commit to the training in order to develop rapidly to achieve a college scholarship or pro baseball contract, or you can master each skill on the weekends to develop a better delivery over the course of an entire off-season. In fact, many of these skills can be mastered indoors without a mound or ball.

The Program eliminates the guesswork and the dead ends that most encounter with the knuckleball. Put together, these skills are guaranteed to develop your best pitch.

Three Phases:

The Program comes in Phase I, II and III. The first two phases take a full-body approach to mechanics. You’ll master each part of the delivery from the ground, up. You’ll be astounded how an adjustment made to your footwork will affect the release of the knuckleball. After completing Phases I and II, you’ll have a deep understanding of the mechanical approach to the pitch.

Phase III is special. It is reserved for the serious knuckleball pitcher. The skills become more abstract but they are the skills that the pros use to throw violently moving knuckleballs. The skills in Phase III come from the pros such as RA Dickey, Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough. You’ll need Phase III’s skills to make it in high-level baseball.

The Program Comes With A Pro-level Workout:

The founder of Knuckleball Nation, Chris Nowlin, was a certified personal trainer. Each phase of The Program comes with pro-level workouts that are designed to further enhance your knuckleball skills. The workouts progressively get more difficult and specialized as you move on in the program.

You can get into pitcher-specific shape while mastering the knuckleball. There’s no wasted time. You’ll come out of Phase III in the best possible shape to throw your newly violent knuckleball.

CLICK HERE to purchase The Program.

Posted by Chris Nowlin in News, 0 comments
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