Alternative ways of telling velocity?


Was wondering since radar guns are pricey, if there are ways to accurately test velocity without one. I could see maybe a stop watch but that can be hard, or maybe a video recording with the FPS information?


My incredible pitching coach, when he was going to time a pitch that I told him was faster than my usual snake-jazz stuff, had me throw it nine or ten times and he used a good stopwatch. He then came out to the mound and surprised me: he said that I had a fastball, a good four-seamer with a lot of movement, at 82 MPH—and for a finesse pitcher such as I was, this was a fastball! And he told me about how I could use it along with a few other pitches to set batters up for my hard slider (an 86MPH killer). I was surprised—and very pleased; I think the addition of the crossfire had something to do with it . (I was a true natural sidearmer.) Yes, you could indeed use a good stopwatch; they are less likely to fall apart.


If you know the precise distance you can get within +/- 2-3 MPH with 30fps video @90MPH. This will give you the average velocity. You can make some assumptions about the peak velocity based on pitch type. Speed measurement resolution will go up if you can get the increase the frames per second or if the velocity is lower as each frame represents a lower fraction of the total time to plate.

Personally, I would get a pocket radar and calibrate it against a stalker or jugs or buy a stalker or jugs.

I have also used a glove radar which is good for differentials of speed for different pitch types but requires a lot of pitches to get an idea of actual velocity as the readings are influenced by glove movement.

You can get some pretty good buys on ebay sometimes.

Good luck,



My dad and I alternated between a glove radar that attaches to the webbing and one of those radar baseballs. I’m sure neither is at all accurate, but you could at least see relative pitch speed, which is pretty important as a kid trying to develop offspeed.

I remember when I first cracked 60 on the radar ball I was so excited.


The simplest way to monitor velocity development is by keeping track of the maximum distance you can throw. The exact numbers are in Prof. Adair’s book. You can probably also find them with a Google search. BUT, as I recall 210 ft = approx. 70 mph. 260 ft. = approx. 80 mph. 305 feet = approx. 90 mph. This assumes an optimum angle of around 35-40 degrees.

Does the fact that you can release the ball at 90 mph during long toss mean you can throw 90 mph from the mound? Of course not. You can have great long toss mechanics and terrible mound mechanics. But, most guys with good pitching mechanics will usually be within 2-3 mph of their long toss velocity. (Some will actually throw harder from the mound).

When my son was coming along we never worried too much about the radar gun until he was to the point that he could long toss close to 300 feet. We always kept track of how far he was throwing. When he played LL the goal was to throw it over the LL fence. When he played Pony league the goal was to throw it over the 250 ft. Pony league fence. And when he got to HS the goal was to throw it over the 320 ft. RF/LF fence. (down the lines).

Just keeping track of the distance will tell you all you need to know until your son hits the mid 80’s.


From what I’ve heard about long toss this really isn’t a very accurate thing with speed. Off the mound pitching mechanics aren’t similar at all to a crop hop on flat ground. I’m sure long tossing strengthens the arm and builds endurance would make since but not to track speed.


Good points.

Take the mechanics part out of it – i.e., comparing the differences between the long toss motion to the pitching motion – and pure throwing distance is a poor indicator of pitching velocity, in my opinion.

Yes, in theory the farther one can throw, the harder one should be able to throw.

But there are literally tens of thousands of outfielders playing baseball in the U.S. right now who can throw seeds from the gaps but can’t throw 90 mph off the bump.

And in college and pro ball, the players who sometimes convert from other positions to pitchers are usually Catchers and SS…sometimes 3B… but very, very rarely outfielders.


This is so true. My son’s HS team has an outfielder with a cannon and he doesn’t pitch because he can’t throw at that distance with accuracy and looks completely lost on the hill.

He overthrows the cut off man 90 percent of the time. The coach doesn’t give him crap because half the time he throws the runner out anyway due to sheer arm strength and he manages to keep his throws on line from long distances.

To me, this makes no sense because errors in accuracy are magnified over distance. A small error keeps multiplying itself as it gets further away from the point of release. If he’s accurate at distance, he should be highly accurate at short distance. Go figure.


Longtoss distance can measure arm strength…or arm speed I guess. I have stood by Barry Zito while he long tossed out to 330 feet or so then got on a mound and tossed 83-84 mph. I have a buddy who never threw over 120 feet in a program and was up to 93. It’s all over the place.
That said Longtoss should be fun and is a great tool to develop arm health and durability. It’s good to just go out and throw.


Totally agree – really is fun and can get competitive with yourself, and with others to see how far you can throw on a line, with a little arc, etc.