How to gain Velocity


#1

Hey guys,

I’m a 18 year old rhp who just graduated highschool and will be going to junior college this upcoming year. I’ve always played baseball but I never really trained or anything, I just relied on my God given strong arm. But within the last year after I rehabbed from my torn tricep I really started taking pitching and training and everything that comes with becoming successful on the mound seriously. This past year I’ve been throwing pens, working out, and I’m playing for a college summer team. I currently throw a 4 seam that sits mid-80’s and can occasionally pump it to high 80’s, a 2 seam that is low 80’s, and a changeup that I have good control with. But I know to get drafted you have to hit 90 mph, especially as a rhp. I’m 6-2 and 195/200 lbs so I got a decent body on me. I have been working hard the past month on getting my hips and legs into the pitch, which has gotten me from low 80’s to mid 80’s. What would you all suggest to get my velocity up more? Long toss? Weighted balls? Getting used to and perfecting my mechanics? Throwing more? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


#2

All of those, And work in the weight room.


#3

Weight room is counterproductive unless you are still recovering from injury or working to correct a physical imbalance. Dynamic balance drills that allow you to control your body at a faster tempo will yield quicker results. Working on explosiveness of actions will pay off better than throwing away that time in the weight room for minimal velocity gains.


#4

I would use the weight room as ‘supplement’ to everything else that you do. Focus on the explosive/quick movements involved with throwing.

All of those things you mentioned are good. You need to find a balance and find what has been proven to work and go with that. I would recommend looking in to driveline baseball’s free weighted ball program, if you want to go that route. It provides a good template for weighted ball throwing.


#5

I’m sure Tim Lincecum and Pedro Martinez would throw a baseball faster than Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno. Of course, I’ve never seen Arnold or Lou throw, but my money would be on Tim and Pedro. Just like the majority of the time most able-bodied pitchers spend slinging weights would be better spent another way.


#6

As my dad has always said, the first priority of lifting is to prevent injury, and the side effects are strength and muscles. This is even more true for baseball players. Being able to squat 500 lbs only matters if you can use that strength that is used to generate that weight up and down.

But having a strong body(not overly muscly), I think is critical to help stay healthy and to help the body withstand the rigors of throwing.

If you can some velocity from it, that’s just icing on the cake.


#7

CoachPaul provides no substance in his critiques of resistance training towards velocity enhancement.

Our approach to improving velocity looks at a multitude of factors that have been shown to have an influence.

Improving muscular strength is but one facet that may contribute to greater velocity. If this is not the athlete’s limiting factor, then focusing on the weight room alone would be of little use.

Improving muscular power is another component that can be improved through a number of training methods. This is again another factor that may be of little use if it is not the athlete’s limiting factor.

Improving efficiency of force application (mechanics!!) - this is perhaps the most important piece of the velocity puzzle. It doesn’t matter how big your engine is if you can’t efficiently utilize the body to transmit force into the baseball. Those with exceptionally efficient mechanics often don’t even need very large “engines” to reach elite velocity because they are able to tap into nearly all of their potential velocity. No matter who you are, improving mechanical efficiency will increase velocity, but it is not always the primary limiting factor.

Improving mobility (hip, thoracic, shoulder) or flexibility (hamstring, hip flexors, torso) may play a role in velocity if it is a limiting factor in allowing the athlete to get into certain advantageous body positions for throwing hard.

There are more factors that contribute to velocity, but the point is that everyone has some area that they can squeeze out extra velocity from. Very few people are at their absolute potential. Our approach trains all of these factors simultaneously - a safe and balanced resistance training regimen that includes mobility work, flexibility work, reactive/plyometric training on top of purely training muscular strength. Improving body composition also improves relative strength, meaning that carrying less fat and more muscle also helps us apply more force relative to our size - this translates into higher vertical jumps, sprint times, lateral bounds, athleticism, and potentially the speed at which an athlete can drive his center of mass down the mound to create arm speed.

The bodybuilder comparison is ludicrous, and I’m not sure if it should be taken seriously.

What is the point of your post, CoachPaul - to save pitchers all this valuable time that is being “Wasted?” To stop them from turning into Lou Ferrigno? Or that it is actually negatively affecting these pitchers to have trained their muscles to be able to potentially apply more force.

We should be “working on explosiveness of actions?” Does improving muscular power through resistance training not have the potential of increasing “explosiveness of actions?”


#8

I agree with a lot of what you are saying , but your post is also all words and no proof or evidence, so I’m not sure why my post got you all hot and bothered. Just because neither of us quoted study or research doesn’t mean we are wrong. My weight lifting comparison was meant to be extremely ludicrous. Mostly when people are posting about their training they tend to mention throwing bullpens, throwing long toss, and lifting weights along with a healthy diet with supplements. As you mention, these are some limiting factors, but more exist. The lifting of weights to improve performance in an activity where the muscles of the arm are not in flex would apparently yield minimal results when compared to spending focused time working on balance and stability in situations where the athlete already possesses functional strength to perform the activity. Gaining greater efficiency in force production and force transmission through greater balance and body control would yield better and faster results for a functionally strong pitcher with mechanical issues to resolve. It’s clear with pitchers like Martinez and Lincecum that pitchers can reach mid and upper 90s without any weight training at all. They are all the evidence I need to at least show that heavy weight training is not near the top of most effective things a pitcher can do to increase velocity.


#9

Double post.


#10

So the lats are not actively involved in the throw? The glutes and hip adductors are not actively involved to drive the lower body towards the target? Have you thrown a ball 100 mph? I have, and I know what that feels like. There may not be an active contraction of the triceps or biceps (though the biceps do aid in deceleration), but it’s hard to argue that there isn’t a very strong and active contraction of the internal rotators, lats and torso musculature, in addition to strong contractions from both drive and plant legs.

An athlete does need a certain level of muscular strength to have repeatable explosive mechanics. I think the threshold is different depending on the athlete and the muscle group in question. For example, does an athlete need to be able to squat 500 lbs? Probably not - this level of strength is clearly past the threshold of being useful. Does an athlete need to be able to bench press 300 lbs? Also probably not, especially given the fact that there is less of an active role of that musculature in the throw. Still, in that case if we had a 6’5" pitcher who could barely put up 40 lb dumbbells, that would be worth addressing - we’re talking about a glaring weakness/physical imbalance that would be easily trained, wouldn’t take away from any part of his game - why would you not address that? What about the lats? My opinion from personal experience and the literature on activation patterns says that they play a crucial role in humeral acceleration…so part of this is obviously having the mechanics and motor patterns in place to actually be able to fully recruit those muscle fibers - high level pitchers recruit their lats something like 300% more than low level pitchers. But beyond that, i fail to see an issue with strengthening the musculature that is so clearly heavily involved in throwing.

Sure throwing by nature will strengthen it some - many pitchers have bigger dominant side lats, but let’s say we’re talking about that same 6’5" kid who can do maybe 1 or 2 pull-ups. Are we really going to say that spending 2 hours a week in the weight room and getting him to 12 pull-ups over a 3 month period is going to be counterproductive? It might not help, in every case, but it also won’t hurt in any case to fully strengthen the musculature involved in the act of throwing.

For every tim lincecum or pedro martinez, who have optimized their mechanical efficiency - getting near maximum velocity out of their available musculature, there are hundreds of fringe college players or fringe pro players who are 20, 30, 40 lbs underweight of the “average” major league pitcher (~6’3" 215lbs), and in desperate need of a few mph. Are we seriously going to say to just work on balance and body control and ignore everything else?

Why not construct a multifaceted approach that addresses all these things.

College players spend 40 hours a week with their team

As a pro I spend 60-65 hours a week with my team.

Saying that wasted time is a reason not to resistance train is largely insignificant - 45 minutes, 3 times a week is nothing. Trust me, there is still plenty of time to work on balance and body control (i.e. focused throwing every day).

Again, for every tim lincecum, who probably resistance trained in some fashion despite what you say (remember, bodyweight exercises are still resistance training), there are 10 other successful major league pitchers who have succeeded by including it in their regimen. It doesn’t take away from anything, so I’m not sure why you are against it when it has the potential to help a significant chunk of players (some more than others).


#11

As always I promote functional strength and correcting structural imbalances. If that takes you into the weight room to correct, that’s great. I never said anything negative about lifting your body as resistance or pull-ups, rehabilitation from injury, etc.

The entire body is used to pitch. If a pitcher has gotten the most from his mechanics and what’s to eek out those final couple of my with free weights, more power to him. Best of luck.

I would expect a strength coach to come down hard on anyone, like myself, not placing strength as the top focus.
I had the strongest arm on my varsity baseball team and my American Legion team. I never lifted a weight all through high school. I saw people lifting all the time, they could lift some impressive amounts. They were chiseled. It didn’t do much for their velocity.
I may not have ever thrown 100 mph. That’s not even a realistic goal for most to have. The majority of professionals haven’t either. Big deal.I have beaten dozens of pitchers who threw harder than me but weren’t as good at pitching. As one famous pitching coach once said, good hitters can put wood to a bullet, but hit your spots and you can make 'em look real silly.

Most people have limited time and make decisions about what needs to be included in their program. Don’t chase diminishing returns getting every last mph with the weights…perhaps spending more time refining your craft would be time better spent.


#12

I agree with Lanky. With personal experience, I have gained velocity with weight lifting/gaining weight. In college this last year, my coach never touched my mechanics. I weighed 155 tops going into fall ball sitting anywhere between 80 to 87. Now, with weightlifting, and other things Lanky mentioned. I weigh near 170, throwing a consistent 86 to 89 hitting 90 frequently. Much room to grow as well, because I can only squat 260. Not many people can reach there potential just by perfecting mechanics, long tossing etc… Weight training is key for many. Just my thoughts. I really enjoy reading articles on ■■■■■■■■■■■.net, and your site Lanky


#13

The postings here are all founded on either personal experiences, even pick-n-choose certain events and circumstances that fits the focus of the author, and generally accepted “this works”.

Comparing professionals and their results based on their experience, regardless how repetitive others in the same profession perform, to the amateur game really has to be brought down a few pegs so everyone in the read can follow. Many have tried here, few have really gotten it right to be usable by the many visitors to this site - I’ve e-mailed many on that very thing, and got that feedback.

Promoting a training development position, either from a business/web site stance, personal experience(s), is also a bit of a stretch when taking point-counter-point with someone else offering a point of view.

Again, so much is left to the personal experiences of so many, that debate however healthy and well meaning, often settles into a personal blow-n-counter-blow, word for word broadsides. That’s not so good.

Also, debate on any subject leaves a lot of open space between the lines, assuming one thing by an author, and yet another by any reader, that we should be careful in our responses not to get too personal and dig in our heels - one way or the other.

This media really doesn’t serve well the detail physical anatomy debate of what muscles and such, do this and that. I sincerely doubt that the majority of people visiting this site understand the devotion to human movement and body mechanics in such detail, much less really care. Now I’m not saying that this kind of substance isn’t useful, it can be. So, although impressive in the presentation, such detail somehow ends up as a definitive data base for providing wad-n-powder for … “so there, take that!”

My comments here are not to be taken pro-or-con to anyone offering their contribution to this posting topic - so don’t go there with me. Just try and be civil to one another and keep the “helping” sprit of this web site and it’s intent.


#14

Good points Coach Baker.

All of my work is with 18 and under. I am not talking about professionals who can pay whomever they wish to work with them and have nearly unlimited time to devote to all phases of their development.

I’m talking about the kids who have many other things calling for their time and attention and who are choosing to spend less and less of it on baseball. If a kid has 5 hrs per week to play ball. He should be playing ball and not lifting weights. From my vantage point, I’d rather develop them to play better and make the most of what they have before sending them to the weight room.

My goal is to make people better at the game, even if it’s in some small way, every time they step on and off the field. I do exceptionally well at that.

I respect everything Lanky had and /or has to say, but it doesn’t apply to my perspective.

Not until I got blasted did I even look into what he does for a living. Then it made a bit more sense, but I mostly don’t care what anyone on this site does for a living. It’s not my business. His perspective is different than mine and works for him and his clientele. It doesn’t work for me.

Perhaps we all just need to consider that these posts are made from each individual’s unique perspective while we endeavor to live and let live–without slinging arrows.


#15

good points all around - I apologize if anything I said came across as an attack.

I definitely made some assumptions - not everyone is willing or can devote hours and hours to baseball every day/week. My perspective is based on achieving ones maximum genetic potential, which is very different from a high school kid who is just trying to gain a few mph, improve his command and make a varsity team within 5 hours a week.

I agree that baseball is primarily a skill-driven sport. For those particular athletes with the time, resources and ambition to really reach their potential, there is however little downside and a ton of upside to including physical training into their regimen.


#16

If you dedicate 5 hours a week to baseball and expect to go somewhere you may need revaluate your career.


#17

For those in the “career mindset”, yes five hours a week is a poor sell. On the other hand, for youngsters who take away five hours worth of fun, for the sake of fun, five hours can be plenty.


#18

Gas,
The answer to your question lies largely in what your goals are. Also you might consider is it even the question you should be asking. How soon are you looking to get drafted? It sounds like you have a present career opportunity as a JUCO pitcher. Is this correct? Do you currently have the tools to succeed at that level? If not what do you need? The success difference between 85 and 90 is most likely dependent upon your command of location and quality of your secondary pitches. What I mean, is if you do not hit your spots and have some quality off speed stuff, you are not likely to be much more successful at 90 mph than you would be at 85. Also a sinking 85 can be more useful than a straight 90, though command of both would probably be better. What do you think that your team needs from you now for them and you to succeed at your current level. I think that is your first question. There are about a million 6’2" RHP that throw 90+. You need something more to separate you from them. What is it? Coach Baker may know, I don’t.

Now to your velocity question.

It sounds like you have picked up 2-3mph in the past month through mechanical changes. That is a solid clue that you need to continue to improve your mechanics and probably timing improvements alone will get you to 90mph. Now to maximize you velocity, health and career longevity you need a real evaluation and development plan formulated with people who know what they are doing. Find them. Call/email Lanky, Kyle Boddy, Ron Wolforth, Eric Cressy, Robbie Hebert, anyone you can find who can help you locate a competent pitching coach and trainer in your area. Be up front about your time and financial resources and let them help you. More importantly, create other opportunities for yourself by creating skills outside of baseball. Education is one way (and the most versatile) but creating other work skills will give you more opportunities to extend your baseball efforts should you decide to and make life much more enjoyable for you should you decide not to.

Very best of luck,

Ted