Improving Arm Speed


#1

We have a 14U team with 4 starting pitchers. All 4 participate in a lessons with a great instructor, all 4 focus on delivery mechanics, all 4 do pre-hab excercises , mirror work and some other strength and conditionig too.

And although there is a foot difference in their heights and probably 45lbs weight difference between the biggest to smallest kids, remarkably they all throw at about the same velocity.

At this point since they are so consistant in delivery and mechanics it seems that the next thing we should be looking to improve is arm speed.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can approach increasing their arm speed?


#2

well idk if this might mess up our arms but i tend to take about maybe 5-10 lbs of dumbells put 1 in each hand and act as if im throwing it but it is still in my hand. i try to throw it just alittle slower than my fastball so if we do this b4 a game as a warm up it might help. This is what i do before i go up to bat. Take 2-3 bats together for more weight and then when i bat only have on bat tends to give me a better edge when i bat or throw. maybe try that with the dumbells


#3

“Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can approach increasing their arm speed?”

Why do you want to improve their arm speed? Are they having problems being effective?

If not, I would advise you to leave well enough alone.

The reason is that 14 year-olds are developing the muscles of adults but the bones of children. Try to do too much with pitchers at this (especially vulnerable) age and you will end up with permanent injuries to their pitching arms. What’s more, having them lift weights at this age could even make them more injury-prone, not less.

Be careful.


#4

""Are they having problems being effective? “”

Well we’ll see when the season starts . However I think they are capable of upping their fastball speeds a few MPH. I agree with you about not doing too much . The only weight lifting they do is the pre-habs and since they are only 14 they do them with 3lb weights rather than 5.


#5

5-10 lbs is too much weight for a 14 year-old. You only need 1-3 lbs to be effective.

Also, if you decide to do drills like these (which I do myself), I would do them with weights that you wrap around the wrists rather than weights you hold. The reason is that holding a heavy weight while doing this (as opposed to having it wrapped around your wrist) is that it can can circulatory problems.

Wrapped weights are safer.


#6

So how hard do they throw? If they are cruising high 60’s and maxing out up to low 70s then they are very typical for good, but not great, 14u pitchers. I’ve got 4 14u pitchers and 2 14yo 15u pitchers on my freshman winter team who all throw in that range and are all fairly effective for freshman ball. The younger ones all project to be low to mid 80s kids as seniors. They’ll all have to learn to be pitchers to be more than average pitchers in HS but they all have the potential to do well. To reinforce what others have said one is down with a growth plate injury due to long term overuse and another is down with a stress fracture due to ramping up weights, plyos, running, etc. too quickly at the start of baseball conditioning.

My son is one of them and we’ll probably wait until he’s close to 16 before doing anything beyond long toss to try for a bit extra velocity. Just not safe to do too much while they are still growing. They are more at risk during their growth spurt than any other stage during their development. You want to do some exercise to build up their bone density but you have to be very careful. You have to be aware of periodization for tendons and ligaments and periodization for bones. The spacing of the rest is different for each.

In the meantime we’ll concentrate on getting command of the circle change. He seems to have a knack for the curve so we’ll try to avoid working on that much so he is forced to get comfortable with the change.


#7

At the end of the day, pitchers have to learn deception (e.g. changing speeds in a sneaky manner) if they are to be effective.

With my guys (11U) I am focusing more on deception (e.g. relative velocity changes) rather than raw velocity.

As I told my guys in the CYC playoffs last year, a guy who throws hard but always at the same speed to the same location is hittable if you choke up and swing sooner (in fact, you can destroy the ball if you hit it well).

He was and we won.


#8

CadDad
Kids have all just turned 14.
They cruise at 58-60mph not high 60s
62 seems to be max.
I put a radar gun on them just the other day


#9

Ned38,
That is on the low side. I can see why you’d want to see some velocity increase. The things you might want to consider are long toss and/or an overload/underload (weighted balls) program. I think Steve Ellis has both programs. If you want to go all out on velocity you can go with Wolforth’s program or Nyman’s program. The programs work for most players but there is some risk involved since increasing velocity necessarily means increasing the stress on the arm and the rest of the body. You have to ask yourself if these kids want to put in the effort and take the risks needed to make significant velocity gains or not.

Interestingly it may be safer to start these programs at a bit younger age when the bones and tendons are remodeling rapidly but bone growth hasn’t yet outpaced muscle growth and put extra stress on bones and tendons while at the same time weakening the bones. Although at one time people thought that bones only got stronger during the growth spurt more recent research has shown that correctly measuring bone density during the growth spurt results in a strong correlation between bone density and fracture rate. The fracture rate goes up during the growth spurt meaning that bone density is actually going down as the body robs calcium from along the bones to provide sufficient material for increasing bone length.


#10

I would be extremely cautious when it comes to having 14 year olds doing any form of overweight or underweight training.

In my opinion, your guys are too young to be using Wolforth or Nyman’s stuff. I wouldn’t start on this (if at all) until they were 16. I say “if at all” because I am concerned that some of what they are talking about is dangerous from the standpoint of injury prevention.

Starting this programs at a younger age is a very dangerous thing to do. The problem is that growth plates are weaker than are tendons and ligaments, and you run the risk of having a kid experience a more severe and permanent growth plate injury rather than a more manageable tendon or muscle strain.

If you don’t absolutely need the extra velocity, then I wouldn’t try to get it. What’s more, I would argue that you don’t need the extra velocity and your time would be better spent working on developing a great change-up. As numerous major-leaguers have proven, deception (and great location) beats raw velocity any day.

BE VERY CAREFUL.


#11

Hey Ned38,

Start with good sound mechanics first. IF your kids have that please start a long toss program. CADAD just gave you some sound advice and we have been long tossing all winter long. The velocity will come and improve if their mechanics are good and they are throwing the ball. By throwing the ball I mean flat ground and no mound work. Mound work maybe about once a week, this is for off-season of course.

As far as the weighted ball program goes, if you have sound mechanics it shouldnt be a problem as long as you monitor each and every throw. Believe it or not a weighted ball will also highlight the bad mechanics. But once again I wouldn’t recommend it at your kids age. I was hesitant myself and waited until my son was 13 and he had good sound mechanics.

Really work on those mechanics and everything else will fall into place. I’d also look into Alan Jager’s thrive on throwing program and purchase a set of bands. Whether it be a set from the local Sports store or from Jaeger’s website. I believe Steve has a terrific video online for free with some great tubing exercises as well.

Also, a changeup while in Little League will probably be sent over the outfield wall. Definitely start to develop one but when you are throwing at Little League distances it will not fool many people. IF you have a very good fastball then the changeup will be effective. But if your change up is about the same speed as your fastball it will not be effective.

Currently the son is 13 years old and has good mechanics. No arm or elbow problems ever. We started a throwing program after his last Tourney in early December. Velocity has gone up about 4-5 MPH in a span of about 2 months of hard work. We video all of his games and break them down, very good stuff. Also do not fall into the trap of listening to only one “so called pitching guru.” All of them have their faults and benefits. IF you are keen you can decipher and pick what works best for you.

Good Luck!!! :wink:


#12

[quote=“Ned38”]We have a 14U team with 4 starting pitchers. All 4 participate in a lessons with a great instructor, all 4 focus on delivery mechanics, all 4 do pre-hab excercises , mirror work and some other strength and conditionig too.

And although there is a foot difference in their heights and probably 45lbs weight difference between the biggest to smallest kids, remarkably they all throw at about the same velocity.

At this point since they are so consistant in delivery and mechanics it seems that the next thing we should be looking to improve is arm speed.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can approach increasing their arm speed?[/quote]

It looks to me as if they are doing what is necessary for physical development, why instead of jepordizing their potential by attempting to artificially increase their speed, why don’t you instead work on the head game of pitching? It would seem to me that if the best interests of those boys was in the fore-front, that you would work just as hard to make them strategically educated. The very best pitchers have a plan of attack and understand how to look for weaknesses in the batter.
I’ll get a little fogeyish on you and relate to you this little story. We had this 13u team and were very interested in taking on all comers, well we ran into this PAL (Police Athletic League) team out of St. Augustine Fl. they were a 14u squad and were man handling us in the first game of a doubleheader, so we asked if they would allow us to pitch a 14 yr old kid (Best in our league, a tall, hard throwing, smokin kid, who later was key in a state championship) they said “no problemo” and as they watched him warm up, they saw how fast he was…instead of being intimidated they all started chanting “The faster it comes, the further it flies” and proceeded to rock this kid (Beat him like a pinyata at a hyper-active kids birthday party they did).
Develop your staff, be the reason they treasure baseball, smoke is good but it ain’t all.


#13

"Also, a changeup while in Little League will probably be sent over the outfield wall. Definitely start to develop one but when you are throwing at Little League distances it will not fool many people. IF you have a very good fastball then the changeup will be effective. But if your change up is about the same speed as your fastball it will not be effective "

Truth is, a changeup is about deception … key is to have a gap between the fastball and change, regardless of how hard you throw the fastball … if you have the appropriate gap AND SEQUENCE them properly, the changeup can be effective at all levels . As Ray Miller once said, whether the pitcher is 12 or 32 … work fast , throw strikes and change speeds .

Also, one more vote here against the weight training / weighted balls until ( IF ) 16+ …


#14

“CADAD just gave you some sound advice and we have been long tossing all winter long.”

This is troubling advice. Everyone, including major leaguers, needs to take time off to allow their muscles, tendons, and ligaments to heal. That is even more true for kids under 16.

“As far as the weighted ball program goes, if you have sound mechanics it shouldnt be a problem as long as you monitor each and every throw. Believe it or not a weighted ball will also highlight the bad mechanics.”

Are you suggesting throwing with standard mechanics using weighted balls? If so, then I would be very careful. Weighted balls can be a useful tool but with caveats. First, they should only be used by kids who are older than 16. Second, they should only be used in drills (to strengthen muscle groups). Trying to throw a weighted ball 70, 80, or 90 MPH is a recipe for disaster.

“Also, a changeup while in Little League will probably be sent over the outfield wall. Definitely start to develop one but when you are throwing at Little League distances it will not fool many people. IF you have a very good fastball then the changeup will be effective.”

By definition, a change-up isn’t a change-up if there is no change. An effective change-up must be thrown in exactly the same manner as the fastball but with more skin on the ball so that it will come in 10% slower.

“Currently the son is 13 years old and has good mechanics. No arm or elbow problems ever. We started a throwing program after his last Tourney in early December. Velocity has gone up about 4-5 MPH in a span of about 2 months of hard work.”

Be careful. He is just entering puberty, which is the real danger area because the strength of the muscles starts to far outstrip the strength of the growth plates of the bones.


#15

“It looks to me as if they are doing what is necessary for physical development, why instead of jepordizing their potential by attempting to artificially increase their speed, why don’t you instead work on the head game of pitching? It would seem to me that if the best interests of those boys was in the fore-front, that you would work just as hard to make them strategically educated. The very best pitchers have a plan of attack and understand how to look for weaknesses in the batter.”

Here here. If they are going to be successful in the long run, they will need deception to be successful. There’s no better time to start it than early.

“so we asked if they would allow us to pitch a 14 yr old kid (Best in our league, a tall, hard throwing, smokin kid, who later was key in a state championship) they said “no problemo” and as they watched him warm up, they saw how fast he was…instead of being intimidated they all started chanting “The faster it comes, the further it flies” and proceeded to rock this kid (Beat him like a pinyata at a hyper-active kids birthday party they did).”

As I have said elsewhere, my team had exactly this experience in the playoffs (with a kid whose first name was “Nolan”). Once they got used to the speed, they completely rocked the guy.


#16

I don’t know how it happened but the response prior to this one was listed to Chris O’Leary when it was actually written by jdfromfla, so I’m the culprit not Chris.
jd


#17

Chris,
There are a lot of different opinions on how much rest the tendons need. I don’t know what the answer is. IMO, based on the research Nyman has done they should be taking two consecutive days a week off without throwing at all to allow the tendons and ligaments to remodel.

I do agree that you have to be careful with the younger players when it comes to the growth plates and have to monitor them carefully. I don’t think a long toss program gradually worked into is a problem.

It wouldn’t hurt to take some time off during each year to ensure the tendons heal and then the key is to work back into it gradually. The only time my son had an arm injury was after he took a couple weeks off from throwing while we were on a vacation and then tried to hang with HS juniors and seniors playing long toss immediately afterwards. It was too much too soon after a break and we then had to rest him off and on for a while until his elbow recovered.

I had an older 14yo pitcher who showed up to pitch for me for the first time a couple months ago. He mentioned he had a sore elbow. It had been sore for about a month and nobody had shut him down. We didn’t let him pitch. I figured it was probably just pitcher’s elbow given his age but we sent him to a doctor just in case and it turned out he had an avulsion. He’s been down since then.


#18

“There are a lot of different opinions on how much rest the tendons need. I don’t know what the answer is. IMO, based on the research Nyman has done they should be taking two consecutive days a week off without throwing at all to allow the tendons and ligaments to remodel.”

This is a point where I break sharply with Nyman and lean much more toward Marshall (in fact, I think Nyman is being irresponsible). The studies that I have read indicate that, while muscles can heal in a matter of days, it can take tendons and ligaments months or even years to heal (if they will heal at all). I have read several studies that indicate that players who live in areas with warm climates are more prone to injury because they can play organized baseball year-round and never give their bodies good solid rest. Yes, some of them turn into major leaguers, but many of them are permanently (and unnecessarily IMO) injured.

“I don’t think a long toss program gradually worked into is a problem.”

Agreed.

“The only time my son had an arm injury was after he took a couple weeks off from throwing while we were on a vacation and then tried to hang with HS juniors and seniors playing long toss immediately afterwards. It was too much too soon after a break and we then had to rest him off and on for a while until his elbow recovered.”

For reasons like this, I am a big believer in warming up (both in terms of days and entire seasons). You have to gradually build to high levels of performance if you are to keep from hurting yourself.

“I had an older 14yo pitcher who showed up to pitch for me for the first time a couple months ago. He mentioned he had a sore elbow. It had been sore for about a month and nobody had shut him down. We didn’t let him pitch. I figured it was probably just pitcher’s elbow given his age but we sent him to a doctor just in case and it turned out he had an avulsion. He’s been down since then.”

Good for you. A lot of guys wouldn’t care.

One thing to keep in mind is that pitcher’s elbow is very different when you are talking about guys who are below and above 16.


#19

Chris,
We are talking about two different things here with the two days a week vs. the longer term rest. Tendons and ligaments don’t heal as quickly as muscles so they tend to accumulate damage when used constantly. The two days a week off tends to mitigate this and allow for some rebuilding. If damage still does accumulate, and it almost always does, then it is necessary to take time off.

Spending most of a year doing damage to the arm by throwing hard 6 or 7 days a week and then resting it for a couple months will allow the arm to heal, as long as too much damage wasn’t done, but it won’t make it stronger as the arm will tend to atrophy over the long rest period. The ideal is to have enough rest each week for the arm to rebuild some of the damage and then take only enough time off to allow for healing in the offseason. How much time is that? It really depends on the individual, their workload and how much damage was done during the “season”.

Be careful in making comparisons. I’m only relating my impression of what Nyman advocates. I can’t speak for him in any way, shape or form.

I tend to disagree with the unproven approach that Marshall advocates. Kids need to exercise to build up the tendons, ligaments and bones. They need to be careful not to go too far but waiting until the ages Marshall advocates will leave their bodies ill prepared for the rigors of pitching as they grow older. Once past puberty the body’s ability to remodel is reduced and it becomes more difficult for the body to adjust to new demands.

That is why people who were athletes early in life tend to have less problems with bone loss later in life. They still lose bone but they start out with greater bone density than those who weren’t athletes. It is an unfortunate reality that young people need to exercise to build their bones and tendons at the same point in their lives that their bones and tendons are at the highest risk.


#20

[quote=“terprhp”]"Also, a changeup while in Little League will probably be sent over the outfield wall. Definitely start to develop one but when you are throwing at Little League distances it will not fool many people. IF you have a very good fastball then the changeup will be effective. But if your change up is about the same speed as your fastball it will not be effective "

Truth is, a changeup is about deception … key is to have a gap between the fastball and change, regardless of how hard you throw the fastball … if you have the appropriate gap AND SEQUENCE them properly, the changeup can be effective at all levels . As Ray Miller once said, whether the pitcher is 12 or 32 … work fast , throw strikes and change speeds .

This is true , all I am saying is that a change up is usually better when you have a big difference in Velocity. If you throw 55mph and change up is 52-53 you are in for a rude awakening. All points are well taken. But I am a firm believer that if you practice throwing your fastball with full intent to throw it will make your changeup that much better. :roll: