OPINIONS!?!? Play Travel ball, OR Workout to gain more Velocity

My son and I have a dilemma and I’m looking to get the advise of others on this subject. He is currently a junior in High School and his velocity is probably between 79-81 or so up from 73-74 last year around this time. He has very good accuracy and good secondary pitches. He’s 1 of 3 starters on his team, the other two are Seniors committed to a D1 (topping at 95), and D2 (topping around 84) schools respectively, all three are having good seasons on the mound. My son has been approached by 3 travel ball coaches that want him to play for their teams over the summer and he wants to play travel ball in hopes of getting exposed and maybe gain interest from colleges. SO our dilemma is should he play travel ball OR take the summer off to get stronger and gain more velocity going into his Senior year of High School when he will probably be the number 1 starter since the other two will graduate. It seems to be a tough decision because this will be the last summer that he can play travel ball before he graduates High School but at the same time we both understand that you don’t get much better playing games but you can by working hard. I’d like him to get up to around 85-87 or more by next year but again I doubt that will happen playing games all summer, and will take allot of work to get the either way. SO to make a long story short I’d like to see opinions on should he play travel ball in hopes to get seen by college coaches, OR take the summer off and perform a good off season strength and throwing program??

why don’t you get much better by playing games?

Play summer ball (and work out).

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Not really.

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Depends how the summer team is structured.
My sons summer team plays about 75 games in about 55 days. A fair amount on the road. Everyone is required to be at every game. So, if you are pitching there is a lot of sitting in the heat and doing nothing. You can still do both of course, but, a lot of it amounts to a bunch of wasting time in my opinion.
If a guy is going to be on a strenuous throwing program he will need to coordinate that with the summer coach to make sure he is throwing when it fits with his throwing program.
What I would recommend is playing at least the first part of summer while using that time as an “on ramping” time for a lifting program, throwing program and whatever else is being done. If the summer season needs to be cut a week or two short to really get into the working out that is fine. From late summer through the fall and winter, hit it hard and work ones rear off.

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Good points for sure.

In my experience, kids who “take the summer off to workout and build velocity” don’t actually push themselves hard enough to make velocity gains a reality. And then because they’re not pitching competitively also, it ends up being the beginning of the end. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many kids are right on the cusp of a break through, and then make the decision to “take the summer off” from games, and it just doesn’t work out. Now, if you were instead training at IPI in Fla, or at Cressey Performance in MA, or something like that type of structured environment every day – then maybe. But that’s super expensive and generally not what we’re taking about here with most kids.

Look, I totally GET the fact that there’s A LOT of “doing nothing” in baseball. Especially for pitchers. But that’s the game. That’s why kids play lacrosse. Continuing to improve during the season requires a certain type of kid who will eek out what little time there is to make improvements, throw a pen, do pfp’s, do rotator cuff exercises, run poles, do med ball stuff or plyos in the outfield, etc.


Thanks for the feedback and I’d like let you know more of what were thinking. First off we own the tuff cuff program and have used it religiously over the past year to the point that i’m actually out of blank pages to continue tracking the weights that he’s doing during the exercises, however he has been able to gain about 5-6 mph in about 10 months or so and we have also noticed a big difference in his body type where his chest is much more defined his shoulders are much broader and his posture has improved allot, he gained about 15-20 pounds and the only downfall that Ive noticed was that his conditioning seemed to suffer from it, I’m thinking because he wasnt used to the heavier weight on his body, so thats another thing I need to work on is his conditioning. We have a D1 facility in our town so I may have him do a couple months there. But Tuff Cuff has definitely been a huge help for us and yes he does work very hard during the off season, (by the way, I’m recommending Tuff Cuff to a few other people too), I may have to just erase and reuse for my son this coming off season. Anyhow so what I’m thinking for this offseason is to again go hard with Tuff Cuff, and see if he can gain another good velo boost, and I was thinking of putting him on a weighted ball throwing program witch will probably be about two months in hopes that will maybe go hand in hand with TC and add maybe a little more mph doing both. So thats the dilemma in that I know it’s not a good idea to do a weighted ball program while pitching. I’ll be honest I didn’t think both was possible until you suggested that in a previous comment but I’m going to look at the summer schedule witch will only be 4 tournaments and try and work TC during that, and maybe the weighted ball program after the last tourney, the only problem is that it will probably run into fall ball, but I may talk to his HS coach to see if maybe he can take fall off to concentrate more on the programs and working out more. So the bottom line is that I definitely want him to be able to get stronger and gain more velo because I feel that he’s going to need that to be able to play at the next level, but you all feel that it’s important to play summer ball also correct? Thanks again for the feedback.

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I agree.

Most kids are not willing to (or are given good direction with what work to do) work very hard. There needs to be a balance for sure. Game time is important. Skill, at least how I would define skill, is not usually developed during games. The prep that has been done shows during game time.
The biggest thing I have seen with travel ball is just too many games and no…zero…real practice time. If a kid doesn’t know when he is going to pitch it will affect the work he can do. So, find a balance. Play the summer while doing some extra work and working on specific pitching things during games. Don’t play the fall and work your butt off. Perhaps playing Fall Ball or travel ball during the fall means playing a position and hitting and pitching once a week or once very two weeks and thinking of it as a live pen. In other words, working on the stuff you need to work on while pitching.
The other thing I see is kids/parents thinking their kid can do everything. Playing fall ball outside of school while playing basketball and trying to get strong and gain weight…it just isn’t going to happen. Everything is a trade off to some degree.

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Thats awesome.
Tuff Cuff is great. Those are some good gains. Keep it going.

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Play and train. Practice has much more potential for skill development and the games are great for experience.

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I guess i’m thinking more the lessons you learn playing the game makes you a better player, not always skill-wise.

Yeah, somethings can only be learned on the field of course.
The main problem I see is many guys, thats all they do is play games.
That is fine if you are a super natural talent, most guys are not.


You can get better playing games from an experience, and competition standpoint but most of a players improvements will come from practice, and working on specific parts of a players skill. Games are to display the work, and the improvements that someone has made but practices are where you can experiment, and fix issues, and to just overall improve on anything you want to work on. Thats not what the games are for, they are for the competition and to use/ display how much better someone has gotten through practice.

I’m in the same situation as your son. I’m the same age and I’m second in the rotation behind a 4 year started and I throw about the same speed. My school team plays a summer season through June so I’ll be doing that but I’ll also be working out I’m the mornings. As for a travel team that actually plays in really competitive tournaments, I think that it would be better for me to spend the summer working out and getting my velocity up and getting bigger. I did the same last summer and gained 15 pounds and probably put on 5-7 mph. My thing last summer was that it was more focused on gaining weight and getting stronger. I’m planning on doing the same thing, except more focus on my arm and getting my arm into better shape and long toss and that sort of thing. Then I plan on doing some PG stuff between the summer and the school ball season. I don’t know what state your in or what kind of program your son plays for, but where I am, I’ve seen it myself. If you’re good enough you’ll get some attention. I would tell the coach that he wants to play in college and see what he can help you with. Best of luck to you and your son.