Predictors of throwing velocity


#1

Interesting study on pitching velocity:

A total of 420 pitchers were included, with a mean pitching velocity of 64 ± 10 mph.

After multivariate logistic regression analysis, the most important correlates with pitch velocity were age (P < .001; R2 = 0.658), height (P < .001; R2 = 0.076), separation of the hips and shoulders (P < .001; R2 = 0.027), and stride length (P < .001; R2 = 0.016); in combination, these 4 variables explained 78% of the variance in pitch velocity. Other findings:

  • Each year of age was associated with a mean 1.5 mph increase in velocity
  • Each inch in height, with 1.2 mph
  • Separation of the hips and shoulders, with 2.6 mph
  • A 10% increase in stride length, with 1.9 mph

Pitch velocity is most strongly correlated with age, height, separation of the hips and shoulders, and stride length.

What other predictors would you add to this list?


#2

Max external rotation or layback
Body weight
Arm length
Ankle mobility


#3

Interesting that age alone with everything else equal is 1.5 mph. With a year of age usually comes a year of growth of a couple of inches 2.4 mph and modest stride length increase so yearly increase of 4-5 mph is probably pretty accurate for most youth pitchers. I’m not sure how to easily measure increase in hip and shoulder separation since it would probably take high speed cameras and software to do this accurately.

Mostly no surprises found in the above data.


#4

I would like to see this study remove age as a variable and study a large sample size of high school seniors or something similar. With the mean being 64 I can’t help but think most of these kids were young, where puberty and growth spurts have a huge impact on velocity. It would be interesting to see what predicts velocity best then.

The data collection would be more difficult I would think as mentioned by CoachPaul. The variables measured would have to be carefully selected. I think the more interesting question is what else could you measure to attempt to predict velocity. Fearsomefour has some good ideas.


#5

Tempo
Sequencing
Connection
Stabilization
Core stability
Hip mobility
Strength of decelerators


#6

Stability and mobility are two factors that are often forgotten about.
Hip mobility is a good one too.
The thing with studies is…well…they are hard. Do you take a group of people in their natural state and just have them throw over a set period of time and see how velocity does or does not increase naturally and then determine organic physical traits harder throwers have (height, arm length, natural mobility etc) or do you take a group of people and train them in a certain way. When I bring up ankle mobility I have seen, speaking very generally, that poor ankle mobility leads to diminished explosive ability. You have listed Hip mobility and stability, both very important to being able to move well and explosively. These things (ankle and hip mobility, stability, strength, body weight etc) are all things that can be trained and improved. So, is the study then about how to improve throwing velocity through training to improve specific physical traits? When you mix in varying age ranges and the wild card that puberty is, well, it is hard to come up with anything but a mixed bag I think.
If it is just people in their natural state physical size will generally matter and having a “loose” arm…having natural layback when throwing…would be major factors I think.
We may get to the point one day when we can put a thrower through some tests and say with certainty that doing exercise A, B and C is going to increase velocity because you are lacking here, here and here. We are not quite there yet.


#7

I think guys like Randy Sullivan and the Cressey team have found like you say exercise A, B, and C will help you here, here and here. I know you’re making the point everything needs to individualized but I think every pitcher can help themselves by improving their mobility and stability. You won’t throw very hard without it and/or your arm won’t last, that’s for sure.


#8

Agreed.
General mobility, stability and strength work is a great starting point for everyone.
It amazing how much mobility work, even at the college level, is ignored. Movement screenings should be mandatory but often don’t exist.


#9

It’s incredible to me that there’s probably 15-something guys on this site that I have seem scream the importance of mobility, but division 1 schools ignore it. Crazy…


#10

Agreed.
My son had a back injury during lifting (trainer implemented a body building sort of program) this fall. Went to the school trainer (I am thinking a kid who just got his degree) who misdiagnosed it. It kept getting worse, coming and going and affected his performance. Because the coach had the diagnosis and knew he was doing his “stretches” he should have been fine to go. Because his performance was affected he was in the last group of guys cut.
So, comes home and goes and sees a doctor who orders up a bunch of tests and MRIs, doesn’t show much. Prescribes pain pills (shocking). I took my son to a very good physical therapist. He had his diagnosed correctly in about 2 minutes and on to a pretty quick recovery. JUST BY DOING A SIMPLE MOVEMENT SCREEN…and knowing what he was doing.
It makes me insane.
Factor in travel ball/summer ball teams that demand big money but don’t do any sort of real physical screening or prep work.
In my opinion, way way too many games in the youth level (once a kid is a 14+ or so) and not nearly enough training/prep work.
Of course, as long as travel ball/summer ball teams can sell parents that cutting a check for $$ and playing 60 games in 2 months (you mean you haven’t been doing much mobility work, a throwing program, lifting or skill development work and now you are playing 6 days a week in the middle of the summer and you don’t know why your body is breaking down?) will get their kid to college because coach So-n-So played pro ball…probably not much is going to change.


#11

A part of me tells myself if I’m lucky enough to have a son, I won’t want him playing travel ball. Or if he does I’m head coach and any parent that tells me my rotation of pitching, and the 2x/week mobility and arm strengthening practices are a waste of time is out of there.

Another part of me asks why is he playing if he can never play in games? The kid needs to fall in love with the game if you ever expect him to have the self-motivation to play past high school. Plus ignoring the mental side of baseball and instincts would be a big deal if he didn’t play competively up till high school.

In an ideal world, a travel ball coach that integrates training to prepare his players to play for a grueling 2-month schedule would be great. The problem is, it’s almost unheard of.


#12

I’ll plead ignorance here. I have a general idea of what you all mean by “mobility” and “movement screenings,” but can you all elaborate on the specifics?

In college we had a group come in yearly and check all of our athlete’s balance and coordination, as well as flexibility. Is that kind of what you are talking about? I remember thinking that information was vital, but then we never talked about it again throughout the season. I always thought that kind of scientific study of athletic motion and training was fascinating, but we still kind of ignored it/maintained the archaic status quo in practice.


#13

I almost wonder if it might be helpful to break out every velocity predictor listed here in a separate topic and really drill down on each one. Should we do that? Or too much?


#14

Hate to break it to you but the lack of understanding of stability/mobility extends beyond the college level all the way to the pro level. When Randy Johnson left the Dbacks and went to the Yankees, he developed back problems because they trained him as if the low (I.e. lumber) back was a mobile joint instead of the stabile joint that it is. This is according to House who used to work with Johnson.


#15

If you were to break up velocity predictors…
Mobility (ankle, hip, t-spine)
Stability (knee, core, lumbar spine)
Power
Arm capacity/balance/strength (posterior shoulder, flexor-pronator mass)
ATP
Recovery protocols

Mechanics wise:
Tempo of moving center of mass and rotation
Intent (arm speed)
Pelvic loading
Connection
Stabilization
Arm path
Amount of external rotation
Static posture
Late launch
Deceleration pattern


#16

This is some great stuff guys.

I’m with you Steven I’d think it’d make for some great dialogue if we create separate threads and drill down each one


#17

OK, I’ll start it… this forum has a wiki feature that everyone can contribute to and edit just like a Wikipedia page. I might try that format. That way, we could really add resources and source research that backs it up.


#18

That’s a pretty cool feature