Hey Guys I am a 17 year old 5’11 165lbs pitcher going into my senior year. I have thrown from a low 3/4 side arm slot for about 3 years now its a very natural feel for me I get great movement on all my pitches and have great control. I am currently verbally comitted to the University of Illinois-Chicago a divison 1 program in the horizon league. My fastball sits in the 82-84 ball park… I am wondering what are some ways I can continue to gain velocity on my fastball. It has been tough for me to make another jump in velocity… do you guys have any suggestions on a workout or even diet plan that could potentially help me jump in velocity? I really want to come in freshamn year out of the bullpen and get some quality innings… I think if I can gain a few more mph and be able to hold my velocity longer I should be able to get some good time out of the pen!!
Sidearm pitchers, like all other varieties, come in all sizes, shapes, speeds and even pizza preferences. There are the fireballing kind—Walter Johnson, Spud Chandler, Jeff Nelson and others of that ilk, who throw the serious cheese—over 90 miles an hour. And there are the confirmed finesse pitchers, such as you and me, not much on speed but who compensate nicely with good offspeed and breaking pitches and the control and command to go with them.
I was one such—an honest-to-gosh true sidearmer with a good curveball that came attached to it—and as soon as I realized that I would never be one of those rip-roarin’ flamethrowers on the mound I went in the other direction and became a snake-jazzer and a very good one. I learned a lot of stuff on my own, reading about it and incorporating it into my repertoire, and the rest came via a great deal of advice and assistance from one of the finest pitching coaches one could ever hope to work with. My maximum speed was 82, and my two best pitches were a dangerous hard slider with a sharp late break, nicknamed “Filthy McNasty” after a character in an old W.C. Fields movie, and a very good knuckle-curve. I built my whole arsenal around them, and I added a crossfire which I had fallen so in love with that I used it practically all the time! (No wonder that the other players in my league referred to me as “The Exterminator”—I was just killing them!)
I see no reason why you can’t add a few MPH to your current velocity in the months to come. You could enlist the aid of a good professional pitching coach (high minors or even a major leaguer, such as the one I worked with), and one thing that will help tremendously is a series of full bullpen sessions—with a catcher—so that said coach can see what you’re doing and what can be fine-tuned. And DON’T FORGET THE CHANGEUP! Babe Ruth, who was himself no slouch on the mound, once said that a good changeup will cause batters more grief than anything else. Get one or two, and use them. I wish you all the luck and success—keep working at it. 8)
I’ve hit as high as 93 from my sidearm delivery…mechanically the two thing you have to realize are
keep that front shoulder closed as long as possible…its really easy to allow it to leak open as a sidearm guy, but this is where a lot of the velocity comes from
get the hips open into landing, even as you keep your front shoulder closed! I kind of pop the hips open, like Jordan Walden but not quite as extreme a jump as him.
Keep the arm action is loose and connected as possible, and remember to keep the front side closed. Overexaggerating this move often helps.
Aside from that, start researching the strength and conditioning side of things (check out my site below if you like). I’m 6’3" 220lbs and all the strength I’ve gained has helped a lot but I still do have a ways to go. We have a small lefty sidearmer who is about 5’11" 190 he’s 85-87mph so just adding weight alone will help some but that’s not the whole package.
awesome thanks for the help guy… Zita how did you throw the knuckle curve from that release?? I have been having trouble with developing a curve I do throw a slider and that is by far my best pitch its a hard late breaker that has been devestating on righties… I have been messing with grips to get somthing a little softer with more break… I do throw a changeup and i also mix two different fast ball grips a sinker like action then one thats a little hard that acts more like a two seam… I think if I could add another pitch that is a little slower with more break it would help make my fastball a little more “sneaky”… tahnks for the help guys!
I remember when I was twelve and decided I wanted to try throwing a knuckle ball. I had absolutely no luck with it because I threw my curve with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap—which gave the pitch a very nasty break. So I thought about it and decided to try something with different grips, and after some experimentation—voila, I had a knuckle-curve! It is indeed a nasty pitch that drops like a stone, like a glass crashing to the floor, and I found that the batters couldn’t hit it to save themselves. You just use any of several different knuckleball grips and throw a hard curve with it. I believe that Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina picked his up the same way; he had no luck with a regular knuckleball, and after experimenting he came up with that pitch—he probably had the best one in the AL. Have fun with it.
There’s yet another pitch that really gives the batters no end of conniption fits. It has been described as a variation of the palm ball, but I learned another—and even deadlier—version: a hard slider thrown with a knuckleball grip. I learned it from one of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation members, and after telling me how to throw it he said, in a quiet hypnotic undertone, “You’ll know what to do with it.” I needed only about three days to get the hang of it, and when I started using it the opposing hitters started screaming blue murder, not to mention armed robbery, arson, first-degree burglary, grand larceny breaking pitch, and every other felony they could think of—because they couldn’t hit it for sour apples!(Thank you, Eddie Lopat.)