Thoughts on weighted balls

I started going to this workout facility geared towards baseball players and they use weighted balls there. I had a coach who in the past told me you should never use weighted balls as they can damage your ucl. I’ve researched the topic and I see conflicting results. Some people swear by it saying it adds lots of velocity and safe to use if done correctly while other people say it’s horrible and is very dangerous. I would like to know what you guys think of them? I have used them twice, so far there’s been no pain or problems but if the program will damage my arm in the long run I don’t want to do it. Thank you.

Can be helpful if used properly at appropriate age. Recommend you look into a program. Steven Ellis & Driveline have them. Just do a google search.

I would suggest also looking into the NPA’s program as it was originally developed as a shoulder health program and has been validated by faculty in the medical college at USC.


“I started going to this workout facility geared towards baseball players and they use weighted balls there.”

Weight resistance is the key to muscle and tendon fitness.
Sport specificity is the very best way to train!!
Heavy balls whether they are baseballs, shot puts or any other object that causes overhead resistance will increase your strength. Velocity is another subject and produced by different circumstances.

If this facility uses weighted baseballs but does not understand that only non-injurious mechanics can be safely used to perform these reps, I would not replicate their program. Just like pitching a 5 oz. baseball, if you perform pathomechanically, these actions will manifest in injury and at a higher rate the heavier it gets. Most pitching coaches still do not and do not want to believe in the science that states this, so they proceed with their ignorance. Most programs that jump on this have virtually no understanding of this and still proceed.

Dr. Marshall predicted the outcomes we are seeing from these coaches who take the less efforted route.

“I had a coach who in the past told me you should never use weighted balls as they can damage your ucl.”

Possible Ignorant coach who got it right if your mechanic all ready puts you in this category. Ask him what exactly causes UCL degradation with a baseball?

UCL degradation is caused by “outside of vertical forearm bounce” right at the beginning of the rotational acceleration phase, called Valgas stress. Eliminate “vertical/outside forearm bounce and you can use even heavier weight.

We use brass, steel and lead balls starting at 3.5 LB’s heading up to a 6 LB. lead ball for HS er’s.

“ I’ve researched the topic and I see conflicting results.”

I can count on no hands where a pitching coach explains that you have to make significant mechanical changes to proceed and know what they are .

“Safe to use if done correctly”

And yet even these coaches do not know what the pathmechanical tenets are.

“I would like to know what you guys think of them?”

If you or anyone are going to proceed with “sport specific “ resistance, you best read the leading expert on the subject Dr. Mike Marshall so you can proceed safely. He may tell you these resistance levels are a waste of time and you will need to throw them away and start over with heavier implements.

“ I have used them twice, so far there’s been no pain or problems”

Pain yet, sure. Unforeseen problems, not so sure!

“if the program will damage my arm in the long run I don’t want to do it. Thank you.”

Consider your mechanics to proceed? If you are traditionally trained, you best stay away from this or make the necessary changes mechanically.

One thing to remember here is that a regular baseball is also a weighted ball. Like all things, using weighted balls wrong can lead to injury, likewise with baseballs. Next time someone swears against weighted balls ask them “what’s a baseball?”

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Good point by sjlp9. Consider quarterbacks who throw footballs which are about 3 times as heavy as baseballs. They don’t get hurt by throwing that “extra” weight. But you will notice that their throwing arm mechanics are slightly different that pitchers’. Specifically, their throwing arm is not extended as much. The body is usually pretty good at adjusting to the weight of an implement it is trying to manipulate.

A few important points people should be aware of:

First, throwing heavier balls is a strength building activity for the accelerators but it does nothing for the decelerators. So, a good weighted ball program (e.g. the NPA’s program) will include strength work for the decelerators as well to maintain balance in the body. (Imbalances lead to injuries.)

Second, weighted ball programs should have you throwing heavy balls a short distance into a net or padded wall. You should not be throwing heavy balls a long distance and you should not have anyone attempting to catch heavy balls.

Third, the throwing of heavy brass/steel/lead balls that Dirtberry is talking about is done using Mike Marshall mechanics which are quite different from traditional mechanics. Please do not try throwing balls that heavy using traditional mechanics. (If you don’t know the difference between Marshall mechanics and traditional mechanics then you most likely have traditional mechanics.)

Totally agree with Roger. A few years back my son did the NPA program back in 2013. This program involved testing velocities, players height, weight, and age. With this information a program was developed consisting of holds and throws. The throws were into a net. This is an intense program. Some of the players on the team performed the program for only a few weeks.

I believe a weighted ball program has advantages. BUT, before starting your son on a weight ball program, I suggest your son have a good understanding of pitching fundamentals and mechanics. This should come first. The weighted balls can only enhance your performance after a true understanding of mechanics.


I have been doing tons of research on all things related to velocity, training and biomechanics for my high school age son and have been sceptical of weighted ball programs. This is a very interesting study done by a reputable guy who is well known in the baseball training arena. In fact, I have seen Driveline refer their readers to Mike Reinhold in various blog post as an authority on biomechanics and training for pitchers. The results don’t look good for weighted balls as a safe method to increase velocity.

Here is the summary:

We performed a 6-week weighted ball training program with high school baseball pitchers.

Players gradually ramped up over the 6-weeks to include kneeling, rocker, and run-and-gun throws with balls ranging from 2oz to 32 oz. All participants had been throwing and weight training prior to prepare for the program. We modeled this off very commonly performed programs. We feel that this program, if anything, is more conservative than many of the programs we have seen. Many other programs are longer, have less of a ramp up, and include balls that are even heavier. Also realize that throwing a heavier ball with less intensity over a longer period of time is likely more stressful on the body, it’s just physics.

The max weight, 32oz, was used for a total of 18 full effort run and gun throws. This represents only 3% of the total balls thrown over a 6-week period.

A control group was used that did not perform the weighted ball program.

After 6 weeks, the weighted ball group did increase velocity by 3.3%. It should be noted, though, that 8% showed no change, and 12% showed a decrease in pitch velocity. Furthermore, 67% of the control group also showed an increase in pitch velocity.

Arm speed and arm strength did not increase, and biomechanics did not change, meaning the gain in velocity was not from any of these commonly theorized reasons. In fact, arm strength was up in the control group, suggesting that a weighted ball program may actually inhibit strength gains.

The weighted ball group showed almost a 5 degree increase in shoulder external rotation, or layback. This has been correlated in previous studies to both velocity and stress on the arm.

The weighted ball group had a 24% injury rate. Half of these did not occur during the study, they occurred the next season, which is an important finding. There were no injuries in the control group.