Using radar for velocity training


#1

My boy is taking pitching lessons and working out in an effort to improve his pitching and velocity.

We don’t have a radar gun, so we don’t know if his velocity is improving or not. It’s my thinking that a visible radar reading of every throw would provide immediate feedback helping him develop better velocity.

Should we get a radar with display to help him improve in his training?

Brian


#2

[quote=“Bretzke”]
Should we get a radar with display to help him improve in his training?

Brian[/quote]

Yes


#3

[quote=“101mph”][quote=“Bretzke”]
Should we get a radar with display to help him improve in his training?

Brian[/quote]

Yes[/quote]

What do you think about this rig?

You can mount the visual display on a camera tripod, hang it on a fence, or leave it in the box. The radar is continuously on so you don’t have to pull a trigger. LED numbers are about 4 inches.

Brian


#4

A youngster who is undergoing a training program, like pitching, has an attention span that requires just as much training as the physical process itself.

Every pitching coach that has undergone the experience themself knows this. In fact, during the actual transformation process from player to coach, a good pitching coach will draw upon his or her experiences to help and guide some of the communications, observations and evaluation of each and every trainee that he/she is charged with. Then, updating their knowledge and adjusting to the current movement at the time, a coach can add quality to each session by addressing the learning experience as a distinct discipline of and by itself. The long and the short of what I’m saying here is - your son’s pitching coach should be just as much a teacher - sensitive to the all the feedback witnessed by your son … much like a doctor would be by placing a stethoscope to your son’s chest to listen to his heart and lungs. Anything that doesn’t register has a reason to it. Hence, the approach and sensitivity to each word, each example, each session from beginning to end has pluses and minuses that should be picked up at the time it happens. By the way, this small … art form … is what separates the coaching ranks from the water boys…

Now about your wanting to use a radar device - no. Don’t go that route with your son now. Wait till he has command of his coaching sessions to the point that he can virtually at will - place a strike as a strike 98% of the time … until he can command inning after inning with minor discomfort then address said same discomfort properly, … until he polished at least three (3) pitches well enough to call them at any time with a high degree of dependability -98% of the time, … and finally… I recommend using radar only in the hands of a highly skilled professional pitching coach that understands when this device should NOT be used during the training process more than when it should.

You’re probably assuming - at this point, that I’m not a big fan of these devices. And you’d be right. For a youngster in training, these devices tend to focus on brute force rather than the finesse of the craft and the gradual learning curve that accompanies the learning process. Besides, focusing on velocity, along with everything else that requires the utmost in mental disciple, is not fair or reasonable for a trainee. Oh it can give others watching an moment or two of entertainment - but in my opinion, that’s where this stuff ends.

Give you boy some time and a lot of support and encouragement. He’s going to have ups and downs that only a dad can smooth out with just being there. The experience, when handled right, will come back to you with a bond that’ll last beyond time, and witness in the eyes of your grandchildren.

Coach Baker


#5

I’m going to take up sides with Coach B. on this one, no offense to 101mph. Do I think there are some benefits to knowing the velocity improvement over time? Yes but the possible pitfalls outweigh any benefit at least at Andy’s age and development.

I personally never wanted my son to dwell on his velocity. It was always about mechanics, location, efficiency, theory and mental toughness. I had access to some of the best radars on the market but even though asked several times, I fought the temptation to bring one to the bullpen or the field. I just think the gun sends a wrong message to the pitcher. Especially, when the gun tells him he’s not as fast as he either thought he was or wants to be.

He’s going to have good days and bad days velocity-wise. You don’t want the body over recruiting itself to achieve a certain velocity on bad days. There will be plenty of opportunity to be “gunned” during showcases, college workshops and just the odd scout showing up at an event.

And…when your kid gets asked how fast he throws, he can honestly say “not sure.” Instead of adding three to five mph to his last reading like everybody else. :roll:


#6

I respectfully disagree on a couple points Coach.

If this player has a goal of increasing his velocity, then what better way to work on that than to get a radar gun (maybe not as fancy as Bretzke has shown but one with some sort of display that the player can see right away). This is to get IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK which is what you need when working on velocity (just like distance is immediate feedback when long tossing). You never know if you are improving something until you are able to measure it. I will also add that a video camera and a GOOD EYE is essential also.

Now with that said, I agree with you that this should be used with a competent pitching coach (which I very much question these coaches when looking at Andy’s arm action and that lack of any corrective measure to improve it).

I’ve always felt that velocity is first, and then learning command and pitches come after that (or along side with it but - yes IMO…velocity is king). This is not just for the sake of velocity in and of itself. When trying to achieve a high velocity throw, you need to have “high level” throwing mechanics. To GET these high level mechanics means that you FIX or improve the body’s movements/mechanics by making them “better” and more efficient.

You can still throw a pitch (curve, change, slider etc), and probably locate it pretty well with less than optimal mechanics (not to pick on Andy, but that is what he is doing right now). But it is MUCH more difficult to throw 90+ with less than optimal throwing mechanics.

Too many times coaches are looking at what the pitch does (did it break enough, did he locate it well, was it a strike etc) rather than looking at HOW the ball got there and how it was thrown.

Now I am not talking about using “brute force” and muscling the ball up there. I’m talking about fine tuning how the body throws the ball so that it is throwing it in the most EFFICIENT manner possible, and IMO that’s what this player needs to be doing.

He can still learn “how” to pitch (locating, pitch types), but the lions share of his time should be spent on correcting his “issues”, and learning how to throw hard because the window to correct these “issues” is closing very quickly.

It takes a monumental effort by the player and coach to correct mechanical inefficiencies. Maybe that’s why most people do not care to tackle such a project because it is literally a 24/7 process. Most times it is only the parent that care enough (or is willing) to undertake such a task.

So I guess I should have said yes, but with a disclaimer. 8)


#7

I have worked shoulder to shoulder with coaches that share 101mph points of view, and to be perfectly honest, those coaches have gotten just as much out of their charges as I have.

I must admit that I am a bit prejudice on the side of caution, leaning towards methodical development, gradually witnessing one’s accomplishments by letting the accomplishments themselves demonstrating the quality of performance - via game control, pitch by pitch. Velocity not withstand as an element of performance and said quality.

The last portion of my coaching career was working with pitchers striving to get back into form and produce. Unfortunately in every case, the forerunner of experience for these men was a track record of pitching harder - not smarter. Repeatedly cranking out the heat under a variety of game scenarios brought them to my address, which in turn started a long and agonizing road back to basics, ever watchful to witness one or more parts of the body trying to compensate for the lack of some other part of the body(s).

To the view point that velocity is king - yes there is room for that. But like any room, each timber, wall joint and frame had to be measured carefully, repeated over and over again - wall to wall, right-angles and level. Build it right the first time with attention to detail - not speed, and the structure will stand the test of time.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to some shoddy construction in the sport. On the other hand I’ve been privilege to witness some outstanding craftsmen, with approaches like yours, and their finished product has gone on to the Big Leagues and all the accolades that follow.

Either side of the fence has its pluses and minuses - it’s just finding the right Hiram A’biff with the craftsmen’s touch to plan, guide and construct with the tool.

Coach B.


#8

I understand what you’re saying Coach. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. I totally agree with that.

Some of the things I wrote may sound extreme, but believe me, there isn’t anyone (well maybe there are a few :slight_smile: ) that are as cautious about a players arm then I am. Throwing at high velocity many, many times without making sure you are absolutely perfect (as perfect as you can be) in every aspect of conditioning, rest, mechanics, nutrition, mental focus etc is asking for trouble.


#9

I do not think it is a good idea to gun every pitch while practicing, especially at a younger age. Any age really. While I agree with 101mph, that velocity is king, if all a kid focuses on is velocity, without proper mechanics, it is a recipe for disaster. ASMI recommends not using radar guns. Kids tend to overthrow and try to impress the gun rather than hold true to good mechanics.

I bought a radar gun when my son was 12. I was the pitching coach for his travel team and we used it to measure progress throughout the year and to measure the difference between fastball and off speed pitches. I would use it for tryouts in the beginning of the year, once during the season and at the end of the year to measure any improvements. Hopefully these improvements would come as a result of improved mechanics and strength, and not as a result of throwing hard for the gun.

Once you get to HS and start to showcase, velocity is measured everywhere. You will have guns pointed at you every pitch. There is plenty of time for that. As a young pitcher, focus on correct mechanics and strengthening the core. Velocity will come as a result of that.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against radar guns. If used appropriately, they can be a beneficial evaluation tool. I just don’t think they need to be used every pitch, every practice and I really don’t think the pitcher needs to see the speed of every pitch they throw. My son did learn a valuable lesson one time while I was gunning him. He was taking a lesson his freshman year of HS. He was cruising 81-82 on his FB. After throwing a couple of off speed pitches, coach says “OK, now blow a FB by the batter”. He muscled up on the next two pitches to try and throw harder. Guess what? Next two pitches were 78 and 79. He learned that muscling up and trying to throw harder actually slowed his pitches down. A pitcher must stay within himself and hold true to his mechanics in order to be more effecient and increase velocity.

Bretzke, I don’t know how old your son is, but if he is younger than 12 or 13, I would fully focus on his mechanics and make sure they are sound before going the route of the radar gun. If you use one, use it occasionally simply to measure progress over a period of time, not from pitch to pitch. JMHO.


#10

My only contribution to this post will be that i know numerous colleges in alabama and georgia who gun velocity for every pitch of every pitcher for all 56 games and keep them in a book.


#11

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT.

I hesitated to post this earlier due to the nature of the expertise necessary to judge, catch and evaluate pitches of varying speeds. But perhaps it may be of some assistance to those asking the same question. Just remember, having some degree of professional (reasonable) judgement follows suit. Also, the following is what I would do for certain pitchers that needed to be brought back into the mainstream of healthy production.

Bringing pitchers along back into the grove involves developing the consistency and smoothness of combining all the athletic movement and purpose of mind - step by step. Therefore, I would keep theses devices (radar guns) in their case and relied on a series of catcher’s mitts to tell me just how, or how not, the report of each delivery was progressing. When the progress warranted going up a notch and everything followed suit, I’d switch to a heavier duty mitt. I would continue this switching of mitts until I felt reasonably sure that the bench mark set during the pitcher’s healthy period was reached … again, and everything followed suit.

My basic equipment bag included three (3) mitts, each progressing up in quality and durability. On the other hand, I’ve used as many as five (5) mitts to bring some pitchers along.

Now the trick here is to actually “feel” the report in the mitt, and to know what quality feels like. Also in the equation is to know by witness of the pitcher’s movement and delivery action when all that doesn’t equate the “feel” of the report in the mitt.

There’s a lot more to this than I’ve elaborated on above - a lot more. If anyone is truly interested in the methods and system that I use to use I’d be glad to elaborate on it later. But keep in mind, using this system requires a lot of dedication to observing and “feeling” said observation, then making a judgement. This also requires other points of observation from different points of view with cameras (16mm) or video equipment so the total package makes sense. And last but not least, this system is not for the average dad or volunteer coach who does not have a high percentage of control of his/her charge. Nor is for a coach that has multiple pitchers who play other positions and who said pitchers are called from other positions on the field - given eight warm-up pitches then it’s off to the races.

Coach B.


#12

In my opinion, sometimes we all have a tendency to be too focused on the technology … and it comes at the expense of simply doing the work. Is radar a useful tool for improving velocity? Not as much as simply getting out there and throwing!

As some of you know, I’m training for a marathon in May in Providence, RI. So my wife and I went out and got the latest and greatest Polar heart monitor watches that come with foot pods, computer tracking, and all sorts of tech that tells me I’m going too fast or too slow.

Yet the damn watch has actually taken the joy out of running!! I don’t like wearing it … yet it was so expensive, I feel bad if I don’t!

My advice is use tech sparingly. Just like it’s good to video tape sparingly. It’s simply unrealistic and unproductive to do it every session. So just throw, throw, throw and the velocity will follow. It really does!


#13

Guys look at the title of this post - “Use radar for velocity training”

Key words here VELOCITY TRAINING so we are talking about training here.

To me that says they want to focus on increasing ones velocity (BTW the poster’s son is a junior in HS if I remember correctly). If that’s what the goal is here, then I can’t see how this could be a bad idea. To get velocity you have to condition, optimize mechanics, and learn what kind of effort it takes to throw hard.

Throw everything else out about game situations and the like (although I concur with Undersized about the gun being used on every pitch at the D1 level). If this is used in a training scenario, then measuring ones velocity with a radar gun (and video camera) is imperative to the players development because of the immediate feedback it gives you.

Now you may not have to gun and video each and every throw (although that is debatable just as is “over coaching” a player). This device is just a “tool” to help to reach a goal.

Plus I don’t know why everyone gets so caught up with not gunning kids until they are older. If they are used to having a radar gun around them when they pitch, then the urge to “throw for the gun” is essentially eliminated. But that’s another debate that I don’t want to get sidetracked on if possible.

So in this situation, which is purely TRAINING conditions, I feel that a radar gun is an excellent tool.


#14

This is a perfect example of the value of radar in velocity training.

BTW, my boy is a 6-5", 210 lb, “old” hs Junior.

I used to facilitate “Train the Trainer” sessions for business people. Taught business people how to train. One of the quotes I used was from world-renowned management coach Peter Drucker. He said, “If you can’t
measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Coach Baker measures velocity with his rehab pitchers by using different thickness catchers mitts. He “feels” the velocity. I’ll bet he’s very accurate. How many pitching instructors could master that art? My guess is very few. Coach Baker CAN measure velocity, so he does manage it.

101MPH says velocity is king. He is right on target.

Have you ever watched an NFL Draft Combine? That’s where the NFL measures the skills of prospective college players. There are dozens of “objective” drills that are measured. Speed, strength, agility, etc. The prospects results on these objective measurements can have a big impact on their draft placement.

What are the “objective” criteria used to evaluate a baseball pitcher? Height, weight and velocity, as measured by a radar gun.

Plus pitches, good mechanics, mound presence, lively arm, and projectability are all subjective criteria. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Steven makes a great point when he advises that technology took the joy out of an athletic pursuit for him.

Seems like this debate has good ammo for both sides.

Brian