I am a new member. Just to start out, I would like to say I am the father whose son recently signed a National Letter of Intent as a LHP to pitch for a Pac-10 school. I am starting this thread because as I have followed my son from the T-ball level to the college level, I have not only learned a lot about velocity but a lot about the folks who lie about velocity.
Not to say you kind folks lie about velocity!
First, the importance of velocity. Please don’t let anyone tell you that velocity is not the most important aspect of pitching. Without velocity, you don’t have a chance. It is not the show, but it is the ticket to the show. If you don’t have velocity, you eventually will have someone close a door to you. It may not happen at the high school level, the junior college level, or the Division I level, but eventually someone will tell you, “Son, I’m sorry, you just don’t have what it takes.”
There are those that will tell you that command is more important, etc. Well, to have command you undoubtedly have perfected mechanics… and if you have perfected your mechanics you probably have velocity!
Here is a quick story which illustrates what I’m trying to say. When my son was on his official visit, his team buddy was having breakfast with myself, my son and my wife. He commented that the pitching coach at the university had told him that velocity was only #4 on a list which included movement, location and deception. I was surprised by this but took it at face value until the next morning when we were having breakfast again, this time with the pitching coach present. “Hey coach,” the team buddy reiterated, “I told him that velocity is only #4 on the list which includes movement, location and deception”.
“Did you tell him WHY velocity is last on that list?” queried the coach.
“No,” replied a stumped team buddy.
“Because by the time you reach here,” he said, “you better already have it.”
My point is this. Velocity is the most important factor in the sense that it gets you to your goal. It gets you on that mound. You have to have it. But then what?
You better know how to pitch.
I believe that a combination of proper mechanical training (pitching instruction), physical conditioning and long-tossing is the quickest route to gaining velocity. My son has been long-tossing year-round since age 11 and it has not only promoted arm health but has resulted in astounding jumps in velocity each year. He has done this in combination with training to ensure he has mechanically sound arm action.
Second, I would like to talk about lying about velocity. This is an interesting subject to me, and I understand why people like to add a few miles per hour here or there–after all, it seems everyone does it–but my concern is for the younger boys here who may think they just don’t throw hard enough to compete.
My son when he was 11 was told his arm was too weak to compete on a travel team. Like I said, he is now going to be a Pac-10 pitcher! Do not let anyone ever tell you you cannot reach your goal. Even now, my son is 5’10" and 165 lbs. If you saw him you’d never guess he’d be a D1 pitcher. That is, until you saw his fastball.
After my son was told his arm was “too weak” we went straight to work fixing that problem. Until then, we had spent too much time on hitting training and not enough time on long-toss, mechanical work, and general conditioning. He began to throw 5-6x week, year-round, and each year he jumped up higher and higher in velocity while his peers seemed to level off. Now, I supposed this could have happened magically, on its own, but I doubt it. He worked harder than everyone else.
He was recently clocked at 87 on the Stalker, which is about 89 on the Jugs. Which is why I laugh when I see some of the posts on this website… “Hey, I’m 14 years old and throw 86-88… will that get me to college?”
I will tell you that 80-90% of the numbers I read on here from 14-15 year old boys, well their numbers are Junior College numbers! Now, I know they believe what they’re saying but for the most part it is a very big fish story!
Do you want to know what it will take to get to college?
Division I (minimum): RHP/Stalker 84; LHP/Stalker 83.
J.C.: RHP/Stalker 77; LHP/Stalker 75.
I have tracked my son’s progress since age 11. Here are his velocity numbers… and they’re real: Age 12- 60 (Jugs). Age 13- 66 (Jugs). Age 14- 72 (Jugs). Age 15- 78 (Jugs). Age 16- 83 (Jugs). Age 17- 89 (Jugs).
I believe with his work ethic he has a legitimate shot at being 92+ next year, or 90 on the Stalker. That would put him in very elite territory. Any even better, he is a strike thrower with excellent command, movement, deception and mound presence. His pickoff move is one of the best.
It all has come together for Bum, Jr. I believe, for the younger kids reading this post, that if you, too work hard it can come together for you! Just don’t let anyone tell you your present velocity is not good enough. Don’t buy into some of the fish stories! Just keep working hard, and don’t worry about your size, either!
Okay, I’m done now. Sorry for the length of my post, and hope I didn’t get too controversial. My only intent was to let some of the younger boys know to not be intimidated by some of the numbers they see on this website. You’re okay, just keep at it and work at your game. Like my son, if you work hard enough you may be the kid that proved everyone wrong! Don’t forget, too, that some kids mature earlier than others–that was true in my son’s case–and a lot of the kids you think are top players at age 14-15 will be out of the game later. And who knows… you may be the best of them all!