Velocity Improvement - What is Possible?

I’ve gone on record many times to say that the upper bound of fastball velocity is set in the body and can’t materially change much. However, the more I work with athletes, the more I have reason to doubt this “truth.” Here is one story that you “soft-tossers” out there may draw inspiration from.

Joe is a 19 year old college freshman who played for a top 25 HS in California. By “played,” I mean, he was on the Varsity roster for exactly one year and pitched garbage innings out of the pen. As a 6’3" 185 lb. RHP with a fastball that barely touched 80, he didn’t get much work.

He forgot all about baseball and came to Seattle to study aerospace engineering at the University of Washington. While here, though, he got the itch - baseball tends to do this to a man when you try to leave it :wink:

He looked me up and we had a long chat about where he wanted to go and what he thought might be realistic. The idea was to walk-on to UW’s baseball team in 2013, expecting that he’d have to train through August 2012 before fall ball tryouts came up. In talking with coaches and players in the area, the expectation is that a low 3/4 RHP would have to be coming in around 86-88 MPH with great command to secure a walk-on invite. Joe and I thought this would be possible by August of 2012 with a ton of work.

What happened - and continues to happen - has been nothing short of amazing. Joe tirelessly works hard in the facility, taking the bus here 3 days a week and working out in the college gym on his own. He was initially gunned touching 77 MPH (this was 2 weeks into workouts, so he was plenty “warm”).

In April, Joe was touching 82-84 - a pretty solid improvement. He decided he wanted to try out for UC Davis, a school closer to home, so he flew down there for walk-on tryouts and threw an OK bullpen, sitting 81-83 with great command of a sinker and slider. The coach invited him to fall walk-ons and expedited his transfer. Joe would not be going to UW; he’d be fighting for a spot on the UC Davis team come September.

Not a month later (3.5 months since being gunned at 77 MPH), Joe is routinely touching 92 MPH with a 3 oz. baseball:

And hit 89 MPH with a regulation ball on Friday, May 12th.

Joe promises me (and everyone in the gym) that he will throw 90 MPH on Tuesday. And while that’s fun… where can he go from here?

Fun times. Keep up with the journey (and other videos) on our YouTube channel. I’ve always been a big believer in self-improvement, but this is pushing the boundaries of what I previously thought possible - it’s one hell of a ride I’m loving.

Love these stories!

I would have argued with you to no end on your limiting thoughts there Kyle…one name comes to mind as a bumper sticker…his desire so great that breaking his right arm only meant that he had to “learn how to throw 100 mph as a lefty”…I don’t even need to name him…and then there was this fella named Abbott…folks don’t even talk about Jim Abbott anymore but a one armed pitcher who throws a no-no for the New York Yankees…after an incredable and storied college career is all the evidence I need to know that human desire…is unstoppable.

Stories like this can be found if you pay close attention…otherwise we believe the repeated doubts of onlookers. It’s easier to consent to the mediocre masses. Average…is encouraged. That’s why I feel the greatest training tool ever developed was the mirror. So what? You prove them wrong! Amen.

Great story Kyle. Also, amen about Jim Abbott. How many times do you think he was laughed at, made fun of or just plain told “no, you cant” growing up? Starting with little league Im sure. Im sure he has great parents as well. The ability to put the naysayers out of ones mind and pursue ones vision for oneself like a thirsty man after water is too rare a trait. Jim Abbott overcame incalcuable odds (very, very slim odds for a “perfect” prospect to make the majors) to achieve his dream. My sons babe ruth team played a team a year or so ago that had a one handed third baseman. He was so smooth with his glove transition I didnt notice until the 2nd or 3rd inning…what really caught my eye was he was throwing left handed…a leftie at 3rd?? Anyway, the beautiful thing about what he was doing just wasnt his desire to do it for himself but also what it showed the other 14 to 15 year old boys. How often do you think his teammates complain about being tired or about having to run or anything else with him showing what work is? I imagine “I cant” is a phrase never spoken in their dugout. Its easy to judge someone on appearences. Im sure this kid wont play beyond league ball or maybe high school. But, he will have left an imprint on the kids he played with and against that will last. After the game I shook his hand and said “keep it up, your doing good work here”. I hope he understood the deeper meaning, beyond baseball.

Very cool.

Great story

Great story. Very inspiring. What kind of things was he doing in the facility and the gym to achieve such fantastic results?

You can see some of the various exercises/movements we do on our YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/drivelinebaseball

But a short list would be:

-Weighted baseball (over/underload) training, as low as 3 oz and as heavy as 6 lbs
-Plyometric training of upper body (rebounders, plyo push-ups) and lower body (jump training, lateral movement training)
-Flexibility/mobility
-Strength training (barbell lifts, mostly)

Sad to say folks that Joe decided to take it a little easy on Tuesday since he just got a spot on a summer league team in California, and they want him to throw a tryout bullpen on Friday and to hitters Saturday.

Joe still hit 93-92-92 with the 3 oz. ball and 88 with the 5 oz. ball but wasn’t going all out. We’re hoping for 89 on Tuesday and 90 on Friday, and frankly we’ve been going at it super hard for almost 4 months now with no breaks - a bit of a rest will definitely do him some good.

A little late in coming, but Joe had his last workout before leaving for California for good to pitch in his summer league and eventually start at UC Davis.

I knew he’d make a run at it once I saw his first 3 oz. throw at 92 MPH; he usually starts around 89 and works his way up. Next throw was 95 :shock: then 94. Picked up a regulation ball. 88. 88. 89. 88.

Told him to pick up a 7 oz ball and throw a few. 81. 84. Now pick up the regulation ball.

      1. Then, 90.

I shook his hand, hugged him, and had him do the rest of his deceleration throws. He finished his deadlifts and squats, then parked his ass over at my desk as we talked for an hour about future plans and his thoughts on the program.

From 77 MPH to 90 MPH in five months for a 19 year old kid who was just willing to do whatever it took.

What is possible?

Thanks for the update Kyle

Very inspiring I am an 85-88 guy and my shoulder doesn’t feel 100% yet what would be a work out similar to the one that increased this baseball players velocity I’d definately like to sit in the mid 90’s all help would be apprechiated

That’s great and i think i might try that out (w/o the weights, i’m only 12). Is there a substitute for this? Speed has never been my forte.

You’re still 12 years old. I really don’t recommend weighted balls. Im 17 and I am still afraid to throw them on a regular basis.

Great story!

I turned 20 years old on May and I have been struggling to play here since I came to the U.S, dealing with injuries, lack of motivation, not training, etc.

Reading this motivates me a lot to go back and try again.