What role does strength really have in pitching?

I’m questioning the use of the weight room in training of pitchers. I just don’t see how a quantifiable increase in strength relates to an increase in velocity. My squat jumped from 190 to 325 and the was no such increase in velocity.


If I taught you the NPA’s mechanics and put you through their drills and explained where you needed to get to in terms of things like stride length, release point, shoulder rotation timing, etc. then you’d start to get an idea of the strength and flexibility required to do it in a maximal manner. Of course, this is not to say that all weight training is pertinent. But some of it is.

[quote=“7Steps”]I’m questioning the use of the weight room in training of pitchers. I just don’t see how a quantifiable increase in strength relates to an increase in velocity. My squat jumped from 190 to 325 and the was no such increase in velocity.


Strength plays a large part in injury prevention and is also correlated with velocity. While squats are great (and nice numbers!), developing your decelerator muscles (like the NPA suggests) is critical as well.

Think of your body like a car speeding towards a cliff 300 feet away. The top speed you can reach before stopping safely is less about the engine and more about the brakes! It does no good to have a 500 horsepower engine with crappy brakes in this situation!

Your body knows this. It’s not going to let you throw at very high velocities unless your decelerators are up to the task.

It has a huge part.

I will only say this. Stephen Strasburg went in to college throwing low 90’s. He didn’t grow an inch, but now he throws 100+. This is because of his amazing strenght training workout out ethic.[/b]

At the same time this example contradicts your point. Even without high levels of strength Strasburg still threw low 90’s.

Stephen Strasburg was in horrible shape. And had a bad work ethic. But he had good mechanics, which allowed him to throw 90. The only reason they took him into college ball, is because he had a 4.37 gpa, so they thought if he is not a good baseball player, he will be a good student

Don’t believe the hype about strength training and increased velocity. YES - you want to have a basic strength foundation, so a good 6-8 week lifting program is great, but beyond that, you don’t need heavy weight training to throw faster. Workouts should be tailored to the activity and with pitching you should focus on a lot of core work and functional strength and agility training - most of this type of training can/should be done utilizing bodyweight exercises and light weights as well as sprinting.

Don’t intentionally try to bulk up; stay a lean, mean machine - and most important… don’t sacrifice time on the mound for working out. Bullpens are the most important activity for pitchers. Throw from a mound 2-3 times per week, gradually increasing your pitch count. Work on specific aspects of your mechanics as well as using this time for target practice. It doesn’t take a lot of strength to throw a 5 oz. object. It DOES take a lot of skill however. No different than golf or tennis - how many balls does Tiger hit during practice? How about Federer? They don’t “save it for the match”, they practice at game-like intensity every single day. Pitchers should do similar - they’d be much more accurate.

Bottom line: biggest bang for your buck is to continuously work to improve your mechanics for increasing velocity, and at the same time, remain fit and flexible, not big and bulky.

Strength is important - someone said to train a** to through gas & Kyle has a good point about the stabilizing and decelerator muscles & the need to train them.

I agree don’t sacrifice mound time for strength training & don’t think that squatting 300 pounds will increase your velocity by some mph - but would add that you need to realize that strength training should be part of your training program and a good time to start strength training is coming up - (the conclusion of the summer season and the start of the fall ball season).

Some good sources I have found are: Tuff-Cuff, Eric Cressey’s blog, and Ron Woolforth.

Thanks guys. I do strength train as part of my complete training program (along with The Combat Pitcher, weighted balls, long toss). I’m actually on Cressey’s Maximum Strength program, so I am getting my work in, but I’d just like to understand the function of every element in my program. In other words, I don’t want to just blindly follow programs and not understand why I’m doing the things I am.

I thought about it and the base of my questions probably stem from my lack of understanding of good throwing mechanics compared to my own. I’m putting up clips soon (as soon as I figure out how) so that should clear up some questions.

Also don’t forget about flexibility - according to a Physical Therapist I talked to - you have to balance strength training with flexibility training. You have to be careful not to lose flexibility when you strength train.

kidmullen hit the nail on the head with all of his posts. You need a good balance of strength, stability, mobility, and flexibility to be a well-rounded athlete.

Remember, throwing baseballs is going to be the best way to improve your velocity and accuracy! Strength training does not replace it, it merely augments it!

strength will help, if you can turn it into power through olympic lifts or plyometrics, pure strength doesnt help as much, but explosive power does. so power cleans, jump squats, and true plyometrics will help you convert your bar strength to athletic strength, great job on increasing ur strength now hit some plyometrics while continuing to atleast maintain or increase ur strength as well.

bet you can jump higher now =P

YES strength training is important. For one muscle supports the joints, so the training will protect your shoulder and elbow. But as for increasing velocity, it is important to remember that velocity is based on power which is strength times speed. So obviously increasing strength will increase power which in turn will increase velocity. By the way 80 percent of velocity comes from rotation so increasing leg strength, while important, will not improve velocity very much. Instead do rotational ab exercises and make sure your rotator cuff is strong.

Velocity equals mass times acceleration. The key is to generate as much momentum with your entire body as possible so that one can sustain velocity from pitch to pitch throughout an entire game for an entire season while doing so as safely as possible. This is done by maximizing mechanical efficiency so that the body gets to maximal stretch (elastic energy) and then transferring that energy to the arm as late as possible. Pure power pitching is not done with the arm - it is done with the entire body. If most velocity comes from rotation, why not just rotate over the rubber like a spinning top? Even if you were to say you couldn’t throw strikes in this fashion, my guess is you wouldn’t throw with more velocity, either.

Sure, it may be advantageous to put on some more mass, but not to the detriment of flexibility and the ability to move explosively to the plate.

I agree with Matt, but I’m also biased in my belief that strength is VERY important for all baseball players, it just comes down to selecting the right exercise for each individual athlete.

Personally, I’m in favor of more functional lifts like the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat for pitchers rather than Back Squats because we can make it max-effort, reduce the load on the spine, all the while perturbing the entire core/balance mechanism.