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5 Ways For A Baseball Pitcher To Throw Harder
Pitching With Higher Velocity
You want to throw harder? Of course you do! And as a long time pitching coach, I want you to throw harder too. No matter how good your secondary pitches are, or how crafty you are in the strike zone, there's not anything more sought after in the world of pitching than a blazing fastball.
The first thing I want to say is that not everybody can throw 100 miles per hour. There aren't any drills or pills that can make a guy with a low biological ceiling on his arm throw like Roger Clemens. However, if you're reading this information, I would bet that it is certainly possible for you to throw harder than you do now!
Whether that means you can go from 60 to 68 miles per hour, or 86 to 92, depends on a lot of factors that we won't really get into here. No matter the factors though, these 5 methods of throwing harder are tried and true and should help all pitchers.
Tip #1: Throw with INTENT!
The first one is extremely important, especially for younger guys. I say especially for younger guys because when pitchers are first starting out as kids, coaches need strikes more than anything else. Thus, being accurate becomes their INTENT. This is okay to win Little League games, but it's not great for the long term development of the pitcher's velocity.
From day one a pitcher's intent should be simple; THROW HARD!
The ability to throw hard is gained through years of repetition and training, and it requires a dedication to that goal. We need our body to know how to drive itself in the right way, rotate the right way, sequence that rotation to maximize the transfer of momentum, and finally release the ball with explosiveness. These things can only be learned if they are the core of any and all training we do.
Velocity Poll #1
How Much Harder Do You Want to Throw?
Stay True To Yourself
- Keep your unique style, don't let anyone change it
- Make small adjustments and work on them until they become natural to you
- Don't try to make yourself look like somebody else
- Don't get paralysed by video analysis, go by feel more than looks
Tip #2: Be Natural
This is one that I see destroyed pretty quick by pitching coaches. Most instructors and coaches have an idea of what they want to see a pitcher look like. The advice I would give you on this, is make sure that the guy he wants you to look like, is you!
There is no way a pitcher can be comfortable and confident throwing in a way that is designed and required by somebody else. All the pillars that your program are built around, have to be your very own. If there's something unique about what you do, that's almost always a good thing if it's treated correctly.
Don't let a coach or anybody else transform you into somebody else just because they think it's better. Keep yourself natural, keep the motions and movements that you feel comfortable with, and add pieces to that. There are a huge number of styles that hard throwing pitchers have throughout the leagues of baseball, there's no reason yours can't be one of em.
Tip #3: Don't Be Mechanical
Positions, balance points, mechanics, those are all words that I associate with accuracy and slow fastballs. Explosive, balistic, athletic, these are words that go together nicely with velocity.
This ties in with the first tip somewhat, in that your intent usually dictates the way your throw the ball. When a shortstop fields the ball, he doesn't come up to a balance point and then slowly hit a few throwing positions on his way to calmly aiming the ball to his target does he? Shortstops that I coach get through the ball with momentum and movement, come up driving hard to the target, and let the ball fly with aggressive and explosive rotation toward the target.
We don't become non athletes when we step from shortstop onto the mound, at least we shouldn't. We should retain all of that natural athleticism we had at shortstop, all of that rhythm and momentum generation. We need every bit of our strength and ability working for us. Combine this explosive physicality with the intent to throw hard, and you'll add a few miles per hour without doing anything else at all.
There are many things out there to make you better, here are a few:
- Long Toss: Love it, do the research and do it right
- Resistance Tubing: Or surgical bands, awesome arm workouts
- Sprinting: Choose sprints over distance running every time. We want to explode, not loaf
- Medicine Balls: Can't use them enough
- Light Free Weights: Explosive reps, rotation, core
- Olympic Lifts: Create full body athleticism
Let your arm tell you how much it can do, you won't gain anything by hurting yourself so take it slow and remember it's a process.
Tip #4: Get In Shape
There is no substitute for this one, sorry. You have to work your booty off, for a long time, to throw as hard as the big boys do. The good news is that you'll have small gains along the way that will help you have success on the journey. However, to truly reach your peak velocity it will take years of dedicated training.
Getting in shape has a lot of things involved with it, and there's far too many options to go through here. Keep in mind with all of your training what you're trying to accomplish; stay natural, have the right intent, be explosive, include the whole body.
The arm is perhaps the least important thing to work out in order to throw harder, velocity comes from sequenced momentum coming up through a body in motion. Thus, you should focus on your legs, hips, core, shoulders, and then arms. Do things outside of the middle of your body, do rotational training, and learn how to use your body to explode.
Velocity Poll #2
What's Your Number One Strategy For Throwing Harder?
Tip #5: Track Your Progress
You must keep a journal of your progress. I say must because you must. You can keep track of what drills you've been doing, what coaches you've been working with, what workouts you've been doing, and what your velocity is every once in a while.
This journal will become your best coach. You'll be able to consult it along the way, to see what's working and what's not. You'll be able to look back every now and then and remember some stuff that you liked that you may have forgotten about. And maybe most importantly you'll be able to track your progress.
Just looking in there and seeing a one mile an hour increase from the last time will boost your spirits and inspire you to keep working hard. Remember that your gains will not happen in one day, and we don't want those anyway. Velocity gains that will stay and be there for you every time out, will take a long time to develop. Your journal will be witness to every moment.
Ask For More Advice!
Those are the 5 tips I have for you, if you fully commit to a program that includes all of those things, you'll have awesome results. Remember that nothing happens overnight, and some things will work better for you than others. Just because somebody you know or read about uses a certain thing to help them doesn't mean that's what's best for you.
Experiment a little, track your results along the way, and have fun with your journey. Whether you get to the velocity you're after or not, you'll have a blast working out and playing baseball.
If you want some more advice or have any questions or comments please use the comments section below and I'll get back to you! Thanks for reading and best of luck in baseball!