The Pitching Teacher

Improve Your Velocity and Control

10 things that reduce performance and increase the risk of injury

Here are some things you should know if you want to maximize pitching performance… all based on sports science research:

1. To gain more pitching velocity, a faster and a longer stride away from the rubber should be emphasized. (move slow and you will throw slow)

2. Focus on developing smooth actions so the delivery looks smooth… as smoothness indicates proper timing. Any hurried or jerked movements will reduce velocity.

3. Do not emphasize one aspect of your pitching mechanics over another as it can actually produce a slowing action. (don’t try to speed up the arm or hips as those actions are dependent on prior actions)

4. Coaches or instructors who just eye-ball a pitcher’s delivery will not be able to provide reliable feedback of which actions need to be improved. Video must be used.

5. The single biggest limitation to pitching velocity by all pitchers is movement speed. Each pitcher has the inherent ability to move only so fast and no faster. (young pitchers however should focus on moving as fast as possible in order to train in movement speed)

6. Doing flexibility exercises or excessive stretching to improve the range of movement in throwing will not improve pitching velocity (in fact it has been shown that stretching exercises actually reduce subsequent movement velocities. (Behm, Button, & Butt, 2001; Fowles & Sale, 1997; Kokkonen & Nelson, 1996; Kokkonen, Nelson & Arnall, 2001; Young & Behm, 2003)

Any stretching prior to throwing or pitching will reduce velocity and increase the risk of injury.

7. Snapping the wrist and fingers do not contribute to pitching velocity. The wrist and fingers are used mainly to position the ball at release. The wrist should stay neutral and the only action by the fingers is extension. (Pappas, Morgan, Schulz, and Diana (1995) (Hore, Watts, & Martin, 1996)

8. The faster a movement speed, the less that strength can be used. In pitching, where movement speed is key… this means that no matter how much static strength you get from lifting weights or explosive lifting (Olympic lifts) , most of it cannot be used when pitching a baseball. Focus conditioning instead on full body explosive exercises such as plyomertics and medicine ball… and building stabilization strength.

9. Arm and shoulder strength are not much of a factor in pitching velocity. Strength in professional pitchers was shown to be equal in both the non-throwing and throwing shoulders. (Sirota, Malanga, Eischen, & Loaskowski, 1997). Long tossing to improve arm strength is a myth.

10. Pitching velocity is dependent on timing and the coordination of the body segments rather than on any singular muscular property such as strength or explosive strength. 11. The velocity of training is very important in pitching. Only one strength training session per week during the season is required to maintain strength gains from off-season training. But what this also means is that for the pitching coach to help a pitcher achieve his highest velocity, training has to involve extensive amounts of high-velocity pitching. This is what I mean by maintaining pitching specific fitness levels.

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