5 Reasons Velocity Decreases during the Season

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Velo Goes Up Top JOint

A few months back, I wrote an article titled “5 Reasons Velocity Increases during the Season” (click here).  Today, I’d like to counter that with “5 Reasons Velocity Decreases during the Season” and a few things pitchers can do to keep their bodies and arms in tip top shape all season.

Loss of StrengthMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a review of several studies on the subject that looked at rowers and power athletes. For both of these groups, muscular strength fibers appear not to change quickly but while general strength doesn’t change much in a month, specialized, sport-specific muscle fibers start to change in as little as two weeks without a workout . This causes problems for all athletes but for pitchers, loss of stability (eccentric strength) in the lead leg and power (concentric strength) in the back leg during the stride phase are two big ones to name a few. This can cause a moundsman to release the ball with more of an extended leg at foot strike causing them to start missing up in the zone as well as developing an inconsistent release point.

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Loss of Bodyweight – Nothing will be a bigger deal breaker for throwing harder than gaining lean muscle mass. Period.

There are numerous studies out that show a high correlation between increase in bodyweight and increase in velocity (click here).   The average weight of an MLB pitcher has gone up substantially in the last 20 years so it should be no surprise that 17 of the top 20 pitching velos of all time have also been in the last 20 years (click here, note – to find out how to gain lean muscle mass please feel free to check out my blog on “Eating for Success”).

Please keep in mind though we’re talking about weight in lean muscle mass not body fat. As you can see below, there are a few ways you can wear your body weight. As a general rule of thumb, baseball players should carry anywhere from 10-15% body fat.

Velo Goes UP 4

Loss of Mobility – It’s no secret that the protocol for pre-game warm-ups in baseball can be at best a bit lax. If you’re getting off the bus, throwing 20 pitches and running a few laps and getting on the mound, don’t expect your velo to top out until somewhere around the 3rd inning.  This is all the more reason for a “set in stone” 20-25 min. warm-up routine focusing on soft tissue work, full body mobility and cuff activation. This is even more important early in the season when the temps at game time in the northeast can still be in the 40’s.

(Quadruped T-spine Mob)

(Lying Knee-to-Knee)

Bad Sleep Habits – Believe it or not, I feel that this point is the biggest deal breaker of the five I have listed here. Poor sleep quality severely affects our circadian rhythm, compromising an athlete’s ability to recover from daily stressors. Whether it be stress from a practice, game, late night out, stress from school or relationship issues, 10-12 hours of sleep while growing is paramount.  After that a good 8-10 hours / night for more mature athletes will suffice.

Velo Goes UP 5

Injury – The bottom line is this, you can’t throw effectively if you’re injured. It’s bigger than you. You may think you’re throwing hard but 100% intent while injured is much less than that same intent healthy. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. So, if you’ve got Points 1 thru 4 listed above in-check you’re already ahead of the game.

Here’s the take home, stay strong, eat and sleep enough and get in your daily mobility work and you’ll be at your best come playoff time when every one else is falling…

See ya’ in the gym…


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