Training Velocity Down the Mound with VBT – Part 1

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

Top Joint Image 4-Speed

Pitchers must generate power from a complete stand still, then hit all the other gears along the way through to their finish in order to achieve max speed (velocity) in under two seconds. I like Graeme Lehman’s comparison to a dragster where both must shift gears throughout their entire movement.

(Greinke Full Delivery)


Although we do pride ourselves on getting guys really strong in the weight room, it’s important to understand that lifting heavy weights is necessary to achieve this type of performance.  But, it only represents one of several types of strength when it comes to throwing gas.  Strength training needs to supplement the throwing, not hinder it.  So, training different types of strength is paramount for pitchers.

Below are several key positions (gears) of the delivery, along with the different types of strength associated with them.  These are not all of the positions I look for while analyzing a pitcher’s delivery, just the ones that are more reliant on the various types of strength we are discussing.

  • 1st Gear – Gather position /lower half loading (maximum strength)
  • 2nd Gear – Back leg rotation/hip shoulder separation (strength-speed)
  • 3rd Gear – Transition from ER to IR (speed-strength)
  • 4th Gear – Ball release (speed)

For the scope of this series of articles, we’re going to be talking about the four different types of strength that coincide with the above points in the delivery:

  • Maximum strength
  • Strength-speed
  • Speed-strength
  • Speed (maximum velocity)

Determining the Power of Your Gears (Horsepower)

Pitching mechanics tell us how well you “shift gears” to maximize your top-end velo when you release the ball.  But how powerful each gear is will decide how fast we can perform in each phase of the delivery, in order to create a more powerful throw with a higher velocity ceiling.

Different Phases of Delivery

Assessing how explosive a player is in each of these gears (category) is important because it helps provide us with information on where a player’s weak link is strength-wise and help us provide better training in the gym.

(VBT Deadlift)

Creating this “horsepower” in the weight room can be a challenge since we have to know how fast (velocity) the weight is moving in order to determine the amount of power being produced.  However, thanks to coaches Dr. Bryan Mann and Dan Baker and their work with velocity-based training (VBT), we now have some specific bar velocities that can be measured in the weight room to coincide with the strength quality we are training.

(Graph Courtesy of Dr. Bryan Mann)

Please stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3, where we will go through these various points in the pitching delivery as well as some things we can do in the weight room to enhance power and ultimately performance in these positions.

See ya’ in the gym…


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