How to throw a baseball harder… It’s the one thing that seems to be the most sought after, yet few know how to deliver it effectively. There are many different threads that need to be weaved into a safe and effective program to help you throw a baseball harder.
Today, we’re going to review several requirements on what it takes to throw a baseball harder. They fall into several buckets, including a comprehensive upfront assessment (from physical to mechanical), a well-designed strength training program, a proper ramp-up, a well designed throwing program (in sync with strength program), and proper warm-up routines and recovery protocols.
- Assessment: Movement Screen
- Assessment: Power Testing
- Assessment: Mocap and Kinematic Sequencing
- Assessment: Video Analysis
- Customized Strength Training Program
- Adequate 2-3 Week Ramp-up
- Customized Throwing Program
- Adequate Dynamic Warm-up
- Adequate Amount of Recovery
- Proper Nutrition Program
Here we go… 10 topics on how to throw a baseball harder!
1. Assessment: Movement Screen
Any significant physical constraints that may negatively affect the athlete’s “movement strategy”, such as pain or extreme tightness, should be addressed prior to the start of any program. The Assessment will also help us better design an individualized program with respect to mobility/stability work, weight room programming (it may even identify the need for a PT and whether training needs to be put on hold altogether).
2. Assessment: Power Testing
In order to provide our athletes with the best possible training to optimize performance, we need to maximize the amount of power they have at their disposal. Every athlete, based on factors such as biological age, physical maturity and training age, has different speeds that correlate to the different strength zones. This is where creating a Force-Velocity profile for each athlete comes into play.
The profile tells us if the athlete needs to get stronger, become more elastic or both. Also, by finding out what kind of “engine” is under the hood, we can design specific programs in the weight room to find the “sweet spot” where optimal power is produced. This helps provide the athlete with a higher velocity ceiling by optimizing this transfer of power from the weight room onto the mound.
3. Assessment: Mocap and Kinematic Sequencing
Not all throwing motions are created equal. Some guys rely more on strength, some guys elasticity (facial tissue) and some are simply genetic “outliers”. But close analysis , in not only numerous studies but also from our own experience at the facility, reveals that there is one common denominator why hard throwers create effortless velocity and that is proper sequencing up the kinetic chain.
This timing pattern is referred to as the “Kinematic Sequence” and can be only viewed through motion capture sensors that’s placed on the pitcher’s body during the throwing motion.
4. Assessment: Full Video Analysis
Reviewing video helps us find any “disconnects” in the delivery where the pitcher may be leaking energy and or negatively affecting the timing of his kinematic sequence, thus possibly robbing himself of gas. Although every pitcher is different there are definitely some common themes that we notice in pitcher’s mechanics that most likely need to be addressed.
5. Customized Strength Training Program
Much of the velocity that is developed in any program comes from developing lower half power. This can only be accomplished through a thorough customized strength and conditioning program. Any velo program that doesn’t include strength training is selling you snake oil. Period.
6. Adequate 2-3 Week Ramp-up
You wouldn’t just jump into a huddle and run a route on the football field. Well, throwing a baseball is no different. Workload needs to be slowly increased in preparation to throw with high intent. Here is how we break it down:
- Purpose: The on ramp helps build throwing tolerance and to build throwing workload. We also use this time to introduce weighted ball corrective drills to help re-pattern any mechanical issues in the delivery during this phase
- Duration: 2-6 weeks (a good general rule is 1 week of on ramp for every week off from throwing)
- When: Generally, after taking 2 or more weeks off from throwing
7. Customized Throwing Program
Taking part in a well thought out throwing program that’s designed along side your strength program is paramount. Because most throwing programs involve 5 days of throwing, they should be broken down daily based off of throwing intensity. What type of throwing is done on these days differs from program-to-program based on the athlete’s goals and what the program is trying to achieve:
- Low Intensity (recovery)
- Medium Intensity (long toss, out only)
- High Intensity (pull-downs)
8. Adequate Dynamic Warm-up
The proper warm-up is a staple in all our programs and designed based off the movement assessment and our motion capture and video analysis. This is done every day regardless of which method, intensity or phase is being employed.
- Warm up (soft tissue quality, mobility based off assessment)
- Dynamic warm up (movement)
- Band activations (excluding recovery days)
- Post-throw / Recovery
A proper warm-up should account for at least 25% of total session time (approximately 25 minutes), including soft tissue work, mobility and stability work, cuff activations, stabilizations (if laxity is present) and movement.
9. Adequate Amount of Recovery
Post-throwing and Recovery should reflect 25% of total session time (approximately 25 minutes). At Least 2 Recovery Days and 1-2 Days Off/Week – Recovery days involve cuff activation and stabilization drills as well as light catch. As for days off, this not only gives the athlete a physical and much, much needed rest, but it’s a great mental break as well.
10. Proper Nutrition Program
When it comes to increasing throwing velocity, if someone can’t control their mass, it usually means that too much of their body weight is composed of fat rather than muscle.
So ideally we want both body weight and body fat to be within a certain range. Most (not all) of today’s minor league and professional pitchers, on average, have anywhere between 10-15% body fat. If you’re looking to throw harder, a proper nutrition program with the intention of gaining lean muscle mass is a must. There is no way around this one. Throwing gas follows lean muscle mass.
There you go…. 10 musts on how to throw a baseball harder.
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
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