By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Pitching velocity and control are important performance variables in baseball.
The ability of pitching the baseball faster is not only important for pitchers, but is also important for position players to execute successful defense.
In terms of baseball pitching velocity, most major league baseball pitchers deliver the ball at extremely fast speeds. The average major league pitching velocity is 91 mph, while some of the fastest pitchers throw 100 mph!
So how can a pitcher increase pitching velocity?
A review of literature indicates that baseball pitching velocity can be increased with an improvement of pitching mechanics and/or by resistance training, such as pitching velocity workouts and baseball pitching velocity drills.
Mechanically, the overhand pitch is a complex motion involving the entire body in a coordinated manner. Although the pitching arm receives primary analytical attention, the trunk and lower extremities play a vital role in baseball pitching mechanics and velocity.
In a study conducted on baseball pitching mechanics, the results indicated that 46.9% of a pitch's velocity could be attributed to the stride and body rotation, whereas 53.1% of the pitching velocity was due to action of the arm.
Therefore, resistance-training programs for pitchers to improve baseball throwing velocity should be designed to include arm, trunk, and lower-body exercises.
Baseball pitching velocity workouts that are beneficial for pitchers include: the supine bench press, latissimus dorsi pull-downs, shoulder press, straight- or bent-arm pullover, biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder dumbbell exercises, wrist rolls, leg squats, leg curls, and leg extensions.
Once a baseball pitcher's strength levels have been increased, special resistance exercises can be used to train the athlete for muscular power development and improved pitching velocity.
Examples of traditional upper-body power exercises are explosive exercises (e.g., power cleans, snatches, pulls and push presses); ballistic resistance training; plyometric training (e.g., medicine ball).
The training effect of these special resistance exercises is to convert general muscular strength to the special quality of power that is relevant to pitching a baseball with higher velocity. These power exercises are characterized by a more rapid execution and a higher muscular power output - which can help increase pitching velocity.
Specific resistance exercises are designed to follow the concept of specificity by providing a training stimulus that is very similar to actual pitching motion in competition.
Examples of these pitching velocity exercises are: weighted baseballs and surgical tubing exercises. These exercises attempt to mimic the high-velocity ballistic throwing motion.
In conclusion, baseball pitching velocity can be increased with good pitching mechanics and general resistance training such as following a good baseball pitching workout program.
Sources: (1) DeRenne, Coop; Ho, Kwok; Murphy, James C. "Effects of General, Special, and Specific Resistance Training on Throwing Velocity in Baseball: A Brief Review." The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 148-156.
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