Is weighted baseball training effective?
That's a question many pitchers want to know as they are looking at throwing programs to improve the overall health of their arm.
In my experience, when implemented correctly weighted baseball training can be very beneficial for baseball pitchers. Throwing a ball heavier than the regulation five ounce baseball is considered to be overload training.
Many pitchers who have trained with weighted baseballs have reported greater shoulder and arm condition, increased pitching velocity, and less injury.
There exists a great amount of misinformation and rumor that leads to condemnation, resistance or as the case of weighted balls, misunderstanding about when they are called for and how they should be used.
Dr. John Bagonzi
The Pitching Professor
Many opponents of weighted baseball training are concerned about possible arm strain, and forcing a pitcher to practice improper throwing mechanics.
The fact is that pitchers who naturally have ineffective pitching mechanics are much more likely to be injured. This is not because of weighted baseballs, but simply because they have not developed proper throwing mechanics.
By training the pitcher with heavier balls, muscles, ligament and tendons in the in the elbow and should are strengthened. I feel this is great recipe for the reduction of arm injuries. I would be flabbergasted in 25 years if everyone isn't training with weighted balls to strengthen arms. -Ron Wolforth
Does weighted baseball training increase velocity?
This topic has produced heated debate among baseball pitching experts. Advocates of weighted baseball training believe that with a proper routine, pitchers can see significant increases in their pitching velocity.
Opponents of weighted baseball training question its effectiveness because of the fact that pitchers generate arm speed through proper mechanics, not arm strength. Additionally, some argue that it could negatively impact pitching mechanics because pitchers who are using weighted baseballs, may be altering their mechanics to compensate throwing the extra weight.
The science of weighted baseball training
There hasn't been extensive research conducted on this topic, but opponents of weighted baseballs tend to resort to the studies regarding using a weighted donut on baseball bats.
Two studies by Otsuji, Abe, and Kinoshita (2002), and Southard and Groomer (2003), analyzed the results of using weighted baseball bats. The subjects who swung the bats during the experiment reported that the bat felt significantly lighter, and it felt as if they were swinging faster as a result.
Both studies analyzed the results, and both actually found quite the opposite. The researched concluded that the weighted bats had a negative result on bat speed. (pitching.com)
Opponents of weighted baseballs draw comparisons to this study, and they conclude that since using a donut reduced bat speed, then arm speed will be reduced when using weighted baseballs. A reduction of arm speed results in less velocity for baseball pitchers. Let's analyze the other side.
Pitching experts who support weighted baseball training will contend that they are an excellent source for boosting pitching velocity. Read this study, to learn why weighted baseballs increase velocity.
Weighted baseball study:
Authors Coop DeRenne, Ronald K. Hetzier and Kwok W. Ho selected three test groups for the analysis.
- Group 1 pitched with a heavy, light, and standard baseball three days a week for ten weeks
- Group 2 pitched with a heavy and standard baseball for the first five weeks and then a light and standard baseball for the final five weeks.
- Group 3 served as a control and pitched with a standard five ounce ball for ten weeks.
Results of the study:
Both Groups 1 and 2 saw considerate improvement in overall pitching velocity, while Group 3 saw no improvement.
Similar experiments have been conducted producing similar results that conclude throwing weighted baseballs can improve velocity, if implemented safely and correctly. So far as I know, there is no evidence that balls heavier than the regulation 5 oz will cause arm injury in pitchers.
Based on the research I have done on this topic, and respecting both view points, I can conclude there is more evidence to support that weighted baseball training can increase velocity.
I have an excellent weighted baseball training program in my TUFFCUFF pitching velocity program if you're really interested in seeing a spike in pitching velocity.
The program worked dramatically for me.
Throwing weighted baseballs is an excellent addition to any off-season pitching routine, but should not be a pitchers only source of increasing velocity because it is only one very small technique.
Utilizing a weighted baseball training program requires that the pitcher has already developed good mechanics. In this instance, you can begin to incorporate weighted balls into your off-season strength training program. Avoid weighted baseballs during the season.
Make sure that you have been consistently throwing and your arm is relatively good shape before you attempt throwing weighted baseballs.
Weighted baseball training drills
Weighted balls come in several different sizes including some as small as four ounces, and as big as twelve ounces.
As far as the drills, it all depends on a pitchers age, size, and development.
The best drill to use for weighted balls is what's referred to as the stride drill. Dr. John Bagonzi popularized the stride drill. The purpose of this drill is to correct a very common mechanical flaw that is hip to shoulder separation, and help to increase pitching velocity.
Here is the progression of this exercise:
- Perform 15 throws with a weighted ball. Everyone other throw should be maximum speed.
- Perform 10 throws with a regulation-sized baseball. Every other throw should be a maximum velocity.
- 10 throws with weighted ball. Every other throw at full speed.
- The last set will be 10 throws with a regular ball, with every other throw at top velocity.
Mechanics of the stride drill
For the stride drill, you will stand 50 feet away from your partner. Your feet with start at the length of your stride with your arm in the cocked position. Your hips and shoulders should be closed in the starting position.
You will then forcefully drive your hips towards home. Your hips should be completely open and driving towards home before your upper body and arm begin to rotate.
Lastly, you will release the weighted ball, and finish over your stride leg with a flat back.
There is no doubt that weighted baseball training can provide many benefits for pitchers. However, it must be understood that pitching velocity is the result of several different methods including developing explosive mechanics, strength training, and speed training. Weighted baseballs can be easily implemented with these other training techniques for maximum results.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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