Okay, LOOOoooong overdue…
Finally back with Step 3 for building your own velocity program… This is very often the #1 Missing Ingredient in a pitcher’s development… And this, in my opinion, is mainly for two reasons, or two trends that have become commonplace these days:
- An increased fear over pitchers hurting their arms (hint, less throwing is not always better… if we want the arm to handle the stresses of pitching we must first introduce and prepare the pitcher’s arm for those demands). At the same time, travel ball has become a behemoth, and kids are pitching competitively in games MORE while actually throwing (conditioning their arms) LESS…
- Pitchers (and coaches and parents) buy into the idea that “good mechanics” alone will lead to more velocity. Not only is this not the case, it often has a nasty unintended consequence… pitchers who become stiff and overly mechanical – deliberate and disconnected rather than fluid and explosive.
br>Step THREE: Training the INTENT to throw HARD
Audio Post with transcript below:
Once you’ve got that baseline – you’ve got that clear goal in your mind and you know what you need to work on in terms of your motion – you’ve now got the basic framework in place…
You’re doing your daily dry work to get comfortable with your delivery, you’ve got your drill work to start developing those powerful movements…
And make no mistake about it, adding that element of consistency is just the biggest factor.
Here’s how I would recommend working on it:
In the first week you’re just going to be getting comfortable with these movements. You’re not working on throwing full speed; you’re going to start off kind of slow, just try to get comfortable with these movements. Do them as many times as you can during that week: doing your dry work without a ball; doing your drill work every day; not doing a ton of throwing; mixing in with your throwing, but you’re not throwing a hundred percent so you’re not wearing your arm out.
Once you get comfortable with those movements and you’ve established the mechanics, a key element if you really want to increase velocity is simply this:
Adding more POWER behind those movements.
You could have technically “good mechanics”, but if there’s no power behind those movements… you’re not going to see BIG, meaningful velocity gains. You might increase a little bit, but you’re only tapping into part of that.
That’s where the conditioning piece of the equation is huge: getting stronger, getting faster, getting more explosive, and just learning to throw with that INTENT to throw the ball harder … Throw the #&%*! out of the ball (for lack of a better word).
And that’s where too much coaching on “pitching mechanics” at a young age can actually work against a pitcher. I’ve seen it time and again.
You probably have too…
I think when kids learn pitching mechanics at too young of an age sometimes, they get caught up in the idea of:
“If I can just get this down and learn this set of perfect mechanics I’m going to automatically throw harder.”
It sounds good in theory, but that’s just not the way it works.
Yes, you want to have good mechanics in order to be powerful and move well, but once you have that delivery down you’ve got to have some horsepower behind those movements. You’ve got to move explosively…
Much like hitting, the act of pitching is one of “Controlled Aggression.”[h3]The Act of Pitching Is One of Controlled Aggression[/h3]
I forget where I first heard that phrase. I’m pretty sure it was pertaining to a hitter’s swing, but regardless… It’s just as true of pitching, and I certainly didn’t coin the phrase.
The pitching delivery is like nothing else… 0 to 90 in one second… You’re an explosive athlete.
So basically, when you think of your pitching delivery and how you generate power (and transfer it to your arm) you’re trying to get your body moving as fast as you can to home plate (while staying gathered and loaded)… So when you reach footplant and launch, that ball’s jumping out of your hand.
That takes some power.
That said, MAX-effort throws takes its toll on your arm, whether that be pitching, long-toss or just flat-ground throwing the bleep out of the ball into a net.
So you want to be smart about this… A lot of this is common sense, but here’s a simple rule of thumb:
One or two days a week is going to be a “velocity” or “high intensity” throwing day for you.
Here’s what that means (it does NOT mean you go all out on EVERY throw)…
Once you’ve gotten your body and arm warmed up and firing on all cylinders, you get 10-20 throws that you’re just trying to throw this ball as hard as you can, without worrying about your mechanics.
You’ve put in the work already to assure that your delivery’s in decent shape. Now we’re just focusing on bringing that intensity…
You’re not thinking mechanics… You’re thinking something more like:
“I’m just trying to throw that ball right through the glove.”
If you’re stretching it out to say 120 feet or 150 feet, your intent is:
“I’m just trying to throw this on the line as hard as I can – Boom! Get it there!”[h5]Important Tip: BREAK IT UP INTO BLOCKS[/h5]
When we’re doing this, we break it up into sets. It’ll be 5 throws, hard as you can. Then take a little break. Then throw a couple easy to prep your arm again. Then go back into your velocity throws.
Five throws. BAM! Hard as I can.
Then you’re taking another little break.
Five throws, hard as I can, each one with everything behind it.
And take time between throws so you can really recoup and get ready to put everything you can into this throw.
So you’re getting two velocity training days a week where you’re stretching yourself. You’re pushing yourself. You’re asking more of yourself.
That’s how your body grows.
If you’re trying to get stronger and lifting weights, you don’t just lift the same exact weight every time and expect to actually get stronger… You’ve got to increase amount of weight you’re putting on the bar. That’s how your your muscles and your body gets stronger. I’m oversimplifying, I know, but at the most basic level, by forcing it or challenging it to lift heavier weight, your body gets sent a signal… your brain gets sent a signal (the ol’ mind-body connection at play):
“I’ve got to learn how to lift more weight. I better grow!”
It’s the same with velocity. You don’t learn to throw faster by practicing slower all the time.
You can do that early work where you’re practicing your motion slowly to just get comfortable with it. But together with that, if the goal is to increase velocity, also you have to demand of yourself…
“Okay self… Throw this ball HARD.”
Very often, that little shift in emphasis, in focus, in intent, is the missing link between guys who have “pretty mechanics” but see their velocity peeter out… And the guys who blast threw those ceilings and see big time gains.
And like everything else, that will start to become more natural to you the more you do it.
Okay, that's all for this post, would love to hear your thoughts.
Stay tuned for Parts 4 and 5 (soon to follow) where we'll dive into the important roles of TRACKING your progress and Conditioning Your Arm and Body for the demands of being a high-velocity pitcher.