I get asked this question a lot. Looking through my email inbox, seems everyone (pitchers, parents, coaches) wants to know the secrets to increasing velocity.

“How do I help my pitcher, my son (whatever the case might be) throw harder so he can compete against tougher competition.

And as I was about to set on putting together a new in-depth blog post on the subject, a thought came to me.

What if, instead of the typical email or blog post, I did something different?

What if I just took out my phone, pressed “record” and just started talking…

What if I walked you through the process of creating your own velocity program, step by step, the same way I would if you were right here with me?

Sound good? Great. Then you’ll love this

But FIRST – important note. I do NOT endorse “velocity programs” for young pitchers. 

This isn’t for pitchers 10, 11, 12 years old… Kids should develop a sound foundation, learn to love the game, develop as athletes, and be allowed to grow into their own velocity potential (learning the basics in the 5 Power Moves is a good place to start, incidentally).

That said, if a pitcher wants to play and compete at the next level, there’s no denying this fact… Velocity matters. And the vast majority of amateur pitchers are leaving MPHs in the tank.

So let’s get right to it. Take a listen:

Okay, the question is, “How do I get a young pitcher to increase velocity – how do I help him increase his velocity? He can already throw strikes pretty well but he doesn’t throw particularly hard, and I feel like if I could just get him to throw harder and help him throw with more velocity, he’d be a whole lot more effective because he can already do that other part of it.”

It’s a very good question, and a very difficult question to answer because, without actually seeing that pitcher, it’s tough to pinpoint it to one particular thing… Because yes, mechanics are definitely a big part of maximizing velocity… but while mechanics are important it’s tough to say what does THIS individual pitcher need to work on without actually seeing him pitch.

[h4]STEP ONE: Get a Baseline (Take Video and Get a Radar Reading)[/h4]

Let’s say a pitcher is working with me who really wants to get from 73 MPH to 80+ MPH. So we sit down and talk it over

“Okay, now let’s set a plan to help you increase velocity by 5, 10, 12 miles an hour,”

Whatever it might be. The first thing I would always start off with is getting that initial video analysis. Doing a full breakdown of his mechanics. Being able to SEE it on video is key because you can really slow it down and see what’s going on in his motion.

Motion-Analysis-Setup

[h5]From there you can ASSESS…[/h5]

What does he most need to work on right now. Because most pitchers, especially most young pitchers, are leaking power somewhere in their pitching delivery. You can usually get 3 to 5 miles an hour with one or two adjustments in their pitching motion but to make a blanket statement like, “Well, he needs to get his legs into his delivery more,” you’d have to look at that pitcher and see what is he doing right now. Then we can set a plan and say, “Okay, based on how you’re currently moving, here’s some things you can do right now… You’re losing some power here. Here are some key areas that we could focus on.”

Together with that video analysis, another thing that’ll be important if the goal is to increase velocity is to get that baseline velocity reading…

(The Pocket Radar is a great option if you’re looking for a highly accurate radar gun that won’t set you back $1,000).

80-Knocking-on-the-door

Where is he at now in terms of his velocity? Get that on record. Get a radar reading of his current velocity so you know what his current velocity is, his current max velocity. So you can say,

“Okay, right now he’s throwing 79 MPH. The goal is to get to 85.”

Now he knows what he’s starting at and he knows what he can shoot for.

Then when looking at the video you can say,

“Okay, clearly he’s not getting his body into it as well as he could so getting to that 85 mile an hour mark is very realistic,” or

“Right now his mechanics look great, he’s just throwing 75 so maybe there’s some other part of it that is leading to it.”

Maybe it’s a strength issue, maybe it’s a power and mobility issue, maybe he needs to get more explosive as an athlete, maybe he’s just undersized and needs to add some mass and add some weight to get more momentum and power moving down the mound…

All these things come into play, but the first step is always getting that baseline. Doing that motion analysis to look at his delivery, look at his mechanics essentially and see where there might be some energy leaks, some power leaks. Then getting that radar reading so you know where he’s currently at.

 

Stay Tuned for STEP 2 in this 5 Part “build your own velocity program” series… where you’ll learn two ways to gain velocity before you ever set foot on the mound.

I want to let you in on a little secret.

As you know, I’m a big fan of using video with my pitchers. Motion Analysis can be a powerful tool…

But here’s something that might surprise you…

When I’m working with a pitcher, I DON’T record every pitch. In fact, there might be entire sessions where we don’t look at video at ALL.

Why would I do that? How do you make any progress if you’re not constantly evaluating and assessing?

Fair question.

We all know those pitchers who are just OBSESSED with their mechanics.

After every throw they want to know, “How’d I look?”

Their desire – that craving for outside feedback – becomes overwhelming. And you soon get what I talked about in a recent post (what I learned about coaching from Mommy Hippo).

Video is great. But you also need to give the pitcher some space.

Give him the freedom to work on things, make adjustments, feel his way through it.

[h4]There’s a METHOD to it.[/h4]

Early in the process, it can be really helpful to get a baseline.  I’ll usually show the young pitcher side by side with a pro. With a young Little League pitcher, it can make more sense to use a high-level high school pitcher – someone closer in age who’s already developed a powerful pitching motion.

There’s just something powerful about being able to look at the videos side by side.

You get those “light bulb” Aha moments where the pitcher finally “gets” it.

BUT… as I’ve mentioned  before…

[h3]The Goal is NOT to move EXACTLY like another pitcher[/h3]

Try to find a high-level pitcher that would be a good model for YOU.

Similar build, similar style.

Key in on what you do that’s similar… (reinforce the positive).

Then what do you see in the big league pitcher that you could get more of in your own delivery to get more powerful.

For example, here’s a shot from an initial analysis I did for a 13 year old pitcher a while back.

 

ythvskersh2

 

Kershaw’s not a guy I’d typically use for comparison. For lack of a better word, he’s got some FUNK in his delivery… But there was enough similar with these guys.

Similar body type. Similar habit of taking the glove arm to the target early.

But what’s the big noticeable difference?

HINT: It has to do with TWO main things:

  • Weight Shift
  • And Timing…

Now frankly, I didn’t need video to know these were big issues with this pitcher.

And I could have spent all day TELLING him what he needed to work on.

I could see it right off the bat.

But by letting HIM see himself – and then see how a guy like Kershaw gets his body moving powerfully – I saved myself a lot of needless (and probably unproductive) talking and explaining.

Once he knows what to work on (and has a clear image in his mind), it’s about getting to work and developing the right feel.

In the next couple sessions we barely looked at video at all… Then came time to break out the camera again for a VERY important next step.

[h3]Tracking The Pitcher’s Progress[/h3]

For now, at this stage, we’re done with the big league comparisons…

We’re gonna revisit the old video… Check if he’s made any progress.

Not a finished product, of course… but in a short time, this pitcher made some really good improvement.

He could start to feel when he was getting his body moving more powerfully.

And looking at video at this stage does two big things…

It provides some solid, positive reinforcement…

He can SEE and verify the progress he’s made.

He feels good about himself… He’s learning that if he puts in the work and has the right focus, he’ll see the results.

And two, he can then turn to what he still needs to work on and how he can get even more powerful.

Here’s another short clip from that same Before & After sample.

Could he have made these improvements without using video?

Probably… In time.

But without that initial JOLT to get him out his old patterns, you can bet it would’ve taken a lot longer…

And been a whole lot more frustrating.

Hope you found this post helpful. As I mentioned, in the very near future I’m going to be releasing my new Motion Mapping Method program…

It’s going to dive deep into motion analysis and show you EXACTLY how you can use video to help skyrocket your pitchers progress.

 

Okay… now if you read all the way to the bottom here, I’ve got something special for you…

A chance to get this new program FREE along with a FULL YEAR of Pro Features to Powerchalk (the same program I use for all my motion analysis work).

Just head over to this Facebook post and (IMPORTANT) follow the steps detailed in the post.

A winner will be picked on February 9th.

Good luck!

That’s all for now. Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

 

So in my last email about learning by “copying” the pros, I left some things unsaid…

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up with a fellow baseball coach. He’d spent some time in the minors, AA and AAA (even played with my brother for a bit).

Anyway, here’s the point. His kids are getting to little league age, and he had some concerns about the way his boys were learning to pitch.

“Things are a lot different from when you and I learned how to play…”

I knew what he meant… See, like me, he learned how to play as a kid (largely) by watching big leaguers and trying to mirror them… Borrow a little of this, a little of that. Make it your own.

We didn’t spend countless hours practicing positions or repeating drills that made little or no sense.

It’s funny, I stumbled upon a scene from The Bad News Bears not long ago (classic from the 70’s for any of you poor souls who came along too late to appreciate it)… and the pitchers I saw looked a lot different from what I often see nowadays.

They were fluid, smooth, natural… not stiff, slow, mechanical the way so many kids are these days. Hmm… before the rise of the “pitching mechanics by positions” craze… Interesting.

Anyway, a key point going back to how we used to learn pitching… Sure there was some instruction, some addressing the fundamentals…

But when it comes to developing good athletic movements, one of the best ways to learn is simply watching the way world class performers do it.

And if you have a coach who REALLY understands it and can show you the key things to look for… well, that’s how you can accelerate the learning process big time.

Now as much as I may long for those simpler times (man, am I getting old), there are some definite advantages today’s young pitchers have…

Things I would have given my left [arm] for growing up.

One of them is easy access to video. If I were growing up today I would have sat on MLB.com and YouTube for hours on end watching clips of big league pitchers…

Trying to DECODE their secrets…

(I’ve done this since… doesn’t do me much good now – but good for my pitchers)

And another big advantage is how easy it is to TAKE your own video. Practically everyone nowadays is walking around with their own personal camcorder right in their pocket (thank you, Mr. Jobs).

Personally, I don’t think I ever saw myself pitch on video until I was a senior in high school (maybe a junior)…

GOOD in that I avoided some of the big motion analysis traps… BAD in that I missed out on recognizing some fundamental bad habits that ultimately led me down a very tough road…

And that leads me back to why pitchers DON’T make progress…

It goes back to how they learned to pitch… There is something seriously wrong with the way many young pitchers are learning “good pitching mechanics.”

See, you can’t build on a flawed system… Sometimes you’ve got to rip out the operating system, give it an upgrade… and get to the root of the problem.

Now I’m not suggesting everything you see big league pitchers do is worth copying (that Joba Chamberlin madman beard, for example).

But when you really know what to look for, good things happen…

  • Hours of frustration saved…
  • Personal empowerment boosted…
  • Progress accelerated

I’m going to be sharing more on this in the days and weeks ahead. In fact, I’m going to open up early access to a new program I’ve got in the works.

It’s still in development (and it won’t be cheap when it comes out)…

Go here to get on the waiting list: http://motionmappingmethod.com

MMM_Mac_Cover
Okay, that’s all for now.

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Phil

PS – For now, the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint still comes with a free motion analysis

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