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:

  1. 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…
  2. 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.

In steps ONE and TWO we talked about the Getting a Baseline, Developing Good Movement Patterns (through dry work and drill work) and getting crystal clear on your goals… So without further ado…

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.

Ever wonder why pitchers make good golfers? I can’t tell you how many guys I played with who liked to get out for an early tee-time on the days they weren’t pitching…

But hitting a golf ball well (consistently) can be one of the most challenging, frustrating things in all of sports.

It should be so EASY! It’s literally just sitting there for you on the tee!

But if you’ve ever played the game, you know it’s anything but… It’s why even the best pro golfers put in hours of practice time, working on their swing, hitting shot after shot.

And it’s why I’ve never gotten really good at golf… I just don’t have the patience for it, and didn’t grow up with the love for the game the way I did with baseball.

Maybe someday when I have the time to dedicate to it… but with 2 little ones at home, that day isn’t coming anytime soon.

Now all of that said, the swing itself tends to come pretty naturally to most pitchers.

I stumbled across this article the other day (actually, one of you sent it to me – you know who you are)… Hit a Golf Ball Farther Than Bubba Watson

It’s all about this former University of Miami pitcher who now absolutely crushes golf balls in long drive competitions.

And there’s a difference between mashing the ball for max distance and what you see with a pro golfer…

For the pro golfer, accuracy is king. I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about golf strategy, but I’m pretty sure hitting from the weeds every hole isn’t a recipe for success.

To see what I mean, just watch this video (max drive is about aggression more than control):

[h4]But why does any of this matter to you?[/h4]

I mean, if you’re here on my site or you get my emails I’m assuming your expecting pitching info right?

Well if you watch that video, look out for the 1:30 mark because that’s where he get’s into some concepts that are very important for maximizing power in your pitching delivery.

[h4]How Effectively Crushing a Golf Ball Relates to Your Pitching Velocity[/h4]

It’s all about your kinetic chain… a term you may have seen tossed around pitching circles before.

You’ve probably heard coaches say you want to “throw with your entire body”… you can usually spot a guy throwing “all arm” a mile away. What they’re talking about really is the kinetic chain.

When you get down to it, it’s mainly about timing and the effective sequencing of movements in your pitching delivery.

It’s about the flow of momentum from your lower half to upper half…

Roger-Clemens-Pitching-Mechanics

Well golfers have been on to this whole kinetic chain thing for a long time. See, the sequencing for both actions is really pretty similar:

[h4]Legs, Hips, Torso, Arms…[/h4]

Now in reality all these things are working together, it’s not like one body part shuts down and the next section takes over… we’re humans after all, not robots (why you want to stay away from bad pitching drills).

The key is getting everything working together in the right order… Firming up with the front side to transfer power and create good whip.

It’s why that Miami pitcher has a leg up over guys who’ve never pitched before. He knows what it feels like to transfer power up his body, through his hips and out to his arm.

[h5]Happyy Gilmore knows a thing or two about the power of the hips[/h5]

(For more on the science of the Happy Gilmore swing, check out this piece)

Now I mentioned before how I’m not much of a golfer. But I do enjoy hitting a bucket or two at the driving range when I can find time. I like the feel for getting my hips into my swing… firming up with my front side and whipping that golf club through. And then seeing the result…

In so many ways, it’s just like when I used to work on my pitching delivery (minus the stride).

It’s the same kind of direct feedback training you want to have with your training if you’re a pitcher… it’s why long toss, while not the magic velocity bullet or bogeyman some make it out to be, can be a useful practice tool (more on that here).

When you get your whole body working together in the right sequence and get the feel for transferring power and momentum up your kinetic chain… well that’s a beautiful thing.

[h4]So how do you work on this?[/h4]

Well, it really starts with good sequencing and getting the feel for efficient movements. And one way you can work on this is with med ball training. Working to throw a heavier ball can be a great way to get the feel for getting your body into your motion.

The more efficient you are in the movements, the lighter the ball starts to feel.

It’s one reason I include a system of Med Ball Throws in the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint

Click Here to learn more about a complete system for developing a powerful pitching delivery.

 

So I happened to catch some of a Rays/Yankees game a couple weeks ago, and it was my first glimpse of a rising young star… Chris Archer. He pitched a 2 hit shutout.

Have you seen this guy pitch yet?

I had to do a double take. His motion is slow, smooth, almost effortless… but then the ball just explodes out of his hand. The thing that really struck me was his stride – he hardly seemed to be striding at all. And then BAM!!! 96 MPH…

And for a lot of us who spend time analyzing mechanics and working to help young pitchers maximize velocity, some of the things we tend to focus on (because you see it a lot among hard throwers) are good tempo, momentum, and all the things that usually lead to a long, powerful stride.

[h5]So it really got me thinking, “How is this guy throwing so hard?”[/h5] To give you an idea, here’s the only really good sample I was able to get of his delivery. Unfortunately it’s from his warm-up pitches last year, so not totally max effort. But while he definitely gets more momentum and power in the game, based on what I saw the other night, it’s not dramatically different.

And here are a couple of photos from game action – not a long stride, by any measure.

Chris-Archer-Pitching-Short-Stride
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

But, what’s also clear is that he’s obviously doing enough things well to generate a lot of power and whip in his delivery.

Take a look at his torque or hip to shoulder separation. Notice his front knee action in the video above and at pitch release in the photo. Take a look at that intense facial expression – no doubt Archer understands training with the intent to throw hard.

Are there benefits to a longer stride? Sure. One of them is the idea of greater perceived velocity. The ball gets on the hitter quicker (it’s said that every foot closer you release the ball to home plate equals 3 MPH in terms of a hitter’s reaction time).

But with his easy delivery (akin to the great Mariano Rivera) Archer almost lulls the batter to sleep, causing the ball to jump on the hitter with equal effect. And it really highlights something I’ve talked about before. When it comes to velocity, it’s not all about a longer stride: Why a Longer Stride Isn’t Always the Answer

Might Archer be leaving a couple MPH’s in the tank by not getting more momentum towards home plate? Possibly, but 97 isn’t too shabby…

And you also have to consider other factors:

[circle_list] [list_item]Maybe he doesn’t have the mobility or flexibility needed for a longer stride.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe he’d wind up overstriding and losing some of that great rotational power and whip.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe if he sped up he’d get out of sync and lose command of his pitches.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe a longer stride would make it tough to finish off his breaking ball.[/list_item] [/circle_list] [h5]Every pitcher is different. Everyone has their own strengths and weakness[/h5]

It’s why I like to focus on helping pitchers develop a solid foundation for a good pitching delivery rather than adhering to set of “pitching mechanics.” That way they can work on the important things like Balance, Timing and Power and develop their own style around that.

Here’s another look… An “easy” 97 MPH…


PS – When it comes to managing your stride, one of the things to consider is how it affects your curveball. Shortening up a little with your stride can help you get over your front leg and avoid the dreaded “hanging curve.”

For more Free Curveball Training Tips head over to CurveballMastery.com

Page 1 of 41234