The faster you are able to throw a ball the better you’ll be at baseball. As many athletes know some players have natural talent and some have to work at it. Natural talent can take you far but hard work and practice will take you further. The following tips can help you increase your pitch speed or throwing velocity whether you’re on the mound or out in left field.
1 Start With The Legs
Strength and stability in the lower body have a huge impact on throwing velocity. A good pitch or throw starts with your legs. Lunges, squats and calf raises don’t require weights and can be done almost anywhere. Depending on your age and conditioning working your legs two to three days a week can quickly improve your lower body strength as well as balance.
2 Weights Are NOT Evil
Contrary to popular belief weights will help you in a variety of ways. The reason many pitching coaches discourage weights is because athletes often get injured trying to max out with too much weight. The solution is simple… DON’T MAX OUT! If you can only do five reps or less you are working out with too much weight. A good rule of thumb is less than fifteen reps and more than eight. Three good upper body exercises with weight include the shoulder press, forearm curls and the standard bench press. The shoulder press will help improve your elbow extension when pitching. Forearm curls will help strengthen your forearm which is crucial for the windup and delivery stages of a pitch or throw. The bench press will help develop important muscles in your back including the scapular muscle which is often underdeveloped in pitchers. An upper body workout two to three days a week will help increase your overall strength which can improve pitching velocity.
3 Stretch and Get Loose
Flexibility is incredibly important for pitching velocity and there are numerous stretching exercises you can do. Arm circles are intended to stretch and strengthen your rotator cuff muscles. Stand up and extend your arms out parallel with the ground. Make small forward circles with your arms for a ten count. Let your arms go limp and shake them out. Repeat the process making small circles in a backwards direction. Do this three to four times for a ten count in both directions. Front stretches are also good for your rotator cuffs. Bring your left arm across your body and gently grasp your elbow with your right arm. Gently push your left arm towards your chest for a twenty count. Now switch arms and repeat. Some coaches believe that too much stretching, just like working out with weights that are too heavy, can add to the risk of injury. Stretching is just like any other exercise and should be done in moderation.
4 Don’t Be Ashamed to Rest
There’s absolutely no crime in icing your arm after a game even if it isn’t sore. There’s also nothing wrong with wearing a compression sleeve to keep your arm warm before or during a game. If your arm is sore don’t throw that day. Instead work on your legs or just give your body a break. One of the hardest lessons for athletes to learn is how to rest. Getting enough sleep should be a major part of your training regimen. Avoid standing for long periods of time the day before a game.
5 Work On Mechanics
Proper mechanics are probably the single greatest way to improve your pitching velocity and avoid injury. Proper mechanics can even help you to go deeper into the pitch count by making you more efficient. Pitching mechanics include everything from how you grip the baseball to where your legs are positioned when you release a pitch or throw. Here’s a good detailed video on proper pitching mechanics that includes grips. If you can have someone capture you pitching on video. Ask a friend with a smartphone to film you in action pitching at least five times. Watching yourself is an excellent way to see exactly what you’re doing right and what can be improved.
6 Hips Don’t Lie
Strength and flexibility in your hips can make or break a good pitch. This video, “Fit by Five”, shows an excellent stretch for your hip flexors that can help you improve your pitch speed if you’re able to work it into your overall training regimen. Some athletes also work their hips by taking Yoga or working out with a foam roller. There are numerous exercises you can do for your hips. Take the time to learn which ones work for you.