I saw this question on a strength and conditioning forum the other day, and there is no doubt it has been asked thousands and thousands of times by players, coaches, and parents. There have been numerous thoughts and philosophies on this topic, and a majority go off on tangents that become too complicated or never answer the actual question. I posted a response on that forum, and thought I would share it with my readers here. Hopefully, it’s simple and to the point. Just remember, if there was a miracle solution to this question, all baseball players would throw 95+ MPH.
Okay, let’s think about the original question here again: How do you develop velocity? Bottom line, you need to produce force. So, how does the athlete generate more force? First and foremost, we need to look at the pitcher’s mechanics. Each athlete will be slightly different, but at the end of the day, if he has any inefficient movement in his mechanics, then he is wasting energy that he cannot transfer to the ball at his release point. Simply put, inefficient movement = wasted energy = lower velocity. So, break down the mechanics and get his body in the proper position for throwing.
Outside of his throwing mechanics, we can also look at the athlete’s strength and conditioning program. The throwing motion is a quick and powerful movement, and the act of pitching itself consists of one pitch with about 15-20 seconds of rest before the next pitch. So, before even thinking about the actual exercises we want in his program, we need to be able to mimic a similar work to rest ratio. The same can be said for his conditioning program. (The days of the long, slow run for the pitcher are fading fast.) This way, the pitcher’s muscles learn to operate in a similar fashion to when he is on the mound.
Now, when getting into exercise selection, we need to think about training movements, not muscles. (By the way, you should be thinking this way for any athlete of any sport.) Once again, let’s look at the pitching motion (funny how we keep coming back to that). Broken down into its simplest form, the pitching motion consists of the athlete pushing off a single leg while rotating his trunk. Remember, we are looking to increase our force generation. So, let’s start with explosive leg movements such as box jumps, broad jumps, and cleans. As the athlete progresses, we can make the jumping movements single leg only. For rotation, let’s add cable rotations, med ball rotational throws, and all their various progressions and regressions.
This is a basic beginning. Always remember that every athlete is different. Different ages, different body compositions, different skill levels, different experience in the weight room, etc. Take each athlete where he is and go from there. As he improves and his understanding of different movements becomes clearer, then we can get even more specific. Oh yeah, and take a look at the throwing motion!!!