High-SchoolBaseball: Training

Mechanics plus strength equals velocity

September, 23, 2011
This question appeared in the Dugout Talk Forum on ESPNHS Baseball. It was submitted by JamalFoster09 and has to do with pitching. If you want a question answered on the ESPNHS Baseball Blog then go ahead and post in the Dugout Talk Forum.

How can I increase my velocity, and should I focus on my fastball before I work on other pitches?

Obviously, there are two questions here and we’ll take them one at a time.

You pitch with your legs, just like you throw with your legs. That is where the power comes from, considering some of your body’s largest muscles are in your legs. There are different ways to increase the strength in your legs whether it be with various lifting exercises focusing on your lower half.

You also want to work on your mid-section and have a strong trunk. It is important that when you work on your abs (for example) you should work on strengthening your lower back.

The arms are kind of tricky to strengthen. You are going to work on your chest, but when it comes to the shoulder you are going to want to try and isolate those specific muscles. The best way to accomplish strengthening your shoulder is with the thera-band. The resistance the band provides is great for the shoulder.

Another method of arm strength actually comes from playing catch. Long toss is the best way to achieve this and work on building up arm strength by lengthen the distance you throw the ball. A good distance to get to is between 200-250 feet, and try and throw it on a line.

Velocity will come but there will be a point when you will max out what your velocity will be, then the idea here is to maintain what you got, this is where conditioning comes into play. Work on your stamina and you will be able to last longer.

The other key to velocity is mechanics. If your mechanics are not proper you will lose velocity and also increase the chance of injury. Keys are a good tuck, elbow above the shoulder and drive towards the plate.

The second questions deals with pitches. This will depend on the strength and maturity level of the pitcher, which will differ between players.

The fastball is the pitch that players should work on first. And while velocity is important, movement and location are keys. A 90mph fastball is going to be easier to hit if it comes in straight in comparison to it coming in with a little movement. Plus, you can throw the fastball with a four-seam grip, two seam grip and you can cut it. Three different variations of the fastball and three different pitches, too.

The next pitch you should learn how to throw is the change-up. Great pitch and sometimes underrated and overlooked in a pitcher’s repertoire. There are a couple of different change-up grips and find one that works for you.

Pitching is about changing speeds and when you throw the change-up from the same arm action and in the same arm slot your fastball (and don’t change anything) you are going to have an advantage over the hitter.

Work on these two pitches first along with pitching inside and changing the eye level. Try to command those pitches in the zone and when you are ready you can add a curve or slider.

How can you fix your pitching motion to throw harder?

September, 13, 2011
Freddy Avis, Area Code Baseball, Oakland AthleticsScott Kurtz/ESPNHSFreddy Avis of Menlo (Palo Alto, Calif.) delivers for the Athletics at the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance.
This week we pick a question from the ESPN High School Dugout Talk Form. The forum is a place to ask questions and have other ESPNHS members answer them as a baseball community. We thought it we would answer some of the questions we saw in the forums on the baseball blog.

Building strength is an obvious place to start and we’ll start there. You need to make sure you have strong legs and a strong core. You should talk to a personal trainer to help with exercises to build strength in these areas.

Then you have to work on your arm strength and there are a couple of ways you can achieve this. First, you should play long catch and work your way (don’t start at) to about 200-250 feet. Watch MLB pitchers as they get loose, they are playing long toss. Another method for building arm strength is using a thera-band. The resistance the band provides will build strength in the smaller muscles of the shoulder. Finally, you need to work on your conditioning and you can do this by running: sprints, poles or distance.

As far as mechanics go you pitch with your legs. You need to have a good tuck and drive hard to the plate. That’s where the power is going to come from. Also, you need to keep your elbow above your shoulder to help avoid injury. You can shadow pitch in front of a mirror to see if you are doing this correctly.

The best pitchers have repeatable mechanics. Conditioning is important because when pitchers tire out, the mechanics will be the first to go. When that happens you are putting yourself in jeopardy of getting hurt.

While everyone wants to throw hard and add velocity to their pitches, the key to pitching is changing speeds and eye level.

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