It goes without saying that pitching velocity is an important performance variable in baseball. The ability to throw the ball faster is not only important for baseball pitchers, but is also important for position players to execute successful defense. So how can you increase it?
The two ways I'll focus on in this article are by an improvement of throwing biomechanics and by resistance training.
Biomechanically, the overhand throw is a complex motion involving the entire body in a coordinated manner. Although the throwing arm receives primary analytical attention, the trunk and lower extremities play a vital role in throwing mechanics. In a study conducted on the biomechanics of the overhand throw, the results indicated that 46.9% of the velocity of the overhand throw could be attributed to the stride and body rotation, whereas 53.1% of the velocity was due to action of the arm. Therefore, resistance-training programs for baseball players to improve throwing velocity, particularly for pitchers, should be designed to include arm, trunk, and lower-body exercises.
Once the player's strength levels have been increased, special resistance exercises can be used to train the athlete for muscular power development. Examples of traditional upper-body power exercises are explosive exercises (e.g., power cleans, snatches, pulls and push presses); ballistic resistance training; plyometric training (e.g., medicine ball). The training effect of these special resistance exercises is to convert general muscular strength to the special quality of power that is relevant to throwing. These power exercises are characterized by a more rapid execution and a higher muscular power output.
Specific resistance exercises are designed to follow the concept of specificity by providing a training stimulus that is very similar to actual motion in competition. These exercises attempt to mimic the high-velocity ballistic throwing motion.
Pitching velocity for high school and college players can be increased with proper pitching mechanics and general resistance training. The pitching-training protocol should be conducted over a minimum training period of 8 weeks. As the baseball player's general muscular strength and throwing velocity adequately increases during the off- season, he should proceed into a special upper-body power throwing velocity training program. The power- training protocol should consist of "exploding" lightweight loads of weight during the 6-8 training weeks.
Pitcher-specific resistance training consisting of light and heavy weighted baseballs may also be effective at increasing throwing velocity, provided you follow the appropriate training protocols. Before a weighted implement training program commences, you should participate in a general total-body resistance program followed by an upper body power training regimen.
Source: (1) DeRenne, Coop; Ho, Kwok; Murphy, James C. "Effects of General, Special, and Specific Resistance Training on Throwing Velocity in Baseball: A Brief Review." The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 148-156.
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