Weighted Baseballs

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

In this article: Pitching weighted baseballs, weighted baseball program, weighted balls training for baseball pitchers, weighted ball development, heavy balls, heavy ball throwing, light balls, light ball tossing, 4 ounce (oz.) baseballs, 5 ounce (oz.) baseball, 6 ounce (oz.) ball, weighted baseball throwing program, weighted balls for shoulder strength, pitching velocity improvements linked to weighted baseballs.

It seems like every baseball pitching instructor these days is expected to have a view on weighted baseballs.

So here's my take on weighted balls in one (rather long) sentence:

Weighted baseballs, not exceeding 6 ounces, worked for me in my pitching career (I threw 93-95 mph!) and are just one way (of literally dozens) to improve pitching velocity -- but certainly not the only way, or any more important than any other (like simply throwing a baseball the old fashioned way).

With that being said. You can keep reading for the exact weighted baseball program I used, or you can use the menu to the left and visit another page in my Web site.

Now I know that some of the information that I'm going to share with you may go against what you've read on other pitching instruction Web sites.

I've seen how weighted baseballs have gotten a bum rap over the years. Frankly, this concerns me, and YOU should be concerned, too!

You see, what I've discovered in my own pitching career and in the careers of the college pitchers I coach is... We've been misinformed about weighted baseballs from some of the sites that have been around prior to 2002, and that stinks!

One example is a Web site that says, "Weighted bats don't work so weighted baseballs don't either." One instructor says, "Trust me, if they worked, I'd sell them."

Well here's some good news and some bad news.

The bad news?

For starters, you're not going to find weighted baseballs here either. My sole purpose is to provide the very best information and instruction, and that's all.

More bad news?

There are still a handful of coaches, parents, and pitchers who won't try weighted baseballs because they're getting the wrong information from the wrong sources... That means pitchers may not be achieving their full potential.

The good news?

Weighted baseballs do in fact work. In two separate studies by top sports doctors, it was proven and published that weighted baseballs can increase baseball pitching velocity and they're safe -- providing they're used properly.

I'm not just making this stuff up!

Here's the first of two recent articles published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that supports the use of weighted baseballs for increased baseball pitching velocity.

Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity

By Coop DeRenne, Ronald K. Hetzler and Kwok W. Ho

ABSTRACT

This study examined the effects of training with various combinations of standard, light, and heavy baseballs on pitching velocity. High school (n = 45) and university pitchers (n = 180) were pretested for pitching velocity and randomly assigned to two experimental groups and one control group. Group 1 pitched with a heavy, light, and standard baseball 3 days a wk for 10 wks. Group 2 pitched with a heavy and standard baseball for the first 5 wks and then a light and standard baseball for the final 5 wks. Group 3 served as a control and pitched with a standard 5-oz baseball for 10 wks. Pitching velocities were determined by electromagnetic radiation radar. The velocity of 15 consecutive pitches was calculated to represent mean pitching velocity for each subject.

RESULTS Groups 1 and 2 improved significantly in throwing velocity, but no improvement was observed for the control group.

CONCLUSIONS The results suggest that training with weighted implements using either protocol can improve pitching velocity.

SOURCE The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 247–250. Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity. Coop DeRenne, Ronald K. Hetzler and Kwok W. Ho

Here's a second of two recent articles published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research on the use of weighted balls for increased pitching velocity.

Effects of Weighted Implement Training on Throwing Velocity

By Coop DeRenne, Alan Blitzblau and Kwok W. Ho

ABSTRACT

Thirty high school varsity male baseball pitchers were assigned randomly into an Over-weighted Implement Training Group (OITG), an Under-weighted Implement Training Group (UITG) or a Control Group (CON). During the 10-week training, OITG threw balls that systematically varied from 5 to 6 ounces and UITG threw balls that varied from 4 to 5 ounces. Throwing velocity of a standard ball was determined before and following training using electromagnetic radiation radar. Validation of the radar gun was performed prior to the experiment using a three-dimensional computerized motion analysis system.

RESULTS

All three treatment groups showed various degrees of improvement in throwing velocity after 10 weeks of training. However, OITG and UITG showed significantly greater improvement than the CON when gain scores were compared (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study suggested that a much broader spectrum of weight training methods may exist.

SOURCE

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 16–19. Effects of Weighted Implement Training on Throwing Velocity Coop DeRenne, Alan Blitzblau and Kwok W. Ho

(By the way, Coop DeRenne, who authored both of these articles, is a strength and conditioning consultant for the Chicago White Sox Major League baseball team.)

Remember: weighted baseball throwing is just one small component of the various ways to increase pitching velocity. It is not an end-all-be-all AND it is certainly not the ONLY way to increase arm speed.

However, it can be concluded from the two articles above that:

1) Training with weighted implements using light baseballs and heavy baseballs can improve pitching velocity.

2) All three treatment groups (four ounce baseball, five ounce baseball, and six ounce baseball) showed various degrees of improvement in throwing velocity after 10 weeks of training?the most significant gains coming from those that used the light and heavy baseballs.

The Complete Pitcher's® Weighted Baseball Program

Here's a closer look at the exact weighted baseball protocols and throwing program I used as a collegiate pitcher and pro pitcher (during the offseasons) to gain a substantial 6 mph. Please note: this weighted ball throwing program was used in conjunction with a complete strength and conditioning program, a running and sprint program, a long-toss program, a medi-ball program and a rotator cuff program.

The baseballs you'll need to start my weighted baseball program:

1. Six ounce baseball (heavy ball)
2. Five ounce baseball (regulation weight)
3. Four ounce baseball (light ball)

Before we go any farther, you may be wondering: "How did I come up with these three weights, especially the 6 ounce protocol for the heavy ball, when there are baseballs out there that can get as heavy as 24 ounces?"

I'm asked this baseball question a lot... and there are two reasons.

First, remember, a baseball weighs five ounces. One additional ounce (6 oz. total) adds 20 percent more weight to the baseball, which is perfect for the development of arm strength because the biomechanics of the throwing motion can essentially remain unchanged.

Any more weight than this and the proper throwing biomechanics of the arm will start to break down because the body is forced to implement its larger muscles (like the lattismus dorsi muscles) to throw the ball instead of the rotator cuff and shoulder.

As a result, the muscles that a pitcher is looking to strengthen -- the four muscles that comprise a pitcher's rotator cuff -- are simply bypassed and never developed when more weight (than 6 oz. is used).

Secondly, take a closer look at the protocols in the two scientific studies above by Chicago White Sox strength and conditioning consultant Coop DeRenne.

In both articles, the maximum weight of the heaviest baseball used in his scientific studies was 6 ounces.

(I have not read any additional scientific data that supports the use of heavier weight, and I never used a heavy ball heavier than 6 ounces in my own experience so I cannot speak its benefits.)

OK, let's get started with the program.

Two crucial elements you need to know prior to beginning my weighted baseball program.

To avoid injury and/or discomfort to the throwing arm, it is crucial that a pitcher is 1) properly warmed-up prior to beginning the weighted baseball program and 2) a base level of throwing strength has been developed. (By base-level of throwing developed, I mean a pitcher has thrown on a consistent basis for at least one month so that the arm is conditioned.)

Then... I strongly suggest taking the time to do what all professional pitchers do to warm-up for any throwing workout: perform a light five-minute jog, stretch all the major muscle groups including the arms, and long toss throw to get the arm loose.

The following is a 10-minute long toss throwing program that pitchers in the Chicago Cubs organization used daily. The time and distance protocols are perfect for getting the arm loose, but not overworked, prior to the use weighted baseballs.

The 10-Minute Long-Toss Throwing Program

1. Three minutes of throwing at 60-feet
2. Three minutes of throwing at 90-feet
3. Three minutes of throwing at 120-feet
4. One minute of throwing back at 60-feet again

Another pitching question about weighted baseballs that I'm asked about on a consistent basis is: "Why do you have a pitcher long toss on your "10-Minute Long Toss Throwing Program" for a maximum distance of just 120 feet? It seems a little old school to limit a pitcher to a long toss of just 120 feet doesn't it?"

My reason is simple.

I want the emphasis of the throwing on the day the weighted baseball throwing program is used to be on the weighted baseball program, not the long toss or any other throwing used to get the arm loose.

Perform long toss beyond 120 feet on opposite days of the weighted baseball throwing program so that the maximum benefits of the weighted baseballs are obtained on the days that the weighted balls are used.

Use the heavy weighted ball to develop strength in the throwing arm

Once the pitcher is good and loose, he and a partner will stand 60- to 70-feet away from each other and throw the six ounce ball for 20 throws at 75- to 90-percent effort.

With all throws in my program, the pitcher should hit his partner in the chest and take a crow hop to get the momentum of the body moving forward while reducing added stresses on the throwing-arm. The six ounce ball is used first to build strength.

Again, never exceed the 6 oz. baseball. I know they make "heavy balls" as heavy as 24 ounces, but I recommend that you do not exceed 6 ounces.

Use the light weighted ball for the development of arm speed

Next, throw the four ounce baseball for 20 throws at 100-percent effort, hitting his partner in the chest and taking a crow hop.

The two ounce difference between the heavy ball (6 oz.) and the light ball (4 oz.) will allow the pitcher to generate increased arm speed -- which in turn correlates into positive muscle-memory improvements for velocity.

Use a regulation baseball to finish the weighted ball program

For the final 20 throws, the pitcher will use a regulation five ounce baseball. The ball will feel slightly heavier than normal because of the increase of one ounce from the use of the light ball from the previous 20 throws.

That?s OK.

Remember to continue to throw the baseball on a line to your partner while crow-hopping on every pitch.

How much, how often?

The use of weighted baseballs should be three times a week and preferably in the off-season and/or pre-season AFTER the pitcher has developed a base-level of arm strength (at least one month of throwing prior to beginning this program.)

For example, my minor league season went from Spring Training in March to September. Therefore, I used the weighted baseball program in January and February and was able to increase velocity over a period of three years from 90- to 91-mph to 94- to 97-mph.

Final thoughts...

I'm a firm believer in the weighted baseball program providing it is done EXACTLY as I just described and only AFTER a pitcher has developed a good throwing base and the arm is in shape.

Let's review...

The Complete Pitcher's® Complete Weighted Baseball Program

1. Five minute light-jog

2. Full body stretch

3. 10-Minute Long-Toss Throwing Program Time Distance 3 min.

1. 60-feet 3 min.
2. 90-feet 3 min.
3. 120-feet 1 min.
4. 60-feet

4. Weighted baseball program

1. 6 oz. 20 throws @ 70 feet
2. 4 oz. 20 throws @ 70 feet
3. 5 oz. 20 throws @ 70 feet

Did you know...

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera uses a weighted baseball to warm-up with before EVERY single game?

It?s true.

In fact, in the 2004 ALCS on FOX Sports, Rivera was shown warming-up in the eighth inning of Game No. 4 with a weighted baseball to get loose.

Many Big League pitchers use a heavier 6 oz. baseball to warm-up because it makes the regulation (5 oz.) baseball "feel" lighter.

For a guy like Rivera who throws 94-to 95-mph, he wants that ball to feel as light as possible ? and it works or he wouldn't do it!

nc. All rights reserved.

A rhyme and reason for the weighted baseball program
As a former Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher, I have used weighted baseballs throughout the course of my professional baseball career and find them to be a highly effective tool in the development of arm strength and velocity, providing it is done properly.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research agrees, twice. In the two studies, doctors have concluded that “training with weighted implements using light baseballs and heavy baseballs can improve pitching velocity,” and “all three treatment groups (4 oz. baseball, 5 oz. baseball, and 6 oz. baseball) showed various degrees of improvement in throwing velocity after 10 weeks of training—the most significant gains coming from those that used the light and heavy baseballs.” ***
The specific program that I used involved three baseballs:

 

Text Box: The Weighted Baseballs You’ll Need:  ·        6 ounce baseball (heavy ball) ·        5 ounce baseball (regulation weight) ·        4 ounce baseball (light ball)  © Copyright 2002-2004 The Complete Pitcher, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Prior to beginning
To avoid injury and/or discomfort to the throwing arm, it is absolutely necessary that the pitcher is properly warmed-up prior to beginning the weighted baseball program and a base-level of throwing-strength has been developed. I strongly suggest taking the time to do what all professional pitchers do to warm-up for any throwing workout: Perform a light five-minute jog, stretch all the major muscle groups including the arms, and throw using our 10-minute long-toss program.
The following is the 10 minute long-toss program is used daily by pitchers in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Text Box: Four Steps in the 10-Minute Long-Toss Throwing Program  1.      3 minutes of throwing at 60 feet 2.      3 minutes of throwing at 90 feet 3.      3 minutes of throwing at 120 feet 4.      1 minute of throwing back at 60 feet again  © Copyright 2002-2004 The Complete Pitcher, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy ball first for strength
Once the pitcher is good and loose, he and a partner will stand 60- to 70-feet away from each other and throw the 6 oz. ball for 20 throws at 75- to 90-percent effort. With all throws in the program, the pitcher should hit his partner in the chest and take a crow hop to get the momentum of the body moving forward while reducing added stresses on the throwing-arm. The 6 oz. ball is used first to build strength.

Light ball second for arm speed
Next, throw the 4 oz. baseball for 20 throws at 100-percent effort, hitting his partner
in the chest and taking a crow hop. The 2 oz. difference between the heavy ball and the light ball will allow the pitcher to generate increased arm speed, which in turn, correlates into positive muscle-memory improvements for velocity.

Regulation baseball to finish
For the final 20 throws, the pitcher will use a regulation 5 oz. baseball. The ball will feel slightly heavier than normal because of the increase of 1 oz. from the use of the light ball from the previous 20 throws. That’s OK. Remember to continue to throw the baseball on a line to your partner while crow-hopping on every pitch.

How much, how often?
The use of weighted baseballs should be three times a week and preferably in the off-season and/or pre-season AFTER the pitcher has developed a base-level of arm strength. For example, my minor league season went from Spring Training in March to September. Therefore, I used the weighted baseball program in January and February and was able to increase velocity over a period of three years from 90- to 91-mph to 94- to 97-mph.
I'm a firm believer in the weighted baseball program, providing it is done exactly as I just described and only AFTER a pitcher has developed a good throwing base and the arm is in shape.

Text Box: The Complete Pitcher’s™ Weighted Baseball Program  1.  5 minute light-jog 2.  Full body stretch 3.  10 minute long-toss throwing program Time	Distance 3 min.   	60 feet 3 min.	90 feet 3 min.   120 feet 1 min.   	60 feet  4.  Weighted baseball program Ball	Throws	Distance 6 oz. 	20		70 feet 4 oz. 	20		70 feet 5 oz. 	20		70 feet  © Copyright 2002-2004 The Complete Pitcher, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Sources: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 247–250. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 148–156.

 

 

Related Pitching Materials

Want to learn more about youth baseball pitching? Check out the following instructional training materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis and start pitching better today!

The Pitching Manual

A complete training guide for youth pitchers ages 8-13

Title: TUFFCUFF Jr
Author: Steven Ellis and Chris McCoy
Spiral bound, 90 pages
Price: $64.95
Avg rating: (156 reviews)

 

Baseball Pitching Tips

Learn essential baseball pitching tips for young players

Title: Baseball Pitching Tips [NEW!]
Author: Steven Ellis
Ebook, 105 pages
Price: $24.95
Avg rating: (143 reviews)


 

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