Throwing the baseball ball fast and hard requires a combination of good skill and technique involving proper form and biomechanics.
Players of all ages and in all leagues are interested in how they can improve their throwing speeds.
Professional league players regularly clock in at 90 mph, with some of the beasts achieving over 100 mph!
There are a number of ways in which you can improve your throwing speed by focusing on technique and training. Some of these are:
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Use Your Arm
It sounds simple but it often gets overlooked.
Using your arm effectively is key in executing a good pitch. Therefore you should work to improve your arm strength by training and working hard.
You can do this by just practicing throwing in the field, using a pitching target, or playing long toss. Any type of activity that involves training your arm muscles will go a long way in building that arm strength.
Use Your Decelerators (Rotator Cuff Muscles)
While acceleratory muscles are important for initiating a throw, muscles involved in deceleration are equally as important.
It is critical to work on the antagonistic muscles because they are the brakes to your motion and will help direct and tune your speed.
Among the most important decelerators is the rotator cuff, which consists of 4 different muscles that make the throwing motion possible.
To help strengthen these muscles, it is advisable to perform rotator cuff exercises almost every day, or at least several times a week.
These can be done with no weights, or light weights like light dumbbells or soup cans.
When it comes to pitching, longevity and injury prevention should be at the top of your priorities. Pitching can be hard on the body, esspecially when deploying different types of pitches in your game.
This may seem obvious but it is important to lift weights to improve your overall strength, as well as train and strengthen multiple sets of muscles.
This applies to any age including younger players whose growth will not be affected (which is a concern some people have) if appropriate weights and proper form are followed.
When lifting, you should ideally be working on muscles and areas that are involved in different movements.
movements These can be done as standalone workouts or even incorperated into your pitching drills program.
For example, compound exercises such as squats and core exercises involve strengthening multiple different muscles at one time.
Explosive movement exercises should also be involved in weight training to help strengthen fast-twitch muscle fibers as baseball is a game of sudden, explosive movements.
Increase Ankle Mobility
When executing a pitch movement, it is important that good extension is achieved when driving off the mound.
Good ankle mobility is essential for this as extending the ankle allows you to drive correctly and with energy right from the ground which is then transferred to the throw, translating into good speed.
Get Enough Hip to Shoulder Separation
Most of the velocity comes from good hip to shoulder separation and for this, you need good mobility i.e. hip and spine mobility. To help improve this, you can do stretches and mobility exercises.
Increase Thoracic Spine Mobility
By increasing how you move around your spine, better hip to shoulder separation is achieved, which is important in executing a good pitch.
Various extension and rotation exercises can help open up the thoracic spine so that you can achieve greater mobility and range of motion to get good hip to shoulder separation.
Angle The Front Leg
As a pitcher gears up to release the ball, the back leg extends in the back while the front leg moves forward for release.
For this, you should get deep into the back leg and have a slight angle or bend in the front leg to create energy going forward towards home plate.
Essentially, you must ensure that the shin of the front leg isn’t too vertical and has a slight angle so that the knee is behind the ankle. If the front leg is kept straight and is not angled, this reduces the efficiency of driving energy forward.
Keep The Upper Body Closed
This will help prevent you from ‘opening up’ your front side too early and releasing energy prematurely.
To achieve this, your hands should be kept at an angle of at least 45 degrees or less. This will allow you to start in a more closed position, which also requires that your lower body (foot and hips) also be closed.
If you open up too early, you are prematurely releasing and leaking rotational energy that should be transferred to the release of the ball.
Different drill exercises can help you train to get this position correct.
While throwing, your arm should be at 90 degrees or slightly inward, so you can effectively ‘load and unload’ the ball during the pitch.
This also helps to achieve a closed position so that energy is conserved and transferred effectively.
Proper Pronation - Throw Inwards and Then Down
Pronation refers to the internal rotation of the throwing hand.
It essentially involves turning inward when throwing. When throwing the baseball, you (and your throwing hand) should be positioned behind the ball, and not around or at the side of it at release point.
Then use the thumb to turn the ball inward and down while throwing.
With the proper techniques and training, throwing the ball effectively and fast is easier to achieve than you may think.
You can also use these points above when training with rebound nets and other equipment available on the market.
It of course requires continuous training and mastering of good techniques, form and skill.
As with anything, start small and move your way up.
The important thing is to strengthen the key muscles involved in pitching, practicing good form and to improve your overall strength so you can throw the ball with full power good and fast!