Everyone who plays baseball wants to throw gas. It is the nature of the sport. When you throw 70mph you are searching for that secret sauce that can get you to 75mp.
When players go to showcases they want to be the ones who light up the radar gun and impress scouts with their throwing velocity. To that end, players (and parents) will implement dangerous throwing protocols and programs in an attempt to throw harder.
But the question is if we are applying the right training principles to make this increase possible, sustainable and safe for the player in the short and long term.
After years of talking with parents and players too many times that answer is no. Instead of doing hundreds of band exercises and weighted ball throws this article is about understanding from an anatomical standpoint how to increase velocity so that you are not doing more long term harm than good.
Here’s what you need to know:
- If we are not assessing athletes, we are guessing. Understanding their baseline movement capacity is the first step to making them better.
- The scapular (shoulder blade) must properly and sufficiently upwardly rotate so that the shoulder stays connected with the muscles
- The athlete must have enough range of motion to get their arms overhead without falling into lumbar (low-back) hyper-extension
- The “core” needs to control lumbar hyper-extension throughout the throwing motion
- The athlete needs to be globally strong
- The rotator cuff needs to have strength at the throwing end ranges
Whenever athletes walk into Driven for the first time they also assume that we are going to throw them right into a training session. They figure that it really comes down to the old adage of “pick stuff up and put them down.” The truth is there is a lot more that goes into a training program than just throwing some weight around.
Baseball players who are trying to increase their velocity first need to be assessed to better understand their movement capacity and restrictions. When we put athletes through our assessment process we are looking at how do their joints align to produce fluid and symmetrical movement at the ankles, hips and shoulders If the assessment reveals that the athlete has trouble moving than we know that they have locked athletic potential. If we were never to assess that athlete we would only be guessing as to what is holding them back and why they are making minimal progress.
The value of an assessment is like going for a check-up on your car. It is useless to put a turbo charged V8 engine on a car that has poor tires, an axle that is out of alignment and a host of other issues. It is the same concept with adding strength, speed and power to a human organism that has anatomical restrictions.
The moral of the story is that if you are a baseball player and want to increase your velocity you first need to be put through a thorough functional assessment. If not we are just adding fatigue on top of dysfunction.
Sport-specificity is a common phrase in training among parents, coaches and players. However, in order to be sport specific we must understand how the muscles and bones move through a particular sporting motion. For the baseball pitcher or player the key is to get the scapular (the shoulder blade) to effectively rotate upward throughout the motion. If a player slouches, does a lot of bench pressing, or performs exercises with the wrong technique this only hurts the shoulders ability to properly upwardly rotate.