As a college coach and pitching instructor, I am often asked by parents to recommend drills to improve a pitchers’ velocity. That would seem like an easy recommendation to make with all of the specialty camps, internet information and technology available today, ….surely, it would be assumed that there must be at least a couple of sure fire, can’t miss, velocity improvement drills.
Just take a visit to your local high school or college and watch a practice or pre-game pitching routine. You will see pitching staffs at all levels, pulling on bands, throwing on one knee, stopping in various poses before throwing….even a towel? Some kids, brave enough, even dare to long toss, all with the idea, that if they just keep doing “that specific drill” their velocity HAS to improve, otherwise “why would coach have me doing all this crazy stuff?…..right”.
Yet, with all of the information available today, thousands upon thousands are still searching for the Holy Grail of Velocity Improvement.
There must be a well kept secret drill, a 90 mph drill, a no fail pitching drill to improve velocity….. ???? However, before I answer that, let’s take look a at some drills which are devastating to velocity improvement.
First of all, throwing an object as hard as you can is an ABILITY. Pitching a baseball is a SKILL. A skill is simply the refinement of an ability to serve a specific purpose. A DRILL is simply an isolated part of a skill or ability. Examples would be a “leg lift drill” or a “finishing drill” (no matter what creative and crazy name they are given) , a part of the whole that we isolate and practice to improve consistency. The theory goes, that if we can improve some or all of the parts, then the entire skill will be better. In the next few posts, I will take a look at some common “Drills” and see if indeed that is the case.
The One Knee Throwing Drill.
In this day and age, I cannot believe the number of times I see baseball players begin a throwing progression on one knee flipping the ball to a partner about 10 feet away. (I have asked the purpose of this drill many times, and best I can tell, it’s supposed to help with “muscle memory” or “release point” or “just getting the arm loose” )
If we take a closer look at the overall ability of throwing an object as hard as possible, we will notice that first of all, it is an ENTIRE BODY MOVEMENT. If you look into the physics of throwing, (see Paul Nymen’s work) you will understand that the arm is only the final lever in the throwing process. Throwing a baseball hard is a skill that requires the body segments to be in rhythm and synchronized. We understand that energy comes from the ground and is transferred up and through the body. Each segment(ankles, knees, hips, trunk, shoulder, elbow, wrist) is dependent on the previous segment to deliver the most energy possible. When a segment or body part fails to deliver energy to the next, we call that a “break” in the kinetic chain or a LEAK of potential velocity.
So…. if our One Knee “Drill” or the isolated movement, 1) does not mirror the previous movement in the chain (hips locked), 2) limits the range of motion of the next segment (limited trunk rotation) 3) creates an entirely different path for final segment (arm path stays on one side of the body)…… HOW IN THE WORLD, do we allow players to waste precious practice time engaged in this anymore than we would have a chain-saw juggling station at our practice…….right, neither has anything to do with practicing or training our body to throw harder.
We all know that practice time is precious, and making the most of our time will yield the highest results. Time we allow our pitchers to spend doing “pitching drills” for the sake of doing “pitching drills” is wasted and time that they can never get back.
If you are a coach or parent and you want to make the absolute most out your players’ training time,
Check out the Core Velocity Belt and what the best pitching minds in baseball are saying about it at Pitch-a-Palooza.
This information is fundamentally changing the way pitching is taught.