Pitcher’s Training Activities for Building Arm Strength

Coach Mills on September 24, 2008 | No Comments

Pitchers want to know if there are pitching training activities that can improve pitching velocity. Here is some information that was forwarded to me by a client. And, here is my response regarding why these two training activities will not help a pitcher improve his velocity let alone get to 90 mph.

Hi Mr. Mills,

One of your competitors is now endorsing a high school coach who has put together a program designed especially for the high school athlete.
The goal of the program is to increase velocity to 90 mph.
Two of the central tenets are shot putting and wrist flicking.
These exercises are designed to increase the strength of the muscles in the shoulder and forearm which, in will, in turn increase velocity.
Additionally, the misunderstood and under-used scapula muscle is developed by some really wild and crazy exercises. Again, with the result to be an increase in velocity.
John Perona


Do shot putters use their arm to create distance? Try to put a shot from a stationary position with your feet shoulder width apart. How far out will it go? Not far. What the shot putter must do is build momentum from the back of the circle by starting low and driving explosively into release. Without the momentum and speed of movement ,the shot would not very far. Increasing shot put distance is not about the wrist or the arm.

The only thing about shot putting and pitching that is the same is how force is developed. Mass (size of the athlete) times acceleration (speed of movement) equals force (velocity). If the shot putter moves slow, he will not create maximum distance. If a pitcher moves slow, his fastball will not maximize because his arm will move slower.

Do Pitchers Really Flick Their Wrist for Added Velocity?

When does a pitcher flick his wrist is the important question? I don’t know of any pitcher who can gain 1/10 of mph by flicking his wrist more since it has been proven from research that wrist extension does not contribute to velocity. If you watch freeze-frame photos of ball release, you will see that the wrist is in a neutral position. Wrist flicking or wrist strength has no value for pitching.

Apparently, coaches in Florida are also endorsing a six-week program of softball throwing and 75 percent stride lengths as one of the latest and greatest for improving throwing velocity. This, too, will have no benefit. Pitchers need to try to create a stride length at least their height. Throwing a softball will have no benefit for improving baseball velocity.

There are No Arm Strength Muscles to Build for Improved Velocity

I would like these arm strength advocates (weighted balls, long toss, and scapula loading experts) to please point out specifically which of the arm muscles are the “velocity ones.” Then, everyone can just strengthen those and get to 90 mph. Of course, they can’t because there are no arm strength muscles that once strengthened help improve velocity.

We know from sports science research (which coaches apparently don’t read) that velocity is the result of momentum, speed of movement into a long stride, which develops maximum elastic energy from the entire body to deliver the arm at high speed.

The only way that pitchers can improve velocity is by pitching at game intensity speeds from a mound a lot of the time.

Remember that pitching velocity is all about using the body, not the arm. As San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Tim Lincecum says – the arm is along for the ride.

If you want to improve velocity, you must pitch while trying to improve your mechanics so that force production is maximized. Not only will you gain velocity, but you will ensure that the arm is not getting closer to injury.

What will you do this offseason to improve velocity? If pitching at maximum effort often while trying to improve mechanics while being videotaped is not the major emphasis, then pitchers will be disappointed when spring arrives.

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