Everyone wants to improve pitching velocity, but unfortunately, the answer to the question of "how" is different for everyone. To that end, I pulled together a quick list of 101 strategies you can use to improve pitching velocity. They aren't the same for everyone, but chances are that at least a few of these will help you. I'd encourage you to print this off and highlight the areas in which you think you can improve.
1. Optimize mechanics (this could be 100 more ways in itself; I will leave it alone for now).
2. Gain weight (if skinny).
3. Lose weight (if fat).
4. Get taller (shorter throwers can’t create as much separation, and are further away from homeplate)
5. Get shorter (taller throwers have more energy leaks).
6. Long toss.
7. Throw weighted baseballs.
8. Throw underweighted balls.
9. Improve thoracic spine mobility.
10. Improve scapular stability.
11. Improve glenohumeral joint stability (rotator cuff strength and timing).
12. Improve glenohumeral joint range of motion.
13. Regain lost elbow extension.
14. Improve hip abduction mobility.
15. Improve hip rotation mobility.
16. Improve hip extension mobility.
17. Improve ankle mobility.
18. Activate the deep neck flexors.
19. Extend your pre-game warm-up.
20. Shorten your pre-game warm-up.
21. Increase lower body strength.
22. Increase lower body power.
23. Train power outside the sagittal plane (more medicine ball throws and plyos in the frontal/transverse plane).
23. Stop distance running.
24. Speed up your tempo.
25. Slow down your tempo.
26. Get angrier.
27. Get calmer.
28. Get more aggressive with your leg kick.
29. Get less aggressive with your leg kick.
29. Don’t grip the ball as firm.
30. Throw a 4-seam instead of a 2-seam.
31. Get through the ball instead of around it.
32. Improve balancing proficiency.
33. Throw out all your participation trophies.
34. Do more unilateral upper body training.
35. Recover better (shout-out to my buddy Lee Fiocchi’s Accelerated Arm Recovery DVD set on this front; it’s good stuff).
36. Throw in warmer weather.
37. Wear warmer clothing under your jersey.
38. Change footwear (guys usually throw harder in cleats).
39. Throw less.
40. Throw more.
41. Pitch less.
42. Pitch more.
43. Politely ask your mom to stop yelling, “Super job, kiddo!” after every pitch you throw.
44. Do strength exercises outside the sagittal plane.
45. Take all the money you were going to blow on fall/winter showcases and instead devote it to books, DVDs, training, food, and charitable donations. If there is anything left over, blow it on lottery tickets and sketchy real estate ventures, both of which have a higher return-on-investment than showcases in the fall and winter.
46. Switch from a turf mound to a dirt/clay mound.
47. Get a batter in the box.
48. Get more sleep.
49. Sleep more hours before midnight.
50. Go from indoors to outdoors.
51. Improve glute activation so that you can fully extend your hip in your delivery.
52. Stop thinking that the exact workout a big league pitcher uses is exactly what you need to do.
53. Subcategory of #52: Remove the phrase "But Tim Lincecum does it" from your vocabulary. You aren't Tim Lincecum, and you probably never will be. You can learn from his delivery, but 99.9999% of people who try to copy his delivery fail miserably.
54. Read more. This applies to personal development in a general sense, and baseball is certainly no exception. The guys who have the longest, most successful careers are usually the ones who dedicate themselves to learning about their craft.
55. Stay away from alcohol. It kills tissue quality, negatively affects protein synthesis, messes with sleep quality, and screws with hormonal status.
56. Incorporate more single-leg landings with your plyos; you land on one leg when you throw, don't you?
57. Be a good teammate. If you aren't a tool, they'll be more likely to help you when you get into a funk with your mechanics or need someone to light a fire under your butt.
58. Respect the game. Pitchers who don't respect the game invariably end up getting plunked the first time they wind up going up to bat. Getting hit by a lot of pitches isn't going to help your velocity.
59. Train the glutes in all three planes (read more HERE).
60. Remember your roots and always be loyal. You never know when you'll need to go back to ask your little league, middle school, high school, or AAU coach for advice to help you right the ship.
61. Get focal manual therapy like Active Release.
62. Get diffuse manual therapy like instrument-assisted modalities or general massage.
63. Make sweet love to a foam roller.
64. Throw a jacket on between innings to keep your body temperature up.
65. Pitch from the wind-up.
66. Drink magical velocity-increasing snake oil (just making sure you were still reading and paying attention).
67. Pick a better walkout song.
68. Get on a steeper mound (expect this to also increase arm stress).
69. Train hip mobility and core stability simultaneously.
70. Get around successful people in the pitching world and learn from them. Find a way to chat with someone who has accomplished something you want to accomplish. If you hang around schleps who complain about their genes and have never thrown above 75mph, though, expect to be a schlep who throws 75mph, too.
71. Pick the right parents (sorry, genes do play a role).
72. Recognize and get rid of pain.
73. Throw strikes (more balls = higher pitch count = lower average velocity)
74. Get 8-12 weeks off completely from throwing per year. Read more about why HERE and HERE.
75. Be candid with yourself about how hard you’re really working (most guys talk about working hard when they should actually be working hard).
76. Brawl with Robin Ventura (okay, don't do that - especially if you aspire to play for the White Sox someday).
77. Stop thinking so much.
78. Think more.
79. Stop stretching your throwing shoulder into external rotation (read more on that HERE).
80. Get in a better training environment.
81. Surround yourself with unconditionally positive and supportive people.
82. Talk to a different pitching coach to get a new perspective.
83. Stop talking to so many pitching coaches because too many cooks are spoiling the broth.
84. Lengthen your stride (learn more HERE, HERE, and HERE).
85. Shorten your stride.
86. Get your ego crushed when you realize that no matter how strong you think you are, there is a girl somewhere warming up with your max. And, my wife might even be able to do more pull-ups than you!
87. Stop trying to learn a cutter, knuckle-curve, slider, and “invisiball” when you can’t even throw a four-seam where you want it to go.
88. Play multiple sports (excluding cross-country).
89. Stay healthy when other pitchers are getting hurt.
90. Stop pitching for five different teams in the same season.
91. Pre-game routine: dynamic warm-up, sprinting progressions, long toss, pull-down throws, flat-ground, bullpen. Post-game routine: make out with prom queen after complete game shutout.
92. Do rhythmic stabilizations before you throw (if you’re a congenitally lax/”loose” guy) to "wake up" the rotator cuff.
93. Hydrate sufficiently.
94. Quit worrying about the damn radar guns.
95. Wear a posture jacket/shirt.
96. Drink coffee or green tea (you get antioxidants and a decent caffeine content without all the garbage in energy drinks).
97. Get in front of a big crowd.
98. Find a better catcher.
99. Throw more to and get comfortable with the same catcher.
100. Tinker with your pre-throwing nutrition to ensure consistent energy levels.
101. Tinker with your during game nutrition to sustain your energy better.
102. Tinker with your post-game nutrition to recover better.
103. Improve core stability (more specifically, anti-extension and anti-rotation core stability).
104. Breath better (less shoulder shrug and more diaphragm).
105. Train the rotator cuff less.
106. Change the day on which you throw your bullpen.
107. For relievers, stay loose and warm throughout the game (read more about that HERE). Staying entertained is also important, as CP athlete Joe Van Meter demonstrates.
108. Here and there, between starts, skip your bullpen and throw a flat-ground instead to give your arm a chance to bounce back.
109. Consider creatine (the most researched strength and power supplement in history, yet surprisingly few people in baseball use it)
110. Work faster (the fielders behind you will love you).
111. Work slower (recover better between pitches and self-correct).
112. Stop ignoring your low right shoulder and adducted right hip.
113. Pick a college program where you’ll have an opportunity to play right away and get innings.
114. Move from a 5-day rotation to a 7-day rotation.
115. Decide to wake up in the morning and piss excellence!
These are really just the tip of the iceberg, so by all means, feel free to share your own strategies and ask questions in the comments section below.
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