For pitchers, throwing fast is everything. Without speed, no pitch can do what it’s supposed to. Fast is never fast enough. Speed and power, no matter what type of pitch you’re throwing, are paramount.
Here are five simple tips that will teach you how to pitch faster.
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Focus on the Fastball
Want to know how to throw a baseball faster? The first step is perfecting the essential baseball pitch: the fastball. Throw a devilishly fast pitch once and you will get noticed. Throw a devilishly fast pitch consistently and you just might have a career in baseball. The fastball is a barometer of a pitcher’s competence, and learning how to deliver it with precision and force consistently is key. If the fastball is strong, smooth and consistent, your other pitches – including any in need of polishing – will become better with time. Before you get sidetracked by fine-tuning dazzling curve and slider variations, make sure your fastball is white-hot and arrow straight.
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Technique is Everything
Baseball is one of the most skill-intensive games there is. Rather than requiring a wide-range of fine motor skills, like, say, basketball, baseball demands that players must hone to the utmost a small amount of incredibly difficult skills and specialties. Naturally, throwing ruler-straight fastballs, devious curveballs and strike-out bait sinkers are part of these skills.
The best you can do for yourself as a pitcher, and as a baseball player – is to dial in on your technique. It may be basic advice, but it is the key to transforming raw talent into refined expertise. The difficult thing is refining a movement your body is deeply familiar with. Remember mechanics drive performance so focus on perfecting your deep-rooted pitch motions. The arms should break simultaneously with the legs. Follow through like your pitch depends on it, because it does. Aside from the mechanics that go into the pitching motion, make sure to maintain a firm but light grip on the baseball. Untrained pitches often make the mistake of gripping the baseball too tightly and slow their pitch down significantly.
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Orthopedic surgeons love pitchers. Why? Because their arms, when not properly cared for, become reliably problematic, calling for expensive surgeries that can keep coming up again and again. The pitcher position requires executing the same movement an incalculable amount of times in a career. In a single season, an active pitcher might throw tens of thousands of pitches. As an athlete whose craft hangs so heavily upon a single arm and the relatively few muscles that support and operate it, taking care of your gun is an absolute necessity. Make sure to ice your pitching arm after practice sessions and games for about 30-60 min. Icing is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your teammates and our #1 piece of advice. Make stretching a priority, before and after every time you hit the mound. On off days, strengthen your scapula and rotator cuff with muscle training exercises. Making your shoulder and its supporting muscles stronger will prepare you for the intense physical wear during games. Realize your limits, while it may be tempting to sign up for spots on several club teams or up your pitch count to get the W, be mindful of wearing out your arm for future years ahead.
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Pitchers have more in common with Olympic weight-lifters than most might recognize. That is, the single factor that can boost a competent pitcher from middling to fantastic on the mound, is strength. One of the best ways to learn how to throw a baseball faster is building this core physical ability.
Practice sport-specific pitching drills that focus on the muscle groups at work. Like a batter with donut-weights on his bat, pitchers must practice pitching with an added challenge, in this case distance. At least a few times a week, pitchers should throw the ball to the plate from a distance behind the mound. Try to uphold your best technique while slowly working your way farther and farther from the plate. Start close, then gradually increase the distance up to 300 feet.
Just as strength training plays a role in preventing injury, it can also play a role in building a complete pitcher, and help you throw a baseball faster. Make sure you hit the weight room with force, incorporating full body workouts with isolation exercises. And, as you’ve heard a million times, power and strength so often come from the core. So, do yourself a favor and pick up that medicine ball, do those sit-ups and engage your abdominal and back muscles as much as possible. You need a solid trunk to stand on your feet and deliver thunderous pitch after thunderous pitch.
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Become A Strong Athlete, Not Just A Pitcher
Pitching a full game takes stamina. The way to build that endurance is not only by pitching, it’s by demanding that your body work at fairly high intensity for long stretches. You can see where this is going: endurance workouts. Running, biking, swimming – all are good ways to increase your body’s tolerance for sustained activity. When a game stretches into extra innings, or you need continued power late into regulation games, you will be able to rise above the occasion.
Endurance activity will also flush out lactic acid – the stuff that makes you sore after workouts and games – and help the recovery process speed along. In addition to endurance exercises, pitchers can benefit from high-intensity, low-volume workouts like interval training and wind sprints.