No player in the history of baseball or softball has ever wished they could throw the ball slower. In fact, we’ll venture a guess that every player to ever toe the rubber has wanted to throw the ball harder. But throwing the ball harder isn’t just a matter of effort. You’ll need to train your body and work up to your maximum potential. To help you do so, we have listed the key mechanics that can help you increase your throwing power. We hope the following information will help you improve your velocity.
Pitching Mechanics Tips to Improve Throwing Velocity
Pitchers looking to throw harder should perform a self-assessment of their mechanics. Many pitchers have never really thought about their windup and how it impacts their velocity.
A pitcher’s windup is all about getting the body in the proper position to make an effective pitch. Some players keep it simple while others perform an intricate dance of sorts. Nonetheless, the hardest throwers in the world find themselves looking nearly identical as they go to release their pitches.
Tip #1: Increase the speed of your torso and shoulder once your stride foot is planted
This may seem obvious, but it’s far too common for a pitcher to be slow with their delivery until the arm is involved. Once your stride foot plants in the dirt, explode through your delivery. Allow your shoulder to rotate quickly and release your arm through the pitch.
The GIF below shows how Roger Clemens (one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball history) becomes a blur once his front foot lands. Think of your stride foot landing as the trigger to your gun.
Tip #2: Use your glove arm to engage your entire upper body
Pitchers often get too “throwy” in their deliveries. This occurs when players get lazy with their front side and place all of their emphasis on their throwing arm. As a result, they will often lose velocity and set themselves up for potential injury.
Instead, use either the glove hand or the elbow on your glove arm to point directly at the plate. Then, whip your glove/elbow to the outside portion of your front hip. This will engage your chest and trailing hip to finish the pitch with balance and power. You can see this on full display with Justin Verlander in the following video. Verlander goes up, out, and back with his lead elbow as “Detroit” is broadly displayed across his chest.
Tip #3: Take your time
Pitchers trying to maximize their velocity will typically rush their delivery and lose their arm slot due to dragging. Arm drag occurs when the rest of a pitcher’s delivery is ahead of the throwing arm. The throwing arm is then forced to catch up with the body, typically resulting in a lower arm slot. And unless you are Randy Johnson or Chris Sale, a lower arm slot will cause a decrease in velocity. The exact opposite of what we’re going for here.
The main culprit in a pitcher’s mechanics that causes the throwing arm to drag is the back leg. Pitchers will often compromise (bend) the back knee too early. Stay firm longer, and then fire the knees and hips around just as you go to release the pitch.
Tip #4: Use your legs and butt
Take a look in the mirror. Which muscles are bigger, your arms or your legs? Exactly. Use your most significant muscles to create the most force. The hardest throwing pitchers can “sit” into their delivery. If you look at Clemens and Verlander (above) you’ll notice that each of them fully engages their legs and butt via their striding foot. Your stride foot should become a new axis for you to drive off.
Let’s take a quick look at one of the hardest throwers in baseball today, Aroldis Chapman. He is a perfect example of using your legs to generate arm whip. After his stride foot lands, it stiffens and allows catapult-esque whip with his arm. He drives off his back leg and is essentially throwing the ball 3-4 feet closer to home plate than when he began. All the while, using all of his body to maximize the velocity of this pitch.
Now we can’t all be Aroldis Chapman, but just looking at his lower half it becomes quite apparent how he generates his velocity.
Tip #5: Throw a four-seam fastball
The final tip is centered around a pitcher’s grip. While it may seem commonplace to some of you, quite a few pitchers don’t grip their fastball for maximum velocity. The four-seam fastball is the pitch with the highest potential velocity. The graphic below showcases the proper way to grip a four-seam fastball. And the result of this pitch, along with the aforementioned pitching tips… straight gas!
We hope you found this to be both entertaining and informative. Your mechanics are key in your velocity generation. Master your delivery, engage your entire body, and let your pitches fly. As you begin to throw harder and harder, make sure you keep your entire body (and especially your core) in shape. This will help keep you off the IL and on the mound.
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