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Inside the Game

How to Maximize Pitching Velocity

What is it that maximizes pitching velocity?

We know of course that velocity has nothing to do with arm strength or even full body strength. Remember when Tim Lincecum was throwing 100 mph in 2007 at 5'10" 170lbs and no weight lifting his entire life. That should tell you something in itself.

Keep in mind that pitching is mainly a linear movement...with a small rotational component. But it is movement speed down the mound into a long stride that will have the single biggest impact on velocity.

The idea that focusing on rotation of the hips and trunk will provide more velocity...will more than likely have the opposite effect. There is not one aspect to focus on except trying to produce more natural movements in a direct line toward the target.

Rotating around the back leg, like a Mariners' Felix Hernandez where he turns his back to the hitter or Reds' Johnny Cueto, will not produce more velocity, may actually produce less and increase the risk of injury. Twisting actions increase the likelihood of injury but also make it difficult to control body movements down the mound.

Remember that at landing (stride foot coming down) the pitcher's lower body is rotating around a fixed front hip while his upper body or trunk is rotating around a fixed front shoulder. So rotation is a much smaller component while the long stride or linear movement is much larger and much more important.

The more a pitcher can direct his front shoulder and front hip at the target with little turning motion as possible will produce the most efficient movement and the easiest to repeat.

Once the pitcher can establish a strong front shoulder and front hip motion, then we want to make sure the pitcher is starting his body as far away from the plate as possible to lengthen the amount of time a pitcher has to create movement speed down the mound. Once a pitcher understands to start his body as far away from home plate as possible, then we want him to move his body down the mound as quickly and under control as possible so that at landing energy is quickly transferred to his trunk and then to the arm.

Moving fast with proper timing into a long stride will produce the biggest gains in velocity. A short stride will not maximize the accumulation of elastic energy that occurs by striding 100% of body height.

Try to find a small pitcher, like Tim Lincecum or former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, both 5’ 10” 170lbs, who are able to throw 90mph plus. Few if any currently exist in the MLB. Both Lincecum and Martinez have stride lengths of at least body height or more.

For Pitchers in general but more importantly for smaller pitchers, they must learn move faster and stride longer if they want to maximize velocity. Keeping in mind that a pitcher must be able to manage the stride he is creating.