3 Ways to Increase Your Fastball Velocity
Fastball velocity in almost every league has steadily increased in the last 10-15 years. If you look back in the 1990s, some of the hardest throwers in the big leagues were in the low to mid 90’s, which only a select few really throwing in the mid-upper 90’s. If you look at the big leagues today, it has escalated way past that. It feels like every team has someone who throws in the high 90’s, making a fastball at 88-90 mph no longer special. In fact, it is considered “below average” on many scouting scales.
This velocity increase is not unprecedented, though. With our advanced technology measuring biomechanics, spin rates, and training, a rise in velocity is expected. Although there are AMPLE ways to increase your velocity, there have been many methods that are deemed “unsafe” or could increase your velocity for a short period of time, but at the cost of your elbow or shoulder health. Here are 3 ways you can increase your velocity without touching weighted balls or other products that could potentially lead to injury!
- Explosive Movements:
Performing explosive movements in the gym is one of the best ways to gain strength and in turn, velocity on your fastball. One of the most efficient ways to train for any sport is to perform exercises that will create power and strength that directly translate to the field. Med ball tosses and scoops are some of the best ways to gain power and strength. Another would be ball slams and lateral tosses. Explosive movements do not always need to be performed with a med ball, though. Resistance broad jumps, box jumps, lateral ski jumps (with or without a resistance band) are all great ways to build explosive strength in your lower body.
- Mobility Exercises:
One of the best pieces of advice I can give to young pitchers is to stay loose. The number one reason for injury and other problems is throwing either stiff or what others call “muscling up”. When you tell someone to throw as hard as they can, their natural instinct is to tense up and squeeze the ball. But if you want to throw it as hard as you can, you have to let it flow out of your hand. The best way to ensure that your elbow and shoulder is loose and ready for throwing or training is mobility work. Some examples you could perform are external shoulder rotations or wall slides for the shoulders. For your elbow, elbow circles and pronation/supination band pulls are great as well. Lower body mobility is also important and how you use your kinetic chain can directly influence your velocity. Strong and loose = VELOCITY.
- Overhead Power Movements:
One of the biggest things I heard when I was growing up and going through training was “oh, you play baseball? We need to stay away from overhead lifts”. This should explain firsthand how much has changed in exercise and sport science. Strengthening your shoulders is a key component to staying healthy and throwing harder. I implore you to start (if you have not already) training overhead movements with either a barbell, kettlebells, or dumbbells. The more strength you have in your shoulders, the longer you can perform and the harder you can perform. These movements will directly translate to your performance on the field. Considering that throwing is an extremely strenuous activity for your elbow and shoulder, making sure your muscles and ligaments are strong, loose, and primed for strain are extremely important. Performing shoulder press with a barbell or external rotations with light dumbbells are great ways to increase your overhead strength.