Do Weighted Balls Really Increase Velocity?

Today in the game of baseball, velocity is everything. Or so they say. Pitchers are throwing harder than they ever have, though this may or may not be a good thing. With advanced training programs, throwing programs, weight training, and the most debated of them all, weighted ball training, pitchers have the advantage. They are getting bigger and stronger, meaning more velocity and nastier pitches. Sounds good in theory, right? Well, as velocity and movement in pitching has increased, so have injuries.


If you search on Google “How to gain velocity on your fastball”, it is almost guaranteed that you will see something or multiple things about weighted balls and weighted ball programs. As most other things that gain popularity at an alarming speed, weighted balls and programs involving them have grown faster than our ability to understand the science behind them.


In a recent study, Dr. Glen Fleisig conducted an experiment on the biomechanics of throwing weighted baseballs with a group of high school and college pitchers. At the end of the study, the group noted that there was a significant increase in torque in the elbow (Stress on the Ulnar Collateral Ligament or better known as the UCL) when throwing with a crow hop or on flat ground. This stress was obviously linked to the weight increase of the ball. From more details on this study, click here.


In another study conducted by Mike Reinold and his staff, they saw a 3.3% increase in velocity, but also a 24% injury rate among pitchers who ran a 6-week long weighted ball training program. And yes, although SOME pitchers in this group saw an increase in velocity, it was not every one of them. Others saw a jump in velo by from basic throwing programs and weight training. Mike and his staff go deeper in depth behind the mechanics of weighted ball training, as well as the effects on range of motion of the shoulder and more. Click here to read more on his study.


All in all, after an extensive amount of research, it is still unclear whether weighted ball programs are safe and effective in regard to elbow and shoulder health. In certain control groups, there has been an increase in velocity, but not at the cost of range of motion and not without excessive stress on the elbow and shoulder. If you were on the fence about training with weighted balls, I would test them out for yourself (in accordance with a training and program and at your own risk, of course) because there is still plenty of positive research on them.


So, after all this research, I know your thoughts are leaning towards NOT touching a set of weighted balls. I say, do what you feel is right or what has worked for you or your players/clients. The game of baseball and its training is so subjective that some things work for some, and others do not. The same goes for weighted ball training – some people live and die by them, others hate them.


As for my opinion, I am a victim of a UCL tear as have so many other pitchers, so the idea of weighted balls seems a little more dangerous than beneficial. I have seen many players gain velocity simply by increasing their training regimens and following throwing programs in the off-season. Personally, I saw the most increase in velocity when I lifted and trained with intent, and I was throwing 2-3 times a week with 1-2 bullpen sessions in the Fall season. Be sure to check in next week as I give the top 3 ways to increase velocity without touching a weighted ball!