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View Full Version : How do MLB pitchers, even small ones, throw so fast???


Soxfanspcu11
09-27-2005, 05:40 PM
I have a quick question/problem that maybe someone on here can help me with. Im a 22 year old male and consider myself to be in pretty good shape, I try and hit the gym as much as possible and what not. When Im at Sox games, every now and then me and my friends will try out the speed-gun pitching booth in the left-center field concourse. The HIGHEST I ever got was 65 mph. My friend who constantly enters and wins arm-wrestling contests at bars could only get 62, and this is us GUNNING it without aiming or anything. So why is it that guys like Shingo who are probably 160 pounds tops hit 90??? I mean you look at most pitchers and they are not big guys with huge arms or anything but yet they pitch almost 30 MPH faster then I can? What is the deal with this??? I know it has to do with mechanics, training, grip, release point, etc but I just don't get how the fastest I can throw is only considered a weak major league change-up. Does anyone know how these guys throw so fast??? What is the secret???

Ol' No. 2
09-27-2005, 05:57 PM
I have a quick question/problem that maybe someone on here can help me with. Im a 22 year old male and consider myself to be in pretty good shape, I try and hit the gym as much as possible and what not. When Im at Sox games, every now and then me and my friends will try out the speed-gun pitching booth in the left-center field concourse. The HIGHEST I ever got was 65 mph. My friend who constantly enters and wins arm-wrestling contests at bars could only get 62, and this is us GUNNING it without aiming or anything. So why is it that guys like Shingo who are probably 160 pounds tops hit 90??? I mean you look at most pitchers and they are not big guys with huge arms or anything but yet they pitch almost 30 MPH faster then I can? What is the deal with this??? I know it has to do with mechanics, training, grip, release point, etc but I just don't get how the fastest I can throw is only considered a weak major league change-up. Does anyone know how these guys throw so fast??? What is the secret???Throwing off a 10" mound helps more than you realize.

fahQ
09-27-2005, 09:51 PM
Throwing a baseball is as much if not more involving the use of great technique and leverage as compared to brute strength. I'm on the opposite spectrum as you, I do not lift weights very often, and am not too big 6' 175, but I have hit 80 on the radar at the cell regularly. This could be attributed to the fact that I was a pitcher growing up and took lessons (thank you Diamond Sports) from the age of 10 that taught me to use my legs trunk and arms properly to gain an edge. Just food for thought, muscles dont equal strength at everything.

Iwritecode
09-27-2005, 10:12 PM
taught me to use my legs

That's a big part of it right there. Pitching is not all arm strength. You have to drive with your legs.

Watch Clemens pitch sometime...

Clembasbal
09-27-2005, 10:23 PM
I help pitchers out now Being a high school stud pitcher allows one to do this!

Anyway, I teach them to work out their legs more than anything, though I still have them work out their arms. Seriously, my forearms and biceps are almost the same size, and my "Sox Pride" band goes about 6 inches up my arm. I have no arm strength whatever, yet I was able to throw 81-85 consistantly in high school. Why? Well, I used my rear and my legs. It is not just throwing the ball, it is tourque and drive. You must have this and perfect it in order to throw fast. Now some people just do it naturally, and other have to work on it.

Lip Man 1
09-27-2005, 10:48 PM
A lot of it has to do with mechanics and leverage. Some of the hardest throwers in baseball were small. Billy Pierce, Ron Guidry and Billy Wagner come to mind.

A lot of a pitchers speed comes from their hips and legs. Guys who were a little wider and stronger down there like Clemens, Seaver and Ryan all generated a lot of energy. When you have that muscle strenght you can get the torque needed to throw a baseball hard.

Even the small guys like Pierce and Wagner had strong legs.

Guidry's another story. He was little through his trunk down to his feet. I interviewed him once and asked him about that. He said he couldn't explain it, it was a God given talent.

Lip

veeter
09-27-2005, 11:40 PM
Also, fast twitch muscles in your arm determine velocity as well. Just like hitting needs 'bat speed', pitching requires 'arm speed'. Your body type has nothing to do with the number of fast twitch muscles you'll have. That's why skinny guys can throw 90 and being muscle bound doesn't mean you'll break 60. However, there are some muscular guys that can really fire it.

Huisj
09-27-2005, 11:53 PM
Also, warming up would help some with velocity. It's tough to grab a ball, stand on concrete, and hurl it at a pad 30 feet away immediately and get "good" velocity on it. Warming up, being on a mound, and having a target farther away to shoot for all would probably help most people gain a little velocity.

Another thing that is a factor in the major league pitching velocity: talent. Some folks are born with the right set of body features that help them naturally be able to throw harder than others, just like some people naturally can run faster or jump higher than others, even if those others train and train and train.

Mr. White Sox
09-27-2005, 11:57 PM
Nobody has mentioned a very important part of throwing hard: genetics. I could train as much as I want, have perfect mechanics and work on my 'fast-twitch' muscles, and I probably wouldn't top any higher than 80-83 (I can throw 75 currently)...a guy like Bobby Jenks-someone who isn't in great physical shape and doesn't have fabulous mechanics-can gun it at 100 because he was genetically predispositioned to do so.

EDIT: of course Huisj (member.php?u=327) says the same as I right before I post mine :smile:

elrod
09-28-2005, 12:10 AM
Long toss really helps to gain velocity. It forces you to use your legs and torso more. Do several long toss reps a day and you'll increase velocity. Legs and torque are everything, though. Some people just have a "live arm" - fast muscles, etc. That's the difference between maxing out at 80 and maxing out at 95. But the difference between maxing out at 60 vs. 80 is a matter of mechanics. The tough thing about getting your lower body into the throwing motion is that you have to time your push-off properly. I used to overcompensate with the push-off and try to get my back knee to scrape the ground, but it screwed everything up.

tschneid83
09-28-2005, 12:19 AM
What every one else has mentioned has been very good advice. I just wanted to add one thing and from what I read it was sort of mentioned already. besides the guys who have natural talent, you have to train your arm to throw a baseball hard and by doing that you have to throw a lot of baseballs. Doing arm exercises with weights can help but nothing beats some good ol long toss, regualr toss, and even short toss. You have to get your arm into the correct slot to, as everyone mentioned, have everything working together to throw it hard. basically, what is the best way to work the muscles that are used when throwing a baseball? well you throw a baseball over and over and over. Also, I was told that pitchers should lay off the curls when using weights. It can put a lot of stress on the elbow. If they want to do curls do lighter weight and more sets. Anyone else heard this before?

edit: elrod beat me to it.

Mr. White Sox
09-28-2005, 12:23 AM
What every one else has mentioned has been very good advice. I just wanted to add one thing and from what I read it was sort of mentioned already. besides the guys who have natural talent, you have to train your arm to throw a baseball hard and by doing that you have to throw a lot of baseballs. Doing arm exercises with weights can help but nothing beats some good ol long toss, regualr toss, and even short toss. You have to get your arm into the correct slot to, as everyone mentioned, have everything working together to throw it hard. basically, what is the best way to work the muscles that are used when throwing a baseball? well you throw a baseball over and over and over. Also, I was told that pitchers should lay off the curls when using weights. It can put a lot of stress on the elbow. If they want to do curls do lighter weight and more sets. Anyone else heard this before?

edit: elrod beat me to it.

I actually know a guy who pitched in the independent Northern League, and he is now starting up his own training/fitness center I believe. He had a program (that I actually used for a while) that used no weights at all, and used body resistance and duration exercises. It didn't help me very much as I didn't use the program for long, but the guy I know was pretty ripped. One archetype of the system (this was about a year ago) would be Adam Archuleta...I'm not sure if he still does the program though.

34 Inch Stick
09-28-2005, 10:04 AM
I think a related and interesting question is whether there is a maximum amount of speed a human can generate. The maximum seems to be around 105. You would have expected that the technological assistance provided to the modern athelete would have helped increase that number. However, there were guys reaching that number 50 years ago.

daveeym
09-28-2005, 11:02 AM
I think a related and interesting question is whether there is a maximum amount of speed a human can generate. The maximum seems to be around 105. You would have expected that the technological assistance provided to the modern athelete would have helped increase that number. However, there were guys reaching that number 50 years ago. It's the most unnatural physical motion in any sport, so basically there's going to be a physical limit that technology won't be able to assist all that much.

My list on importance to throwing fast -

1a. Hips and legs - most of your speed comes from this
1b. Technique/practice/mechanics - Without this you'll throw like a girl and all that energy generated from 1. will be wasted.
3. God given talent - probably gives 4-6 more mph.
4. Mound - those that have number 1. will get 4-6 more mph off a mound.
5. Wrist snap - good for another 2-4 mph.

I've seen absolute uncoordinated klutzes increase their speed from 10-15 mph over the years because they practiced practiced practiced (mechanics, and just basic long toss as said above.)

infohawk
09-28-2005, 12:25 PM
Also, fast twitch muscles in your arm determine velocity as well.
That's exactly right. I think it also has to do with ligament and tendon strength and length.

maurice
09-28-2005, 12:36 PM
Lifting weights won't help you throw a baseball hard. It's total body strength and mechanics, generated from 15+ years of regular repetitive throwing. The manner of generating speed depends on body type (contrast Randy Johnson with Bartolo Colon).

You also have to consider that a MLB pitcher warms up extensively before hitting peak velocity. He doesn't down a few beers and wander up to a fast-pitch machine.
:cool:

daveeym
09-28-2005, 12:49 PM
You also have to consider that a MLB pitcher warms up extensively before hitting peak velocity. He doesn't down a few beers and wander up to a fast-pitch machine.
:cool: Over the years a few have taken that approach :cool:

Paulwny
09-28-2005, 12:51 PM
Lifting weights won't help you throw a baseball hard. It's total body strength and mechanics, generated from 15+ years of regular repetitive throwing. The manner of generating speed depends on body type (contrast Randy Johnson with Bartolo Colon).

You also have to consider that a MLB pitcher warms up extensively before hitting peak velocity. He doesn't down a few beers and wander up to a fast-pitch machine.
:cool:

Exception to the rule, Fat Ass David Wells in his earlier yrs.

antitwins13
09-28-2005, 03:16 PM
At Sox fest Cliff Politte said that it has to do with the flexibility of the elbow tendons in one's throwing arm

buehrle4cy05
09-28-2005, 04:37 PM
Being a soft-tossing lefty, I don't care how fast I throw. As long as you hit your spots, change speeds, and have movement, it really doesn't matter how fast you throw.

I guess a tip would be to drive as much as you can with your legs and throw over the top.

fquaye149
09-28-2005, 04:50 PM
Being a soft-tossing lefty, I don't care how fast I throw. As long as you hit your spots, change speeds, and have movement, it really doesn't matter how fast you throw.

I guess a tip would be to drive as much as you can with your legs and throw over the top.

hitting your spots is very important...but having decent velocity is just as important. Changing speeds really only matters if thre's something to be late on. I'm not talking about having to throw high 90's in the majors or high 80's in high school...but you need to be able to throw hard. Sixties will not cut it in high school, seventies in the majors.

Falstaff
09-28-2005, 05:21 PM
Technique: After taking deep breath in your set position, go for the high
kick, like Marichal or Willis, and in your mind, imagine that you are pitching to
close our game 7. They chose you because you bring it a couple feet quicker than Jenks. (In your mind) When the leg comes down and the hip whips your arm over the top, dont forget to follow thru. Guaranteed extra 8mph on top of whatever you got. And yean, the mound itself adds to the velocity more than you think, so you can add about 6mpg for the lack of a mound at the cell.
cheers.

fquaye149
09-28-2005, 06:17 PM
so you can add about 6mpg

wow! that's an EFFICIENT fastball :)

buehrle4cy05
09-28-2005, 08:13 PM
hitting your spots is very important...but having decent velocity is just as important. Changing speeds really only matters if thre's something to be late on. I'm not talking about having to throw high 90's in the majors or high 80's in high school...but you need to be able to throw hard. Sixties will not cut it in high school, seventies in the majors.

I was the slowest thrower on the the team, I think people couldn't hit me because I threw so slow.:tongue:

Huisj
09-28-2005, 08:27 PM
At Sox fest Cliff Politte said that it has to do with the flexibility of the elbow tendons in one's throwing arm

I remember a few years back someone showing a picture of Billy Wagner's arm right before he explodes forward to throw the ball, and elbow seems cocked back further than mine and most people's can physically go. The article said sort of this same idea--the loading that his elbow is able to take in this position just seems to be greater than what the average person's can take, and this helps his arm accelerate really fast like a slingshot.