Ten Truths About Pitching Speed

One of the issues we most commonly address is pitching speed. Speed is important. It forces hitters to rush their decisions and their movements. That increases their chances of making a mistake. Add dramatic movement to that mix, you are onto something.

Back to speed. Our first priority is always to make sure the pitcher’s movements are efficient, fluid, and that everything is generating from the hips. We concentrate on making her efficient, fluid, and dynamic. If we accomplish that, yes we get the speed, but we also build a platform that will dramatically enhance moving pitches. Now, let’s talk about speed.
Too many people try to get speed from the wrong areas. Today, let’s give you ten truths about speed.
1-How fast should she pitch? Always a little faster.
2-Can only big kids throw fast? It helps. However a big kid with bad mechanics will always fall behind a smaller kid with perfect form. I like to talk about a guy I know who was an NFL kicker. He is average in size. One day I asked him why the big 6’7”, 390-pound lineman didn’t kick further than him. He explained that he had less body mass to control and could channel energy more efficiently into the ball.
3-How much increase in speed should she see regularly? Some of the kids who switch to us from traditional methods see immediate speed increases of 3-6 miles per hour. They are easy to spot. They walk into the cage and I see a tremendous athlete who has, literally, been taught a lot of stuff that prevents her being fast. It is easy to predict that she will jump in speed. Once a new student makes the immediate jump, we settle down to a realistic, safe number for long-term gains. We like a general increase of 3 miles per hour every single year. If she is falling short of this, something is wrong.
4-What is a good speed for a kid my daughter’s age? First of all, don’t listen to other parents. If their kid is clocked at 50mph for ten pitches, and happens to throw one at 53mph, how fast do most parents say she throws? Yes, 55. That’s human nature. In addition, there is the problem of defective radar guns or instructors who say what you want to hear to keep your business. Forget the numbers. Go back to item #1 above.
5-When will my 10-year-old get faster? Don’t be in a hurry. She is still gaining body awareness. Each kid arrives at a different time. Build great foundations first. Then approach it steadily. See #3 above.
6-What are great drills to increase speed? We have a lot of ideas, but they are customized to the particular student. Most speed deficiencies are the result of barriers, so we build drills that help address the barrier while enhancing performance. For instance, if a kid is not opening the shoulders as she leaves the mound, trying to increase speed by throwing longer distances is scary. Or try to add a weighted ball to the mix. That shoulder is going to experience stresses it was not designed to handle.
7-“I don’t think she will ever get there. Do you?” It sounds like mom or dad is making excuses in advance, or who wants a magic pill. Sorry, but it requires work on your part. A LOT of work! If you don’t think it will happen, she feels it, and that takes the fun out of it. You will get what you predicted.
8-People ask often ask me,“How did you learn these things?” Well, the experts indicated that my older daughter had no potential. They were completely unimpressed. We refused their assessment. We decided to take a totally different approach, tossing out the things we had always been told about pitching and experimenting constantly. We were just two people who refused to listen to conventional wisdom, and who refused to go along with the traditional way of doing things. Today I urge students to challenge everything. Conventional wisdom yields conventional results. If that is all you want, anyone can get you there.
9-“How many pitches per day should she throw?” This shows a fundamental flaw in their thinking. Every single workout should have a purpose. It should lead to a specific objective. Both of our daughters went on to pitch D1, but they were so incredibly different. Our Instructors have found that one kid may do better with a specific amount of reps. However, you want to make sure that certain objectives are accomplished as she practices or this is not especially productive. Another kid is completely task-oriented. When she satisfactorily reaches one level, she gets to move to the next. Each day should be very different, and that is where parents can be involved. Help them be creative, challenged, excited, and rewarded by reaching higher levels.
10-“Which is more important, the arm speed or leg drive?’ They are dependent on each other. A fast arm cannot remain fast if it has to wait on slow legs to get there. The ball will sail high, or the arm will pause to wait on the legs, killing momentum.
All of that being said, one element is as important as all of the above. Make it fun! Make it fun! Make it fun! I had a blast working with our daughters. It was their time. It was all about them. It forced us to be together a lot more than we might have been, the little arguments helped us understand one another better and how to resolve those differences, and this time gave us a special bond which will last forever. If she loves the time you spend together, she will want to do it more and she will want to do it better. All I have to do is throw out creative ideas and watch her run with them.