When Will Her Speed Jump?

Every parent of every young pitcher has the same question at some point. When will her speed increase significantly? The answer can vary greatly.

Each kid matures at different rates. I have seen several college players hit their first-ever homerun and they suddenly begin doing so regularly. Their bodies are finally ready to deliver power. Maturity is a hard thing to predict.

In general we have a couple of guidelines. In order to generate speed, the body has to learn to do exactly the same thing in the same way every time, in the most efficient way possible. Once the brain and body are in perfect harmony, she can speed up the activity. However, if harmony is not perfect, a lot of damage can result from trying to rush a poor movement pattern.
Here is an example. I always tell parents that their car will go very fast. If you go through an area with a lot of speed bumps or sharp curves, your car cannot perform at peak. Barriers are holding you back.

Therefore, the kid whose glove is flying out of control, whose hips are lost behind her, whose arm and legs are out of sync, or whose body is in the wrong position at landing…this kid is trying to drive her car across speed bumps with the “pedal to the metal”. If she tries to speed up that motion, she risks tearing up some things.

Recently a new kid in this situation came from another state came to see us. She had matured, but her speed had fallen off due to some barriers that nobody had identified. As she tried to throw harder, I asked if it hurt anywhere. She said no. I pointed to her L-5 vertebra and asked if it ever hurt. Well, yes, but she thought that was normal. No, that is a warning sign. She cannot get faster if her body is saying “slow down to protect me”. She simply was doing some things that caused the core to be very unstable during the pitch. The brain went into protective mode, preventing her from being fast so that she could stay healthy. If she were to continue that motion it would further weaken the affected area, creating a downhill spiral.

The corrections we suggested only took a couple of minutes. Once the brain accepted this new and healthy approach, it freed the body to move far more quickly.

Maturity isn’t just age or growth. It can be the time when she finally gets the body in peak physical condition. College athletes sometimes get better simply because they are on a proper strength and conditioning program for the first time. Other times they go downhill because they do not get a specific assessment and custom program designed to address her specific issues with balance, flexibility, or mobility. Instead a strength trainer has them doing a similar program to the football team, one reason why nearly half of all college pitchers suffer significant injuries every year.

If you are struggling, don’t overlook this part. Get a professional movement assessment from someone with a college degree in a field such as Exercise Science or Exercise Physiology, plus the appropriate certifications. See where your body lacks the ability to perform as it should. Let us know if you need help in this area.

Finally, the mindset can be the problem. I always say, “Kids who want to throw fast, throw fast”. Notice that I did not say they will always throw well, have movement, or stay healthy. But they are like a top race horse. They just can’t stand to see anyone pass them. I absolutely love this kid who comes with fire in her eyes and steam coming from her ears. She will walk through fire to remove barriers so she can stay atop the field, so it’s usually a pretty simple turnaround.

Finally, once we fix the inefficiencies that result in lost speed, we are also helping her get everything in sync so she can more easily throw moving pitches. The two are very related, and if someone compromises one in order to achieve the other, they are only doing half the job.
When will speed jump? When she is strong, mature, healthy, efficient, determined, and well-trained. Anything less leaves some her short of her potential.