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. Once the brain and body are in perfect harmony, she can speed up the activity. However, if that 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 with the “pedal to the metal” across speed bumps. If she tries to speed up that motion, she risks tearing up some things. This kid cannot get fast until we remove the barriers.
This week a new kid from another state came to see us like that. She had matured, but her speed had fallen off due to some obvious barriers. 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 with the body saying “slow down to protect me”. She simply was doing some things that caused the core to be very unstable during the pitch, so it was neither going to allow to be fast or healthy. Continuing that motion would further weaken the affected area so it was a downhill spiral waiting to happen. The correction took a couple of minutes. Now we can talk about pitching in a fast and healthy way.
Maturity isn’t just age or growth. It can be the time when she finally gets the body in peak physical condition. College athletes often get better simply because they are on a proper strength and conditioning program for the first time. If you are struggling, don’t overlook this part. Get a professional assessment. See where your body lacks the ability to perform as it should. Or, you can take a look at the Strength Training tab on our website.
Finally, the mindset can be the problem. I always say, “Kids who want to throw fast, throw fast”. I didn’t say they 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. We often get these kids when everyone else is catching up to them, and I absolutely love this kid that comes with fire in her eyes and steam coming from her ears. She will walk through fire to remove barriers so she can be atop the field once again.
And, remember, once we fix the inefficiencies that result in lost speed, we are also helping her get everything in order so she can more easily throw moving pitches. When will speed jump? When she is strong, mature, healthy, efficient, determined, and well-trained. Anything less leaves some her short of her potential.