Coach Baseball Players on How to Throw Harder

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HomeBlogsJack Perconte's blogCoach Baseball Players on How to Throw Harder
Coach Baseball Players on How to Throw Harder
Jack Perconte

Baseball Tips for How to Throw Harder

Times have changed regarding pitching and learning how to throw harder. The radar gun has become the "end-all" for most pitchers who want a future beyond youth baseball. Sure, a few players reach the highest levels with "finesse" pitching, but failing to throw at least in the lower 90's means one's chances of playing pro baseball are out the window, and to pitch at the college level, one better be at least in the middle '80s. With that in mind, it stands to reason that to coach baseball pitchers to throw harder; speed development is imperative for the future-minded player. Of course, position players also need to develop arm strength, and kids of all ages need to gain arm speed as they progress up the baseball ladder. I often tell kids that as a freshman, if not a year or two before, they will play at the exact baseball dimensions as major league players do - yes, where the big boys with mature bodies perform. So, you better develop your arm speed before that time. So much more is known about developing arm speed now. The innovative Tom House began the study of throwing hard and throwing mechanics some thirty years ago, and the knowledge increases as time goes by. Academies like Driveline Baseball Academy out of Seattle way seem to be at the top of the list of arm speed development. Their teaching how to throw harder is above the level necessary for the 97% of players who hope to have fun at the lower levels of the game and maybe into high school ball.

How to Throw Harder - Basics First and Always

The first order of business, even before a throwing program will help, is attaining the correct throwing fundamentals. Like most things, without the right basics, full potential is not possible. A knowledgeable and observant baseball coach is necessary to teach the fundamentals. Even a few years of throwing the wrong way may make it impossible to recover from, and developing their full potential arm speed will probably never occur. There is no overnight solution to throwing a baseball faster, but players who work hard and throw fundamentally correctly can improve their throwing speeds relatively quickly. Players with sound throwing mechanics have the best chance of staying healthy and reaching their throwing potential. The good news is that players, who throw mechanically incorrectly, can increase their throwing speeds almost immediately by creating better throwing habits. Of course, changing habits is neither easy nor automatic, so as implied, it is best that kids learn to throw correctly from the start. Coaches must coach baseball throwing mechanics when kids begin their baseball playing days and be "sticklers" for the little details like feet alignment and arm path that determine the right fundamentals. Most kids, except for the number one starting pitcher on a team, do not throw enough, so coaches should make sure kids throw at home, too, when trying to learn to throw harder.

Coach Baseball to Throw harder Coach Baseball to Throw harder - 4 seamer

How to Throw Harder - Begins with the Grip

Maximum velocity is unreachable without the correct grip. The correct grip is with the fingertips of the index and middle finger on a seam with a four-seam grip. Coaches should ensure the player's thumb is directly under and centered between the two fingers. Next, coaches should correctly align the players' lower half before addressing the arm action. Arm speed and injury avoidance start with the body's big muscles, from the feet to the waist. The throwing action begins with players making a 90-degree turn of the throwing arm foot, allowing the front shoulder to line up directly at the target. Coaches should ensure kids square up their back foot completely, especially during warm-up throwing sessions, as this is when bad habits often begin. Additionally, teaching players to land on the ball of the lead foot will allow top-arm speed. The next step a coach should address is the correct arm action. Players must swing their thumb under their fingers on the backswing and maintain that position until the arm starts its forward motion. Coaches should teach players to raise the front side elbow to shoulder height and directly at the target in coordination with the throwing arm action. This move is probably the toughest of all for coaches to teach because it is a long process to change incorrect arm action, especially for players who have done it incorrectly for years.

Once these actions are completed, the thrower's stride must be directed at the target, making maximum leg, hip, and torso rotation possible when learning how to throw harder. This direct step will also allow for the maximum extended-release point, which is also necessary for top speed. With this maximum arm extension, the thrower's weight will almost automatically transfer, but coaches may have to make sure players' back leg comes up and forward after release. An incorrect stride length may cause a lazy or premature follow-through, which inhibits maximum velocity.

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Although pitcher strength training exercises do not automatically lead directly to increased arm speed, it helps players with overall body strength and recovery, both vital to reaching top throwing speed. A controlled, age-oriented strength-training program devised by a knowledgeable trainer is necessary. This program will develop the entire body, emphasizing the leg, core, and shoulder area development and hand and forearm strength. Failure to perform any of these steps will prevent maximum throwing speed and often leads to arm trouble. Finally, coaches should listen to players carefully so they know the individual player's body fatigue signals. Arm fatigue is the leading cause of injury, which usually inhibits any chance at reaching one's maximum throwing speed.

How to Throw Harder - Speed Development

Many factors inhibit the player's ability to throw faster, with a lack of genetics being one of those. Of course, one never knows their genetic ceiling until one puts in the long-term effort to reach their top speed. Once players have done sufficient throwing and fully mature physically at the high school level, they will have a good idea of their maximum throwing potential within a few miles an hour. First, coach baseball players to warm up correctly, with gradual increases in speed and distance as the arm loosens. Often unbeknownst to the player, many injuries occur from throwing at maximum speed or close to it before the arm and body are ready for that rate. Additionally, extra time should be given for warming up in colder temperatures. Players need a consistent throwing program to reach maximum throwing speed along with the correct throwing fundamentals. The throwing program should include high-speed throwing, with a long toss as one of the best options. Pitching is maximum throwing, so that counts as top-speed throwing, too. One must allow for the proper rest periods following those full throwing days. Coaching supervision is crucial for observing players' mechanics during the throwing sessions. Any bad habits or overuse will lead to injury or a lack of success in learning how to throw harder throwing program.   The throwing program should be at least six months, but no more than nine months, and should include at least three days a week but no more than five days of throwing. Throwing during the baseball season counts toward those months, of course. Coaches should check for proven extended-distance toss programs and adhere to pitching charts on pitch counts and rest periods. Just winging it with things like those often leads to arm issues.  

How to Throw Harder - Whole body development

There is no way a player can reach their full potential to throw the ball harder than by developing the entire body. Like most things in sports, the power begins with the big muscles of the lower half and core, so it is paramount to teach baseball players strength development and conditioning. Coaches can research some basic bodyweight exercises that players of young ages can do and use the last 5 or 10 minutes of practice for such conditioning. Maintaining overall body strength is the best chance of keeping a player's arms healthy.

How to Throw Harder - Coaching the Mind

As with all coaching, it is mandatory to condition the player's thought process when learning how to throw harder. That begins with teaching them patience because there will be ups, downs, and plateaus along the way. Helping them remain hopeful is crucial and trying to coach them not to limit their potential is vital. For example, players may set a goal of a 5 mph increase in speed when much more is possible.

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10 Final Tips on How to Throw Harder

  1. The first step to throwing a baseball harder is to focus on your mechanics. This means paying attention to your grip, your arm angle, and your release point. By fine-tuning these details, you can maximize the power and accuracy of your throw.

  2. Hold the ball with your fingertips rather than your palm to improve your grip. This will allow you to put more spin on the ball, which can increase its velocity. It's also essential to grip the ball tightly, but not so tightly that you lose control or tense up your arm.

  3. Another vital aspect of mechanics is your arm angle. When you throw, your arm should be at a three-quarters angle rather than fully extended or fully bent. This allows you to generate more power and control your throw.

  4. The release point is also critical to learning how to throw harder. When you release the ball, your arm should be fully extended, and your hand should be pointing toward your target. This will help you maintain proper balance and follow-through, which are vital in throwing with power.

  5. In addition to mechanics, strength and conditioning can also play a role in throwing harder. To improve your arm strength, try incorporating exercises like dumbbell or resistance band curls, tricep dips, and shoulder presses into your training routine.

  6. Another way to increase arm strength is to play catch with a weighted ball. This can help you build up your shoulder and elbow muscles, which are essential for throwing power. Just be sure to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.

  7. Flexibility is another important factor in throwing harder. By regularly stretching your shoulder, elbow, and wrist muscles, you can improve your range of motion and maximize your power potential.

  8. Another way to increase velocity is to focus on your stride. Your stride should be long and powerful when you're throwing, with your back foot coming off the ground as you release the ball. This will help you generate momentum and transfer more energy into the throw.

  9. It's also important to practice proper throwing techniques consistently. This means taking the time to warm up your arm before throwing and using proper throwing mechanics every time you throw.

  10. Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're struggling to throw harder, consider seeking the guidance of a coach or mentor who can help you identify and correct any issues with your mechanics. With practice, patience, and the proper techniques, you can learn to throw a baseball harder and improve your overall performance on the field.

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About Jack Perconte

After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.

All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.

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