Everyone wants to throw harder, including the hardest throwing pitcher in professional Baseball, Aroldis Chapman. Just ask, I’m sure he’ll tell you he’d love to throw harder. I’ve seen images of weighted baseballs in his locker, which should be more than enough proof. I’ve seen pitching coaches try to break down Chapman’s mechanics to explain how he throws so hard, and some may be right. Who knows. They’re not sure, Chapman’s not sure, nobody is 100% sure, but they’ll have you believe they’re right if you listen to them try to science you to death.
The fact is – you, your son or your player is not Aroldis Chapman. Trying to throw with his mechanics is not going to get you to 100+ MPH just because you copy what you see. We don’t even know what muscles are actually doing (activating) the work for him during each throw anyway.
What I do know is that throwing with intent is a great way to increase the velocity for any young player. I’ve learned this as a kid when I had a very average arm and my dad practically forced me to throw harder. After a full off-season of long toss, quick hands and trying to hurt my dad’s hand – I suddenly became the hardest throwing kid in my league.
I’ve been doing my best to help my young players to do the same. I want them to have hands that sting. I want them to worry about throwing with [X] because he throws too hard. I want them to compete with each other, whether physically or mentally. But I want them to have fun while doing it.
In my throwing practices – yes, we have full practices based on just throwing during the off-season – I am constantly trying to get them to compete with each other, yet help each other at the same time. We use various tools, from weighted balls for warm-up’s and drills, to long toss, running throws with a radar gun and, sometimes, even pitching from a mound with a radar gun.
My ultimate goal is to get them to be used to always throwing hard. I have a lot of kids who have been taught for years to “just throw strikes” or “just get it there”, which has caused them to throw soft and even aim the ball at times. One kid went from mid-40’s to mid-50’s during the off-season based on the above topics. But I do believe that you need various tools to teach intent.
Weighted Balls for Throwing Harder
I’ll be honest here, I don’t own HTKC by Kyle Boddy, but I have seen most of his YouTube videos and have gotten ideas from him, Ron Wolforth and various others, as well as just trying new drills myself. I’d like to check out HTKC, but for now I have a pretty basic plan. I do highly recommend checking out the above.
Since we don’t have the privilege of working out in a cooler indoor facility like most teams around our area, we workout at a local school in the hot Texas sun. This means the boys struggle at times, and we are limited in resources at this time, but we still find a way to improve.
Our ultimate goal with weighted balls is simple: throw them as hard as you can. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just say “go throw these as hard as you can,” I actually have a pretty good warmup for them to do, followed by throwing, long toss and then weighted balls. However, since we practice as a team and only have limited amounts of time, we pretty much stick to a general plan for now. We also do some weighted baseball throws, but not as much. I find the TAP (would like to check out PlyoCare balls soon) balls work fine for what we do.
We typically use the 2 LB ball to do “reverse pickoff drills” (I like this name better than “the Marshall drill” since he didn’t invent it) 20-25 times per kid, starting softer and throwing harder with each throw.
We utilize the 3.5 oz, 5 oz and 7 oz balls the most, although we do some other drills with the heavier balls when they’re warmed up. Again, the goal or purpose of these throws: throw it as hard as you can. No target, just hit that 20 foot high wall right in front of you.
While we do some “corrective” throws here and there for some kids with certain issues, I won’t be digging in to those. They usually do consist of weighted ball throws, but we also use the Core Velocity Belt as well as a few other devices.
When it comes to weighted baseballs, we basically do running throws, quick hand drills (I toss them a ball and they get the ball out as quick as possible), “torque” throws and other drills like these – all throws into a net.
Regular Baseball Throws
When it comes to regular baseballs for throwing harder, it’s pretty simple. After the player(s) is warmed up, it’s time to throw harder. For instance, if you do long toss (not an affiliate link) make sure you do your pull downs after your arm is stretched out. That’s pretty simple. The goal here is to throw it as hard as you can.
However, a great way to see improvement is via radar gun. I personally own a Stalker Sport 2 Radar gun and love it. I have owned a few cheaper guns but I was not impressed. I use this radar gun to see friendly competition. Watching kids improve each outing is always fun, and the only real way to find that out is through using a radar gun. I have a folder filled with charts for every kid I work with. Kids love seeing progress as well.
Having a pop-up net like a Bownet (tip: there are cheaper versions that are identical) helps with this. It makes it easy to clean up and easy to keep things moving along.
We basically do running throws into the net, but I also work with some kids on other drills as well. On top of that, kids love to see how hard they can throw off the mound. Running throws are always going to be thrown a bit harder, so be prepared if you were expecting to see the same velocities.
Doing drills off the mound can be fun as well, especially tempo-based drills to see how much quicker they can get down the mound and improve their velocity.
As mentioned above, we do utilize the Core Velocity Belt, especially for kids who I have video of that I believe need to use it for corrective drills. But I like to use it off the mound and have another player “gunning” the pitcher with a radar gun. I won’t go into all of the drills, but most are in the CV Belt video series that Lantz has posted.
Workouts for Velocity
Honestly, giving general workout advice is a bit weird, but I did just give advice on improving velocity, so keep in mind that this will be short and general. It’s not for everybody.
I’m going off of what I do for 10-12 year olds, but have used the same idea(s) for High School kids as well. I may dig deeper into all of this stuff for separate articles one day.
Warmup: we do simple dynamic warmups prior to most workouts. Light warmup jog, high knees with a tuck, carioca drill, high/far skips, lunges with a twist, butt kickers, etc.
Medicine balls: I try to incorporate medicine ball drills into every practice. I make kids work in “groups” of 2-3 at a time, depending on who shows up to each practice.
We do a step behind drill similar to this:
That’s pretty much what we stick to for now, although we will be working in overhead throws (and have in the past) shortly. Right now it’s a time issue for us, so we stick to simple moves for now.
Footwork drills: I believe that footwork is essential for any athlete, but especially kids who want to throw harder. We do ladder drills mostly, including drills such as this 2 in 2 out:
As well as 2 in 1 out:
I let the boys have fun with it as well. If one of them decides to keep at it rather than going up and down 2-3 times, I’m fine with that.
We also do a box drill similar to this, immediately after the ladder drills:
We typically do sprints after this to keep it simple, but I also do lateral plyometric drills such as “skaters”:
If and when I get a facility up and running – I will be adding a lot more to these workouts, of course. Right now we have to keep it pretty basic, but it’s working for us. Keep in mind that lateral agility drills will help most players at any age. Yes, even your 7 year old if you wanted to go that route. Just keep it fun 😉
Throwing with Intent
It doesn’t matter what sport you’re in, Baseball, Football or Softball. Throwing with the intent to throw as hard as you can will help you throw harder. This is no different than trying to jump as high as you can, run as hard as you can, lift as much as you can.
Throwing is no different than trying to increase your deadlift, no matter how many experts try to tell you otherwise. If you want to throw harder you have to try to throw harder, but consistency plays a major role in the gains you’ll see or won’t see. If you throw once or twice a week you aren’t going to see any real results.
Being consistent with your throwing routine matters. Doing long toss 2-3 times a week should be mandatory, whereas those light throwing days should be used to do corrective drills or exercises, weighted baseball throws (3 oz, 4 oz, 5 oz) or even recovery protocols and leg workouts. In the end it’s up to you and how your body feels. Listen to your body and shut it down when you feel the need to.
You’ll have to deal with soreness, but be sure you understand the difference between soreness and pain. Pain should mean SHUT IT DOWN and rest. Figure out if it’s serious and take action if needed (see a doctor/specialist). Soreness will happen and, depending on the severity, you can still throw with a sore arm, just do light throwing and shut it down when you feel the need to. If it’s extremely sore take a day off. No need to injure yourself. One day isn’t going to make a difference.
Please let me know any thoughts or suggestions in the comment section.