Baseball Pitching Velocity Training

The conventional response to the statement, Jump Farther , Throw Harder, would be that just because you can jump high, doesn't mean you can throw hard. The conventional pitching coach might say, if this is true then why couldn't Michael Jordan throw 95 mph when he played baseball? The conventional response would be the same if I said Lift Heavier, Throw harder or Run Faster, Throw Harder. The conventional pitching coach would say if this was the case, then why can't Olympic lifters, body builders, Olympic sprinters throw hard? The answer to this is motor coordination.

Motor coordination is the combination of body movements created with the kinematic (such as spatial direction) and kinetic (force) parameters that result in intended actions.

Michael Jordan spent most of his life playing basketball. Olympians spend most of their lives practicing their Olympic skills. This means their motor coordination is specific to their skill set and if they want to convert their talents into another sport then they would have to spend a good portion of their lives re-programming their motor coordination. Just watch the Biography of Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball late in his career. He struggled for years before he started to see any success in the game. He also had to double his practice time to keep up with his competition.

Study Proves Strength Training Enhance Performance In Baseball Players

The point to this argument is that when the conventional wisdom of the game dismisses the statements that jumping farther, running faster, lifting heavier does not apply to the act of throwing or hitting a baseball, is absurd. If this was the case, then why does Major League baseball measure the vertical jump, running speeds and overall speed and strength of the athlete when scouting? I understand, it isn't enough to just find the logic in this argument, I must also produce a study to help prove my point. View the study below called, The Relationship Between Power And Lean Body Mass To Sport-specific Skills Of College Baseball Players. You can view the source to the study here.

METHODS: Thirty-seven members of an NCAA Division I men’s baseball team (age =19.7 ± 1.3 yr) volunteered to be evaluated. Tests included percent body fat, lean body mass (LBM), grip strength, upper (1RM bench press and 1-arm dumbbell row) and lower body (1RM squat) strength, rotational power (medicine ball side toss), leg power (vertical jump), running speed (10, 30, 60 yd sprint), throwing velocity (TV), bat velocity (BV), and batted-ball velocity (BBV).
RESULTS: Correlation coefficients were calculated for all variables by utilizing a correlation matrix from raw scores. Significant (p < 0.05) and moderately high positive relationships were indicated between BV and BBV (r = 0.70); 60 yd sprint and 30 yd sprint (r = 0.77), 10 yd sprint (r = 0.70). Significant and moderately positive relationships were indicated between BV and vertical jump (r = 0.58), LBM (r = 0.43); medicine ball side toss and BV (r = 0.50), TV (r = 0.49), BBV (r = 0.45); 1RM squat and 1RM bench press (r = 0.58). Significant and moderately negative relationships were indicated between 60 yd sprint and vertical jump (r = -0.57). Coefficients of determination for all variables were also calculated. Of particular interest was BV and BBV (r2 = 0.49), vertical jump (r2 = 0.34), medicine ball side toss (r2 = 0.25), LBM (r2 = 0.18); medicine ball side toss and TV (r2 = 0.24), BBV (r2 = 0.20); 60 yd sprint and 30 yd sprint (r2 = 0.59), 10 yd sprint (r2 = 0.49), VJ (r2 = -0.32).
CONCLUSION: Results suggest that strength training programs designed to improve baseball player’s performance should emphasize increasing leg power, rotational power, and LBM.

This study is suggesting that increasing ones vertical jump or leg power, along with rotational power and Lean Body Mass, will increase pitching velocity. So this study supports the claims that jumping farther, running faster, lifting heavier will actually increase your pitching velocity. This study goes to show you how illogical and uneducated the conventional wisdom of the game is, which unfortunately includes most pitching coaches!

Great Examples of Elite Athletes Become Elite Pitchers

If this case study isn't enough, then here are some great examples of how this athletic approach to training the pitcher is changing the game. The best example of the athletic pitcher, in my book, is Tim Lincecum. He is small and explosive like an Olympic gymnast. Here is an excerpt from the New York times where his teammate Mark DeRosa is talking about his amazing athletic ability.

Outfielder Mark DeRosa, who signed with the Giants last winter, said he never knew Lincecum was so athletic until he saw him ace the team’s agility testing — standing broad jump, vertical leap — in spring training. DeRosa already knew how that translated to the mound.

I am assuming Mark DeRosa knows how Lincecum's vertical leap power converts to the mound because he understands the basics of motor coordination. How many conventional pitching coaches in this game understand the difference between motor coordination and athletic ability? I would say very few.
Here is another great excerpt from an ESPN article where one of Lincecum's teammates are amazed by his athletic ability.

In one well-traveled story from last year, the ace (Tim Lincecum) walked through the clubhouse and suddenly did a complete backflip, sticking a perfect landing. Centerfielder Aaron Rowand, one of the crustier Giants, took Lincecum to task immediately, telling him he was too valuable to endanger himself with such frivolity. The pitcher didn't argue, but his father says, "They don't understand what kind of athlete he is. He's not going to hurt himself doing that."

I understand that Tim Lincecum was born with the potential to be this athletic but I believe most all people have this potential as well, just some have to work harder than others to get it out of them. Here is a perfect example of a pitcher working hard to pull this kind of athletic ability out of him. Men's Health put together an excellent article on how Major League Pitcher Tim Collins turned himself into an elite athlete, using hard work and a strength and conditioning program, that developed his lower body, core strength and Lean Body Mass. Here is some excerpts from the Men's Health article which illustrate his transformation.

Tim Collins was a 131-pound high school senior who stood 5'5" and threw an 82-mph fastball.

The 131-pounder with the 25-inch vertical jump is now 172 rock-hard pounds with a 38.7-inch vertical. The guy who was gassed racing against a couple of strength coaches now spends 8 hours a day in the gym, hanging out with the athletes and coaches before, between, and after his training sessions.

The fourth pitch is Collins’ fastest so far, a 93-mph dart that Hunter swings at, and misses.

Tim Collins is a pitcher who tapped into his potential through hard work and went from 82 mph to 93 mph, using a strength and conditioning program developed by Eric Cressey.
At my Baseball Academy, just outside of New Orleans Louisiana. I have a very similar story with one of my local pitchers. His name is Mitchel Sewald and he has been on the 3X Pitching Velocity program for the past 6 months. His vertical jump was around 28 inches before the program and his 60 yard dash was around a 7.3 before the program. At the end of this summer, his vertical jump went over 36 inches and his 60 yard dash went down to 6.5 secs. At the same time his pitching velocity went from 82 mph to 92 mph. He just committed to a full ride to pitch for LSU after his senior year. He is going into his senior year season this new year.
This is all proof, that increasing your vertical or linear jump, which is your power production, while developing proper motor coordination around good pitching mechanics, like the 3X mechanics, will increase velocity. So yes, you can tell your pitching coach that if you can Jump Farther, you will Throw Harder.