Study: High Level Pitching Based on Strength and Muscle Mass

High Level Pitching Strength Muscle MassDid you know a study shows that there is no difference between the pitching mechanics of a good little league pitcher to a professional pitcher? This makes perfect sense. All you have to do is look at the pitching mechanics of Tim Lincecum from little league to the major leagues in the video analysis I did here called, Youth Pitching Analysis with Tim Lincecum. He has pretty much the same mechanics but now he is just bigger, stronger and faster!

Yes, a study showed, besides having good pitching mechanics, the only difference between the youth pitcher and the adult pitcher is increased strength and muscle mass (1). Just when you thought throwing weighted baseballs and extreme long toss was going to make you an elite pitcher the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) drops a bombshell study like this called, Kinematic and kinetic comparison of baseball pitching among various levels of development. Well, at least you are learning this now and not wasting more time throwing heavier balls as far as you can.

In this article, now that we know that it takes good pitching mechanics and more strength and muscle mass to get to the higher levels of pitching, I will show you the best way to develop good mechanics while building strength and muscle mass. I will also show you what ways of training will prevent you from developing good pitching mechanics and prevent you from developing more strength and muscle mass in your pitching career.

Science Proves Key to High Level Pitching is Increased Strength and Muscle Mass

This study conducted by the likes of Glenn S Fleisig and James R. Andrews at ASMI used a sample group of 231 healthy male baseball pitchers. This included 23 youth (age range: 10-15 yr, height: 1.67+-0.09 m, mass: 55+-10 kg), 33 high school (15-20 yr, 1.83+-0.07 m, 76+-10 kg), 115 college (17-23 yr, 1.84+-0.05 m, 82+-9 kg), and 60 professional (20-29 yr, 1.87+-0.08 m, 90+-9 kg) level athletes. The results of the study found:

Pitching mechanics did not change significantly with level…..Joint forces and torques increased with each level of competition. Since position and temporal differences were not observed, kinetic differences were most likely due to greater muscle strength at each higher level.

The only pitching mechanic that was significantly different between the youth and college level and the youth and professional level was elbow flexion at front foot strike. All of the other differences were angular velocity differences which are a product of athleticism. This means that a good little league pitcher has the exact same pitching mechanics as a good professional pitcher but the professional pitcher is just bigger, stronger and faster.

I know this information is hard to comprehend because it is not what the conventional wisdom of the game wants you to believe. Conventional wisdom wants you to believe that it is pitching mechanics alone which separates the levels of this game. This research is teaching us that you do need to have good pitching mechanics first but increased strength and muscle mass is what gets you to the higher levels as a pitcher.

ASMI made a great observation in the case study here:

While many features of the game (e.g., field dimensions, bat weight) are scaled down for younger players, standard adult baseballs are used at all levels. The use of a lighter baseball may allow youth league pitchers to generate arm velocities more similar to those produced by adult pitchers, even though youth pitchers produce significantly less force and torque. Also, a ball with a smaller diameter might allow the young pitcher to learn proper grips. Research with smaller, lighter baseballs would be helpful.

I truly believe that this is the case, if youth pitchers used smaller and lighter balls then it would be more obvious that strength and size is what separates the levels of baseball. Just look at little league football. They use a smaller ball and you find quarterbacks throwing 20-30 yard passes like the professionals. This is more than likely why it is more accepted in football that strength and size is what separates the level of the game.

How to Develop Strength and Muscle Mass for the Pitcher

Pretty much every single pitcher who comes through a 3X VCamp has no idea how to build significant strength and muscle mass as a pitcher. First off this will never happen while in-season, period! Your body is already using every single resource it has to rebuild the shoulder and arm after every appearance. This means you have to move out of a heavy throwing program like weekly bullpens, extreme long toss and even weighted ball throwing. The problem is this is when most pitchers walk. Yes, you will never develop significant strength and muscle mass when throwing a lot. This is why we all lose weight from the beginning of the season to the end.

Now that you are not overusing your arm, we can get down to business building strength and muscle mass. Of course there is more to this than just strength and muscle mass. We need to make sure we are also gaining flexibility and building anaerobic ATP. This is why with the 3X Pitching Velocity Program we use an Olympic Style approach. I am a USA Weightlifting Certified Sports Performance Coach and we are taught how to build strength through full range of motion in an interval which is less than 1 second. This means we know how to develop explosive strength in an athlete which is what drives the high velocity pitcher. When you start the 3X Pitching Velocity Program you will have a program that uses the Olympic training and more to develop strength, muscle mass, flexibility, anaerobic ATP, joint integrity and much more!

So, what about your pitching mechanics during this Olympic Style training? We uses a drill based throwing program with a med ball and baseball to train the biomechanics of the high velocity pitcher. I don’t know if you have spent a lot of time on this site but we have the best biomechanics system in the game today. We have a training system built around the 3X Pitching Mechanics which has been used by major D1 Universities and professional organizations. This is also a key part to your training in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program and the best part about it is it puts very little wear and tear on the arm which allows for the strength and muscle mass gains.

Remember this isn’t just me telling you that building strength and muscle mass with good pitching mechanics is what moves you to the higher levels of the game of baseball as a pitcher, this is a study performed by some of the most respected advisors to Little League and Major League Baseball informing you of this unconventional information. I will leave you with the final conclusion from this study and the pitching mechanics from the study that showed a significant difference between the levels of baseball for pitchers:

In conclusion, the combination of kinetic differences with a lack of position and temporal differences among competition levels suggests that a pitcher should learn proper mechanics as early as possible, and build strength and fitness as the body matures.

Pitching Mechanic Significant Differences Among Level

Elbow Flexion at Front Foot Contact

  • Youth and College
  • Youth and Professional

Maximum Pelvis Velocity During Arm Cocking Phase

  • College and Professional

Maximum Upper Torso Velocity During Arm Cocking Phase

  • Youth and High School
  • High School and College
  • High School and Professional

Maximum Elbow Extension Velocity During Arm Acceleration Phase

  • Youth and College
  • High School and College
  • High School and Professional

Maximum Internal Rotation Velocity During Arm Acceleration

  • High School and College

Ball Speed at Ball Release

  • Youth and High School
  • Youth and College
  • Youth and Professional
  • High School and College
  • High School and Professional
  • College and Professional

High Level Pitching References:

  1. Glenn S. Fleisig, Steve W. Barrentine, Nigel Zheng, Rafael F. Escamilla, James R. Andrews – Kinematic and kinetic comparison of baseball pitching among various levels of development – American Sports Medicine Institute, 1313 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA – K-Lab, Finch-Yeager Building-Room 102, Durham, NC 27710, USA
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7 Comments. Leave new

[…] low velocity pitching mechanics but still throw with a high pitching velocity. My article, Study: High Level Pitching Based on Strength and Muscle Mass, continues to define the great divide between high velocity pitchers and low velocity pitchers. […]

Reply
Travis Kibel
May 16, 2014 3:46 pm

There is no problem with the use of weighted balls if used properly. Just running out and playing catch with them is not the proper use of them. Long toss serves a purpose as well. The tool is not the problem, the improper use of any given tool is. Players do need to build strength,flexibility, and speed, but it has to be functional strength. You can not train a Pitcher like a Bodybuilder. As far as I know, Lincecum has never picked up a Free Weight in his life. He has never made lifting weights a part of his routine. I am pretty sure he has never done Olympic lifting. Free Weights are extremely hard on the joints, and that is the last thing a pitcher wants. As far as mechanics go, the idea that youth pitchers throw with the exact same mechanics as professional’s is ludicrous. For every study, there is another study that contradicts it. There may be some youth pitcher’s who have been coached very well on mechanics, and do throw with the same mechanics, but they are the minority. I am curious as to how world class weight lifters would fare in pitching? How would they do in a flexibility test? Could Schwarzenegger pitch like a Nolan Ryan?

Reply

    You obviously never read the ASMI study on extreme long toss:
    https://www.topvelocity.net/study-proves-pitching-velocity-decreases-with-extreme-long-toss/

    When Tim entered Liberty High School in Renton, he stood just 4-11 and weighed all of 85 pounds. Incredibly flexible, the teeanger was much stronger than he appeared, thanks mostly to a weight training program devised by Chris. Tim could do a back flip from a standing start and walk across the room on his hands.

    http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/T_Lincecum/T_Lincecum_bio.html

    You are a bit confused. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not an Olympic Lifter. He was a Bodybuilder. Major difference.

    The day you can do this with just the barbell come back and tell me Olympic Lifters are not flexible:
    Olympic Lifting Flexibility

    The only reason these guys do not pitch is because they spend their time mastering the Olympic Lifting technique instead of the pitching technique.

    Let me know when you find the study that goes against this one proving a good little league pitcher and a good professional pitcher do not have significant kinematic differences.

    Reply

After study after study people still think long toss is the key to velocity? But how? Why are coaches so closed minded? Everytime I tell somebody that long toss will actually hurt them more than help them, they just cannot believe. Our high school team does long toss daily and I lost 6 mph I had gained from Brent’s program. Is there a way to dog long toss so I don’t hurt my mechanics, or my arm?

Reply

Tell the coach your arm hurts. All that matters is that you perform well on game day.

Reply

what do you do when you’re part of a college program with mandatory excessive throwing everyday through the whole school year, and trying to get faster and stronger? This has been a problem for me for the last 3 years of my college experience.

Reply

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