Yes, weighted baseball training causes serious injury. It is a hard reality, but anything that tries to force a physical gain in a short period of time, in a sport that already has a pattern of throwing related injury, usually comes with serious consequences. The problem today is, either people are ignorant of this or they don’t care. This article isn’t for those who don’t care. I obviously can’t stop you from damaging your baseball career. Best of luck to you and thank you for all your threatening comments but for those who found this because they want to know how weighted baseball training causes serious injury then this article is for you.
I never would have taken this time to write this article, if weighted baseball training would have stayed popular as a warmup or a biomechanics tool but today it has grown into a velocity training nightmare with running throws and the emphasis of high intent throwing. This is why I must step in and do my best to warn the innocent against this madness. I am very passionate about this subject because I was 18 years old when ignorant extreme throwing programs tore my rotator cuff causing doctors to claim I would never play again. I have the scars to prove it, which gives me the drive to educate the public on this ignorance and continue to fight against the camps that attack me in the process.
In this article, I will go over all the science on weighted baseball training and why it is causing injury, what the camps that are pushing this form of training are ignoring and why and what is the best approach to training healthy throwing velocity.
The Popularity of Weighted Baseball Training
First off, weighted baseball training is almost as old as the sport. I found record of baseball players using inactive hand grenades to train arm strength back during World War 1. The case studies on weighted baseballs go back to the 1960’s which is the beginning of research on baseball training (1). So why the current trend? I credit it to China and internet marketing. China sells everything cheaper than it costs to make here, so anyone can buy product wholesale from China and turn around and sell it here for a profit. On top of that the internet makes it affordable to market these products to the public. Therefore you can pull up old gimmicks that failed on the market years ago, due to poor profit margins, and rebrand them again in hopes they make a comeback in popularity.
For example, it would be very easy for someone to purchase weighted baseballs from Alibaba for $1-2 each and then start a Social Media account and show video of pitchers running and throwing the 3oz balls and hitting 90+mph. This would create a viral affect for marketing purposes driving pitchers to buy the balls on your website. You could then uses this income to purchase video time on platforms like MLB Network and Baseball America to quickly gain credibility.
The problem is, this business model works well for the business but is setting young pitchers up for serious injury. It also creates a lot of tension in the market as those who stand up against this risky form of velocity training to the public are attacked from the camps who are making the money on the weighted ball training because it is threatening their main source of income.
Science of Weighted Baseball Training
Yes, there is science showing weighted baseball training can increase pitching velocity but the question is, “At what risk?”. Here is the science:
There is also science showing that using weighted baseballs with crow hops become risky. This is due to the fact that when you take them from the mound to flat ground crow hops, torques and arm speeds increase with 4oz, 6oz and 7oz balls, while ball speeds remain the same. This is not the same for the 5oz baseball when the ball speed stays the same. This study failed to prove but can imply that if the pitchers threw the weighted baseballs at the same speed as the 5oz baseball the torques may have moved higher than the 5oz torques. Here is one of the most recent weighted baseball studies from ASMI. Please share these studies to help educate the baseball community on this critical information.
ASMI STUDY: Weighted Balls Increased Shoulder and Elbow Torques from Mound Pitching to a 2 Step Crow Hop Throw without a changed in ball speed for the 6oz and 7oz ball that was tested. CAUTION: If you don’t take the time to read this study, approaches that use weighted balls with running throws will make it sound like this form of training is no more stressful than throwing weighted balls on a mound which this study shows is NOT true. This is why the study states that these throws are “stressful and risky.” PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH THOSE WHO NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTED BALLS WITH RUNNING THROWS TO HELP THEM AVOID SERIOUS INJURY TO THEIR CAREERS! #weightedball #weightedballs #weightedballs4life #weightedballthrows #pitchinginjury #baseballinjury #baseballinjuries #pitchingpain #pitchingcoach #pitchingprogram #plyocare #plyocareballs #pitchingvelocity #throwhard #runandguns #pitching #baseball #baseballdad #baseballlife #baseballislife #baseballpain #usssabaseball #perfectgamebaseball #collegebaseball
ASMI with former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold did another weighted ball study called, The Effect of A 6-Week Weighted-Ball Throwing Program on Pitching Velocity and Arm Stress. They used 30 pitchers in the case study; 15 in the weighted ball group and 15 in the regular baseball group. The weighted baseball group did increase pitching velocity over the regular baseball group but 3 pitchers were injured during the study in the weighted baseball group. One was bad enough to have surgery. The weighted baseball group also increased Total Range of Motion (TRM) in the throwing arm on average 5 degrees, when the regular baseball group had no increase of TRM. There is another study cited in this study claiming that pitchers with more TRM in throwing arm than non-throwing arm are 78% at a high risk of injury. Here is the case study from ASMI.
Just Released ASMI Study showing High Risk of Injury in only a 6 week study of using weighted baseballs on a mound. Due to the concerns of only the weighted ball throwing group gaining an unhealthy amount of throwing arm external rotation in a short amount of time, study states further research is needed to evaluate long-term implications of WB throwing programs. PLEASE SHARE THIS STUDY WITH ANYONE WHO USES A WEIGHTED BALL THROWING PROGRAM. #usssabaseball #dixieyouth #littleleaguebaseball #baseball #pitching #weightedball #weightedballs #weightedballs4life #weightedballthrows #longtoss #driveline #longtossing #longtossprogram #runandguns #pitchinginjury #baseballinjury #pitchingprogram #baseballprogram #pitchingtraining #asmi #pitchingscience
Mike Reinold lays out the entire research on the safety and effectiveness of weighted baseball training here. This is a MUST READ for all Parents, Coaches and Players. It will save the game of baseball! Please retweet and share with anyone in this game to help spread this critical information for the safety of the young players in this game.
— Mike Reinold (@mikereinold) November 7, 2017
Here is a most recent study looking at the effects of weighted baseballs especially over and under +-20% of regulation 5oz weight on the pitching motion. This is actually the first study to ever do this. Not only did the study find evidence of high risk of injury but effects on accuracy and pitching mechanics. Please share on your social media to help get this information out.
ALERT: Another Weighted Baseball Study Just Launched Showing the High Risk of Injury Especially with the Balls Over 6oz. This is 1st Study to use Balls Over 20% of 5oz. The study also warns against the effects of weighted baseballs on hurting pitch accuracy. #weightedballs #weightedbaseballs #pitching #pitchinginjury #pitchingscience #runandguns #longtossing #baseball
There obviously needs to be many more case studies on the injury rates of weighted baseball training do to the sensitive information these two studies have discovered on the health implications of using this risky form of training. It seems absurd that over the past 50 years baseball has failed to provide better case studies on the risks behind this form of training.
Here is a post showing what can happen to the shoulder from a dislocation throwing weighted baseballs:
#Repost @lenmacpt (@get_repost) ??? From an Orthopaedic surgeon friend of mine who had to do a Bankart repair on his patient after dislocating doing a weighted ball program. We use weighted balls in SOME but not as many as most people out there. We are conducting some clinical trials at @championptp to determine the safety and mechanism by which they may help/hinder performance. (Permission granted by the patient to use this image.) #baseball #physicaltherapy #performance #strengthtraining #strength #velo #athletictraining #dptstudent
The Hard Reality of Weighted Baseball Training for Young Pitchers
In this section, I will give you all of the evidence that I have permission to share with you illustrating the hard reality of those who have innocently and ignorantly used weighted baseball training to increase pitching or throwing velocity. The interviews are hard to hear and the evidence is hard to digest. Just know that there is an alternative to this approach. It is unfortunate that most every baseball camp is using this risky form of training but I have worked incredibly hard and have endured countless attacks against me in the process to develop a better alternative to developing healthy pitching velocity. Watch the video at the end to learn this approach.
This interview is with Noah and Jason Turley. Noah is 15 years old and Jason is his father who was an ex-professional pitcher. Jason worked hard to keep Noah safe from year round baseball and over pitching him but Noah broke his arm and tore his UCL a few weeks after his High School Coach put him on an extreme weighted baseball program. Learn more in the interview:
This interview is with Trent Mottice who at 15 and 19 years old had shoulder surgery to repair his labrum and move his bicep tendon following extreme weighted baseball training programs. The interview becomes chilling, when you learn the explanations he was given from his coaches, when he started having arm pain from the weighted baseball training. Learn more in the interview:
This is a comment Trent’s father left after he listened to the interview.
Here is a public statement made on Twitter from a creator of a popular weighted baseball program admitting to the serious injuries coming from weighted baseball training.
Here are more cases of pitchers who have been seriously injured by weighted baseball training.
— Jaye Chapman (@jchappy33) November 7, 2017
— Jaye Chapman (@jchappy33)
January 20, 2018
— Brent Pourciau (@TopVelocity) February 3, 2018
When I tore my UCL for the 2nd time in 14 months, I could have undergone Tommy John Surgery again. This tweet offers some insight into a big part of my choice retire on my terms and use my degree instead. I respect all the players out there chasing the dream for such little pay. https://t.co/ISCtPGlzKF
— Troy Rallings (@TroyRallings) January 23, 2018
My son just had surgery b/c his college pitching coach believes in weighted balls, made him throw after telling him his arm hurt. Labrum detached from glenoid. Thx Coach. @iMakeItRayn https://t.co/bo9OxWIDQp
— Meredith Robinson (@Mrs_JRobinson44) February 16, 2018
Wrong. My husband pitched in MLB, the only coaches my son has had are 3 MLB pitchers @J_Robinson44, Brian Holman and currently Mike Henneman, all are against weighted balls. They caused my son's labrum to detach from the glenoid – a direct quote from the Orthopedic surgeon. https://t.co/dmetTf8hT1
— Meredith Robinson (@Mrs_JRobinson44) February 17, 2018
This is all we did growing up. 2 labrum surgeries later I totally am on board with this study https://t.co/SNngdDzBza
— R. Meade (@lsufaninjc) February 16, 2018
11 Year MLB Pitcher and Developer of the Velopro Harness credits weighted baseballs (WB) to ending his MLB career and links it to a countless number of injuries in his Big League Edge facilities:
TopVelocity has had 6, 90+mph testimonials go to a high intent weighted baseball velocity training program, against our recommendations, after becoming a success story for TopVelocity and had to have arm surgery during the training.
NPA’s Recent Statement on High Intent WB Training and Injury
NPA released a rebuttal to the most recent high intent WB science that has rocked the industry. I respect this organization but challenge their reasons for using high intent WB training for Velocity. https://t.co/3yGrA2z8R4
— Brent Pourciau (@TopVelocity) December 14, 2017
Better Alternative to High Intent Weighted Baseball Training
This alternative to extreme throwing programs to develop high velocity pitchers is the product of a college and professional pitching career that should have ended in a serious shoulder injury and 15+ years in the road to recovery and more. Watch this video to learn why high intent weighted baseball training is dangerous and what is the safer and more effective alternative.
Weighted Baseball Training References
- Donald E. Brose & Dale L. Hanson (1967). Effects of Overload Training on Velocity and Accuracy of Throwing. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation – Volume 38 – Issue 4
- Glenn S. Flesig, PhD, Alek Z. Diffendaffer, MS, Kyle T. Aune, MPH, Brett Ivey, CSCS, and Walter A. Laughlin, MS. Biomechanics Analysis of Weighted-Ball Exercises for Baseball Pitchers. Sports Health. 2017 May/Jun;9(3):210-215.
- Mike Reinhold, Leonard Macrina, Kyle Aune, Glenn S. Flesig, James Andrews. The Effect of A 6-Week Weighted-Ball Throwing Program on Pitching Velocity and Arm Stress. Champion Physical Therapy and Performance, Belmont, Massachusetts; American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, Alabama
- Christopher Proppe (May 2017). THE EFFECT OF THROWING UNDER- AND OVER-WEIGHT BASEBALLS ON THE PITCHING MOTION. Middle Tennessee State University