The ability to throw a baseball harder can have many advantages. Obviously, pitchers can benefit by adding speed to their fastballs but it can also benefit the other players on the field.
Infielders many times need to make a strong throw to get a quick runner and outfielders can throw out runners trying to get the extra base with a strong firm throw. Also, don’t forget catchers trying to nab a runner from stealing a base.
So what can be done to improve a player’s ability to throw a baseball harder? Actually, there are a number of things that can help. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on players in the 12 to 16-year-old range who have not yet reached full maturity.
Here are the key things that can help players in this age bracket throw harder.
There are a lot of people who think that speed comes from a strong arm or strong legs but that is only a small part of what it takes to throw hard. Here are a few main tips related to your mechanics.
When ready to make a throw or a pitch, start with the ball and glove at chest position with your shoulders in line with your target.
Your fingers should be on top of the ball and as you bring your arm back the ball should be pointing behind you and not at the target. This will allow you to snap your wrist and fingers to create the torque required for maximum speed.
As you begin to push off of your back foot to throw, rotate your chest and hips toward your target with your arm still lagging behind.
Utilize as much of a leg kick as you can to provide a longer stride and more power from your body as you get ready to release the ball. Studies have shown that a long stride can increase velocity as much as the overall throwing motion.
As your arm comes through use your wrist and fingers to snap through providing that last bit of power to the throw.
There are things you can do to improve your body strength, specifically the parts of the body that contribute most to a pitcher such as the lower body.
Strong legs can definitely help players improve how hard they throw the baseball. Many of the hardest throwing major league pitchers have strong lower bodies. For youth and teenage players, running to keep the strength in their legs is probably the best move. Or for players in their mid-teens, some light work with weights can help.
Long toss exercises can be helpful for keeping a player’s arm stretched out. Especially for pitchers in between games. Start with a shorter distance and keep increasing the distance of the throws as you go.
For younger players, it’s helpful for them to get the mechanics down pat and to continue to improve the arm speed. That is another reason why many people frown on young pitchers throwing to many curveballs of off-speed pitches as it teaches them to slow down their arm speed.
There will be plenty of time for them to learn to use additional pitches and to learn the art of pitching. For now, commanding a fastball and using it often can still be the best pitch in baseball.
Other position players can use these same techniques to improve the speed in which they throw the ball as well.