The Challenge Of Developing Aspiring Pitchers

Being a pitcher is the biggest stage in baseball, you’re out there all alone, and it’s on you to deliver outs for your team. Pitchers often get a lot of things shouted at them, “throw strikes,” “don’t fall off the mound,” “Stay within yourself“ to name a few. With all that unsolicited advice it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is.

There’s a few schools of thought on pitching, some view it more as an art form, and others view it more as an act of aggression. As a parent it can be confusing because your head is spinning in multiple directions trying to figure out what the best thing for your kid is.

When I was growing up my dad always took pride in the fact that I was a pitcher and not just a thrower. Essentially what he meant is, that I understood how to set hitters up, work counts, and manage the game as a whole. Although to this day I am proud that I was able to do the things listed above, there’s a true thing that’s not said above and squaring with it is important. I was unable to dominate the game with my stuff. I never threw hard, I believe 82 was the maximum I was clocked at, and as a result, I had to try to get hitters out with my mind, and not my pitches. The best pitchers are great throwers and great pitchers. It shouldn’t be one and not the other.

If I wanted to pitch at a high-level, I would have needed to strength train a lot more to build up my velocity. Was there some things that I could have done differently in my motion to help me throw harder? Probably, but my clear deficiency was that I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be.

Making your own decision about what you want pitching to be is a privilege. A privilege given to those that can dominate hitters with their pitches. For them, they can make a decision as to whether they want pitching to be an act of aggression, or an art form. Those that can’t throw the ball hard, are forced to make it an art form. Ironically, the way for those athletes to jump into the next category where they could pitch at a higher level, is by training pitching like it’s an act of aggression.

Does that mean that you should read this and have your kid go out and throw 60 balls in max velocity tomorrow? No way, don’t even consider that. Build up is really important and we don’t need to just be mindlessly throwing balls as hard as we can. When I say training pitching like an act of aggression, what I mean is that when you’re in the gym you need to put in real work to get the results that you desire.

At Ignite, the way we run our gym matches the way that we move on the field so almost every push or pull that we make is paired with a rotation, and our squat and hinge pattern are taught in the context of throwing. This helps athletes learn how to use their entire kinetic chain and not just isolated segments. If you’re the parent of a pitcher in middle school or high school, then you need to know that if your kid is not throwing the ball as hard, or harder than his peers he has one, or both of these problems.

1) He moves poorly when he throws 
2) He’s not powerful in the movements that he’s making when he throws 

It’s really hard to teach an individual perfect throwing form in a group training setting. So those that move poorly need to spend at least some of their time in lessons to improve in that regard.

Inversely, it’s impossible to teach an athlete to build power in their movements in a throwing lesson. Especially when they only happen once a week. This probably isn’t news, but i’ll say it anyway, if you’re going to get stronger you need to be consistent in your training, it’s not a one off thing.

The best approach the training is likely a hybrid. An athlete does lessons a few times a month, and group strength training a few times a week. This allows them to get stronger, and to work on their movement simultaneously. At ignite, we do have options for that it’s called our monthly membership. If you want information on that here’s a link for you to check out.

Thanks for reading,

Kurt Hewes

Founder and CEO of Ignite Baseball

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