Weighted baseball training has been a widely debated prescription for increasing throwing velocity since the first research on it was published in the 1960s, though it has gained greater attention in the last twenty years.
Why Weighted Baseballs?
These types of training programs utilizing weighted baseballs continue to rise in popularity for pitchers of all levels. At the same time, scientists are not entire sure about why they may improve velocity, the long-term effects on the body, or the most appropriate program to perform.
There has been a recent increased emphasis on pitch velocity within the amateur and professional levels of baseball. According to Pitch/FX data, the average fastball velocity in MLB has gone up each year since tracking began in 2008, from 90.9 MPH to 93.2 MPH in 2017. Previous studies have shown both a correlation between increased pitch velocity and increased elbow stress and elbow injury rates. Thus, it is not surprising that injury rates continue to increase in a nearly linear fashion with increased average pitch velocity.
From Brett Pourciau at TopVelociy on a recent study:
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.
You can read the complete article here….
Brett is a biomechanics specialist and a consultant with Major League Baseball
The Other Side
From Driveline – a big proponent of weighted baseballs:
Research backs up the use of underload and overload training in various forms, and it’s no surprise that it works for baseball pitchers as well. Dr. Coop Derenne is the foremost expert in this field and has published a number of research papers that indicate that weighted baseball training creates a significant increase in velocity for those training with underweighted and overweighted baseballs. His most popular paper is Effects of Under and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity, which concludes that training with either underweighted (4 oz) or overweighted (6 oz) baseballs improved pitching velocity when compared to simply throwing normal baseballs.
Well, if you are coaching young players, do your research first. There seem to be two sides of the coin here, but my take is to be extra conservative with the younger set. Their bodies are not physically mature and they can injure easily.
Don’t be that coach/dad that pushes your player so hard that they break down prematurely.