Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Tag: pitching

Pitchers Are Made in the Off-Season

When planning an off-season baseball conditioning workout for pitchers, think about the nature of the work.

A pitcher completes a very explosive movement that lasts about 3 seconds and then rests for 20 seconds. The goals for pitcher conditioning should be to mimic the physical stresses of competition and train the same energy system.

Interestingly, the right kind of physical conditioning during the off-season can be as vital to a baseball pitcher as working on throwing mechanics.

I’m linking to two interesting articles regarding the best plans for pitchers in the off-season.  One by Steven Ellis at BaseballPitchingTips.com, the other by Phil Wallin at Stack.com.  You will notice that both are similar in scope.

Some of the similarities:

The Design of the Program

Overall, a baseball pitcher’s workouts are designed to produce desired training effects that include:

  •  increasing pitching velocity
  •  improving velocity endurance or “late-inning stamina”
  •  reducing the risk of injury

Do sprint work, not distance work

As Phil Wallin says, “pitching a baseball places an explosive, intense demand on your central nervous system. Thus, you need to train in a similar manner. The perfect type of training stimulus for this is sprints—not long distance endurance running, which over time teaches your body to become slow”

Focus on the Core

Per Steven Ellis, “rather, engaging the core for pitching training involves doing anti-rotation exercises in order to strengthen the midsection. Cable anti-rotation presses, medicine ball throws and planks should be used for a pitcher’s core work.”

Do Push-Ups, not Bench Press Work

According to Wallin, “push-Ups are a great closed-chain exercise. To complete the entire movement, your entire body must remain stable. Barbell Bench Presses lock the shoulders in a susceptible position. This is a good enough reason to leave them out of your training program. Push-Ups are a much safer option for working these joints and muscles.”

Other Programs – ZB Velcoity by Jordan Zimmerman

Similarly, one of the best programs available in the greater Phoenix area is Jordan Zimmerman’s ZB Velocity Training – I’ve written extensively on Jordan’s “Velo” program and its benefits…you can find out more about that here.

I’d invite you to dig into the articles and links posted above…as I’m sure it will help you gain strength, stamina, and prevent some injuries!

A Must for Pitchers – The ZB Velocity Program

I’ve got a really good friend that does some excellent work with pitchers – his name is Jordan Zimmerman – and he runs a program called ZB Velocity that is helping players get stronger, throw harder, and stay healthier!

This program isn’t about using weighted balls and focusing solely on arm strength. Instead, its a holistic approach to strengthening the core along with proper mechanics that brings about a noticeable change in velocity.

Why ZB Velocity?

Many of his players see an increase in 3 to 5 miles-per-hour after an 8 week session with ZB Velo – and more importantly, these pitchers are staying healthy because of it!

I’d invite you to click on the video below to take a look at what Jordan and his group are doing….

I highly recommend reaching out to Jordan to find out more – his contact information is here.

From ZB’s Facebook site:

April 2016 was the launch date of their DVD set and online video series of pitching instruction, velocity training and other baseball related product. ZB Velocity is now offering individual and group pitching instruction to youth, high school and collegiate players.

Below is a list of what is currently offered:

One on one instruction
Group instruction
Video analysis
Speed and conditioning training
Strength training
Arm health
Velocity training
Pitch grips
Mental side of the game
College recruitment

Jordan is a retired MLB pitcher and played 11 years of professional baseball before his official retirement in 2005. Prior to his arrival in professional baseball, Jordan played for the Canadian National Team multiple times.

He was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers but decided that going to college was the smarter choice at that time. While attending Blinn College, Jordan received All State and National awards as a pitcher. In 1995 he was drafted and signed by the Seattle Mariners. In 1999, Jordan got the official phone call and was called up to the Major Leagues with the Mariners.

Today Jordan resides in Surprise, AZ with his wife Jennifer and 4 children. He is the owner of ZB Velocity strength training and the pitching coach for Shadow Ridge High School.

Contact ZB Velocity

You can find out more on Jordan and ZB Velocity here, here and here – and I highly recommend reaching out to him if you, or anyone you know, is a pitcher and is looking for proper mechanics and strengthening!

A Baseball Must for Pitchers: Command and Establish The Fastball

When a pitcher has control that means he pitches in the strike zone.

But when a pitcher has command, that means he can hit spots within that strike zone.  And it’s the fastball that he must command, first and foremost.

Following his third spring training start, David Price said,

“It’s part of the process, continuing to go out there, command my fastball the way that I did today. If I can do that, it just opens up everything that I want to do with all my secondary stuff.”

“That’s always a big emphasis on me, just making sure I’m hitting spots with that fastball—two-seam, four-seam, both sides of the plate, moving it in, up, down.”

As a pitcher that throws a lot of fastballs, Price understands how difficult it is to hit.  He understands that fastballs in different locations thrown with a two-seam and four-seam variations can make life difficult for hitters.

The key is location.

For a great read on fastball command, read Doug Bernier’s article here….

Why The Fastball?

All great pitchers usually have something in common: a good fastball. Having command of your fastball should be the main focus of every pitcher at every level of the game, yet that’s too often not the case.  Too many pitchers (of all ages) tend to spend far too much time on learning how to throw secondary pitches, such as breaking balls.

The fastball is the singularly most important pitch.  If a pitcher has plus command of it, they can cause all sorts of havoc with a hitters mind with the location of that pitch.

Everything works well if you can establish the fastball and put it where you want it.

Having a great fastball means you can get out of most situations, (sometimes) even with a lack of feel for the pitch.  Those who understand this fact know what it’s like when you can’t get a good feel for your breaking ball on a particular day.  The curve ball is a “feel” pitch and can be difficult to throw for a strike at times, especially for younger players.

Having a great fastball also means you can then develop and utilize a secondary pitch with much more effectiveness – like a changeup to simply throw the hitter’s timing off.  This can be killer combination, as many times the hitter can’t recognize the difference out of the pitcher’s hand.

Deception & Perception

If you ever take the time to watch batting practice, you will see how many times hitters don’t square up the baseball.  The hitters know every pitch that is coming and the coach is trying to throw it where they can hit it hard, but still many hitters don’t hit the ball on the barrel of the bat.

Imagine how much harder it gets when they DON’T know what pitch is coming.

  • Inside/outside – After two inside fastballs, a 4-seamer on the outside corner tends to look further outside than normal… even though it is a strike.
  • Speed – The speed differs by 2-3 mph but that is just enough for my contact to be off the barrel if I am timed up for the two-seamer velocity.
  • Up / Down – Moving the ball up and down changes the eye level of the hitter and can produce swing and misses especially with two strikes.

A well located fastball is the most difficult pitch to hit consistently.  The hitter has less time to react, and the further the ball is away from the middle of the plate the more difficult it is for the hitter.

Learning from David Price

Pitchers and coaches might want to take a page out of David Price’s book and throw more fastballs.

As a pitcher, you know the hitter is thinking “once I have to compete against fastballs located for strikes on both sides of the plate and changing eye levels, the secondary stuff becomes much, much nastier to hit.”

As a hitter, when a pitcher establishes the location of his fastball and is not afraid to come after them, it makes hitting that much more difficult.

Adding Another Pitch to the Mix?

For those looking to “add another pitch”, you might want to reconsider, until you’re comfortable with fastball location.

Instead, evaluate what you’re currently throwing, and ask yourself these questions: “do I truly command these pitches?  Can I spot a fastball where I want, anytime I want, with movement?  Can I throw a four-seamer for a strike with my eyes closed?”

Only after you’ve honestly answered “yes” to all three, then consider adding another pitch to your repertoire.

Pitching to Contact

Many pitchers are afraid of “getting hit”, or they try to make the perfect pitch every time.  As a result, they end up throwing balls out of the strike zone,  walking hitters, or pitching from behind in counts.

Unless they throw 100+ miles per hour, they really, they’re trying to control the inevitable – that the batter is going to make contact. Interestingly, pitchers with great command like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine want them to hit the baseball.  And they don’t worry if a hitter ends up reaching base.  Their attitude is, “That’s fine. I’ll get the next guy.”

In Conclusion

Let’s be clear, if you don’t have good command of your fastball, you are not a good pitcher.  That’s the reality. If you want to improve your game, improve your velocity or command, not add a new pitch to your arsenal.

Work on it.

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