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Training the Whole Pitcher

Posted Sat Sep 11, 2021    by Coach James

Pitching requires so much more than physical strength. Just because someone throws hard doesn't mean they will throw strikes or know how to get guys out. Likewise, just because someone can throw strikes doesn't necessarily mean they'll succeed. Success on the mound is predicated on being a well rounded athlete. You need to be strong, you need to be able to move efficiently, and you need to be mentally tough. That's what I call the "Big 3" of pitching: strength, mechanics, and mentality.


Strength doesn't just refer to how much you can bench press or squat, those are helpful measures of strength. Pitching strength is explosive, mobile strength that will enable you to produce the energy needed to throw hard. What I mean by explosive is that your body needs to move fast, with quick twitch To illustrate, imagine that you ran three miles three times a week for a year. Do you think that will make you a better sprinter? Of course not. Your body didn't train to sprint, it trained to jog. You may be "stronger" in the sense that you have endurance, but you aren't faster in short distance. Explosion has to do with short distance. Pitchers need to be good sprinters, ready to move quickly. This means working on jumping, throwing medicine balls, and sprinting so your body can move fast in short bursts.


But pitching strength is also mobile. By that I mean that as you increase strength, you also need to increase your range of motion and flexibility. Strong legs with tight hips is a terrible combination for pitchers. You need to make sure that your hips are able to rotate so you can maximize the amount of energy you can produce and transfer it efficiently through your mechanics.


Mechanics refers to moving efficiently through space. As one of my mentors, Bill Peterson, puts it, "Good mechanics is moving the right parts, in the right way, at the right time." This ensures that energy is not wasted when you throw. Efficient mechanics will help you throw harder and with little to no arm pain, because arm pain comes from inefficient movement. To start, good mechanics involves loading the glutes properly, turning the hips at the right time, getting hip-to-shoulder separation, maintaining a healthy arm path, and blocking the front leg properly. That's enough movements to work on to keep a pitcher busy for an entire career!


Finally, pitchers need to be mentally tough. Being a strong, efficient mover is only good if you can perform when it counts, and to do that you need to be right in the mind. I've seen so many talented guys fail to achieve their potential because they were not mentally disciplined. Maintaining confidence, managing your thoughts, staying focused pitch to pitch, and getting in the "zone" are invaluable for pitchers at every level.


Are you ready to train the Big 3? That's exactly what I built Virtual Pitching Academy for. With over 140 resources dedicated to training mechanics, building strength, and getting mentally tough, I am confident that you will be a better pitcher if you use the tools provided here. Really the only question is whether you're ready to put in the work!


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