There are a number of good pitching resources for velocity development that I use, but the best resource out there is Kyle Boddy at Driveline Baseball. Kyle has done a great job of researching and testing the best training modalities for increasing throwing velocity. More importantly, he has shared that information through his YouTube channel as well as his twitter and instagram accounts. I highly recommend following Kyle on all 3 platforms, as well as looking at his Hacking the Kinetic Chain (HTKC) website for his recently published book.
I have embedded a number of Kyle’s videos on this page showing many of the drills and training methods (or previous versions of them) he uses in his HTKC program. I have tested and used many of these drills and they have become standard programs for the pitchers that I work with. The purpose of embedding videos here is simply to organize the videos for easy access for referencing different training modalities. I highly recommend following Kyle’s various social media accounts as well as purchasing his book as it provides way more details than provided here.
I have organized the drills from Driveline Baseball below in order as follows:
- Wrist weight exercises – circuit exercises that can be done daily to help train the shoulder and elbow musculature eccentrically.
- Joint stabilization exercises – circuit exercises that are good exercises for post-throwing recovery or rehab purposes.
- Plyo care balls – used extensively in HTKC programs to improve posterior musculature in upper torso and shoulder to improve deceleration movements, often times in reverse chaining exercises. Good for post-throwing recovery but also can be done daily especially in off-season throwing programs.
- Constraint throwing drills – throwing drills that use constraints (connection balls, plyo care balls, etc.) to emphasize dynamic movements that promote velocity performance with proper mechanics to minimize injury potential.
- Velocity training throwing drills – variations of throwing drills that emphasis different aspects of the kinetic chain to maximize velocity performance while minimizing the injury risk to the pitching arm side (PAS).
Wrist Weight Exercises
Basic Wrist Weight Circuit (3 movements)
- Simple shakedowns
- Two-arm pronation throws
- Cuban press
Heavy Wrist Weight Deceleration Training – circuit program as above but with added half-turn pickoffs for a total of 4 wrist weight circuit exercises.
Pronated Swings – isolation video showing simple shakedown pronated swings
Two-Arm Pronation Throws – isolation video showing two-arm pronation throws
Pronated Half-Turn Pickoffs – isolation video showing half-turn pickoffs
Modified Cuban Press – isolation video showing modified cuban press
Elbow Joint Stabilization
Two-joint stabilization resisted external rotation exercises that should be performed in a post-throwing recovery program or as part of a rehab program:
- With rubber tubing (e.g. J-Bands) and co-contraction of biceps/triceps.
- With oscillation therapy (e.g. Shoulder Tube) in the frontal plane.
Plyo Care Ball Drills
Plyo care balls are used extensively in HTKC programs to improve deceleration musculature and are often used in reverse chaining exercises. Each drill or circuit has a specific emphasis.
Force Acceptance with Rebounders – plyo care ball balls used with a rebounder (trampoline). The main function is to help the posterior shoulder to both accept and deliver more force. A must use exercise for both post-throwing arm care as well as arm strengthening programs.
Standing Rebounders – plyo care balls used for strengthening rotator cuff in the 90-90 position.
Ballistic Throws – designed to improve posterior shoulder strength, medial forearm strength, and to teach forward rotation and proper hand drive in throwing motion. This video shows a circuit using both:
- Reverse throws
- Pivot pick-off throws
Pivot Pick-Off Throws – train proper forward rotation to help generate a later ball release, ensuring a proper deceleration path with greater range of motion. Also develops medial forearm strength and endurance. (Note: Kyle also believes it promotes positive disconnection of the glove side; I personally do not believe in the philosophy of disconnecting arms from torso rotation as it results in lower efficiency and repeatability of torso and arm kinematics. Nonetheless, still think it’s a great drill for the other reasons).
Reverse Throws – part of heavy ball arm care routines to strengthen arms. The human body can only accelerate as fast as the brain thinks it is able to decelerate. These drills focus on developing the deceleration musculature in the posterior shoulder and thoracic musculature, so that the pitcher may ultimately be able to accelerate more efficiently.
Heavy Deceleration Throws – performed with heavier plyo care balls; good for strengthening posterior shoulder.
Constraint Throwing Drills
Glove Side Elevation with Overload – emphasis on glove side mechanical timing
Connection Ball Throws – use of the connection ball promotes a shorter, more connected arm to torso which helps reduce injury risk in the pitching delivery.
Velocity Throwing Training Drills
Drop Step Throws – this drill isolates the upper extremity with a focus on the timing of rotation without conscious neuromechanical thoughts of when to engage the lower extremity.
Walking Windups – this is a progression of the drop step throws. This drill reinforces the idea of using momentum throughout the delivery with a simple walker step into the leg kick while energy is directed to the target aided by intent of maximizing velocity.
Weighted Baseball Pulldowns – the use of weighted baseball pulldowns is a key contributor to throwing with maximum velocity. Through variations in both intensity and volume in the pulldown programs, the pitcher can unlock and breakthrough plateaus in their training.
Run & Guns – maximum velocity throws with full intent. These balls to the wall throws are a key drill for getting players to maximize their throwing velocity. The use of a net allows full intent throws to maximize velocity gains by allowing the athlete to not worry about control as much on longer distance throws.
One of the reasons why we have such an epidemic of arm injuries in young pitchers is not enough time is spent on post-throwing recovery. Too many young athletes are spending 75%+ of their time throwing in competitive situations with little to no post-throwing recovery time. To maximize velocity performance while minimizing injury risk, young pitchers should be spending way more time on post-throwing recovery programs and arm care and strength programs.
There is quite a bit of overlap on this page in regards to drills that were described above that should also be used in post-throwing recovery. Details for those programs are included in the HTKC book from Kyle Boddy. While I have another page dedicated to PAS care, that page focuses more on mobility drills for PAS. I have included a couple of videos from Driveline Baseball that are specific to some of their post-throwing recovery drills on this page that could also be included on the arm care page. However, I have chosen to include them here because all of the videos on this page are also from Driveline Baseball.
Post-throwing recovery – 3 different Driveline Baseball exercise series:
- Shoulder Tube
- Isometric RecoverX
- Sleeper Stretch Plus
Shoulder Tube – oscillation therapy that provides rhythmic stabilization to the PAS; can be used both pre- and post-throwing.
Voodoo Flossing the Elbow – great technique for reducing post-throwing inflammation without the use of ice and re-establishing full range of motion of the elbow. More videos on this technique for both the elbow and shoulder are included on the arm care page.