Before we get into this, I want to make something very clear. Not everyone will be able to throw 100mph. Everyone has a unique ceiling. At the end of every baseball season, my pro guys would always tell me that they were going to lift for three hours a day to hit their goal to chuck a baseball 92 or 95 or 100 or whatever. Throwing velocity largely comes down to your throwing mechanics and your natural ability. For my pro guys, it is very unlikely, at this stage of their career, to expect to overhaul their mechanics. I always liked to point out that all of the guys throwing that hard aren't linebacker-looking fellas. Typically tall and skinny with powerful deliveries.
With that said, what I CAN do for you is help you reach your ceiling. So here are five things you can do to help you get to that ceiling...
- For Strength Coaches: Have some empathy for your athletes. They just want to make their dreams come true. They aren't evil, injury-seeking baseball players. Let's steer into the skid a little bit here and appreciate what they are trying to do. Before you go on, read this article about having some weight room empathy.
For Athletes: Growing up aspiring to be in the NBA I would model my game after LeBron James. My ceiling was so, un-godly, far away from that level that modeling my game after such a physical unicorn was silly and un-productive. I look at a guy like D'Angelo Russel now and see him become an All-Star by being savvy and not using elite athleticism, and think I would have been much better off modeling my game after someone like that. For baseball players, we can always point to the Greg Maddux type players and the countless others who make millions of dollars chilling in 80s. May not be sexy, but pulling out of the Maserati dealership in your new whip ain't bad.
- Work on the Abs Opposite Your Throwing Shoulder: If you're a righty, that means left abs. If you're a lefty, that means right abs. If you want max velocity, you gotta find max efficiency. If you're opposite side abs can't start pulling your upper body over to the other side, your arm will drag and slow you down but worst of all, it will expose your medial elbow (UCL) to some bonus stress and you don't need me to tell you that's bad.
- Work on Explosive Change of Direction: Being able go from eccentric to concentric muscle action is probably the most effective parameter that you can train in the weight room if you're going for velocity. This is all about absorbing force and exploding out of it. If my life depended on getting a baseball player to throw harder, I would train this more than anything else. On that note, learn more about how this works and some exercises to get started in this post about quickness drills that work.
- Create a Rock Solid Core: This can mean many different things to many different people, however, to me, your core is your ability to anchor your pelvis to your ribs and be able to anchor one side and relax the other. This means lots of hamstrings and lots of obliques. These are your real power muscles. I can't tell you how many hard throwing pitchers I have seen jump up and crush a huge dunk on the basketball court. It's no secret that power crosses over to other sports. If you want to throw harder, that means you likely have to jump higher. Make sure you fully understand this concept because it's a big one. You can learn all about maximizing this in my article on how to jump higher.
- Consider EVERYTHING!: As a Strength & Conditioning Educator, I have carved out the niche of getting people to reach their absolute genetic maximum level of performance. This is why my training model is called genMAX. In order to squeeze every drop of performance out of your body, I need to button EVERYTHING up. And I mean everything. This starts with brain science and finishes with outstanding weight room training. All of the most elite pitchers I have every worked with check the most genMAX boxes......by far. My brother, who is a former MLB pitcher, has topped out at 102mph. He used to ask me every offseason how we were going to get him to 103. At this point we are not only hitting top 1% of pitchers but the 0.00000001% of literal human capacity. If he was going to squeeze any more speed out of that arm, he was going to have to leave no stone un-turned. The genMAX model is about turning over all the stones. Completely buttoned-up approach. It's the gold standard for performance. And everyone who steps into a weight room should be well versed in the gold-standard. You can learn more about the step-by-step process of the genMAX training model here.