KPB Blog

Exercises to Help Build Speed and Control in Your Throwing Motion (2019)

By Alex Wirta, PT, OCS, CMPT

Alex Wirta, PT, OCS, CMPT is the director of the Therapeutic Associates-Bridle Trails physical therapy clinic in Kirkland, WA. A former college baseball standout, Wirta works with baseball players of all ages and is a certified orthopedic specialist. You can contact him at awirta@taipt.com.

Important Note: Before beginning any conditioning or training program, you should talk to your health care provider, coach, and training staff.

Even though the offseason is a time to let the arm have a rest from game action, there can be significant gains in throwing velocity with the right training. The offseason is the time that a recruit can really set himself apart from his peers. And for the most part this can be done without access to fancy equipment or a personal trainer; all you need is time and training with a purpose.

Throwing velocity is about generating speed—not just of the arm—but of the hips and trunk as well.  Over 50% of throwing velocity comes from the lower extremities and spinal rotation. Most players these days take care of their arms with a self-care program but don’t spend nearly as much time on their legs. For baseball players, weak legs mean big trouble. Studies have consistently shown that leg fatigue produces increased stress to the shoulder and elbow. This additional stress leads to an increased risk for injury. Luckily, we are here to talk about some things you can do to prevent this from happening to you.

There are two major components of training that baseball players should be focusing on: strength and speed. To have control during the throwing motion, there must be an underlying level of strength. Deadlifts, squats, lunges, split squats, and any exercise with heavy weights will help build strength. Think of these as your traditional strength training exercises. Although strength matters when throwing, it is not always the biggest or strongest player who can throw the hardest. What we want to highlight are exercises that will help you build speed and control that will be consistent with the throwing motion.

The following exercises are meant to be done 3-4 times per week. Remember that these exercises are designed to be done with proper form and speed!

Lateral skater jumps with pause (Heiden jumps) 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMQvTyaVWG4

Training parameters: 3 sets, 5 reps each side

Common mistake: Knees move inwards when jumping and landing.

Single leg ball drops 

Video: https://www.facebook.com/TAIBridleTrails/videos/2039281563025862/

Training parameters: 3 sets, 10 reps each side

Common mistake: Bending of the low back instead of flexing at the hip.

Medicine ball overhead slams 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znb_g-lRy28

Training parameters: 4-6 sets, 2-3 reps, 4-6 lbs

Common mistakes: Overarching the low back when reaching overhead. Slowing down before the ball release. Trying to use too much weight.

Medicine ball rotation throws 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1Dx8ZMxKLc

Training parameters: 4-6 sets, 2-3 reps, 4-6 lbs

Common mistakes: Rotating through the ball and not the hips. Trying to use too much weight.