All around the Internet, you can find people with pitching programs that claim to improve velocity and arm strength – including the MaxVelo program, which is our in-house program. However, most of the programs just have average velocity gains for a given population without a ton of detail given. I’ve always been a proponent of publishing as much data as possible, so I plan on doing just that today.

At RIPS Baseball, I was lucky enough to influence the throwing program for many of our athletes. Additionally, there were a group of athletes who followed their own throwing program, or didn’t do one at all. This gave me three groups of athletes to work with:

  • Control Group: Did their own thing (usually nothing, or very little)
  • Basic Group: Standard throwing program (detailed later)
  • MaxVelo Group: Advanced velocity training

The Control Group did their own thing. This was usually limited to bullpens, some band work, and their own weight lifting.

The Basic Group included athletes who did not miss more than 20% of their workouts, and performed basic strength, conditioning, and velocity development work developed by me. Here’s an example of a workout:

  • Warm-Up (Wrist Weights, Band Work, Foam Rolling, Dynamic Stretching, Boxing Bag Punches)
  • Resistance Training (Squat Variant, Single-Leg Work)
  • Plyometric Work (Skaters w/ Medball, Box Jumps)
  • Corrective Exercise (Pallof Press, Side-Lying External Rotation)
  • Throwing Program (Indoor Long Toss Variant, +/- 20% Weighted Baseball throws [4 and 6 oz])
  • Cardio Finisher (Kettlebell Swings, Tabata Timing)

Basic Group weighted baseball training rarely exceeded 9 oz. baseballs on the overload side and never exceeded 3 oz. baseballs on the underload side. (They performed a weighted baseball throwing routine that was very similar to the Free Weighted Baseball eBook that I published in 2011.)

The MaxVelo Group included our advanced velocity development training methods, which are well-documented throughout this site, as well as our extensive YouTube channel. Examples of training include, but were not limited to: Connection Ball Training, Advanced Deceleration Training, Plyometric Training, Reciprocal Stress Training, High-Speed Video Analysis, Rhythmic Stabilization Methods, etc. Again, only athletes who made 80%+ of their workouts were included, though none had to be cut from this group for qualification.

Populations

Control Group

  • 14 junior-high and high-school aged participants (14.86 +/- 1.5 years of age)

Basic Group

  • 20 junior-high and high-school aged participants (13.8 +/- 1.32 years of age)

MaxVelo Group

  • 10 junior-high and high-school aged participants (15.1 +/- 1.44 years of age)

Instrumentation and Measurement

Fastball velocity for all groups was measured using a JUGS Pro Sport Radar Gun (Tualatin, OR) designed by Applied Concepts:

JUGS Pro Sport Radar Gun

JUGS Pro Sport Radar Gun

The gun was tuned and all velocities were measured with a maximum deflection of 3 degrees away from launch angle from behind the throwing target. The highest velocity after six throws was recorded and used for any given athlete. The tenths digit was turned on.

Data was saved in a MySQL database for later analysis.

Procedures

All athletes were allowed to warm-up to the extent that they self-reported ready to throw. Fastball velocities were recorded every two weeks for each group, though we will present final results only in this blog post.

Measurements were taken from directly behind the throwing target with a minimum of deflection. Since this was a throwing-specific program (not all participants were pitchers), athletes were instructed to throw from a crow-hop or running start. Examples of such a throw follows:

Results

After twelve weeks of training, the results were as follows (click for larger image):

MaxVelo Analysis

MaxVelo Analysis

  • Control Group: 70.8 MPH pre-test, 70.3 MPH post-test (0.5 MPH loss)
  • Basic Group: 68.1 MPH pre-test, 70.3 MPH post-test (2.2 MPH gain)
  • MaxVelo Group: 72.0 MPH pre-test, 79.1 MPH post-test (7.1 MPH gain)

Here are the one-way ANOVA results between all three groups:

Anova: Single Factor
SUMMARY
Groups Count Sum Average Variance
control 14 -7 -0.5 7.986154
basic 20 44 2.2 7.487368
maxvelo 10 71 7.1 8.244444
ANOVA
Source of Variation SS df MS F P-value F crit
Between Groups 339.3091 2 169.6545 21.71799 3.7E-07 3.225684
Within Groups 320.28 41 7.811707
Total 659.5891 43

Such a low p-value indicates that the differences between the averages of each group is statistically significant. Additionally, the variances between each group were fairly similar

ANOVA results between Control and Basic:

Anova: Single Factor
SUMMARY
Groups Count Sum Average Variance
control 14 -7 -0.5 7.986154
basic 20 44 2.2 7.487368
ANOVA
Source of Variation SS df MS F P-value F crit
Between Groups 60.03529 1 60.03529 7.80693 0.008719 4.149097
Within Groups 246.08 32 7.69
Total 306.1153 33

The low p-value indicates that the differences between the averages of the Control Group and the Basic Group is statistically significant.

ANOVA results between Control and MaxVelo:

Anova: Single Factor
SUMMARY
Groups Count Sum Average Variance
maxvelo 10 71 7.1 8.244444
control 14 -7 -0.5 7.986154
ANOVA
Source of Variation SS df MS F P-value F crit
Between Groups 336.9333 1 336.9333 41.63877 1.72E-06 4.300949
Within Groups 178.02 22 8.091818
Total 514.9533 23

The low p-value indicates that the differences between the averages of the Control Group and the MaxVelo Group is statistically significant.

ANOVA results between Basic and MaxVelo:

Anova: Single Factor
SUMMARY
Groups Count Sum Average Variance
basic 20 44 2.2 7.487368
maxvelo 10 71 7.1 8.244444
ANOVA
Source of Variation SS df MS F P-value F crit
Between Groups 160.0667 1 160.0667 20.70529 9.47387E-05 4.195972
Within Groups 216.46 28 7.730714
Total 376.5267 29

The low p-value indicates that the differences between the averages of the Basic Group and the MaxVelo Group is statistically significant.

Other notes about the data:

  • The MaxVelo Group had no athletes lose velocity. The Basic Group had a few athletes who lost velocity through the training period. Many athletes in the Control Group lost velocity.
  • The MaxVelo Group had a higher pre-test velocity (72.0 MPH) than either the Basic Group (68.1 MPH) or the Control Group (70.8 MPH). Since velocity gains are asymptotic, it can be theorized that the effective gain of the MaxVelo Group should be adjusted upwards due to the more “difficult” starting point. However, further research outside of the scope of this project would be required to figure out if the differences were statistically significant and what the magnitudes of the differences might be. If it exists, the effect is likely to be small given that the difference in pre-test velocities is not that large.
  • It is not clear that the one-way ANOVA analyses were the best way to tackle the analysis of the data. Given that the differences were obvious, the ANOVA tests did not tell us much, even though the variances were close to each other and the samples were similarly grouped (distributed). Improvements and/or criticisms of the data analysis are welcome, and follow-up analysis on the data can be performed if necessary.

Discussion

The major findings in this twelve-week training period were:

  • A comprehensive “strength and conditioning” program with a basic throwing program seemed to increase velocity in most participants (Basic Group)
  • Advanced velocity development training methods (MaxVelo) vastly outpaced both other groups

These findings are similar to that of authors who have done various types of over/underload training techniques, such as DeRenne’s work with weighted baseballs (Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity, DeRenne 1994), who reported modest velocity gains in large samples of high school and university pitchers using just a periodized weighted baseball training program.

However, while participants in the Basic Group showed steady improvement of throwing velocity over the twelve-week period, participants in the MaxVelo Group had realized nearly their entire gains for the twelve-week period in the first six weeks (7.1 MPH gain for full program, 6.7 MPH gain at the halfway mark). Further testing, analysis, and research is scheduled to determine what factors – if any – played into stagnant growth in the second half of the training period.

Since the specific mechanisms for increasing throwing velocity have yet to be pinpointed in research, no hard conclusions can be drawn from this study. However, hypotheses that advocate overall general physical preparedness, under/overload throwing techniques, deceleration training methods, and other similar methods to improve throwing velocity seem to be supported based on the results.

Comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are welcome in either this blog post or emails to the author – kyle@drivelinebaseball.com.

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