This is Joe Marsh in 2008, pitching for his alma mater – Campolindo HS.
Campolindo HS has been a perennial powerhouse in the national high school baseball rankings for years. This would lead you to believe that Joe was some sort of elite pitcher throwing gas from the mound and taking the ball every fifth day.
Well, not so much. Joe pitched just one year of varsity ball there, mostly coming off the bench in the long reliever role, mopping up low-leverage innings. He didn’t throw particularly hard, and so he was passed over by plenty of coaches. Receiving no offers or looks to pitch in college, Joe moved from California to Washington and attended the University of Washington with the intention of studying Aerospace Engineering – with the idea that baseball was well in his rear view mirror.
But, as many of us know, quitting baseball isn’t that simple. Below is Joe’s story of learning how to throw 90 mph.
Joe emailed me in late January, saying he was interested in trying out for the UW baseball team. He came by our facility, I gave him the grand tour, and told him he’d have to be throwing his fastball in the mid-upper 80’s with good command of two pitches to get a walk-on look. He agreed, joined our MaxVelo Velocity Program, and we put him on an on-ramping program to get him throwing again and acquainted with the training.
Two weeks after he was throwing and felt he could throw at 100% intensity, I pulled out the trusty JUGS radar gun and took note of some of his crow-hop throws. Joe was pretty consistently sitting 75-77 MPH.
The first thing I noticed with his mechanics was a fairly long arm action that had little intent to actually throw the baseball hard, and poor bracing/leverage around the thoracic spine. He was also pretty weak in his barbell lifts. This was all good: There was a lot of room for improvement!
Work Begins – The Road to 90 mph
Joe came into the facility three days per week and trained at the UW gym once per week. He faithfully stuck to the program we gave to him, addressing some soft tissue imbalances he had, taking extremely well to our new weighted baseball program (that includes advanced deceleration training that is in Hacking the Kinetic Chain), and really hitting the weights hard.
A few months later, Joe decided he was going to attempt to transfer to UC Davis, closer to his home. He threw for three weeks off a mound, and I gunned him at 82-84 MPH with good command of his sinker, slider, and fastball. His arm action was slowly changing as a result of the movement pattern alteration training he had been doing, and his posture improved due to better mobility and strength. He went down to UC Davis and threw for the coaches, sitting 81-83 MPH and hitting all of his spots with his secondary pitches. The coach told him he’d expedite his transfer, and two weeks later, Joe was one of two sophomores who had transfers accepted to the university.
With a deadline of early June, Joe had just two months to train hard at Driveline Baseball and to realize his goal of throwing 86-88 MPH. Could it be done?
In May, Joe was consistently throwing a 3 oz. baseball 91-92 MPH and a regulation baseball 86-87 MPH. He hadn’t yet gotten to the elusive 88 MPH marker, but we were sure it could be done.
In June, with one week to go, Joe had come in feeling pretty good. After warming up, he threw the 3 oz. baseball 93 MPH. Then he hit 93 again. And then it was 95 MPH. Joe picked up a regulation baseball (5 oz) and was hitting 88. Then 88 again. 89. 89. 89. Unbelievably, 90 was right around the corner. I had Joe pick up a 7 oz. baseball and throw it three times.
Joe picked up a regular baseball again and fired. 89. With lots of yelling from clients in our program, Joe picked up the baseball once again, rocked, and fired into the net.
90 MPH read the JUGS Radar Gun!
I ran over to Joe, shook his hand, and awkwardly hugged him. (Joe’s not much of a hugger.)
“90 freaking miles per hour,” I said! “A gain of 13 miles per hour in just five months!” Joe just smiled, picked up his weighted baseballs, and finished his routine.
That’s Joe in a nutshell. He didn’t jump for joy, he didn’t yell out. He kept on working – knowing 91 and 92 MPH still needed to be hit. That’s why we don’t have a 90 MPH Club. For him, throwing 90 MPH was just a milestone on a long road ahead of him – not an end-all goal.
You can find the exact program Joe used on this journey (since improved with more in-house research) in our velocity training guide Hacking the Kinetic Chain. Learning how to throw 90 MPH–and beyond–is extremely hard work. Hacking the Kinetic Chain takes the guess work out of the process, detailing the sets and reps for the off-season and in-season plus explaining why the drills work and the research behind them.
Joe’s Thoughts About Us
I asked Joe to summarize his time in our MaxVelo Program, and he sent me back this email:
I was new to the Seattle area and hadn’t played baseball for a while, but really wanted to get back into it. I found Kyle while browsing the internet and what I found was exactly what I was looking for: a place to work out with other ball players, a place to throw, and a place to get better. But Driveline Baseball is much more; Kyle implements methods of biomechanics and new training and throwing programs that I had never heard of.
Kyle’s program has you squatting, deadlifting, doing med-ball work, throwing heavy balls, throwing under-weight balls, and a lot more. And it all works. I came into Kyle’s place throwing mid 70’s, and less than five months later I left touching 90. That pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a lot of work, but if you’ve got the will and the desire to get better, Kyle is the man for the job.
I thought Joe summed it up pretty well. What Driveline Baseball offers the dedicated athlete is a place to train with other hard-working guys with staff that understands advanced biomechanics and cutting-edge training no one else is using out there.