We’ve uploaded a bunch of awesome videos in recent history on our YouTube channel of guys throwing 100+ MPH, so if you’ve missed out, here’s a pair to review:
Not too shabby, and we expect bigger gains going forward with more and more guys hitting 100+ MPH from a run and gun throw in due time. However there’s no shortage of questions about how this “transfers” to the mound. In an attempt to be brief, I’ll go over the short version and the long version of my answer to this question.
Short Version: How Does it Transfer? It Just DOES.
Caleb Cotham is one of the pitchers in the video above, throwing 100.2 MPH. He’s no stranger to run and gun throws, though – he played for Vanderbilt under Derek Johnson and throws with Lantz Wheeler in Tennessee, both of whom utilize high-output flat ground throwing in their development programs. His previous best before coming to Driveline Baseball for 4 weeks was 98 MPH, so he put 2.2 MPH on his best run and gun in just under a month. We only threw off the mound one time to a catcher before he went to the Arizona Fall League to get extra work in, and this was his last appearance on the PITCHf/x gun, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (click the image for the report):
If you can’t read that, it shows that Caleb’s average velocity was 92.8 MPH and his best bolt was 93.6 MPH. Prior to coming to Driveline Baseball, Caleb was averaging just about 90 MPH in affiliate ball and topping 92-93, so he’s clearly gained a few ticks on his fastball.
But that’s not all – this is just the one game he played at Surprise, since PITCHf/x is not in every AFL stadium. According to Stalker radar readings, Caleb has been as high as 96 MPH in the AFL, with one game’s velocity range being 93-96 MPH.
So – the short answer: It simply transfers. The other Internet gurus out there who try to disclaim the idea that increased neuromuscular efficiency of training with weighted baseballs doesn’t transfer to the mound somehow are flat-out wrong, not that it will change their mind.
Long Version: How Does it Optimally Transfer? We Can Do Better.
While Caleb’s results were pretty good, we can do a lot better than that. Simply throwing PlyoCare balls and Driveline Elite Weighted Baseballs at full bore with mechanical cueing goes a long way, but backchaining the work to the mound can seriously increase velocity as well. Here’s what a general outline of how a backchained series of events looks like:
- Pure neuromuscular adaptation: Vastly increased fitness, very minor primary skill improvement (throwing), negligible secondary skill improvement (pitching)
- Neuromuscular blending: Minor increase in fitness, major primary skill improvement (throwing), minor secondary skill improvement (pitching)
- Skill-specific blending: Negligible fitness gains, minor primary skill improvement (throwing), mediocre secondary skill improvement (pitching)
- Low-output skill-intense training: No fitness gains (possible regression), no primary skill improvement (throwing, possible regression), major secondary skill improvement (pitching)
Caleb only ever got to the neuromuscular blending stage, and didn’t even complete that, yet saw gains on the mound. This is a testament to how hard he worked on his own, studying video and doing hundreds (if not thousands) of dry reps per day thinking about re-integrating what he’d learned unconsciously.
Most coaches start with the low-output skill-intense training phase, which is completely backwards unless the athlete is incredibly advanced (95+ MPH velocity, pitches at a very high level already with no command or injury problems). Some examples of this include low-speed throwing drills, towel drills, target throwing, or intent focusing on hitting the target rather than for maximum output. These are all useful concepts – except for the towel drill – at the appropriate stage of development, which is generally not until a serious base of fitness and adaptation has been implemented.
The very nature of backchaining demands that the low-skill high-output training methods are put before the high-skill low-output training concepts!
To make it a bit more specific, here’s what a general outline of our Elite Training Program might look like, assuming an athlete who has sufficiently reasonable levels of fitness and a set of mechanics that are not immediately at risk for injury (in which case, rehabilitative efforts have to occur first):
- High-output ballistic flat ground work
- High-output stationary flat ground work
- High-output mound velocity work
- Medium-output mound blend work
- Medium-output mound control work
- Low-output mound command work
- Low-output mound pitchability work
For more information on how weighted baseball training works, check out this video I shot on Total vs. Peak Force:
Hope that helps you understand how weighted baseball training actually works to transfer velocity to the mound!