Many baseball fans and amateur players aspire to pitch fastballs like their idols. It may be impossible to have access to the sort of training and conditioning professionals have, but it is possible to take some steps to improve your personal best. If you want to increase the velocity of your fastball, try these tips.
- Gain Weight
Yes, you read right—pack on some pounds, but only if you’re underweight for your body type. You need the body weight to increase the force of your leg drive before you release your fastball. Don’t use this as a license to pig out on junk and beer, though. Strive to gain more weight via muscle mass and not unhealthy fat.
- Work Out
Your coach should know what sort of exercises you should perform to increase your endurance and muscle mass. Don’t take your workouts or the right habits for granted; get enough sleep, and avoid alcohol and tobacco to maximize muscle gains. If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, you can do these arm exercises at home to help you throw harder. All you’ll need is a pair of light dumbbells—3lbs for younger pitchers, 5lbs for adults—or a couple of soup cans.
- Keep Score
To know how much velocity you’d like to add to your fastball, you’re going to need a radar gun. Get a good one like a stalker radar to determine the current velocity of your fastball. Take steps to up your speed, then check your new velocity. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t hit your targets or your results are below expectations.
- Work on Your Technique
Proper technique is definitely key to improving your fastball. Start with your stance, maximize your leg drive, perfect your hip-to-shoulder separation, and master your throw. It may seem simple, but each and every stage of your fastball throw determines whether the ball sputters or gains real speed.
- Drink Lots of Water
A hydrated pitcher is a better pitcher. Not only will your physical performance be hampered, but your mental performance will be off, too. In a study, it was found that even mildly-dehydrated people have their mental faculties impaired, making them unable to work at their baseline levels of performance.
- Use the Four-Seam Grip
It may not only be your stance, leg drive or throw—your grip on the ball can also impact its velocity. To increase the velocity of your throw, you can try the Four-Seam Grip. You do this by placing your index and middle fingertips perpendicular to the seam. The seams should look like a horseshoe to you when you turn the ball over. Position your thumb on the middle of the horseshoe at the bottom of the ball. Don’t hold the ball tightly, but allow a gap to exist between the ball and the base of your grasping thumb. The loose grip and gap are important to minimize friction with the ball when you release, and this will give it maximum backspin and velocity.
- Use What Nature Provided
Another secret to increasing your fastball, unfortunately, lies in your genes. If you’re tall, you can take longer strides, and longer strides mean more energy transferred from your leg drive to the ball before release. Longer arms mean more power when you release the ball. Major League Baseball’s fastest pitcher, Aroldis Chapman, owes his record-shattering 105-mph fastballs to his particular height and insanely fast and long stride, and quick release from his long, strong arms. You can watch this video to see why he’s baseball’s top pitcher.
These are a fraction of what you could do to improve your fastball’s velocity. And although it would be good to be able to throw them like MLB’s legends, pulling off 100-mph fastballs is a feat not everyone can do. Remember that even if you don’t improve your speed by much, it’s still possible to throw decent fastballs and score no-hitters when it’s your turn on the mound.
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