Saturday, July 30, 2016

How To Improve Pitching Velocity And Control At The Same Time

Many pitchers feel they have good control but below average pitching velocity.  This seems to be the case with the majority of high school pitchers…most seem to be stuck in the upper 70’s to low 80’s.

So how does a pitcher improve his pitching velocity without losing his pinpoint control.  I hate to make it sound obvious but the key is to practice improving velocity and control at the same time…when working on throwing practice bullpens.

The reason that so many pitchers are throwing with average or below average velocity is not because they lack the strength but rather because they have focused too much on ball control while slowing down the overall tempo which reduces forward momentum and thus reduces the ability to create enough energy to transfer to the ball.

This reduced pitching velocity begins to occur in youth baseball because volunteer coaches and well meaning fathers create the idea that ball control is about moving the body slower.

The only thing that moving slower does is build in slow movements when  increasing velocity occurs by moving the body down the mound more explosively and faster so more energy is created. 

Pitchers Who Are Taught To Move Slow Will Lose Pitching Velocity…End Up Throwing Slow

Thus if the pitcher is taught to move slow as a youth pitcher, he will have a difficult time later learning to move faster since the slow movement becomes part of his entire nervous system.

Pitchers that already move explosively down the mound and are then told to slow down for better control will probably not have immediate success throwing more strikes.  In fact, it may cause their ball control to get worse.  The reason why is because the speed at which an athlete is taught to move becomes his predominant movement speed.  If you slow him down, that slower movement is foreign to his brain and body and thus his entire movement will have to be relearned at the slower pace.  His control will more than likely get worse because of that…not better.

All pitchers, especially once they have learned the pitching motion and the proper sequence and timing should then work on moving faster down the mound.

That can be practiced during the off-season.  The faster movement should create more energy to shift from the pitcher’s lower body to his trunk and help the trunk rotate faster…which is how faster arm speed is created. 

Here are some tips on how to improve pitching velocity by using the body efficiently
  • increase overall body tempo
  • drive away from the rubber explosively leading with the front hip
  • keep the nose positioned over the bellybutton from start to landing
  • use back leg drive to extend the back leg and speed up the lower body
  • land on a flexed but braced front leg with the head positioned between the two feet
  • land on the mid-line with the foot directed at the target
  • use the glove arm to rotate the trunk faster
Why Youth Pitchers Need To Work On Learning Velocity Now…Not Later 
I hope it becomes obvious why youth pitchers should begin to work on improving pitching velocity now rather than thinking they can get it later on.  That usually does not happen because of learning slower movement speeds. 
Thus why youth parents and volunteer coaches should not think that they can work on control now and then once your son goes into high school he can then work on velocity. It may be too late because the body learns only what you teach it. 
Movement speed or being explosive down the mound is a learned pattern that must be practiced from early on.  This is why teaching proper mechanics should start as early as possible.  Thus when mechanics are learned early then pitching velocity and control can be learned early as well. 
If you teach the body to move slow under control, that is what it will learn to do. Trying to move faster later on will require lots of work and actually learning a brand new faster movement. It can be done but it will take a lot of extra work to displace the slow pattern that was learned early. 
The absolute best way to find out if you are on the right track or not is to get an expert side-by-side voice-over Video Analysis where your pitching mechanics are compared to a top MLB pitcher. 
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Power L?

Coach Rich goes over what the Power L is and the importance of not staying with the Power L depending on pitch location and swing. Were you early and if you were, how extension can save you.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

How To Improve Pitching Velocity And Fastball Command

Being able to improve your pitching velocity and command your fastball are two very important elements if you expect to get hitters out consistently.  You can’t get by for long throwing junk or at below average velocity.   However, if you do have below average velocity you must have pin-point control.

Many pitchers spend far too much time on control and thus sacrifice pitching velocity.  But you don’t need to sacrifice velocity in order to gain control.

A pitcher should never slow down his delivery in order to gain ball control. Yet, many coaches recommend that pitchers do that and that is one of the biggest causes of a lack of pitching velocity.

To gain more pitching velocity pitchers must train themselves to throw at a higher intensity more often. That is the only way the body will learn who to create more intensity and thus more velocity. 

Using Fastball Command To Achieve Success
Fastball command is one of the biggest keys to pitching success.  That means you want to be able to throw “pitcher’s strikes” rather than “hitter’s strikes.”

A pitcher’s strike is a well located fastball where you stay away from the middle of the plate and away from about belt high.  And sometimes it is a ball that is located just off the plate but looks like a strike to the hitter.

As Pedro Martinez used to say:  “Get ahead with strikes and get ’em out with balls.”

For Little League or youth pitchers, I suggest splitting the plate in half and throwing to the outer half.  Once that is consistent, move on to pitching to the inner half.

A fastball thrown down and away is the most difficult pitch for a hitter.  Ted Williams and Barry Bonds, two of the games greatest hitters, only hit about .230 when pitches were located there.

But you must be able to locate the ball for a strike on the inner half as well.  That inside fastball looks much faster than the ball throw down and away.  So to be successful as a pitcher you must be able to locate the ball away from the middle of the plate while keeping the ball down.  For a youth pitcher practice should be initially about keeping the ball down.  Belt high pitchers are easy for even youth hitters to hit.  Once you can keep the ball down then work on the outer half of the plate.

Two things determine whether a pitcher has good control or not.  The first is mechanics. If your mechanics are poor or inconsistent then good control will be tough to learn.

The second factor is practice.  We of course recommend “blocked over-practice bullpens” where you focus on throwing the same pitch to the same location over and over using several blocked sets of 5-8 pitches.  This method helps train both the brain and the body how to locate to those specific locations because there is a goal for each pitch.

Not throwing enough pitches at game intensity is why so many pitchers never gain command of their fastball or the strike zone.

CAUTION: Do not work on control and sacrifice velocity.  Velocity must be worked on at the same time you are working on ball control.  Remember this – the faster you move the less chance of mechanical error. 

Don’t Slow Down Your Delivery To Improve Ball Control
This is where most youth and high school pitchers go wrong.  They slow down their level of intensity to just “throw a strike”.  Big, big mistake.  Doing that simply teaches the body to move slower and thus you are teaching the body to throw slower.  When you want to locate your best fastball, it will be difficult because your brain has taught your body to move slower to locate your best fastball.

The brain learns only what you teach it.  Movement speed is a learned skill.  If you want to locate your best fastball you must teach your body to move at a high level of intensity moving all your forces toward the target.

If youth pitchers focus on one location initially, keeping the ball down, and then on the outer half and then eventually the inner half, and do that during each practice bullpen, they will have success.
Watch and see which pitches get hit the most. Those down the middle and belt high.

Once you can locate inner and outer half and keep the ball down, then practice throwing the ball just above the hands.  This skill is valuable when you are ahead in the count 0-2 or 1-2. Or even 2-2.

This is called “changing eye level.”  You throw a pitch down and then the next one a bit higher.  When you move the ball you also move the hitter’s eye from low to high. This is a tough adjustment for a hitter and makes it difficult for the hitter to lay off of that pitch.

But that above the hands fastball or the letter high fastball must be practiced regularly and be part of every bullpen… if you expect to use it in a game.

Have you noticed how many MLB pitchers are not able to throw a letter high fastball?  Normally they throw it much too high and the hitter of course takes it for a ball.

This is because most MLB pitchers are not throwing enough high fastballs during their bullpens. They might throw 2 or 3, but not blocked sets of letter high fastballs.  Thus the pitcher never learns to command their fastball letter high.

So if you want better command of all your pitches you must first improve your mechanics. Once you can land with good lower body stability while directing all your forces toward the target you can then teach yourself how to command your fastball.  Once you do that and learn how to change speeds you will make most hitters very uncomfortable and become a very successful pitcher.

Every practice session is an opportunity to improve some aspect of your pitching skills. You will only learn what you practice.  Make sure that before every bullpen or practice throwing session that you warm-up your arm properly in order to aid performance and reduce the risk of injury.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cause And Fix To Ball Flare or Slicing The Ball - The Baseball Barn

Coach Rich goes over the causes and fix to losing distance due to the ball flaring to the opposite field side or slicing the ball. See more at

Monday, July 18, 2016

Houston Astros Rookie Prank

Houston Astros Prank Tyler White by Parking SUV Range Rover on Center Field Before a Game

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fix for Front Elbow-Does it Stay Up, Down, or In Between?

Coach Rich goes over the use of the front elbow with different pitch heights and how it moves according to those pitch heights.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quotes of the Month

Ichiro Suzuki: "Chicks who dig home runs aren't the ones who appeal to me. I think there's sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I'd rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out." Source: New York Times (August 22, 2009)

"I can do that (foul off pitches) intentionally. They were borderline. And I was trying to get the pitcher to make a mistake." Source: Associated Press (June 15, 2002)

"I didn't know I hit that way (.625 with runners in scoring position). Maybe not knowing is my secret. If I chased numbers, maybe I wouldn't have as good results." Source: Seattle Times (May 16, 2001)

Ted Williams: "Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders." Source: Baseball's Forgotten Basics: A Field Manual And Instructional Dvd (Marc Shoenfelt, Destech Publishers, 03/02/2006, Page 40)

"Hitting is the most important part of the game. It is where the big money is, where much of the status is, and the fan interest." Source: The Science of Hitting (Ted Williams, Fireside Publishers, 03/29/1986, Page 9)

Dizzy Dean: "If Satch (Paige) and I were pitching on the same team, we would clinch the pennant by July fourth and go fishing until World Series time."

"Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How To Pitch A Baseball With Pin-Point Control: 3 Simple Tips

Every parent and coach wants to teach pitchers how to pitch a baseball with good mechanics, high velocity and pin-point control. But learning how to pitch a baseball with great skill requires a high volume of practice.

One of the most important things is to first teach your son the mechanics of pitching so he is using his body to produce velocity…not just his arm.

Here are 3 important tips on how every pitcher can pitch a baseball with pin-point control and at the same time with improved velocity and less risk of injury. 

Do Not Catch For Your Son – Use a Target Instead
There are a number of reasons for this.

If you catch for him, more than likely his total focus will be on hitting the target in order to please dad, rather than on hitting the target with his best fastball. Make sure that when you are teaching him how to pitch a baseball with good control that he is throwing his maximum effort fastballs, rather than throwing at 75-85% intensity.

If you pitch a baseball during a practice bullpen at less than game intensity, this has proven not to work to help game performance pitching.

Leather Pitching Target

That is why I like targets rather than having the father catch for his son. Plus, the father should be back at the mound offering feedback to his son after every 5 or 6 pitches because the father is smart enough to videotape rather than just eyeball as most instructors do. The pitching delivery is too complex to just eyeball. 

Is Your Son’s Body Lined Up to The Target?
This is pretty obvious, however what we often see while doing Video Analysis is pitchers who make a big turn away from the target.  Some even sweep their lead leg out and around and then might not land on the mid-line.

How can you expect a pitcher to pitch a baseball and hit the target when he turns away from it? How many pistol shooters do this?  Not only does all the turning affect ball control but it reduces velocity too.

Have you ever watched a cricket bowler? These guys get to run up as far as they want before getting ready to land and release the ball. Cricket bowlers can also throw 90-100 mph with a stiff arm.

But one of their biomechanical principles which most fast bowlers follow is to get lined up directly to the target so that the front shoulder it pointed that way when the front foot lands. Makes sense. You will not see a cricket bowler turning into landing as many pitchers do when learning how to pitch a baseball.

One other thing related to having the body lined up. Make sure the pitcher lands on the midline.  The midline is an imaginary line you draw from the middle of the back foot right toward the target.

You want a RH pitcher to land within 1-2 inches of that line toward first base.  A LH pitcher should land within 1-2 inches on the third base side of the line….but never across the line.

Also make sure that the front foot is directed right at the target or angled slightly no more than 10-15 degrees. 

Are You Throwing Enough Volume of Practice Pitches During Each Practice Bullpen?
How on earth do you expect a pitcher to hit the target consistently if he is not doing enough target practice? Pitchers will not have good control or velocity by throwing 25-30 pitches twice a week. That includes professionals.

Do you know that MLB pitchers miss their intended target by on average 12″ and the best still miss by 9’6″? Is that good control? No, it is not.

But why? Because even major league baseball doesn’t understand that pitching a baseball is a skill activity, not a strength activity. Coaches believe that pitchers should save their pitches for the game thus why they do not throw enough pitches during practice bullpens. Makes no sense at all.

If you follow those three tips on how to pitch a baseball with great control you will help any pitcher improve dramatically, plus pitching velocity will improve almost automatically.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

2 Ways To Get More Bat Speed and Power

Rich goes over 2 techniques to increase your power and bat speed and how to an advanced technique to "load" your shoulder blade. See more at