When I was in college I was told to run long distances to improve leg strength. Now pitching coaches agree that sprinting is key to improving your pitching velocity. Although you're not necessarily a speed athlete, sprinting is a critical part of your training as a baseball pitcher.
Why You Need to Sprint
Sprints are key when building your pitching velocity. Back when I was on my journey to play professional baseball, a good friend of mine who played professionally told me to run 10-yard sprints. The goal was to get to my top speed by my third step. This was before sprint training for pitchers was the thing to do. Did it help? I believe it did.
You won't run much as a pitcher. No one cares how fast you are unless you also have some plate appearances. But pitchers sprint for the same reason as speed athletes—to increase lower-body explosive power by developing fast-twitch muscle fibers in the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. The more explosive power these muscles can produce, the more powerfully you'll be able to drive off the mound. Ultimately, this is where most of your pitching velocity comes from.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Make sure to add sprints to your training program if you want to pitch harder. But remember, before power and speed is strength development.
Pitcher Power Program
I use the program below to develop my pitchers' velocity. It includes plyometric exercises along with sprints to maximize power development.
Perform this program 2 or 3 days per week. Rest for 3-5 times the duration it takes to complete each set.
- Box Jumps - 2x10
- Scissor Jumps 2x10
- Lateral Jumps - 2x30 sec.
- Sprints - 10-15x10 yards
A Note on Distance Running
Distance running does play a role in your pitching velocity. There are a few benefits of distance running that apply directly to pitchers:
- Flushing the system of lactic acid the day after a start to improve recovery
- Increases aerobic endurance so you can recover faster between innings and pitch for as many innings as your coach desires
- Activates and strengthens stabilizer muscles in your lower body, particularly your ankles
- Improves mental toughness
A pitcher should run distances the day after he has a heavy workload on thiseir pitching day. As an example, a starting pitcher should run for about 30 to 40 minutes the day after a start. Relievers run the day after they pitch but for 15 to 20 minutes. The more you pitch, the more you run the day after.
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