Why do we throw overweight and underweight baseballs?
Updated: Nov 23, 2018
ISSA Certified Strength Coach
Owner Elite Athletic Performance LLC
16 years of experience training athletes
Your Student Athlete; Should Do, Must Do, and Don’t
Disclaimer: – I do not fully grasp how this actually works in the body. Not many do and the best have no problem admitting that. – I know more than most. – I still have A LOT to learn.
- You don’t participate in a real weighted ball program at EAP until approximately 16 years of age. Although we do let the younger kids thriws the 8 and 16 oz balls. They throw rocks heavier than that all the time. – My analogies may not describe it perfectly but they work well in my mind and help me properly program for our athletes.
Technically, according to Mr. Kyle Boddy and the fine folks at Driveline Baseball a thrower’s velocity should increase 2-3 MPH per ounce as you decrease the weight of the ball being thrown.
3oz 102mph In my experience this rarely happens. It is more like a goal we are shooting for. Basically this gives me direction for a guy’s workouts. Whether or not to focus his training on gaining general strength or more explosiveness.
For example, we have a lefty that struggles to maintain weight, very athletic and lean. He throws the ever living CRAP out of the underweight balls. I have seen throw the 3 oz ball 101MPH. Yet, he doesn’t get much above 90 with a 5oz ball?
While, yes, I’m sure their is a mechanical breakdown somewhere along the chain but I’ll be perfectly honest, coaches put WAAAAAAY too much faith in their “knowledge” and their eyeballs. If you think I’m going to start breaking down the mechanics of a collegiate pitcher that already throws mid/upper 8’s with a hammer from the left side without a lot of help from at least several angles of slow motion cameras, you’re insane and frankly, you are even more insane if you think that would be a good idea. I don’t have that capability yet.
So what do I do?
I use the weighted balls as a diagnostics test and then tweak the engine accordingly. The above mentioned athlete, has trouble putting on/maintaining weight, he moves like a gazelle, throws the crap out of light balls and struggles with Velo the heavier the ball gets. I believe in peer reviewed research as much as the next fella but I don’t need any egg heads to tell me this guy needs strength, and body weight. He doesn’t need speed, he already has that. So his training program is TONS of eccentric schemes, HEAVY higher rep work with lots of recovery time in between. Guys like this it seems like (not really it’s just a joke) gain a couple MPH’s per 5 lbs of Bodyweight they add.
What about the guys that throw the heavier balls better. These are the guys we will use a lot of Post-Actication Potentiation (PAP) work with. These are your husky guys. The ones that have had a Magnum PI stache since 5th grade. Their parents had to carry around the birth certificate on the dashboard during travel ball season because no one believed he was the appropriate age to be playing. The name of the game is speed. UNLESS for some reason he isn’t already squatting 100%, benching 75% and deadlifting MINIMUM 150% of his Bodyweight (really I like that percentage closer to 175 or more in some cases).
This is a really great microcosm for a lot of the problems we see in our would today IMO.
We go out of our way to avoid stressful situations at all cost then wonder why we melt down when something bad happens that is out of our control. Same thing goes for our arms.
Pitching/Throwing at maximum intent (E.G. Trying to throw someone out at the plate from the outfield) is stressful on the arm. You can place stress on the arm to prepare it for these situations with long toss and heavy balls. We do this by varying the load and intensity of the throw daily. You can’t increase your bench press by bench pressing only 135lbs every day and the same goes for throwing a 5oz ball.
Guess what??? I’ll just put this into the best layman term possible. Heavy balls help the communication line between the arm/fingertips and brain work way better and faster. It has been proven that guys have less variance in release point after following and completing a weighted ball program. So...yeah, weighted balls didn’t make your “more wild” on the mound.
This analogy isn’t perfect and there is WAAAAY more to it than this but basically, throwing heavy balls builds the ABILITY to throw faster. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will result in higher velocity. It’s like an engine in a vehicle.
A Lamborghini and a Prius obviously have very different speed ABILITIES. Having the ABILITY to do something doesn’t always mean you’re able to EXPRESS that ABILITY.
Ok so you were driving a Prius and got sick of driving around town on a glorified golf cart so you get the necessary parts to build your Prius into a Lamborghini (I know…just go with it). *This is the heavy ball portion of the program. You are building the ability to go faster.* Now imagine you get this new Lamborghini ready to roll. It purrs like a kitten, the frame is well constructed and equipped to handle the speed it will inevitably create. But there is one problem. The gas pedal is really hard to push(Again, just go with it).
You now have all the necessary parts to go really fast. The car have the ABILITY to absolutely haul balls but isnt able to EXPRESS said ABILITY *Insert “Aha” moment here*
So we’re gonna take some WD-40 and spray that gas pedal down really well (THIS is what we are doing with underweight balls).
Now now the car posessess the desired ABILITY to go faster and is able to actually make the faster speeds come to fruition.
Then you’re gonna come pick me up and we’re gonna cut donuts in the Walmart parkin lot!
Hopefully my analogies help. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Your questions help me to better serve our athletes at EAP.