Building Arm Strength and Velocity with Weighted Baseball Programs
Baseball coaches have been looking for ways to increase throwing velocity while maintaining control. One technique that is often overlooked is training with weighted baseballs. In the past, many coaches and players have dismissed this type of training from fear of injury. However, when used correctly, weighted baseballs can increase velocity for pitchers and arm strength for position players.
There are important factors to consider before implementing this type of training program. The age of the player must be given consideration when creating and implementing a program. Players under 17 years of age should be discouraged from using weighted baseballs. Their throwing and pitching mechanics are not developed enough and improper mechanics can lead to injury, with or without the aid of weighted baseballs. High school players who show proper mechanics can begin a program but should not use weights above nine ounces. Collegiate players can increase their maximum weight to eleven ounces.
The training program should be twelve to fifteen weeks in length and should only be conducted during off-season months. The player should only use weighted balls three times a week and should take at least one day of rest in between training sessions. Players should progress through each weight in two or three week increments and should not deviate from the pre-determined schedule. Players must maintain proper throwing mechanics when using weighted baseballs. The supervising coach must ensure the player uses his entire body and that he does not place added stress on the throwing arm. Players who experience pain should immediately stop the training session, get evaluated from a sports healthcare professional, and take at least one week off.
To begin a training session, the player will warm-up with a regulation five-ounce baseball. When the player is able to throw hard, the weighted ball is thrown ten to twelve times at sub-maximum level. The baseballs must be thrown into netting in order to prevent injuries. Once the weighted throws are completed, the player can switch back to a regulation baseball and continue to throw hard until accuracy returns. When increasing in weight, the previous weighted baseball should be thrown within five consecutive training sessions before moving up in weight.