The first time I clocked my son using a radar gun, he topped out at 43 MPH. That was in the fall of 2020, and he was 10 years old.
Just yesterday, at age 13, he hit 65 MPH.
There’s a logical fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc, which refers to falsely believing a preceding event necessarily causes a succeeding event.
In this context, one has to consider that maybe not all these drills and exercises directly contributed to his increased velocity.
Then again, maybe they all did.
And, yes, some kids will throw harder simply as they continue to grow. However, no kid that I know of has increased his velo at the rate my son has.
Here’s what we have been doing for the last three years.
1. Mechanical Adjustments
Every kid’s individual mechanics are different, and these differences should be embraced rather than necessarily altered to fit a cookie cutter standard, but generally speaking, our philosophy is to simplify, simplify, simplify.
This means getting rid of all extra movement.
As he raises his stride leg knee, his hands go up. When he begins his drift and hinge, his hands separate etc. etc.
A few mechanical adjustments to be mindful of are the following:
Raise your knee as high as it will go.
Keep your fingers as close together as possible for the 4-seam grip.
Be sure to keep your drive foot anchored.
Upon landing, point your stride foot directly toward your target.
Additionally, you can check out my article concerning lower half mechanics here.
2. Long Toss
We’ve been long tossing seriously for about a year. We typically do not go beyond 120 feet, although at this point my son could probably throw closer to 200 with relative ease.
For us, long toss is a warm up routine before practice and bullpen sessions always preceded by band work discussed below. We simply play catch and slowly separate to around 120 feet before moving back in and drill work.
3. Med Ball
2-6 LB medicine ball throws have become a part of our workout for over a year. We do 2 sets of 4 throws and 10 reps each. They include:
Standing rotational throws from the right
Standing rotational throws from the left
Standing overhead throws
4. Core, Stretching, Bands
This group of exercises may be the most important of all. Please read my article here, discussing each one individually.
We started lifting weights last year, but I think it was important to do so. We stuck with a simple dumbbell routine that included the following exercises, which we did for two rounds at around 15-20 reps a piece.
Standing side and front rotator cuff (5LB)
Chest press (12.5LB)
Shoulder press (10LB)
Bicep curl (12.5LB)
*We also included leg extensions (75LB), leg curls (75LB), crunches, and reverse crunches in this routine.
6. Forearm Grippers and Wrist Rollers
For this routine, we use a 10LB weight for the wrist rollers (3X). For the grippers, we do 3 sets of 10X.
7. Agility Work: Ladder, Hurdles, and Sprints
In addition to ladder work and hurdles, we’ve been adding the 60 yard dash to our regular workout routine for the last 6 months or so. There are seemingly countless ladder techniques, but we like the following:
- One foot run
- Two foot run
- Lateral feet
- Twist jumps
8. Plyo Balls
For our plyo ball routine, we like Driveline Plyo balls. Our plyo routine is the following:
- Reverse throws (green or black 2 10X)
- Pivot picks (green or black 2 10X)
- Roll ins (blue 2 5X)
- Step backs (3 sets 1 per blue, red, yellow, gray)
- Walking windups (2 sets 1 per blue, red, yellow, gray)
9. Bullpen Sessions
We limit the bullpen sessions to typically once a week and throw no more than 40 pitches: 10 fastballs, 10 sliders, 10 curveballs, and 10 fastballs. This may change as we develop different pitches.
10. Regular Clocking
My son and I agree that keeping track of velo increases with a radar gun during bullpen sessions is important.