5 Drills and Techniques for Enhancing Speed in Fast-Pitch Pitchers


TECHNIQUE:

Let's discuss what you can do to enhance speed. Where does speed come from, outside of proper mechanics and sequencing?

  1. The downswing of the pitching arm, once the stride leg is planted. Remember that the downswing cannot generate any force until the stride-foot is down. It should be down by the time the pitching arm reaches one o'clock behind the pitcher. Then it should accelerate to the hip.

  2. Strong stride-foot plant. The stronger the stride-foot hits the ground, the quicker the arm snaps through

  3. Back leg drive. Even though the pitcher does not release the ball at the beginning of the leg drive, a strong leg drive transfers into a strong stride-foot plant, which, in the chain of sequence, transfers through the body faster, and generates more whip in the arm.

  4. Powerful stride plant with a firm, relatively straight, but not locked, stride leg, will transfer the energy through the body and into the arm whip

  5. Powerful wrist snap that is straight towards the target with a 12-6 spin.

  6. Powerful finger-push. The last body part to touch the ball are the fingers. Each finger is made up of three small levers. Pushing hard at the end of release enhances speed.

DRILLS:

IMPORTANT: Be certain that the pitcher has fully warmed up and stretched before beginning these movements as the movements are very ballistic and can cause injury if the pitcher is not warmed up. Also, if they show any signs of injury, stop immediately and let them rest until fully recovered (possibly several days)? Hard Walk-ins

  1. Description: Pitcher starts about 20 feet from a net with the ball separated from the glove. This is really a run-in as they start running at the hitting sock or other loose net, until they are ready to pitch. When they are ready, they need to plant hard and fire the ball as hard as they can into the net. The release, at this point, is probably about 6 feet from the net. Their only goal is to throw as hard as they can. You can have a "feeder" standing nearby to toss balls to the pitcher in order to add conditioning. As the pitcher finishes her pitch, she runs back to start position at 20 feet. On the way back, the feeder tosses a ball to her, so that there is no rest in between. After a given number of throws, she should rest completely for a minute or even two and then do another set.

  2. Reps: (vary as you see fit): 3-5 sets of 5 hard walk-ins

  3. Key areas enhanced: This drill focuses on leg drive and arm circle speed

Pitch & Pirouette

  1. Description: Pitcher starts on the mound throwing to a catcher. She goes through her regular motion but as she comes down to the hip with her pitching arm, she accelerates her arm so much so that as she brings her it across her body she picks up her pivot foot off the ground so that the force of her arm finishing across her body causes her to pirouette. Note: with the strong metal cleats they wear her pirouette will likely be 1/4 turn. The emphasis here is that the force of the arm across the body is what causes the pirouette. So the harder and faster she brings her arm down and across, the more she will pirouette. She'll be surprised at how well the ball is pitched, but make sure that her focus is on the pirouette and not the pitch.

  2. Reps: One bucket of 25

  3. Key areas enhanced: Arm speed and wrist snap/finger push

Long-Toss

  1. Description: There are many ways to do this. I really like having a target. What I mean is a goal of some kind; like throwing over a backstop or over a fence or goal-post. Throwing higher makes them work their wrist more. The pitcher starts, with a bucket of balls, about 80 feet back from their target. First, she backs up 3 steps then does a hard walk-in and releases as she is crossing the 80' mark. If it clears the bar, then move back another 5 feet, and so on. Once she gets to the distance that she cannot clear the target, throw the rest of the balls. Keep track of the greatest distance away from the target and try to beat it next time.

  2. Reps: 1 bucket of 25

  3. Key areas enhanced: Leg drive, and wrist-snap/finger push

OURs

  1. Description: Overload (heavy ball) - Under load (Lite-flite works great) - Regular (regular softball). VERY IMPORTANT: Never let your pitcher work all the way around with a heavy ball. I believe this to be dangerous for a pitcher’s shoulder. Just work all three pitches from the K-position-down, and snap as hard as they can

  2. Do sets of 10-10-10 and repeat 3 times.

  3. Finger strength and explosiveness.

Other ways of building explosive power

  1. Short sprints: 5 meters 10 sets

  2. Resistance bands and Tools: 5-10 sets

  3. Big tire flips: 5 sets 15 seconds

  4. All core work, especially plank

  5. Power-cleans. Be sure that these are taught by a trainer as these can cause serious injury: 3 sets of 5-10

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