If your child is playing youth baseball, or you are coaching youth baseball, then it may be worth knowing that the average velocity for youth pitchers is. This way, you can establish whether a player has room for improvement. I am going to wrap up by talking a little bit about how pitching velocity can be improved in youth players.
Average Velocity of Pitcher by Age
You will be surprised at just how much pitching velocity will vary by age. You will also be surprised at how long it takes to reach peak pitching velocity. In fact, the MLB suggests that peak pitching velocity doesn’t occur until 26-years-old. After that, pitching velocity goes down year on year. with those in their late 30s pitching at the same speed as those just entering the professional game.
Of course, that is on the professional side of things. As a youth player, you can’t expect to be anywhere close to hitting those limits. In the pitching velocity chart below, you will see rough averages for pitching velocity by age.
|Age||Average Pitching Velocity|
As you can see, there is a massive change in pitching velocity over the course of the development of a youth player. However, I cannot stress enough that these are only averages, and there is very limited data to go on here.
This means that a youth player may be pitching slightly above, or slightly below these numbers. This is not going to be a major issue. Although, it is always worth developing the game a little bit.
Why Do Younger People Pitch Slower?
A lot of the reason why younger people pitch slower is because of muscle growth. A child will not have the muscle strength to pitch balls at a huge velocity. This is why, if you look at the pitching velocity chart above, you will see that the biggest change in pitching velocity happens right around puberty. This is when a person really starts to gain muscle strength, and this will lead to faster pitches.
Pitching velocity training will also have a major impact on the speed of the pitch. If a child is not working on their pitching velocity, they cannot expect to improve it, right? In a short while, I will go through some of the ways that youth players can get a little bit closer to the average pitching velocity for their age and, in some cases, exceed it.
As an interesting point of note, youth players, once they hit the age of 16 are not that far behind MLB pitchers in terms of pitching velocity. Just 10-20 mph behind the best players. This is because there is not that much room for improvement beyond this point.
Sure, some MLB pitchers are pitching at 100mph but may sport scientists believe that this is the rough cap for pitching. Our muscles are just not built for anything faster.
How Do You Determine the Speed of a Pitch?
Ideally, you would have a radar gun available. However, these are incredibly expensive, and I doubt that there are many youth baseball teams that have one available. In fact, it is likely that the only youth clubs that have radar guns are those that act as feeders for the college and MLB baseball teams. Thankfully, you can still get a rough estimate of pitching speed. All you need to do is follow this method.
Set up the area:
You will need 2 people for this:
- The pitcher
- Somebody with a stopwatch to time the pitch
The pitcher should be located 60.5 feet from where the hitter would be standing. It is important that you measure this, otherwise the rest of the calculations will be wrong.
Pitch the Ball:
The pitcher will now need to pitch the ball around 10-times. This will help to give a more accurate calculation for their speed.
As the pitcher pitches the ball, the person with the stopwatch should be ready with the timer. They need to be exceedingly quick because it is going to take under 1-second for the ball to leave the pitcher’s hand.
The timer should be started when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, and it should be stopped as soon as it hits the area where the hitter should be. This is why it needs to be timed multiple times. It ensures that a more accurate record can be established.
Calculate the Pitch Speed:
Now you will need to do a bit of calculation. You will need the following information:
- Distance (D)
- Time (T)
Now, ideally, the distance would be 60.5-feet. However, if it is anything else, make sure you know exactly what it is. However, do bear in mind that this will not give you an accurate representation of pitching velocity on an actual baseball field.
You now need to do the following calculation: Distance / Time
This will give you the pitching speed for feet per second. Of course, you want that number in MPH. This means that the final step is to multiply the figure by 0.682.
Let’s give an example using this information:
- Distance: 60.5-feet
- Time: 0.75 seconds
The calculation is 60.5/0.75. This would give you 80 feet per second. Multiply this by 0.682, and you have 55 miles per hour.
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In the next few sections, I am going to share a few ideas on how a youth player can improve their pitching velocity. However, there is one thing that I want to point out first. This is the fact that you should not, under any circumstances, be pushing a youth player too far when it comes to pitching velocity.
As I said before; part of the reason as to why pitching velocity is so much slower in the younger players is because their muscles are still developing. If you push them too hard on their pitching velocity, then there is a strong chance that you can cause serious arm injuries. Remember; improving pitching velocity isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. Slow and steady will win the race here.
How To Improve Pitching Velocity?
Now that I have talked a little bit about average pitching velocities, it is now time for me to give some tips on improving pitching velocity.
As I said before; players should not be pushed too far when it comes to boosting pitching velocity. This means that a person should not be over practicing. This will reduce pitching velocity over time due to arm injuries, some of which may not heal.
Remember; youth players are only going to have a pitching velocity maximum only a little above the averages that I listed previously. If a child is hitting the average, then that is brilliant. They are on course to being a decent pitcher. The maximum pitching velocity will only be 3-5mph over these averages. You can always aim for that, but do not expect to reach it.
The concepts discussed in the following sections are proven techniques for increasing pitching velocity at a youth level. These are all concepts that players at the absolute top levels of the game will already know. This means that there will probably not be anything here for those pitching at late High School level and above, but there will be plenty of information for those between 8 and 16 years old.
1. Weight Gain
This is not going to be applicable to all youth players, and I am not going to suggest that you increase the weight of a child if they are already a healthy weight for their age. So, please do not do that. You should only be considering weight gain as a way to increase pitching velocity if the child is below the average weight for a person their age.
Weight, of course, will translate to power behind the pitch. If a child is too light, then they will not be able to get a lot of power behind their pitch. Now, this isn’t the only way to improve pitching, but if a child is underweight for their age, then they will see massive improvements in increasing their weight. However, do make sure that this weight gain is slow and steady. The player should be working on other aspects of their pitching game at the same time.
2. Improving Arm Muscle Strength
The next step is to focus on improving the strength of the arm muscles. As I said before; a child’s arm muscles are still developing at the youth level. This means that you do not want to be pushing them too far. However, a small strength gain wouldn’t go amiss.
Lifting some smaller weights, or perhaps doing a bit of light strength work at the gym, can work absolute wonders when it comes to pitching velocity. This could easily add 2-3mph onto the pitching velocity of a youth player. However, do make sure that they are working on their arm muscle strength with weights a maximum of 2-3 times per week. The sessions should be short too. Anything below that, and it could result in a serious arm injury.
3. The Proper Diet
Diet can also play a major role in the development of pitching velocity. Not just in terms of weight gain either. In order to build up muscle strength, the following needs to play a major role in the diet:
Proteins are probably the most important component of the mix here. After all, proteins are the building blocks of muscles. They help a child to grow. In order to gain muscle strength, then there needs to be a sizeable amount of protein in the diet.
When somebody is pitching, they are causing small ‘tears’ to their muscles. This isn’t an injury. It is how muscles develop. As the muscle tears heal, they become stronger. In order to heal, there needs to be protein in the diet, otherwise, the process is going to end up taking a whole lot longer.
4. Use the Four-Seam Grip
If you want the absolute best pitching velocity, then the four-seam grip needs to be used. With this grip, you will have decent control over the ball. It also ensures that the ball will be leaving your hands quickly which, of course, is going to be vital when it comes to pitching velocity.
In fact, using the four-seam grip will easily add 1-2mph onto a pitching velocity, almost instantly. This is the most common grip in baseball, so it is probably one that you are using already.
5. Increase Stride Length
Ideally, the length of a pitcher’s stride should be close to their height. This will ensure the maximum amount of power behind the shot. Now, I do not expect many youth players to be able to get a stride that is close to their height. However, if you can hit 80-90% of your stride length, then you will likely see a massive improvement when it comes to pitching velocity.
6. The Lead Knee Should Not Be Above 60% of the Pitcher’s Height
For the best pitching velocity, it is recommended that the pitcher aims to keep their lead knee raised to about 60% of their height. If it is too low or too high, then the pitcher will not be able to get full velocity behind their shots.
7. Do Not Submarine Pitch
I know that a lot of people submarine pitch. I can see the benefits of submarine pitching. However, I also know that there is a reason why it is not a common pitching method. The ball is just too slow.
If you want to be a fast pitcher, then you need to be using the typical overhand throw. While it may be difficult to switch to overhand pitching if you have been doing submarine pitching for a good while, it is important that the switch is made. Obviously, this is a switch that is going to be a whole lot easier to make if the player is still in their formative years.
8. Increase Elbow Bend at the Throw
The second a player’s foot strikes the floor, the elbow should be bent to around 90-degrees before ball release. The bigger the bend, the more velocity behind the shot. It is probably going to take a while to work up to the 90-degree level, but it is something that will come over time.
9. Get Rid of the Balance Point
Slow pitchers will have a balance point. This means that there will be a small moment where they pause during the leg lift. If you want high-velocity pitching, then there cannot be any pause in the pitching motion, certainly not during the leg lift. Eliminating the balance point is probably going to be the hardest thing you can do. So, take your time and work on it slowly. Eventually, the movement will come naturally.
10. Watch Slow Motion YouTube Pitching Videos
One of the perks of living in the modern age is the fact that we have access to YouTube. If you head to the website, then there will be plenty of slow-motion pitching videos that you can watch. I suggest that you watch some slow-motion pitching videos from the MLB. While you will not be able to pitch as fast as them, you can look at their technique and try to emulate it a little bit. This is great, because their pitches have often been designed with velocity in mind.
Finally; practice, practice, and a little bit more practice.
Now, as I said before; somebody should not be over practicing their pitching. This will lead to arm injuries. However, they are still going to need to work on their pitching technique. You can’t improve unless you are practicing, right?
In an ideal world, somebody should be practicing their pitching skills at least 3-4 days per week. It is important that there are a couple of days off to allow the muscles to heal from all the practice. A couple of hours work on each of these days should go a long way towards helping to determine pitching velocity.
Sadly, most youth set-ups will not have any way to determine pitching velocity. Even the MLB only managed to pick up fairly accurate technology for measuring pitching speeds about 15-years ago. However, if a player continues to work on their pitching skills, then I promise that you will see an improvement over time.
Youth players are never going to be pitching as fast as their older counterparts. Their bodies are simply not built for it. However, as they get older, their pitching velocity will be improved. However, do bear in mind that this is going to take a lot of hard work. However, if a person is aiming to play in the ‘big leagues’, then this work does need to be put in at an early age.