Sports

What Does It Take to Throw Hard?

I outline ways that baseball players can improve their throwing techniques. By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer

I outline ways that baseball players can improve their throwing techniques.

By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer

At some point, we all have picked up a ball or a rock, swung our arm back and threw the object as hard as we could. Typically, we think that we throw very fast, but how fast? Pitching in baseball is similar to that, only much more different.

Different pitching styles can vary for every player. For example, some want to throw the fastest fastball and blow people away, while others want to be accurate and stay in the game longer. Only a select few pitchers master both, as the difficulty of mastering one of the skills is off the charts.

At Huntington University, sophomore Joey Butz is looking to do just that and will go into detail on what exactly it takes to throw hard. With his high-intensity velocity program, he has a full plate.

Body Type: 

For starters, body type can have a significant impact on getting an extra mile per hour on your fastball, but it isn’t everything. Marcus Stroman, a right-handed pitcher for the New York Mets, can throw up to 93 mph at five-foot-eight, which is above the Major League average. But typically, the harder throwers are much taller and have a lot of muscle.

Butz stands at six-five, giving him a great advantage already as a pitcher. The average Major League fastball sits at 92.3 mph, and Butz is already at 91.7 as a sophomore, which is almost two miles an hour faster than his 89.9 mph fastball he threw last July.

The Daily Grind:

Some of the unnatural ways to gain velocity are lifting, eating, stretching, mobility, recovery and much more. Eating is where Butz can improve multiple times a day, consuming around 4000-5000 calories a day to try to maintain weight and gain muscle. 

“For guys who aren’t freaks of nature like Randy Johnson tend to weigh more,” Butz said.

WEIGHT TRAINING: Joey Butz works hard to improve his pitching. (Photo provided by Joey Butz)

Eating the right calorie diet ties into weights, which helps with the explosiveness of the pitch and improving the speed of the ball by gaining strength throughout your entire body. Pitchers need to use every inch of their body to throw in order to maintain speed. The lower half of your body is where most of the power comes from, and lifting heavy with explosive movements will start to see a rise in speed. 

With all of this throwing, lifting heavy weights and explosive movements, it’s essential to keep your body intact with proper recovery techniques. Butz added that mobility, stretching, rolling out with a muscle roller, and a 90-90 hip rotation series is vital to maintaining a healthy body and arm. Without it, you will not be able to throw as hard as your body will let you throw.

Throwing:

The most challenging part of this process is throwing the baseball for a few reasons. Throwing mechanics is the top priority but the most difficult to master. There isn’t a “set” pitching movement, but there are a lot of ways to save your arm from significant arm damage that could end your career in a heartbeat. Different pitching coaches will have different ways to help conserve an arm. Still, most will find out that sometimes genetics will get the worst of a young athlete for good, so proper arm care is essential. 

Some of the ways Butz helps with his arm care is through Driveline. 

“Driveline is a pitching development program that emphasizes velocity by using science, slow motion cameras, 3D, biomechanics and anatomy,” Butz said. “They really go beyond the science behind it, when it comes to lifting, eating and movement patterns.” 

Driveline’s purpose is to throw the ball harder and do it as healthy as possible for your arm, as the baseball throwing motion is not natural.

Driveline is known for its weighted baseballs. They are colorful baseballs that weigh according to what they want to accomplish. For example, the lighter ball is to help with arm speed, which is how fast your arm can whip around, and the heavy-set ball improves arm power and strength, helping those muscles in your arm stay healthy. This program is used by many pitchers, including players in the MLB.

Who Can Make It Pro?

In the NAIA, there has been a severe decrease in the number of players drafted. In 2018, MLB teams picked up 28 players from the NAIA, but in 2019, there were only 15, the lowest in the last few years. However, teams are much more likely to select a hard-throwing pitcher in the NAIA than a well-rounded bat. In baseball, it doesn’t matter where you are; if you can throw hard, you will find a spot. With Butz very close to the average MLB fastball, there could be a chance he could be one of them.

If Butz continues to increase the velocity of his fastball, the better chance he has to get seen by professional teams. The goal is simple for Butz: “I want my worst days to be better than everyone’s best days.” With that attitude, he could find himself in the draft. The last player to do so at Huntington was Dalton Combs, who was drafted in the 38th round to the San Francisco Giants and is still currently in the minors.

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