Predicting Throwing Velocity

Baseball is a sport that is difficult to evaluate and predict a player’s potential success at the next level. A recent study by Lehman and Drinkwater looked at correlating throwing velocity to results of lower-body field test.  When we think of baseball specifically throwing velocity our minds tend to naturally gravitate toward the shoulder and upper body. If you talk with any professional in baseball or good strength in conditioning coach we will tell you that the lower body is the most important part of the body for a baseball player. A survey of Major League Baseball strength and conditioning coaches reported that 15 of 21 respondents believe that a lower-body exercise is the most important exercise for the sport of baseball (5).  If the lower body is so important than why are coaches and professionals not evaluating it? Truth be told there wasn't really any research out there showing a direct correlation between the lower body and throwing velocity which is a key measure of a players potential of success. So you ask is there a test that can correlate the lower body to throwing velocity……

Out of the ten field test that Lehman and Drinkwater studied only one field test correlated strongly enough to warrant consideration of use by coaches and professionals. That field test was the Lateral to Medial Jump (LMJ). In the study the LMJ is completed by standing parallel to the starting line of with their left foot with the inside of their foot closet to the starting line. The athlete was then instructed to perform a counter-movement jump and jump as far as possible to their right in the frontal plane while landing on both feet simultaneously parallel to the starting line. Distance was measured from the outside of the left foot to the starting line. The application here is if you have a left-handed pitcher they would use their left foot as their jump leg because this is their drive leg in their pitch mechanics, and you would use the right leg if they were a right-handed pitcher.

ProForce Sports Performance has adopted this test as one of its evaluation measurements for our High Performance Baseball Training Program. Shockingly we have seen that a right handed pitcher will normally jump farther off their left leg not there right leg. This may seem shocking as a right handed pitcher would need to drive off their right leg not there left when pitching. But because the body works in a fashion that a right handed person will have a left leg that is stronger. (Think about it if you go for a right handed lay up your going to jump off your left leg not your right.) This deficiency becomes important because we can then create a program around a players deficiency and train them to increase their stride length off the mound. Which according to Tom House 1 foot of stride length equals 3 mph! Would love to hear your questions or comments on this below.