I want a stronger arm and I want to throw harder. What should I do ?
If you want to throw harder, step 1 is practice throwing harder. To throw faster, you must actually practice throwing fast.
If you want to throw further, you need to practice throwing far. How far do you currently throw? How often do you throw far?
Know exactly how hard you can throw a baseball. Saying low to mid 80's is like saying 79mph to 86mph.
That's a terrible answer.
4. Know exactly how far you can throw a baseball. Don't estimate. Know the exact distance down to the foot.
I can throw 219 feet is a good answer. A good answer isn't I can throw roughly 220-250. Be exact.
What is your average velocity? What is your top velocity?
Pitching or from the field. Measure it to the exact number, write the numbers down and do the exact average. Don't subtract radar readings you don't like.
The Secret - Precise Awareness of hard you throw now, or how far you throw know is step 1. Be exact. Know where you are first, before you set out to achieve a goal.
5. Every velocity throw or distance throw requires a target. Never throw without an exact target. Aim small miss small. Aim big, miss big. The reinforcement of a target is more likely to keep you connected with you mechanics which is more likely to help your arm health.
--> Increase distance in long toss only if your accuracy currently is at about 70-80% at the current distance.
6. No Limits. Do not pre determine the number of throws or the time you will play catch. Instead, listen to your arm. If your arm feels good and the accuracy is acceptable, then gradually back up. No need to rush to increase distance before you have mastered the current distance. If the arm feels good, the accuracy is good, then you are ok to back up. Don't not put limits on distance, or number of throws. Just let your arm be your feedback. Let the results be your feedback.
7. World Class Warm Up. Your pre throwing warm up should resemble a workout. Another way to look at it is if you're not sweating head to toe, you don't need to be throwing. A tremendous full body warm up should proceed throwing. In order to use your entire body to generate force, the entire body needs to be awake and firing. The typical baseball warm up is very average to bad in baseball. Get the body juiced and loose before you ever pick up a ball.
People will tell you to use your body and use your legs. Make sure your entire body and legs have been tested before throwing. You can't use what is not awake.
We have seen many players simply improve pre throwing warm up routines, and it directly improves velocity.
8. Active Recovery. Improve your recovery program. What you do after you throw is just as important as the throwing itself. Instead of icing, have a plan to get blood flow back in the arm as soon as possible. Finish the throwing day doing some light arm care, and come back the following day with a good workout, and a series of exercises that encourages blood flow to the arm and the entire body. Ice is for fountain drinks. Stay away from the ice. Active recovery encourages full body activity NOT just arm care exercises. The body is a complete unit. Don't just isolate the arm.
9. Implement Athletic Throwing.
Instead of being robotic and mechanical, create ways to teach the body to move and the arm to work with the body. Athletic throws we do at Fastball USA include (step behinds, 1 leg hops in multiple directions, QB drop backs, jump backs double plays, get up and throws, quick picks, Jeter throws, and walking torque throws. These are just a few examples. When the body is moving, the arm has to naturally sync up with the body. The body moves better, the arm moves better.
The bottom line is don't be a robot. Don't be over mechanical. Let the natural athleticism take over.
10. Become a better athlete! Put a higher emphasis on becoming an athlete who plays baseball, NOT just a baseball player. Get stronger, quicker, more agile, and learn to coordinate body movements. Train for short burst, quick twitch, while placing a high priority on dominating your body weight, rotational movements, and lateral movements.
The more athletic you become, the easier the game of baseball will become. If you lack strength, mobility, and coordination, it's going to be more difficult to become a high velocity thrower.
None of these suggestions are ground breaking. All of them are simple and make sense.
Very few baseball players actually emphasize all 10 of these points.
Too Simple? Don't make this mistake!
If you're not working on these 10 areas, you can have the greatest mechanics in the world and still not throw any harder. You can throw all the weighted balls you want but you still will not throw any harder.
Many people will think that this list is way too simple. Throwing harder has to be more complex. I promise you if you're trying to make it more complex that will likely be one of the things that blocks velocity development. If you're doing all 10 and still have velocity issues, then you can dive deeper.
Do the simple things really, really well.
P.S. Mechanics are important. The problem is every single coach has his own personal rendition of what perfect mechanics should be. Your goal shouldn't be to mimic a certain mechanical model. Every pitcher in the game who was great do certain things differently. Did Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, and Pedro Martinez all throw exactly a like? NO. They did have their own personal mechanics that worked best for them.
The key is knowing what the greatest throwers/pitchers in the world do a like, and NOT trying emulate the things that they do differently. You have to find what works best for you. This is why athletic throwing drills are critical.