More on improving your Fastball
Bagonzi's New Book, The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the
Act of Pitching is currently being finalized and
will be released in Nov. 2011!
Preview & Order Coach Bagonzi's Act of Pitching Series
- No one is doomed to
mediocrity because of a humble fastball. Even a weak fastball
can be juiced up!
the Fastball to Move
- I find in a lifetime of pitching, coaching and instructing
that THIS (lack of movement) is the single most consequential
and yet lacking trait in prospective pitchers particularly in
right handed throwers.
Spin on Speed -
Hurling fastballs is an art form. Here's how to paint a
picture for your pitchers.
Effects of Graded Weighted Baseballs... - When used
properly, and with patience, the weighted ball can be an
extremely effective aide. I've had nothing but success with them
and several of my subjects who've gone on to the pros, swear by
them and are absolutely dedicated to them.
Doctoring the Fastball - Getting the Second Stage -
Natural movement of the fastball is rare and is
reserved for those few individuals by the nature of their
anatomy and delivery make a ball move or veer with little or no
effort. Most pitchers do not have this arrangement and find it
necessary to "DOCTOR" the fastball. "Doctor" here means
imparting different pressures, spins, grips and releases mainly
to make a fastball act, or do something other than be straight.
This article discusses the types of fastballs and provides
information to assist pitchers in developing these pitches.
Coach Bagonzi's 2-hour DVD, The
Holy Grail - The
the first in the planned 4-module DVD series.
to preview the DVD
designed to help one
and hone this
Toolbox - The
Breaking & Off-speed
Go to the
Pitching DVD and
Video Clip Library
for more info & DVD
preview, click the
DVD inset to go to
detail page and see
a preview of the Integrated
Curveball Drill Set
Increase Your Velocity And Develop Your Arm
(at the Same Time)
By Dr. John A. Bagonzi
Former Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
The magical term for a baseball pitcher
is velocity – A fastball with speed on it is a priceless
quality. Zip on your main pitch enhances everything
else. Reducing the time that it takes for a baseball to
travel the sixty feet, six inches that comprises the
batter/pitcher confrontation is the great mystique all
pitchers seek. In the past, velocity or the speed of a
thrown ball was considered to be genetic endowment. But
today, it is apparent that velocity in effect can be taught.
That is, we can increase the speed of a pitcher’s fastball.
The beauty of this phenomenon is that we
can increase arm strength at the same time. Arm strength
and arm speed may or may not always correlate.
Possessing a big strong arm may not mean one has the necessary arm
speed important to deliver a high-speed pitch. To
increase arm speed may increase arm strength. The
reverse of this is not necessarily true.
I’ve done numerous studies on this and
concluded that overload training, particularly in a simulative
(pitching-type motion) exercise will increase pitching
velocity. I do not believe in heavy weights when it
comes to simulative exercise. Making your pitching arm
strong and developing a fastball go hand-in-hand. Arm
speed is the direct connector to a good fastball. It is
one of the most precious qualities a baseball player and
particularly a pitcher can have.
LOWER PART OF THE BODY
One must pitch with the legs. I
feel strongly about the “push off.” I suggest that
the transfer of energy from the bottom part of the body to the
arm and ultimately to the fingers is where the art of pitching
resides (from a mechanical standpoint).
Velocity happens if you do enough correct
things. Anatomically, the fastball is a constructive
pitch; curves, sliders, and knuckleballs are not necessarily
destructive pitches, but they surely do not develop the arm.
Used judiciously, breaking pitches enhance one’s repertoire,
and if not overused do not deteriorate arm power.
However, overuse of the breaking pitches can result in
diminished arm speed.
FACTORS IN VELOCITY
action and speed
– Tightness of Spin
and use of “off-arm”
phase – Arm Speed
of forces – Lower with Upper
it all together (Full mechanics)
AIDS TO INCREASE VELOCITY
Mechanics – Refined
Overload training falls into the
– against resistance
– against moveable resistance
– Throwing motion utilized
I am a proponent of overload training,
having had success with my pitchers using this concept.
I favor simulative isometric – isotonic exercise along with
long distance throwing to develop arm strength, arm speed, and
Weighted balls have long been a part of
my pitching scene. I feel this is one of the fastest
ways to increase arm speed and velocity. Weighted balls
come in the following:
(7.5 oz) for 10 –12 yrs
(9 oz) for 13 – 14 yrs
(10 oz) for 15 – 165 yrs
(11 oz) for 17 yrs
(12 oz) for 18+ yrs
baseball is 5 – 5.25 oz)
The sequence of throwing (utilizing the
Stride Drill) is:
times, every other one hard (weighted ball) – get about
40 –50 ft. apart (keeping back leg back).
times, every other one hard (regular ball) – keeping
back leg back.
times, every other one hard (weighted ball) – keeping
back leg back.
times, every other one hard (regular ball) – bring back
This is a total of 45 throws. The
first three phases (1, 2 and 3) should have the back leg
staying back – This isolates the overload more to the arm
– on the fourth session the back leg can come around.
Note: on No. 2 – the first few throws may go into the ground
because the release point has been lowered – this quickly
Another overload exercise that is useful
is utilizing the wrist drill to throw 10 with weighted and 10
with regular to speed up the wrist. In all instances
with the weighted ball every other one should be delivered
crisply. Notice I haven’t said real hard. This
program should be every other day. It can be alternated
or mixed with long tossing on a 6-day-a week basis.
to 100 ft. or more apart
to 30 throws using pitching motion
drill motion can be used
distance if too difficult
This can be done out of a regular
pitching motion or as an outfielder does with a short run.
This will undoubtedly emphasize the push-off with the back
Some pitchers cannot throw every day, so
that long distance and weighted ball throwing can be
alternated. However, for those that are able to throw
everyday – long throwing can be done daily, but weighted
ball throwing should always be done every other day and never
The following are drills to enhance
glove hand with glove and place it on elbow of throwing
throwing arm up so that elbow is as high as shoulder or
grip on ball that enhances fast rotation (1/7 for righties,
11/5 for lefties)
wrist by cocking the hand (this is done by bringing the
hand backward so that back of the hand is parallel to the
forearm and hand rapidly forward (the player should be
throwing to a partner 15 to 20 ft away and aiming for his
chest) to impart as much tight spin as possible.
slight “burn” should occur on the fingertips if done
well – a loose grip should ensure this
not allow the elbow to drop or an undesirable
“pushing” effect will happen
‘clawing’ effect should be emphasized
until it becomes a comfortable exercise
THE STRIDE DRILL
reemphasizing the foregoing, the "HOLY GRAIL" of
baseball pitching circles is the fastball. All pitchers
desire to have a high quality Number One. Coaches
are eternal in their pursuit of drills that will enhance the
most prized of a pitcher's repertoire. In reiterating
the approach of the "Era of The Technicians" and
rightly so, we discover that some of our age-old maxims are
faulty and statements such as "you either have it or you
don't" are not as ironclad as they previously were.
Being a part of the technician gentry, I vigorously uphold the
belief that you can enhance, improve, fortify, embellish and
even generate a fastball. I believe it can be done
through the following techniques:
enhance arm speed.
Training - ex-weighted baseballs.
and Consistent Throwing.
and Correct Rotation.
Points 1, 5,
and 6 are worthy of some thought. It is generally
understood that you pitch with four parts of your body.
When a pitcher ultimately uses FOUR parts
of the body in a smooth, harmonious manner, mechanical
efficiency flows out of this and a newly discovered and
improved fastball often times emerges.
It is rarely in a young pitcher that you
find a smooth integration of the four parts of the pitching
process. The Stride Drill satisfies a large part of the
pitching ABSOLUTES and is essentially a self-correcting drill.
The Stride Drill evolves out of the seventh part or phase of
the full mechanical process (if we allow and consider that
there are 10 phases) and this is the Launch Phase. It is
undoubtedly the most important phase. It is the time
when forces come together to get the interaction of the Hips,
the Shoulders, the Off Arm and naturally the Throwing Arm and
Wrist. This integration with the inertia already created
by initial coiling events (hip loading, etc.) causes a surge of power here. It can be a
productive, useful energy release when timing, mechanical
dexterity and accuracy are united. It is necessary to
understand the ten steps in full mechanics to appreciate the
impact of the Stride Drill.
Ten Steps in Full Mechanics
the batter – get sign – stand on right side of
pitcher’s plate (assume right hand pitcher; left side if
lefty). This is sometimes called the ‘purchase’.
Both feet on plate or left foot slightly behind (right
foot if lefty. Feet should line up parallel.
and ball in glove (deep in web) – perhaps this has
already taken place in addressing of the pitch.
hand, ball, and glove over the head (back of glove facing
hitter). This is optional as often a short position
where the glove is in front in a more compact or shortened
tension can be utilized.
on right foot (left foot if lefty) by lifting heel and
directing toe towards third base – (first base if lefty)
glove starts down and balance and closure is arrived at by
coming up on toe of back foot.
completely with left leg (right leg if lefty) coming as
high or higher than belt and load hips by bringing point
of lifting knee toward back shoulder (pitching side).
The button of the cap should be directly over the ball of
the back foot – (center of gravity is the belt buckle)
this is the halfway point.
the knee comes down – hands break with the thumbs down
– (glove side and pitching side). Hand reaches
down and back – this is the first wrist break. At
this point, the front leg has not landed yet and the body
is still in a closed position. The back foot is
pushing off (or in the eyes of some it is not, and there
is a controlled fall forward). My observations tend
to suggest a push off guarantees a forward motion so
important to the pitching process.
front leg has landed and the arm is in a launch position
– hand is above the head (about 10 o’clock) – elbow
is even or higher than shoulder – with fingers on top of
the ball. This is the most important part of the
mechanical process; for all energies and rotations come
together at this critical time. It is for this
reason that we need to be correct and technically sound at
rotate, shoulders rotate, arm accelerates, back foot has
pushed, torso has passed over “The Wall” – pitching
hand is reaching for release point – (a point below the
hat on a line from chest to plate).
hand has passed through release point and shoulder has
buried with pitching hand group into imaginary bucket.
or rotation of hips pulls back leg off and back foot
gently lands (like an airplane touching down) – even up
or ahead of stride foot. This position has a
lot of variation to it. Tolerance for the ending
should be allowed. However, there should be a
distinct ending of the pitch.
Zero in on Position 7 (The Launch
Phase –everything seems to be tied to this). If we
begin right and rotate properly in reaching (7) the rest
should fall into place.
The Phenomenon of the
explanation of the stride drill, the concept of the “WALL”
is imminent too the effectiveness of the drill.
In many sports, we carry little invisible barriers or
even COMFORTERS along in our pursuit of the active
visualization process necessary for athletic performance.
Many of these little invisible areas cause us to
correctly execute skills (by being mindful of them) and reach
higher levels of accomplishment.
Nowhere is this invisible concept more present than in
the act of pitching where we want to mechanically achieve the
best leverage that our bodies can yield and truly be pitching
“DOWNHILL” and be “tall and fall”.
of the “WALL” which is basically midway through a pitchers
stride will encourage the thrower to constantly get his head,
shoulders, arm and upper body over this barrier at the proper
propulsion time. The upper back should pass over to the
extent the pitcher's number (on his back) can be seen by
someone looking straight at the hurler.
should recognize that "going forward" is absolutely
essential in arriving at a consistent release point and also
paramount in determining a proper delivery angle (downward)
which enhances the pitcher's effectiveness and is constantly
advantageous to the pitcher's deception.
The "Double Bar T"
In initiating the Stride Drill, is is well to see
the concept of a "TEE." The back part of the
"T" simulates the pitcher's plate. The long
leg of the "T" is actually an imaginary line going
directly to home plate. A second bar or line is the aforementioned
"Wall." this needs to be adjusted for each
pitcher as strides vary greatly. This "T" can
be scratched into the ground or pitchers mound or can actually
be put down with lime. On an indoor mound (wood or
fiberglass), tape can be used to identify the "Double Bar
Drill should be started in this way:
(right foot if right-handed thrower - left if left-handed)
placed against the back part of the "T" (at the
junction of vertical line with the horizontal.)
foot should be placed out on the long leg of the
"T" and should be partly closed on the line.
arm should be placed into the launch position (about 10
o'clock) - behind the ear with thumb facing the outfield -
the thrower should be able to see the back of his hand.
of the pitching arm should be even or higher than the
arm (glove side) should have elbow pointing to the target
and glove should be "palm" down.
should be over front shoulder as much as possible.
leg should be flexible and act as "shock
should be initiated with push off coming from back leg -
pivoting on the ball of this foot - with heel pointing up
as pivot takes place.
action commences with a 10 to 3 o'clock movement to
indicate release point - release point will always be
behind the bill (visor) of the hat.
should snap through release point with thumb being
slightly to right (right-hander - to left if left-hander).
hand should pass into an imaginary "bucket" to
the left of the lead leg (to right if left-hander).
This would be a point 7 to 8 inches to the left of the
landing leg- fingers should be pointing down (to right of
landing leg of lefty).
arm shoulder should be pointing directly to target.
should be over the front knee and the knee should be over
the ball of the front foot.
or chin should be over or past the front foot - this
should insure proper balance.
action of the hips should pull the back leg off the
pitcher's plate after the pitch is made, and the back leg
should come around with the toe landing gently even or slightly
ahead of the lead leg.
Cover the Box
When the pitching arm is in the
launch position (10 o'clock and more or less on top of a pitching
circle), the batter gets a good view of the pitcher's
hand. Good hitters focus on this point, and an imaginary
seven-inch square "box" surrounds the pitcher's hand
at this point. If the pitcher in this launch phase will
raise his lead arm with glove palm down so that it is on a
line with the pitching hand, he can effectively "cover
the box" and obscure the pitch that he is throwing.
This requires constant practice to get the timing and position
A variation of the Stride Drill
is the Knee Drill and this can emphasize the following:
- Weight transfer
- The "Wall"
- Arm Action
- Off arm action and location
Assuming a right-handed
thrower, action is initiated by:
- Right knee on ground or
floor (left knee if lefty).
- Pitching arm raised to
"Launch Position" - fingers on "Top."
- Lead arm forward with elbow
pointing at target and glove inverted palm down -
"Covering the Box"
- Chin over front shoulder
pointing at target.
Action begins by thrower
extending forearm and wrist in a throwing motion to the
release point in a smooth forward motion. Chest is
brought over the knee and arm is "buried" to left of
knee with fingers pointing down. Head and shoulders as
well as upper back pass over the "Wall".
In executing these drills,
certain absolutes should be emphasized:
- Use the "off arm"
to accelerate the throwing arm and to balance the
body. This should be visualized as a "captain's
wheel" (The off arm and the pitching arm).
- "Cover the Box"
- Batters fixate on this little area called
"The Box." A glove placed at the proper
elevation can effectively obscure this imaginary
square. This should be done regularly in performing
the aforementioned drills.
- Finish in the
"bucket" always whenever completing the throw.
- Always Go Over the
These drills can be used to
correct flaws and to implement refined mechanics particularly
at the "Launch Phase." Pitchers respond
quickly to these drills and invariably increase their balance
point thereby enhancing their leverage and accuracy.