Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Velocity: How Low Can You Go?

The upstairs pitch may be the hardest for the hitter to lay off, but it is the softest on the radar gun. Last night during my Velocity Training course at Omaha's Strikezone Baseball Academy (Omaha, NE), the class was getting their "Mid-Term" exam meaning the radar gun measured each player's throwing speed.

Sitting behind a protective net, I clocked pitch after pitch. Every pitch upstairs was slower than the pitches down. In my unscientific observation, I bet the difference was 3-4 MPH. I had the pitchers aim lower and their scores improved. One pitcher went from 79-83 MPH.

After the drill, I recounted a Roger Clemens book I read where he retold the story of the time he hit 100 MPH on the gun. I believe this took place in 85' or 86' well before any claims were made about steriods. He explained how his hardest pitch thrown had been a ball that skipped to the catcher.

It does make sense; after you dissect the action. If the ball is down, the pitcher did a few things correctly when talking about force production. First they delayed release letting the nature timing of the lower body happen. Next, they used all their available momentmum. Finally, they delivered the ball as close to home as possible. All three of these aspects help improve radar gun scores.

So when Leo Mazzone says the best pitch in baseball is the low and away strike; it might also be the fastest.

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