Today I want to inform you about a specific throwing regimen you can use to become a successful pitcher. Many coaches, parents and athletes ask me regularly about how often they should throw. The answer to this question is that it varies from pitcher to pitcher. Most pitchers don’t throw enough and when they do they are not throwing with a specific purpose or intent to improve. Most pitchers waste their time just throwing to throw the ball just as a hitter takes a lot of swings getting fatigued and doing more damage to their swing than good.
Leo Mazzone, former Atlanta Braves pitching coach, explains in his book, “pitch like a pro,” the keys to a successful throwing program for starting pitchers. Before reading his book, I taught my pitchers the same thing about the following throwing regimen.
Day 1 Pitch
Day 2 Flat Ground Throwing / Take a day off
Days 3&4 Throw off a mound
Day 5 Flat Ground Throwing / Take a day off
Day 6 Pitch
You will notice that this program does not require you to throw everyday, although you can. If you are a pitching coach you should never discourage your pitchers not to throw; unless of course their arm is fatigued or sore. As I mentioned before, every pitcher is different and some truly have better “throwing genetics” than others and can handle a more demanding workload.
On days 3 and 4 you will see that you throw off of a mound. Throw 10-15 minutes at around 65-75 percent of your full velocity. (notice how you don’t need to throw 100 pitches each outing; 10-15 minutes is plenty) There are many reasons why you don’t want to throw at 100 percent all of the time. One reason is that it can be too much overthrowing and over-extension. When you throw your bullpens it is time to work on specific pitching mechanics getting a “feel” how to throw other off-speed pitches, getting more movement and command of your fastball.
I agree with Leo Mazzone when he says this in his book:
“So when you throw on the side between starts you want to make the ball do something without maxing out your effort. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about pitching-putting touch on the ball and improving the effectiveness of your pitches-when you’re not throwing as hard as you can.”
He also talks about arm injuries stating that “the main cause of an arm injury is not a fastball, a slider, a curve, a change, or a split-finger fastball, in fact, I will allow any pitcher to throw any pitch as long as he can throw it properly. Most arm injuries result not from a particular pitch, but from overexertion, “muscling up” (trying to throw too hard in a given situation), or over-extension.”
I agree with Leo. I will teach pitchers a great breaking ball as soon as their fastball mechanics are up to par. As long as a pitcher knows how to throw a ball correctly why not switch it up? They will find better success. Another problem arises when young pitchers find success with a particular pitch like a curveball and they throw it too often. A good pitch ratio would be 65 percent fastballs, 15-20 percent Breaking balls and 15-20 percent changeups.
Ultimately, only you can decide what a great throwing regimen is for you. There may be some weeks you feel like you can throw more than this. If your arm is causing you problems it could be that you throw too hard the day after you pitch in a game. I always encourage pitchers to rest the day after game day. You will see many youth pitchers play long toss with their team the next day or even the same day they have pitched if they have a double header. That is silly. Just as a weightlifter gives their muscles a break, you need to give your throwing arm a break. Just use good judgement!
*Take note that this throwing regimen does not include pitching specific workout programs. Days off mean throwing days off; that doesn’t mean you don’t skip your workouts and skill work.
Lastly, I want to stress how important it is that you are going to need correct pitching mechanics if you are going to be throwing a lot in your pitching workouts. This is why we want you to check out https://www.thepitchingacademy.com/products/. You will find our DVD that will walk you through all of the necessary pitching mechanics to help you maximize your full throwing potential.