Velocity Concerns Before and During Puberty

By Dan Gazaway

It’s been my experience, teaching many pitchers throughout the years, that velocity comes with maturity and when proper mechanics are incorporated in a pitcher’s delivery.

Many coaches are concerned if their athlete is on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to hurling the heat.  For good reason to, velocity is important, however, it’s very difficult to tell how much potential a pitcher truly has until after they mature if your only looking at velocity.  There are so many other things to consider when rating a pitcher.

As I was working with one of my students tonight who just turned 16 (I started working with him when he was 12) I remembered him battling with velocity until he was about 15.  Throughout many of the lessons he would bring up how slow he threw, his father would often ask if his boy really had what it took to pitch.

This pitcher is a late bloomer, but he stuck with it and it has paid off big time for him. Now he is throwing hard and his pitches are moving a lot more.  I honestly think he wouldn’t be the pitcher he is today if he wouldn’t have been annoyed by how slow he was throwing.  He is dedicated and has worked very hard to be where he is now.

I still believe he will put on another 5 mph by the end of this year because its just that time for him and his mechanics are solid.  Most of his momentum is going where it needs to go and there is hardly a wasted movement in his delivery.

I’ve taught several pitchers like him that mature late.  Many think they don’t have what it takes to be a pitcher because of velocity alone, but that simply isn’t the case during adolescent years.

If you yourself aren’t throwing as hard as some of the other boys your age and you have a strong desire to pitch, stick with it.  Keep working very hard on your mechanics, core strength training, speed and agility etc. and you may just surprise yourself and others later. Have you noticed that some kids that seem to have a natural ability to throw a baseball early on don’t seem to have the work ethic to make it far?  Those that have weaknesses in sports, but have a burning desire to do whatever it takes to overcome it, seem to make it further than those that have it easy in their youth simply because they think they don’t have to work as hard.  The fact is, those that put in the time and dedication are the ones that succeed the most.

I recall I was one of the fastest pitchers in our little league from 10-12 years old; then a crazy thing happened, it seemed like I couldn’t throw hard anymore.  All of the other pitchers in my grade were throwing hard and I couldn’t; it didn’t help that I was 6 months younger than everyone.  But what happened? I turned into one of the slowest, if not the very slowest pitcher from about 13-15 years old.

I remember hearing in the dugouts “man this kid throws slow”; then I would strike them out or they would hit a slow roller.  Luckily I had an awesome coach and great pitching coaches who believed in me and kept me pitching most every game.  Later on, within 6 months to a year, I became one of the fastest pitchers again.

Stick to proper mechanics, keep a solid work ethic and believe in yourself and you’ll always know you gave it your all with no regrets.  That work ethic will follow you wherever you go in life.

Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy (www.thepitchingacademy.net). He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at contact@thepitchingacademy.net.

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