As a baseball player, you are constantly searching for ways to get a leg up on your competition. So many factors are at play whether you’re on the mound or in the outfield. Today, we’re going to discuss the weighted baseball and its potential as an alternative form of training.
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With that said, let’s dive into how the weighted baseball can improve your game.
The Benefits to Using a Weighted Baseball
In short, throwing a weighted baseball can improve the velocity by which it exits your hand. A study conducted in 2021 proved that pitchers who participated in a weighted baseball training program experienced benefits that weren’t seen by the control group.
The results varied across both groups, but they were significant enough to definitively say that a weighted baseball can help you make strides in improving your throwing mechanics.
In addition to the raise in velocity, the baseball players in the study that used a weighted baseball also experienced an unforeseen benefit. After the training program, athletes’ range of motion in their shoulders had greatly increased.
Baseball players – pitchers especially – know how important their range of motion is. In a sport where shoulder surgery and elbow surgery are growing more common with each passing season, having a way to increase this range of motion is paramount.
Safety of Using a Weighted Baseball
In the interest of full disclosure, certain studies, including the aforementioned, have stated that there are inherent risks with the usage of a weighted baseball. In layman’s terms, because the ball is heavier there is a greater risk for “throwing your shoulder out.”
Understanding that the heavier ball carries this risk is imperative for if/when you begin training with one. If you didn’t take it seriously before, make sure to stretch regularly, especially before using a weighted baseball.
Guidelines for Training with a Weighted Baseball
Listed on the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy are guidelines for how to safely and properly train using a weighted baseball. Here they are:
- Move away from using generalized programs to train large groups of athletes. Rather, use a more individualized approach in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of the program.
- Stray away from training with a weighted baseball if you are prone to shoulder or elbow injuries. Consult your physician or a sports medicine professional prior to beginning a training program.
- Programs with extreme weights or volume should be avoided in the skeletally immature athlete until a proper physical base is established
- Training programs should be scaled based on the maturity, level, and experience of each athlete.
- Different programs should be designed based on the time of the year and specific goals of the athlete.
- Workloads should be monitored to assure weighted balls are included in throw counts and overall program design
- Monitoring the athlete must be included to assure they are handling the added stresses that are involved.
Weighted Baseballs in the MLB
“Shoulder strength and arm speed is what I’m looking for,” Britton said. “I think the drills where you have to control a little bit more weight have helped with my shoulder stability, and using the lighter ball makes me feel faster and more flexible. For me, it’s definitely a piece of the puzzle.”
Additionally, major league clubs have begun implementing programs that have greatly benefited their players.
“We’re bullish on any programs that encourage us to train with great intent and intensity, which many weighted ball programs do,” Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler said. “Our pitchers have responded admirably, and our coaches are enthusiastically supporting.”
“You always get a smile, because the ball feels so light you feel like you can throw it 100 miles per hour,” said Ken Knutson, a minor league pitching coordinator with Cleveland. “And even if that’s all you get out of weighted baseballs, I’m in.”