Thought Leadership
August 6, 2023

Developing Youth Pitchers: Prioritizing Athleticism Over Drill Work

Aspiring young pitchers often find themselves bombarded with advertisements and recommendations for pitching lessons and drill work. There's a pitching coach on every corner and a social media page for every person who ever threw a baseball with your next "unlock." While these resources can offer some benefits, a growing body of research suggests that focusing solely on mechanics and repetitive drills may not be the most effective approach . Instead, the key to nurturing successful youth pitchers lies in developing athleticism, and here's why.

1. The Versatile Athlete Advantage

Studies published in reputable peer-reviewed journals have consistently demonstrated the advantages of cultivating athleticism in young athletes. A study conducted by the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes who engaged in a diverse range of sports during their developmental years were less likely to experience overuse injuries compared to those who specialized early in a single sport, such as pitching. This highlights the importance of building a strong athletic foundation to promote overall health and well-being.

Think about sports in general... do you ever LeBron James brace himself for landing after a dunk or Derek Jeter make sure he's in the right position when he jumps and throws across his body to first base? No, they let their athleticism take over.

2. Motor Skill Development

Athleticism fosters the development of fundamental motor skills that are essential for pitching success. Engaging in various movements in the throw along with different variations of movements in the gym allows young athletes to become more adaptable, robust throwers. These skills form the building blocks for athletic movements, including pitching mechanics, and contribute to durability and efficiency. Check out a few examples of how we program these different variations here.

3. Injury Prevention and Longevity

Youth pitchers are particularly vulnerable to overuse injuries due to their developing bodies and growing bones. A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that athletes who specialized early in one sport had a higher risk of injury and were less likely to continue participating in sports later in life. Teaching athleticism and promoting multi-sport participation can reduce the risk of injury and improve the likelihood of young pitchers enjoying a long and successful career. By promoting athletic throwing, the body will organize itself in accordance to the goal. By doing so, with the proper constraints athletes can find the most efficient and comfortable ways to move. By doing so, the efficiency developed in their throw will allow them to reduce the risk of injuries and allow for more throwing volume throughout the week, month, and year.

4. Improved Performance on the Mound

Let's face it. The vast majority of amateur baseball is played on crappy fields. How many times have you heard from a pitcher, "the mound was horrible and I didn't feel comfortable." While hitting the right positions in your delivery are essential, athleticism can significantly enhance a pitcher's performance sheerly by being a more adaptable thrower. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that athletes who incorporated athleticism training into their routine demonstrated improved pitch velocity, accuracy, and overall pitching performance.

5. Enhancing Cognitive Skills

Participating in multiple sports engages different cognitive skills, contributing to enhanced decision-making abilities on the mound. An article in the Journal of Athletic Training emphasized the positive impact of multi-sport participation on cognitive development, which translates into improved on-field performance. This ties back to our approach to training athletes implicitly vs explicitly. Check out our other blogs for more information between the difference and the way we leverage a constraint led approach.

Promoting Athleticism: A Holistic Approach

As coaches, it can be so enticing to over coach your athletes. You want the best for them and in order to do so they need constant instruction and drill work. Right? Wrong. To nurture young pitchers, we must adopt a holistic approach that focuses on developing their athleticism with the right positions to follow. Encouraging participation in a variety of movements, angles, and positions in the gym not only helps prevent injuries but also fosters a constantly challenging stimulus to their practice.

Coaches and parents play a pivotal role in shaping the development of young pitchers. By prioritizing athleticism and encouraging diverse athletic experiences, we can ensure that our young athletes have the foundation they need to reach their full potential on and off the mound. For more information on how to leverage these practices reach out to

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