5 Tips for Incorporating Weighted Ball Training from Our PPP Coaches

To maximize the benefits of weighted ball training and minimize the associated risks, it is crucial to adopt a holistic approach to pitching development.

We asked our PPP coach, Jason Immekus, for his advice on how to implement weighted balls to improve your pitch performance. Jason has been coaching college programs for 19 years and is also an associate scout for St. Louis Cardinals. He’s worked with many players that have signed to play professionally. 

1. Proper Guidance

Working with a qualified pitching coach or trainer who understands the nuances of weighted ball training is essential. At PPP, we take each pitcher through a comprehensive biomechanical assessment to analyze their strengths, weaknesses and goals. From there, we offer personalized coaching programs that may incorporate weighted ball training.  

Coach Jason Immekus has been using weighted baseballs as a training tool for about 15 years in both a one-on-one and team environment. He advises pitchers to use them but in a controlled environment with a coach, 

“Weighted balls, when implemented and monitored properly, can be a valuable piece in a pitcher’s development. I have found them useful in a few different areas such as, recovery the day after a high-intent day or a return-to-throw program,” Jason commented about his approach to weighted training.

In both use cases, Jason says that the heavier balls are able to control arm speed and torque while accumulating volume, or a particular number of throws. Knowing when and how to use weighted balls is an important aspect to your training protocol.

2. Injury Prevention and Maintenance

Implementing a comprehensive injury prevention program is vital to maintain overall health and reduce the risk of injury while using a weighted ball. This includes incorporating proper warm-up routines, mobility and conditioning exercises. At PPP, coaches focus on arm care and recovery to prevent injury. Since weighted ball training increases external shoulder rotation, it’s especially important to help players develop this range of motion alongside proper strength training.

3. Technical and Mechanical Analysis

Analyzing and refining pitching mechanics is crucial for maximizing performance and reducing stress on the arm. Learning the mechanics of the body including efficient power transfer and sound technique can help pitchers effectively utilize weight. 

PPP coaches work with pitchers to identify and address any mechanical issues that could hinder progress or increase the risk of injury. When necessary, coaches will use weighted balls to readjust a pitcher’s throwing mechanics. Jason commented on this approach,

“We can also use weighted balls to help reshape an arm path much the same way we use a Plyo Ball, but [weighted balls] give the player the visual feedback of ball flight.”

Like weighted balls, Plyo Balls can be used for both over and underload training.  However, Plyo Balls are mainly used to develop better movement mechanics while conditioning the arm.

4. Arm Care and Conditioning

A well-rounded recovery and conditioning program should always accompany weighted ball training. This includes exercises targeting core strength, mobility, stability and arm care. Improving these areas can enhance pitching performance and support the body's ability to handle the demands of throwing. 

At PPP, we also like to include weighted training in the form of plyocare for arm strength and conditioning. Check out this FREE downloadable Plyo Ball Drill Card for exercises you can do to improve your throwing velocity and overall condition of your arm.

While you can do weighted drills on your own time, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Any of our coaches can tell you that training with a heavier ball alone will not necessarily improve your pitch. You have to have a biomechanical-based training program.

5. Vary Ball Weights

While the conversation of weighted training mainly revolves around heavier balls, underweighted balls can also help your performance but in a different way. When throwing different balls of different weights, the body has to program release points each throw. If heavier balls help you develop more mobility and power in your throw, then lighter ones can improve speed. Jason takes a varied approach with ball weight training saying, 

“I have found underweighted balls to be useful when blended appropriately with a regular ball to help a player potentially unlock the ability to move faster.”

Partnering with PPP to Create a Comprehensive Training Program with Weighted Balls

Because of the potential for injury and overuse, weighted ball training should be monitored by a coach especially when you are first starting out.

 Weighted balls can be an effective training tool that can improve your velocity. However, they should be part of a comprehensive training program that considers your individual differences, incorporates injury prevention strategies and addresses all aspects of your pitching development. By adopting a holistic approach, pitchers can maximize their potential while minimizing the potential risks associated with training with weighted balls.

Get in touch with one of our coaches at PPP to learn more about our in-person and remote pitching performance programs.

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