What's A Good Age to Begin Overload/Underload Training?




UNDERload - Since I usually don't get to talk to the users of my programs (as there many thousands!) I tend to be cautious with my recommendations, as there are a lot of people who think, "if a little is good, more is better."  I get emails and calls every week from players and parents who want to know if they can do more than I specify in my workout, thinking this will speed up their progress.  The answer is NO, of course.

Yet I am EXCITED about the value of my Throwing Velocity workout for younger players for two big reasons:  1)  The BEST velocity gains are made using a 4 oz (UNDERweight) ball, better than those attained using the 6 oz (OVERweight) ball.   The reason for this is that using a lighter ball allows the throwing arm to move thru its range of motion (ROM) more quickly, which trains and conditions the associated muscles, tendons, and nervous system (fast twitch) to perform at overspeed relative to the 5 oz (game) ball.  It's similar to a technique sprinters use when they run downhill at a slight incline - they are forcing themselves to move their legs more quickly through their striding range-of-motion than they do when on flat ground. 

I have seen this myself many times over the years - players make very noticeable gains throwing underweight balls.  In fact, before weighted balls became widely available, we originally did this workout using tennis balls, which weigh about 3.5 oz.  Players of all ages made excellent gains this way.

The second reason this workout is valuable for younger ball players is the weight of the regulation game ball itself - 5 oz.  We have Little League age and even younger players throwing the same weight of ball that Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson use (and the rest of those big guys).  Yet, while Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds swing bats weighing 30+ oz, we don't make our youngsters swing those big bats.  Their bats are much lighter. 

Admittedly, the Little League pitching distance is less than that of MLB, but that to me is a small accommodation.  Kids play other positions, like the outfield, and make throws of all types and distances.  I think LL Baseball should go to a lighter ball, 4 oz, which would be easier on youngster's arms, yet would not otherwise change the way they play.  In any case, having kids throw a 4 & 5 oz ball while performing my Throwing Velocity Workout will accomplish the following:

OVERload - As for throwing the 6 oz (OVERload) ball, I admit that many youngsters may well be able to handle it.  Kids are always throwing rocks, sticks, softballs (which weigh 6.5 oz) footballs (which weigh significantly more than a baseball - a Wilson pee-wee football, their smallest, weighs 10.6 oz) and other things. 

Exercising caution, my recommendation for players under 14 is this:  complete the program as specified the first time through.  If the player's arm feels good, and his/her throwing mechanics are in good order, go ahead and add  the 6 oz ball the next time the program is performed.  Keep the amount of throws the same.  Third time through, if all the aforementioned still apply, then do the complete program, increasing the number of throws as indicated.

As players of any age re-do my Throwing Velocity Program, they'll continue to develop arm strength and velocity until they reach their genetic threshold (whatever that may be).  That will be discovered many years down the road, so don't rush this or any other type of training!


There are no restrictions for any age with my Bat Speed Program.  However, younger players may not be able to perform all of the dry-swings called for, so start them on a regimen of 1/4 to 1/3 of the swings indicated.  As they become stronger, gradually increase the number.  Players will still benefit from this reduced number of swings.






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Hitting & Pitching Academy - www.BaseballFit.com

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