Many high school and college pitchers have come to me with the same question—“How can I add speed to my fastball?” When I ask them what they are currently doing, I usually find out that they are spending too much time on shoulder exercises and little to no time on core training.

There is a big misconception about what makes a pitcher throw a ball harder. What you must first understand is that the force of the ball comes not from the shoulders or arms but from the core of the body. If you are not familiar with core training, it focuses on the hips, obliques, abdominal, and lower back areas. If you’ve ever watched a pitcher wind up, you will notice that he lifts his leg, twists at the hips away from the batter, and then twists back toward the batter before releasing the ball. This is not just something that was made up for tradition of the sport. There is a reason for it. The core of the body is responsible for the force of the ball. With that being said, it is very important to incorporate core training into your exercise program if you want to reach the full potential of your fastball.

Although increasing your pitching speed is most likely your number one goal, there is a more important reason you should be training your core—injury prevention. Every baseball player (pitchers and hitters) who has come to me with shoulder problems assumes that he needs to increase his shoulder strength. Again, this assumption could not be farther from the truth. The reason that shoulder problems arise is because of a lack of core strength. If the force of the ball is supposed to come from the core and the core is weak, the deltoids and rotator cuff are forced to exert more than those muscles can handle. So, in the end, a strong core will not only help you become a better fastball thrower but will also keep you healthy and in the game year round with the ability to play at the top of your game.

There are different ways to train the core, and I have used everything I have come across when training my pitchers. From my experiences in this area, I have found that medicine ball training is the most effective way to increase your pitching speed. There are several different ways to incorporate medicine ball training into your exercise program. The first way is to use it as a warm up. Start out with an exercise like woodchoppers at the beginning of every workout and super-set with stability ball crunches. Perform three sets of each exercise for ten repetitions. After that, you can get right into your normal strength training routine. Another way is to incorporate it at the end of your routine. You can use the same exercises, sets, and reps. Just do them later in the workout.

The routine that my pitchers seem to like the best is a three-day routine consisting of all core training techniques. Personally, I agree that this is the most effective way for you to increase your speed for a couple of reasons. First, you will not put too much stress on your body by lifting heavy weights with a limited range of movement. Second, it isn’t time consuming and can be done in-season as well as for the off-season. Third, it works.

In 2005, a 20-year-old pitcher from New Jersey came to me for advice while preparing for a try-out with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When I discussed the program with him, he was a little skeptical, but I encouraged him to follow through with it. It was only four weeks later that he came to me and said, “Hey, that stuff really works. I added two clicks to my fastball.” He went from an 86 mile per hour fastball to an 88 mile per hour fastball in just four weeks. Imagine the results in four months.

The point is that core training is the single most important training method if you want to pitch faster. You might have the strongest upper body in the league and maybe you’re the fastest pitcher in the league, but if you aren’t properly training your core, you will not reach your full potential as a pitcher.

Here is an example of the program I used to train my client who was trying out for the Dodgers:


Woodchoppers                                                            3 sets X 10

Front reaching lunge with medicine ball              3 sets X 10

One-arm medicine ball toss on stability ball                    3 sets X 10 tossing from three angles

Band rotations                                                              3 sets X 10

Pikes                                                                            3 sets X 10

Medicine ball toss on balance board                              3 sets X 10


Medicine ball toss against wall                           3 sets X 10

Lateral reaching lunge with medicine ball                        3 sets X 10

Chest pass                                                                    3 sets X 10

One-arm pivot row with band 3 sets X 10

Jump squats                                                                  3 sets X 10

Side crunch                                                                  3 sets X 30 seconds


Russian twist                                                                 3 sets X 10

Rotating lunge with medicine ball                                   3 sets X 10

One-arm rotating chest press with band             3 sets X 10

Dumbbell pull-over on stability ball 3 sets X 10

One-leg deadlift with medicine ball                                3 sets X 10

This program may not look very impressive to the average muscle head, but you must always ask yourself, “What am I training for?” If you aren’t training to stand on stage and pose against other bodybuilders, do not train like a bodybuilder. If you are training to enhance your performance on the mound, you must train like a pitcher. Use specific movements that relate directly to how you will move on the mound. The single most important goal for a pitcher is to stay injury free. The most effective way to accomplish this is with a good core training program. Once you are free of injuries and are able to put time into your new core training program, you will watch your fastball blow right by the opposing batters. Training smart and training goal specific are the keys to success as an athlete. Give core training a try and watch the numbers on your fastball rise.

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