average pitch speed by age

Average Pitch Speed by Age: A Comprehensive Breakdown

average pitch speed by age

When discussing baseball and the skills of the players, pitch speed often emerges as an essential aspect. The ability to throw a baseball at high speeds creates a challenge for batters and typically increases a pitcher’s chances of success. Understanding the average pitch speeds by age can provide valuable intel into the development of an athlete in this sport.

Analyzing average baseball pitch speeds across different age groups reveals a significant correlation with experience, physical ability, and growth. As players mature and their skill set expands, their ability to generate and control higher velocities improves. Furthermore, as young athletes grow physically, they often see increases in pitch speed due to greater strength and conditioning.

Within this article, various age groups will be examined to present an overview of average pitch speeds. This examination will highlight the progression from youth to adulthood, illustrating both the development of the skill and the commitment athletes invest in enhancing their pitching capabilities.


Average Pitch Speed by Age Group

Average Pitching Speed for Little Leaguers

In Little League Baseball, which typically includes players ages 9-12, average pitch speeds tend to be lower due to the developing arm strength and mechanics of young players. The average pitch speed for this age group is usually between 40-50 mph. Here is a youth pitching speed chart by age.

  • 9-10 years old: 40-45 mph
  • 11-12 years old: 45-50 mph

Average Pitching Speed for High Schoolers

As players progress into high school, their arm strength and mechanics improve, resulting in higher pitch speeds. The average pitch speeds in high school baseball are as follows:

  • Freshmen (14-15 years old): 65-75 mph
  • Sophomores (15-16 years old): 70-80 mph
  • Juniors (16-17 years old): 75-85 mph
  • Seniors (17-18 years old): 80-90 mph

    Average Pitching Speed for College Students

    In college baseball, players continue to develop physically and refine their pitching skills. Consequently, average pitch speeds are higher than in high school. The average pitch speeds for college baseball players are:

    • NCAA Division I: 85-95 mph
    • NCAA Division II: 80-90 mph
    • NCAA Division III: 75-85 mph

    Average Pitching Speed for Professional Players

    Professional baseball players will most likely have the highest average pitch speeds due to their superior physical conditioning and advanced skill levels. Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers often throw at velocities of 90 mph or higher. The average pitch speeds in professional baseball are:

    • Minor League: 85-95 mph
    • Major League: 90-100+ mph

    It’s important to remember that these are average pitch speeds, and individual pitchers can vary greatly. The average MLB pitch speed is 90-100+ mph, whereas the fastest MLB pitch speed is a whopping 105.8mph by Aroldis Chapman. In all age groups, especially pitchers can develop at different rates and have varying abilities that may contribute to their pitch speed.


    Average Throwing Speed By Age: Pitch Types

    Fastball

    The fastball is a popular pitch among baseball players. It is thrown with maximum velocity and aims to challenge the batter’s reaction time. Professional athletes playing in the MLB achieve the highest fastball velocity, sometimes even exceeding the 100mph mark. The average fastball velocity can vary significantly for different age groups due to factors such as physical development, technique, and training. Typically, the average fastball speeds for different age levels are:

    • 8-10 years old: 40-50 mph
    • 11-12 years old: 50-60 mph
    • 13-14 years old: 60-70 mph
    • 15-16 years old: 70-80 mph
    • High school: 75-85 mph
    • College/professional: 85-95+ mph

    Variations of fastballs include the four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, and cutter.

    Curveball

    The curveball is a type of breaking ball that moves downward and also away from the batter. It is thrown with a particular grip and wrist action to create a spin that causes the ball to break. Common curveball speeds by age include:

    • 11-12 years old: 45-55 mph
    • 13-14 years old: 55-65 mph
    • 15-16 years old: 65-75 mph
    • High school: 70-80 mph
    • College/professional: 75-85 mph

    Slider

    A slider is another breaking pitch that has a later and sharper break compared to a curve. It is thrown with a similar arm speed as a fastball but with a different grip and wrist action. The average slider speeds by age are:

    • 13-14 years old: 55-65 mph
    • 15-16 years old: 65-75 mph
    • High school: 70-80 mph
    • College/professional: 80-90 mph

    Changeup

    A changeup is an off-speed pitch meant to deceive the batter by appearing like a fastball but arriving at a slower speed. Pitchers adjust the grip, throwing motion, and wrist motion to reduce velocity while maintaining the same arm speed. The Average changeup speeds by age include:

    • 11-12 years old: 40-50 mph
    • 13-14 years old: 50-60 mph
    • 15-16 years old: 60-70 mph
    • High school: 65-75 mph
    • College/professional: 75-85 mph

    Pitching Velocity By Age Chart

    The Pitching Velocity Chart provides a clear view of the average pitch speed by age for baseball players. Divided into various ages, this chart helps coaches, players, and scouts analyze and compare the skill levels of different pitchers.

    Starting with Little League players, aged 9-10, their average pitch speed ranges between 40 to 50 mph. As these players progress into the 11-12 age bracket, their average pitch speed increases to around 50 to 60 mph. It is in the teenage years when the most significant gains in pitch velocity occur. Below is a table to show average pitching speed by age:

    AgeAverage Pitch Speed
    9-1040-50 mph
    11-1250-60 mph
    13-1460-75 mph
    15-1670-80 mph
    17-1875-85 mph

    In high school, most pitchers between 13 and 14 years old can throw between 60 and 75 mph. As they advance to the 15-16 age group, their average pitch speeds range from 70 to 80 mph. Elite high school pitchers can reach up to 90 mph or more in exceptional cases.

    It is important to also remember that these speeds are merely averages and that individual pitchers will vary. Pitching velocity is influenced by factors such as size, strength, mechanics, and conditioning, making each pitcher unique in their own way.


    Improving Pitching Velocity

    Pitching Velocity Training

    Increasing pitch speeds requires focused velocity training. This type of training involves:

    • Developing arm strength and speed
    • Throwing weighted baseballs
    • Regularly doing long toss drills
    • Plyometric exercises

    Incorporating these exercises into a training regimen helps pitchers improve their throwing strength, ultimately leading to a noticeable increase in velocity.

    Pitching Mechanics

    Working on pitching mechanics is another essential component to improve velocity. Pitchers should focus on the following key areas:

    • Proper foot positioning
    • Smooth weight transfers
    • High knee lifts
    • Arm angle and extension
    • Hip and pelvis rotation
    • Stride Length

    By refining these mechanics, a pitcher can ensure that their entire body is working in unison, optimizing the energy transfer from the lower body to the upper body and into the baseball.

    Strive for Power

    Power is another crucial factor in improving pitching velocity. Building a powerful pitching motion involves developing explosive strength in the legs, hips, and core. Pitchers can achieve this by incorporating the following exercises into their training:

    • Squats
    • Deadlifts
    • Power cleans
    • Core strength exercises

    By increasing lower body and core strength, a pitcher generates more force, which translates to increased velocity on the mound.

    Health

    Maintaining good health because it’s essential to ensuring a consistent progression in pitching velocity. Proper nutrition, adequate rest, and injury prevention techniques play a significant role in a pitcher’s success. To keep their bodies in top shape, pitchers should:

    • Eat a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates
    • Prioritize sleep for optimal muscle recovery
    • Utilize appropriate stretching and warm-up routines
    • Gradually increase the intensity and volume of training to avoid excessive stress on the arm

    By following these guidelines, pitchers will improve their overall health, creating the foundation for consistent improvements in their pitching velocity.


    Measuring Pitch Speed

    Measuring pitch speed is also important for understanding a pitcher’s performance. One of the most common devices used to measure pitch speed is the radar gun. Radar guns work by emitting a radio signal and detecting the reflection of moving objects, such as a baseball.

    There are several factors that contribute to the accuracy of radar guns:

    • Distance: The radar gun must be positioned at a suitable distance from the pitcher. Commonly, the gun is placed either behind the pitcher or behind the catcher.
    • Angle: The device should be aligned with the path of the baseball to ensure accurate readings.
    • Calibration: It is essential to calibrate the radar gun regularly to maintain its accuracy.

    Potential Risks and Precautions

    At different ages, the average pitch speed may vary, and taking precautions can help minimize the risk of injury for young athletes. When analyzing potential risks, it’s important to recognize physical limitations and make appropriate adjustments during training and gameplay.

    One main risk when pitching at increased speeds is the strain and pressure put on the arm, specifically the elbow and shoulder. To protect against injuries:

    • Encourage young athletes to stretch and warm up their arm muscles before throwing or pitching sessions.
    • Monitor pitch counts and limit excessive numbers of pitches based on age guidelines because overuse can lead to serious injuries.
    • Avoid specializing solely in pitching; participating in other sports or positions can distribute stress on the body more evenly.

    Another crucial aspect to consider is the development of proper technique. A strong foundation in pitching mechanics can not only aid performance but also reduce the likelihood of injuries.

    To address this:

    • Work closely with coaches and trainers who can also provide guidance on proper pitching techniques.
    • Emphasize the importance of body coordination and follow-through in the delivery of the pitch.
    • Train athletes on both fast-pitch and off-speed pitch techniques to create a balanced and versatile throwing repertoire.

    Lastly, be prepared for the possibility of fatigue and overuse, which can exacerbate the risk of injury.

    Some key considerations include:

    • Ensuring young pitchers have adequate recovery time between games and pitching sessions.
    • Integrating strength and conditioning programs with a focus on the core and shoulder muscles.
    • Encouraging open communication between coaches, athletes, and parents so any concerns can be addressed promptly.

    By keeping these potential risks and precautions in mind, young pitchers can develop their skills and increase their average pitching speed in a safe and effective manner.


    Final Thoughts

    By knowing what to expect at each age group, players can set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. While it’s nice to see your child at the top end of these speed charts, just remember that every kid develops differently. Maybe your pitcher is throwing gas at 12, but then other players hit puberty and catch up to him. Overuse and throwing hard at a really young age could also lead to injuries.

    If you do decide to see how fast your kids are throwing, my recommendation would be to clock them discreetly, especially the younger ones. I’ve seen so many kids deviate from their normal pitching motion to try to get a high number on the radar gun. When you are throwing while thinking about the gun, injuries are more likely to happen.

    Learn the correct mechanics, train properly for velocity improvements, eat right, and rest. The pitch speeds will gradually increase while you hopefully avoid injuries.

    Chris F.

    Chris F.

    Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.
    Shopping Cart