For years, golfers have used a small weighted rubber “donut” slipped on the end of their driver during practice swings to help make the club feel lighter when it’s removed. Baseball batters, both little and big league, have used the same thing on their bats in the on-deck circle. Some coaches have even begun having their pitchers practice with a weighted baseball, thinking it will have the same benefit…to make the actual ball feel lighter when pitching in a game. But not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.
Dr. Vince Key is an orthopedic surgeon for The Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System. He’s also the head team physician for the Kansas City Royals. We caught up with Dr. Key at the Royals Spring Training camp in Surprise, Arizona. In the video, he explains why weighted baseballs can do more harm than good. He says pitching is different from swinging a bat or a golf club, and involves a whole different set of muscles. He says pitching involves training those muscles and finding the right arm slot for releasing the ball, while using a different weighted ball during practice won’t help develop those muscles properly. He also says it could force a pitcher to change their arm slot for release…something pitchers, especially little leaguers, should NOT do when practicing.
The video also shows Royals pitchers in spring training practice.