Greg Maddux is one of those generational talents.

He did not thrive throwing 100 mph.

He was not flashy.

He was, however, a master of the game, and an elite baseball pitcher.

Greg Maddux was the epitome of control and command. Painting the corner, hitting his spots, and effectively changing speeds to disrupt the timing of the batter.

The below video, from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Committee is one that every aspiring baseball pitcher must watch.

The video is filled with great baseball pitching advice.

It is worth all twelve minutes of your time.

In case you are in a data crunch, or simply want the cliff notes version, let’s break down the major talking points.

But, first, I have a dirty little secret.

When I was eight, I wrote to Greg Maddux, I was so excited. He was my idol.

He never did write, back, but that did not change how I felt about him, as a pitching master.

I digress.

Movement is more important than velocity

The continuous debate.

Baseball pitchers, when they are young, often over throw. They think that increasing velocity will get the batter our easier. They think that increased velocity can make up for lack of movement.

They cannot be more wrong.

Imagine a fastball at 100 mph, that does not have any vertical or horizontal movement.

The batter will be able to easily track the pitch and time their stride and let the ball fly.

Now imagine a baseball that is thrown at 90 mph and has 4 inches of vertical drop and 3 inches of lateral movement. The time the batter has to react may increase (by milliseconds), but visually tracking the pitch becomes more difficult.

If this principle was not true, then how would the knuckleball be so successful?

The knuckleball has unpredictable vertical and horizontal movement, but at a lower velocity.

I just wish that more coaches preached the importance of movement over velocity.

The problem is that velocity is exciting.

Velocity will get your noticed, velocity will get your drafted.

If you have all that velocity, but your command is poor, then what good is the velocity?

There are countless pitchers who throw in the mid 90’s, that have little movement on their pitches, and who cannot paint the corners.

A 95 mile per hour fastball down the middle of the strike-zone is pretty easy to hit for professional baseball players.

An 85 mile per hour fastball with late movement, that paints the corner? That is difficult for any baseball player to make contact.

Bartolo Colon has revitalized his career, in his late 30’s, having pinpoint command and control with low velocity.

The one problem is that low velocity pitchers have less room for error, especially if they miss their locations. Therefore, it becomes “easier” to throw harder to compensate for the lack of command.

But, as Greg Maddux noted, the ability to change speeds is also more important than velocity.

Changing Speeds is More Important Than Velocity

Let’s think about the following scenario.

Pitcher A throws three different types of pitches.

A four-seam fastball with 2 inches of horizontal break, thrown at 95 miles per hour.

A slider thrown at 93 miles per hour with 2 inches of horizontal break and 3 inches of vertical drop.

A cutter with 2 inches of late horizontal break, thrown at 92 miles per hour.

Each pitch is pretty similar and tracks quite the same. The hitter can track the movement, time their loading phase and guess the pitch type. “Pretty easy stuff”.

Pitcher B throws three pitches.

A four-seam fastball with 2 inches of horizontal break, thrown at 95 miles per hour.

A changeup with 1 inch of vertical drop and 8 inches of horizontal fade, thrown at 82 miles per hour.
Remember a changeup looks like a fastball.

An overhand curveball thrown at 87 miles per hour, with 6 inches of vertical drop.

The batters will be off-balance. The pitcher is effectively disrupting the timing of the batter and each pitch tracks differently.

This is why Greg Maddux stated the following in the video above:

To get hitters out you have to be able to locate the fastball and change speeds, movement is an added bonus

Maddux goes on to note that the worst thing you can do as a baseball pitcher is to forget about location and changing speed and waste effort on overthrowing.

Overthrowing leads to missed location and it can reduce movement, if your mechanics break down. Ultimately, forget velocity, and focus on what works for you.

The best advice you will ever get.

Moving onto Greg Maddux’s lesson on pitching mechanics, albeit brief, but filled with wisdom.

Be sure to always take care of your shoulder and legs from a young age.

This means to take proper care, both pre-workout and post workout. Do you stretches and take care of your body.

Greg Maddux Conclusion

Greg Maddux thrived on command, control, location, and movement.
Do not fool yourself. Focus on these fundamentals, work hard and treat velocity as secondary.

After all, what good is 100 mph if you consistently throw it down the middle of the plate, or worse yes, cannot throw it for a strike?

Also, be sure to team yourself with a mentor or coach who will help you learn how to pitch the right way.

We will leave you with living prove of the importance of movement, changing speeds, and location.

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