Jarrod Kennington, John Kennington, Garrett Brown, Tyler McManus, Rebecca Rogers, Mallory Marshall, Courteney Benjamin, Christopher Ballmann, FACSM, Tyler Williams. Samford University, Birmingham, AL.

BACKGROUND: Caffeine is an ergogenic aid that has been shown to enhance exercise performance, as well as a variety of sport-specific tasks. However, the effect of caffeine on baseball pitching performance has limited scientific study. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute caffeine supplementation on pitching performance in competitive baseball players. METHODS: Fifteen collegiate baseball players were recruited for this study. Using a double-blinded, counterbalanced, crossover design, subjects supplemented with either 5 mg/kg of caffeine (CAFF) or a placebo (PL; gluten-free cornstarch) 60 minutes before testing. During each trial, subjects completed 10 maximal effort throws from a pitching mound in the stretch position with 20 seconds of rest between throws. Subjects were instructed to throw as hard as possible, while focusing on hitting a strike zone target placed 18.4 m away. Throwing speed (mph) was measured using a radar gun placed behind the strike zone. Throwing accuracy was recorded as the number of throws that hit inside the strike zone. A paired samples t-test and Cohen’s d effect size calculations were used to compare throwing speed and accuracy between conditions. RESULTS: CAFF significantly increased peak throwing speed (p=0.014, d=0.73) and mean throwing speed (p=0.006, d=0.83) compared to PL. Additionally, throwing accuracy was significantly higher following CAFF (p=0.045, d=0.57). CONCLUSION: Acute caffeine ingestion enhances baseball pitching speed and accuracy in competitive baseball players.

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