Velocity and the Holy Grail (Part 2)

By Nunzio Signore (B.A., CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Ball on FireIn today’s post we are covering Part 2 of “Velocity and the Holy Grail”. In case you missed Part 1 please click here.

Although “velocity” is the final destination for most pitchers, every athlete is built differently and trying to get there from a different starting point. This leaves no single way to map out a game plan. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll continue to talk about a few of what I think are the 12 key components to finding the Holy Grail of Pitching – Velocity.  In Part 1, I went over #’s 1, 2 and 3. So without further ado, here are #’s 4, 5 and 6.

4. Improve Soft Tissue Quality – Long seasons combined with a short off-season leads to compromised soft tissue quality (scar tissue and “knots” that form on the fascia of the muscle), causing faulty movement patterns and sometimes pain. If you can’t move correctly you can’t optimize the necessary mechanics to throw smoke. Another benefit to doing soft tissue work is that it delivers the benefits of stretching to athletes with “laxity” (loose joints).  Laxity is prevalent in many pitchers, whether it be from genetics or throwing, so they generally shouldn’t be stretching through they’re passive restraints to begin with. Implementing foam rollers, lacrosse balls and tiger tails before workouts and games is a great and inexpensive way to warm up and help maximize performance. Be sure to focus on the pec minor, lats, t-spine and triceps to name a few.  Here are a couple examples:

(Pec Minor)

(Latissimus Dorsi)

For more info on foam rolling please click here and read my blog on Foam Rolling.

5. Stop Throwing For at Least 6 Weeks in the Off-Season – As if throwing a baseball from March through June isn’t enough, add in summer leagues, tournaments, showcases and fall ball to make baseball an 8-month sport. Most arms and hips aren’t designed to tolerate those explosive forces for that long, which is why many guys start complaining about anterior (front) shoulder pain, medial elbow pain and low back pain around Aug-Sept. Much of this stems from “cranking back” into the layback position:

Velo Holy Grail Part 2 - 1

By sometime late in the season the body is broken down. Taking time off from playing in November and December is crucial to help with G.I.R.D (gleno humeral internal rotation deficit) and loss of IR in the lead leg just to name a few.

In addition, velocity requires both arm strength and arm speed. There is a difference. Cuff strength and scap stability helps build arm strength, not arm speed. Throwing builds arm speed, not strength. Throwing requires endurance. You can’t have muscular endurance without muscular strength.  If that were the case, young athletes would be throwing year round, getting stronger, not weaker and injured.

These issues need to be addressed in order to guarantee an athlete will be “tuned-up and ready” for the spring.

6. Stop Running Poles and Sprint Instead  – I’m not even going to spend a lot of time on this one. Running builds “slow twitch (endurance) fiber”, on the other hand sprinting builds “fast twitch” (explosive) fiber. We want to be explosive because the last time I checked there’s not a lot of running going on while throwing a ball. Baseball is an explosive sport. In other words, “you get what you train for” so do sprints, don’t run.

(20-yard Get Up & Go)

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series in the near future and remember to “train smart”.

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