By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)
Now that baseball tryouts and pre-season have begun and my separation anxiety has started to kick in, it always helps me to sit back and watch old video and reflect on the past off-season. Here in Part 1 of this 2 Part Series, we’ll look at the first 5 observations and personal thoughts from the past 4 months at RPP.
In looking back and reflecting on what we offer young athletes during the off-season, I think a lot of folks don’t totally understand and/or appreciate what we do. Imagine this, a high school pitcher’s body that throws a baseball at 80+ mph achieves that speed from hand break to finish in 2-3 seconds. That’s comparable to some of the fastest Italian sports cars out there. How you could not get young pitchers physically prepared for this type of explosive movement is frankly beyond my comprehension. So here we go…
1. There is a general loss of external rotation (ER) from reduced throwing – This is actually a good thing. A nice rest (Eric Cressey calls it “free recovery”) from throwing and not going into the lay back position allows the ligaments that provide stability to the front of the shoulder to tighten back up and do their job (which is keeping the arm from pushing out anteriorly). It also gives the biceps tendon a much needed break. We can generally see an average ER decline of anywhere between 3-10 degrees and as much as 20 degrees between November and January. Not to worry, ER begins to increase as soon as pre-season throwing begins. In addition, strengthening the posterior cuff while the front is getting a well needed break in the early off-season months will go a long way when bullpens come around.
(Manual Ext. Rotation)
(Cable ER @ 90 degrees)
2. Gain of IR from not throwing for four months –There can be up to a 5-10 degree loss of internal rotation (IR) after each throwing session. Couple this with inadequate arm care in between starts and you have a gradual decline of IR over the course of a season. It’s not unusual for some of our guys to walk in the gym beginning of November with 10-20 degrees of IR!! Soft tissue work to the posterior cuff can help us get back that much needed IR for “putting on the brakes” after ball release.
(Pin and Stretch to the Teres)
(SMR Pec Minor/Major)
3. The biggest improvement in mobility during the off season is T–spine rotation – Honestly, working out correctly on a consistent basis and doing minimal t-spine mobility work will get it there, and fairly quickly. The numbers vary from athlete to athlete but most guys on average gain anywhere from 10-20 degrees of rotation bilaterally (both sides), with some gaining upwards of 30-40 degrees. This goes a long way in avoiding excessive lumbar extension during the lay back position or oblique strains while swinging a bat (2-way players).
(Quadruped T-Spine Mobility)
4. Baseball players love explosive circuits… And I don’t know why! – This is a good thing because ball players need to be explosive. Once we hit mid-January, we implement explosive circuits (6-12 sec bursts) into one or two of our strength days. This helps conditioning without the catabolic (muscle destroying) effects of running. They can really suck, but the guys seem to love “circuit days”. For more on aerobic conditioning for baseball, please click here. RCC’s Dan Wirchansky shows us one way it can be done.
5. Monitored band work being coached correctly is a game changer – Here at RPP, we stress the importance to our coaches that all players at the band activation wall must be monitored. You would be amazed at how many guys just go through the motions if left on their own. The result? Forward heads, back extension, and roaming elbows all over the place!! Remember, band work done incorrectly is actually doing more harm than good. RPP coach Raphael Velazquez shows us how it should look.
(Band Act. Circuit)
I personally can’t wait to go watch all of the hard work come into play (no pun intended) on the diamond later this spring and summer.
Please stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll look at 5 more lessons learned in the off-season. Remember, keep your strength and mobility all season by getting in one or two weekly “in-season lifts” at RPP. Please also feel free to visit our website for the in-season baseball schedule.
Until then, see ya’ in the gym.