Imagine this, a high school pitcher’s body that throws a baseball at 80+ mph achieves that speed from hand break to finish in 1.5-2 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. In looking back and reflecting on what we offer young athletes, I think a lot of folks don’t totally understand what we do. So, let me give it a try.
The months of November-December should be about building Absolute Strength. If anyone tells you otherwise they are missing the boat. Pitchers are shut-down, and if they aren’t, they should be. They should take advantage of this time period to get as strong as they possibly can before they return to the workload associated with throwing a baseball. And here’s why. Not only can strength training improve your velocity, good resistance training designed for guys who throw overhead goes a long way towards addressing and maintaining arm health.
It’s very common for our guys velocity to increase after an off-season of strength training, good nutrition and a six week shut down period. As a strength coach that trains many baseball players, if you are serious about pitching I am telling you:
It’s imperative that you lift in November-December
Given the schedule, there is no better time during the year than those two months to put on lean muscle. It is one of the best things you can do for your game, your arm and your body.
Recently I received an email from a parent whose son was just cleared to workout following a layoff due to an injury. She was wondering if we had a velocity program that would be good for him. After looking at my calendar and realizing November was only 2 weeks away, my response to her was the same as it would be for any baseball player regardless of age or position “get in the weight room and lift”. Do I feel strongly about this topic? “Yes”. Because it’s what I do for a living and I have seen the results first hand and up close.
In our Pitching Lab Protocol, we use this time period as the “spring board” to get strong and ready for January and February when bullpens and more explosive “sport specific” lifting begin to ramp-up. Strengthening specific muscle groups not only helps create a more powerful athlete, but it can also help take stress off of other areas that are being overused due to weakness elsewhere in the kinetic chain.
For example, strengthening the posterior chain will allow us to make the most of the lower half by applying force into the ground when coming down the mound. This helps prevent the athlete from over using his upper body. By the same token, strengthening the scapular stabilizers such as the mid- and lower traps and serratus will help with upward rotation of the scapula when “laying back”.
(Barbell Hip Bridge)
Another misconception is that strength training is just about lifting heavy weights. Nothing can be further from the truth. Sure, that’s a part of it, but we perform tons of mobility and soft tissue work as well during this time period. This type of work does wonders for improving lead hip, shoulder internal rotation as well as t-spine mobility, three major players that get lost throughout the course of a long season.
(T-spine Mob w/ Int-Ext Rotation)
Pitching is an “at risk” job, so don’t jump in the water mid-stream. Build a strong foundation in November and December to make your body stronger and more durable and help prevent injury later on. You’ll reap the benefits of your hard work in November-December throughout the long season.
See ya’ in the gym.
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)