Archive for November, 2009

 Basic Strength Training Guidelines for Pitchers

By Gordon Kocher MS, ACSM, NASM

 

     When it comes to strength and conditioning for pitchers there are a lot of myths and misconceptions. The first thing that coaches and athletes need to understand that strength training is not body building. I like to call it the grind.  I see too many pitchers grinding through set after set, bicep curl after bicep curl.  There are two goals that come to mind when developing a strength program for pitchers.

-STAY HEALTHY

-INCREASE VELOCITY

We need to think logically and stick with the basic principles. Pitching is a high velocity movement, so are going to be grinding out high slow reps. Remember you have to make one high velocity pitch then you get about a 30 second rest or more before you have to make the next pitch. So think again when you are running those poles.

Progression is something a lot of coaches and athletes forget about. There is nothing worse than seeing a pitcher or any athlete in the gym without a written program.  You should always keep a journal. You can’t just lift weights everyday and expect gains in strength to appear.  You have to have a plan of action. If you’re not making progress you have reevaluate what you’re doing and make appropriate changes.

Loading and deloading is a variable that a lot of coaches’ lack in their programs. An athlete can’t go 100% everyday every week and expect to make gains. With out deloading weeks or recovery weeks an athlete is going to develop over use injuries and over train.

To keep pitchers healthy you want to become more athletic, with that being said the goal is symmetry. Pitcher have a long season, which most of it is unilateral dominance…meaning you only throw with the same side of you body all season. 

Main concepts when building a strength training program.

Scapular stability– focus on low trap and serratus anterior. It’s important to get pec minor, levator scapulae, and rhomboids loosened up to make this happen.

Thoracic extension and rotation range of motion.- Lack in mobility here will cause increase stress on the elbow and humerus when trying to achieve this range of motion. So stop doing all those crunches and focus on core stability and rotational exercises.

Rotator cuff strength/endurance- You need to strengthen the posterior rotator cuff to so it can decelerate the high velocity of internal rotation. You also have to keep internal and external rotation mobility.

Soft tissue work- lats, pec minor, levator scapulae, posterior cuff/capsule, forearms, rhomboids, and subscapularis. Along with other imbalance.

Opposite hip and ankle– Internal rotation of the lead leg is extremely important. Half shoulder injuries are cause by lack in hip mobility.

Core stability/ force transfer- You must be able to transfer force from your legs to your upper body effectively.

Shoulder range of motion- Over time the extreme external rotation during the cocking phase can lead to internal rotation deficit. This is the reason for posterior shoulder soft tissue work, as well as sleeper stretch and cross body mobilization.

Reactive ability-Most pitchers have better reactive strength in there lead leg and not their push off leg due to deceleration and reactive ability. Posterior chain is important here. You should be working on glute activation.

Strength- Do you think that doing a couple band exercises and some body pump bicep curls are going get you throwing 100 mph fastball.  Pitching is a total body effort. You have to strengthen your posterior chain, quads, thoracic erectors, scapular retractors, etc. When starting a strength-training program one of the main aspects that you want to focus on is spine stability and creating hip drive during all lower body exercises. Your spine should be able to transfer force effectively.  All this has to be done along with increasing or maintaining mobility in certain joins.

Things you should stay away from.

  • Overhead lifting (not chin ups, though)
  • Straight bar benching
  • Upright rows
  • Front and side raises
  • Back squats with straight bar. (unnecessary stress on the anterior shoulder)
  • Running ( decrease in elastic strength)

Things you should do

  • Push up variations (bands or chains)
  • Multi-purpose bar benching (neutral grip benching bar).
  • Db bench press variations
  • Every row and chin up you can imagine
  • Loads of think handle and grip training(towel)
  • Med ball throws
  • Shoulder saver squat bar.
  • Front squats
  • Sprinting
  • Single leg
  • Deadlift variations

Performance concepts

Spine stability and super stiffness

 

  • Optimize range of motion at the hips and thoracic spine
  • Avoid lumbar flexion and rotation, especially under load.
  • Do not attempt a lift you can’t lift
  • Increase spine stabilization strength.

Rapid contraction and then relaxation of muscle.

 

Rapid limb motion requires rapid transitioning between complaint muscles for speed but very active and stiff muscles for force and joint torque production.  If your muscles can not relax effectively then that is going to slow the movement down.  On the cocking phase of the pitch you muscles should not be primed or stiff which would slow your motion down on the power phase. This means to train the muscles to pop off and on.  When throwing you must transition to a total body contraction, initiated in the hips and core ensuring super stiffness.  Your technique is enhanced to ensure proper line of drive of force throughout the body linkage. Example of exercises to work on this is the speed squats. You should focus on popping up out of the squat position. Another example would be a medicine ball throw. You should be relaxing on the cocking phase then popping and stiffening on the throwing phase. The wind up should be slow; if muscle contraction is too early it is going to slow the pitch down.

Tuning of the muscles

Consider the abdominal wall which has been shown to act as an elastic spring for throwing.  A shortage of elastic energy in a compliant spring is rapidly dissipated or lost.  If the spring is too stiff, elastic energy storage is hampered because there is minimal elasticity and no movement.  Most of the stiffness is achieved in the first 25% of the maximum contraction level.  Proper muscle contraction has to be in sink with proper movement.  This means you have to have thoracic mobility into extension.  Using the foam roller is a must to maintain this mobility. 

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The Force losses 2 close games

Posted: November 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

The force lost 2 close games.  For the first game Bryan pitched a gem but the defense couldn’t hold the Lancaster Barnstormers from sneaking 3 runs in the top of the 6th.  Bryan had 5 Ks, 1 walk, and allowed only 4 hits in 4 innings.  Christian was a 2 for 4 with double and 2 RBIs.  For game 2 the Everlast Storm came on top 4 to 3.  Christian also pitched an awesome game with 3ks, only 2 BB, and allowing 6 hits in 4 innings.  3 of the runs came in the bottom of the 1st. Christian shut them down for 3 straight innings.  Vinny played a great game defensively as well as going 1 for 2 with a double and  a RBI.IMG_3995