Tag Archives: pitcher training

Throwing to Warmup

A problem I see often is athletes who dismiss the importance of a proper warm-up and none other come to mind more than pitchers.  All too often pitchers throw to warmup instead of warmup to throw.  This is still a huge problem in my eyes at all levels of play. 

Too often I see young athletes do no warmup prior to competition and begin their throwing program to warmup for their bullpen work that will precede their game. 

For years with the Angels as well as at the collegiate level I watched starting pitchers do maybe 5 min of static stretching and a couple of jogs back and forth and then start throwing a baseball at 60 feet.   What was even more annoying was on days they didn’t start they warmed up with the rest of the team which usually included a thorough dynamic warmup.   It has never made any sense to me that on the days they didn’t play the were more warmed up than the days they actually performed their sport. 

I’ve even seen pitchers warm up more for their running program on their “off days” at the professional level.  When I would bring this point up to coaches they would always answer with “They’re on their own.  They know what they need.  It’s whatever they usually do.”   The problem becomes that many of these kids come from not really having a structured program at the high school level.  So they just do what they did prior to games in H.S. 

Our starting pitchers at TCU have a specific warmup prior to their start centered around their movements and needs as an athlete.   It begins with a general body warmup but progresses to increasing movement and mobility throughout the hips, thoracic spine, and shoulder as these areas become highly important in the throwing athlete. 

We start out around the hips creating movement on the front side to the back side.  From there we will move into our thoracic spine progression.  Towards the end of our warmup we move up the kinetic chain to the glenohumeral joint and create warmth and mobility here.  Our kids are sweating heavily by the time our 12 minute session is completed. 

When I first began implementing this warmup with our staff it wasn’t uncommon to see our starting pitchers velocity up by 2-4 mph. 

The problem was that they previously weren’t preparing their body for movement, and explosive movement at that.   Even though they had thrown for 20 minutes their bodies weren’t really that prepared.

Youth Pitching Injuries

A very interesting study was recently published by Dr. Glenn Fleisig in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.  The study followed 481 youth baseball pitchers ages 9-14 for a ten year duration. 

Risk of Serious Injury for Young Baseball Pitchers
A 10-Year Prospective Study

What the study found was that the athletes that pitched more than 100 innings per year were 3.5 times more likely to sustain a serious injury.  Those who play catcher on top of pitching are at an even greater risk by doubling, and tripling injury rates.  During the 10-year span 5% of the athletes had to quit baseball due to serious injury or surgery. 

The study also looked at the curveball which has always been referenced in young pitchers and injuries.  The study could not determine whether curveballs were a factor in injuries. 

One of the reasons that people believe that the curveball produces more injuries is actually due to the fact that youth pitchers with a curve ball pitch more innings because they ……….  possess a curve ball, and many youth baseball players struggle to hit curve balls.  So if you’re hard to hit, you’re going to get more innings.  It isn’t the curve ball but the number of innings / pitches / games that really produces that damage. 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to abide to limiting the number of innings thrown when kids play baseball year round now.  They are on a summer team, school team, 2 different select teams throughout the year, etc.  Going by the wayside are kids that play 3 or 4 sports throughout the year.  If athletes want to make teams they have to play year round to keep up which is terribly destructive to their overall development. 

“It is a tough balancing act for adults to give their young athletes as much opportunity as possible to develop skills and strength without exposing them to increased risk of overuse injury. Based on this study, we recommend that pitchers in high school and younger pitch no more than 100 innings in competition in any calendar year. Some pitchers need to be limited even more, as no pitcher should continue to pitch when fatigued,” said Fleisig.


I recently met a college aged athlete who did nothing but pitch from the age of 7.  This athlete had the worst imbalances I have ever seen at any level.  When you look up imbalances due to pitching in the dictionary, his picture should be by it.  He had every one I can think of.  Extreme amounts of humeral retroversion, extremely limited internal rotation, unbelievable scapular dysfunction, shortened lats, limited elbow extension, and the list goes on and on.  This is what happens when kids aren’t allowed to develop as an athlete and only do one thing over and over during the prime of their developmental stage.

Pallof Press

Quickly becoming one of my new favorite movements is the Cable Pallof Press.  We have used these with bands for years prior to having cable machines in our weight room, so there are other options for those of you who are without cables. 

The movement trains anti-rotation of the the trunk.  Creating strength through anti-rotational exercises also produces strength in rotational exercises, so we use them interchangeably.  Not only do our athletes feel this in their trunk but this is one of the best exercises for activating the adductors in the hips as well.  The movement incorporates everything from the chest to the knees. 

Those who have been reading this blog for a while understand this follows in my opinions on training the core as an entire unit.  I preach strength and stability of the torso/core all the time.  We don’t do situps, crunches, russian twists, leg raises, etc…..  This is one of our main rotational strength exercises for the current 3 week block of training our in-season baseball athletes.

December 2010 – January 2011

It’s been an interesting few months here at TCU.  I’ve been super busy lately and have to apologize to for not posting recently.  I do appreciate the emails that I’ve received about the blog as well as other things recently. 

This past month or so has been a little bit of a whirlwind.   At the end of Thanksgiving I moved down the road into a new house and as many of you probably noted my posting ceased.   During that time the semester was coming to an end I was occupied with finishing up the Fall internship program, finalizing our Spring semester interns, Baseball’s testing, and Football’s preparation for the Rose Bowl.   All the while I was finshing up an article that you can find below, and also got called to present at this year’s CSCCa Conference. 

I wanted to share with everyone the article that I wrote for the December issue of  Training and Conditioning magazine.  It was a piece on the annual training plan for pitchers at TCU.  If you haven’t seen it yet the link is below.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the article and appreciate those who have taken the time to give it a read. 

Special Delivery

Not only all that in December but I also spent about 10 days back home in Kansas, most of which was cutting firewood and working around the farm.  It was much-needed R & R. 

I spent this past weekend at the 2011 NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Addison, TX.  I’ll have a future post on the conference and some of the interesting things I saw as well as some of the presentations.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s been another busy busy week and posts have been few and far between so I apologize for that.  I’m in the process of moving, which I hate possibly more than anything else.  Earlier in the week I had a post to get out but my internet was down so it hasn’t come to fruition yet. 

Our baseball off-season is quickly coming to an end.  We have essentially 2 weeks left in our training.  We will take a partial deload coming back from the Thanksgiving holiday and finish the final week with a little bit of testing / training.   I’ll have some thoughts on testing on in the next day or two but until then I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

A friend of mine, Jim Kielbaso, posted a great article at his website www.UltimateStrengthAndConditioning.comThe article touches on being a strength coach at various levels as well as how to get into the field of strength and conditioning.  It’s extremely informative and insightful especially for those younger coaches who are in the process of making career choices, or still trying to break into the field of strength and conditioning. 

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Another week of training is behind us for the baseball program.  This was Week 12 of the Fall Off-Season.  We only have 4 weeks left in the semester and really only 3 weeks left to train.  Time goes way too fast.  The players don’t realize how small of an opportunity they have between seasons to really get better. 

This week was our highest volume of speed work to date as well as intensity on our Main Effort movements. 

The video below gives a little of our training for the previous week.  It has a little of everything including some of our speed work, med-ball throws, and one of our team challenges. 

 

Hope everyone has a good weekend and GO FROGS!!!

Activation Circuit

Ya, it’s been a while since my last post.  Life has been super busy lately.  Between fall ball officially ending and our true off-season training for baseball starting up, attending the ALDS, and World Series, as well as a few articles that you’ll see in the coming months, October was busy.  So with that behind me I can hopefully get back to it. 

This is a short video of an activation / recovery circuit that we did today.  This circuit had 4 exercises that were performed 3 times through with no rest.   We also perform some form of rotator cuff / scapula training that I didn’t include in the video as a part of this circuit. 

Our first exercise of the video is our Marching Man on a Stability Ball (Feet on Box) w/ WT.  This is 100% for torso stability.  We don’t utilize crunches, situps, Russian twists, etc.   All of our core work is in the form of stabilizing the lumbar spine.  This is how the body functions in sport.   Something stabilizes while other joints around it are mobilized, or moving.  The torso should be trained to aid in stability and transfer power to the linkages.  If you are in question about any of my philosophy on the spine, then look to any of Dr. McGills works. 

The second movement on the video is the Scap Pushup on the P.P.  w/ Feet Elevated.  In a study by Lear and Gross it was determined that the feet elevated pushup plus (scap pushup) produced much higher activation levels in the serratus anterior than with the feet on the ground. 

An electromyographical analysis of the scapular stabilizing synergists during a push-up progression.

Some form of glute activation is the final movement.  Today, this was the Outside Leg Raise w/ Resistance.  In a study presented a year ago in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy the side lying abduction is far and away the best exercise, by over 20%, for stimulating the glute medius.

Gluteal Muscle Activation During Common Therapeutic Exercises

This small circuit usually takes right at 12 minutes to complete and goes a long way to developing some of the often over looked areas in an athlete.