Tag Archives: Pitcher

Rapid Rise of Brandon Finnegan

Great article by ESPN on the rise of Brandon Finnegan this summer to the big league’s and his contribution over the playoffs thus far!!!

Finny Royals

4 months ago we were working on his hip flexibility, taking care of his arm, and joking around on Saturday mornings after his starts and now he’s holding his own in the MLB Playoffs.  Great story and video here from ESPN.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2014/story/_/id/11661038/kc-royals-reliever-brandon-finnegan-rapid-rise

 

Wall Angel Series

This video is on our wall angel series which might be the best scapular movement we do.  When done correctly, wall angels are one of the hardest exercises I’ve ever done.  Simply put they aren’t fun and they will make athletes sore in area’s they didn’t know exist.  We generally perform wall angels for 3-5 reps with controlled tempos as in a 5 count up and down w a pause at the top and bottom.  Or we might do a 2-3 count up and down with a 5 count pause at the top and bottom.  In either case we want control.

Quick points:
1. Make sure athletes keep their spine flat on the wall.  Don’t arch or let the rib cage flare up.
2. We want them actively driving their arms into the wall not just sliding up and down.  Even if they can’t get their arms to the wall we want them actively trying.  This alone helps to stretch out the anterior shoulder and chest into more external rotation.

Progressions:
1. Once we have worked for several weeks on the wall angel we can progress to include more dynamic stability using the bands.  Athletes partner up and can move the bands in any direction.  The more the better.  The athlete on the wall is forced to stabilize in any number of direction at a given moment.
2. The last progression that didn’t make it in the video is performing the dynamic stability version with the eyes closed.  Athletes now can’t react to what direction they see the band moving.  This really requires much more stabilization and kinesthetic awareness.

Scap Wall Slides for Throwing Athletes

Scap wall slides are great for the overhead athlete to activate the serratus anterior, a big time muscle for the overhead / throwing athlete. The serratus is an overlooked muscle in the grand scheme of shoulder function, but it might be on the of the most important for throwing athletes.  Right now, we’re perfomring scap wall slides as an activation warmup series prior to all our upper body work.  We usually focus on 2-3 sets of 5 reps with controlled movement and pauses at both ends.

Serratus Anterior Posts

Check out some of these previous posts for more info on the serratus and the scapular function and how to tie more serratus work into your 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.

2011 NCAA Baseball Season

Well tonight marks the start of the Horned Frogs 2011 Baseball season.  I’m excited for not only tonights matchup  vs. the Jayhawks but for the weekend series to see what this years team will be made of.

TCU Baseball 2011: Quiet Confidence from Red Productions on Vimeo.

This is the intro video for this season.  I haven’t watched it yet but heard its a great production and if it doesn’t get you fired up a little bit you might want to check your pulse. 

It’s been a busy Spring so far and it won’t slow down much.  With the travel coming up for the team I should be able to get in a little bit more posting.  Until then, GO FROGS!!!