Fall ball and other fall sports are over and if you’re not in a winter sport, what should you be doing to make sure you are ready for a successful baseball season? First things first, are you in any pain? If you are experiencing pain, please seek the appropriate medical professional. Pitchers and athletes should not train through pain. Trying to “Work it Out”, is an archaic philosophy which only helps perpetuate the problem in most instances.
It’s time to TRAIN!
Training in the off-season should consist of a multi-faceted approach. Fundamental movement patterns need to be established first before strength is added to those movements. These movement consist of the Squat, Push Up, Lunge, Shoulder/Scapulae Range of Motion and Spinal Mobility and Stability. One can get even pickier with the movement patterns, but these are the big picture movements that are most important. The foundation of athleticism is mobility. We train for mobility of the joint first, then we work to make it stable and only work to achieve greater strength once the other groundwork has been laid.
Here’s an example of a pitchers with poor scapular range of motion due to tight/shortened adductors (Lat, Teres, etc.). As we see below, his mobility is compromised in his throwing arm and he shouldn’t be doing anything above his shoulder until the range of motion is restored.
The next question is how does he get the range of motion back in his shoulder/scapulae? There are several different pathway to take to restore function. The best modality is some form of soft tissue work and we prefer cupping in this situation. We have seen the best and quickest results with this modality. The picture below is the result of just one treatment and he gained about 10 more degrees of of arm abduction. It took 3 more treatment to fix this issue and he was pain free after the range of motion was corrected.
A proper strength and conditioning program is what you will need next. Not all strength programs are created equal, so don’t jump on the internet and find a generalized program for a bodybuilder or football player. A pitcher’s needs are very specific and the program should be very specific to the individual. If you are 13 years old or younger work on mostly body weight exercises. If you are 14 or old start with body weight and dumbbells/kettlebells. I’m including an in-home workout that can be done with minimal equipment (Bands, Minibands, Foam Roll, LaX ball). This program is a great place to start, and best of all, it’s free.
Focus on the quality of movement over using the heaviest weights possible. It’s better to move well than to be strong with really bad movement. Pitchers need to move well……… really, really well at a high level.
Time to Gain Weight!
Increasing a pitchers body weight is very important in the off-season. In addition to getting stronger, gaining 10-20 lbs in the offseason will make them much more durable and effective in the spring. If we had to prioritize a pitcher’s nutrition, the first thing we want to see is at least 5 meals per day and each meal should be pretty substantial in size. It is not uncommon to our athletes eat meals which contain 700-1000 calories. Although we definitely want our athletes to get good quality food, we simply encourage a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. Don’t overthink it………….. it’s just important to get the calories in.
Start with strength training and nutrition. These are the foundation of a great baseball season!