Home Baseball Content Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling 90/90 External Rotation Hold

Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling 90/90 External Rotation Hold

Written on April 27, 2014 at 6:08 am, by Eric Cressey

Today’s guest post comes from my friend and colleague, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg. Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.


I have yet to meet a high level baseball player that hasn’t done some form of rotator cuff strengthening exercise. The interesting part is that a high percentage of these athletes don’t actually know where their rotator cuff is and where they should be feeling these exercises. The most common response is the athlete will point to the front of their shoulder. This is also the same spot (biceps tendon, labrum) where all of their pain is when they throw!

In other words, the athlete is doing a “rotator cuff” exercise to help decrease or reduce the risk of shoulder pain, but in turn, ends up actually causing more stress and overuse to their already irritated anterior shoulder.

The ability to properly recruit the rotator cuff works hand in hand with being able to relax/shut down the posterior deltoid, latissimus, and lumbar extensors from overcompensating as an athlete “lays back” into external rotation.
We commonly see athletes/coaches performing the right exercises, but executing them improperly due to faulty recruitment, poor timing, or compensation. In these cases, the athlete looks the part and even appears stable and strong, but are not actually receiving the intended benefit of the exercise. In fact, more times than not, they are potentially making themselves worse.

Enter the ½ kneeling 90/90 External Rotation (ER) Hold. It is a great exercise to teach the baseball player (pitcher or position player) what they should feel and maybe more importantly, what they shouldn’t feel when attempting to build stability and proper alignment in their shoulder.

This exercise is one of many concepts that we discuss in our Elite Baseball Mentorships. With the continued rise in baseball injuries, we have made it our mission to help create an environment for collaborative learning among the leading strength coaches, health care professionals, and pitching instructors/coaches in the world.

Our next Upper Extremity course will be June 15-17, and the early-bird registration deadline is May 15; to learn more, click here

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8 Responses to “Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling 90/90 External Rotation Hold”

  1. Bob Says:


  2. Ted Says:

    Great presentation. Look forward to implementing. Thanks.

  3. Matt Says:

    Strong info! You take about compensations
    while training rotator cuff for proper activation…
    But while throwing there are these same patterns
    (Compensations while training/activating RC) and are not compensations but rather functional while throwing…correct?
    I look forward to your response…I want to understand
    If I am thinking correct

  4. Brian Barela Says:

    Great information seem like arm injuries are on the rise.

  5. Jon Francis Says:

    Good Stuff

  6. Eric Schoenberg Says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    @Matt: Throwing/Pitching is a very complex and violent motion. As a result, I would say that nothing is “normal” or “ideal”. However, we do try to normalize things as much as possible and reduce joint and tissue stress as much as possible. So I certainly would say that baseball players use their lats and lumbar spine during the delivery. The key is for them to avoid overuse and dominating with these muscles, for example. We are effectively trying to switch our points of stability to our more effective stabilizers which are our scapular stabilizers, rotator cuff, and abdominals. In closing, we are not training guys to not use their lats at all, we are just working with them to not use them too much.

  7. Pat Marsh Says:

    Enjoyed the article and have definitely been using this particular type of exercise from various angles of abduction for RC programs. I work predominantly now with volleyball players and our arm swing motion is a bit more complex than a throwing motion in baseball but the same principles of compensation still apply for sure. As far as injuries being on the rise in young throwers my top culprit continues to be the overspecialization of young athletes. We need a strong push back in the sports community to require/encourage multi-sport participation at least until say maybe junior year in high school if not further especially with the decimation of physical education programs in schools. We think we’re creating better athletes with all of our club, travel, aau, etc programs and yet on a world level I just don’t see that happening.

  8. sam Says:

    good article

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