Home Posts tagged "Pitching Workout Programs" (Page 3)

Should Pitchers Overhead Press?

The following video excerpt is from my November seminar with Mike Reinold.  It is available in its entirety on our DVD series, Optimal Shoulder Performance: From Rehabilitation to High Performance. I just thought you might like a teaser!

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The Figure 8 Drill for Pitchers

Another great guest post from Matt Blake today.  A quick thanks go out to Chad Rodgers, Shawn Haviland, and Tim Collins for their help in demonstrating the drill for this blog. I hope you all have been able to get through the holiday madness and kick off your 2010 with all sorts of new resolutions that will be forgotten by the third week in January (kidding, but not really).  Seriously, though, there's no time better than the present to start making yourself a better human and if tying it to 1/14/10 helps the cause, then I'm all for it. With that being said, here's my attempt at contributing to a healthier 2010 for the amateur pitching community. Here is one drill in particular that I like to use in our lead-up drill progression. It is called the "Figure 8" and it is based off the staple of everyone's flat-ground work, the stride drill.  Typically, I place this as the 2nd or 3rd drill in a progression depending on how many pieces we want to isolate before incorporating some rhythm into what is normally a static drill.

As you can see, this drill is looking to iron out multiple pieces of a player's delivery, while we still have them in a rather stationary position.  When this drill is introduced to the player, I like to channel their focus toward the importance of having a consistent rhythm and tempo while developing hand speed during their throw. There should be coordination between the upper and lower body as they make horizontal figure 8's with their hands, and this should coincide with them shifting their weight from the front leg to the back leg. Typically, I have them make three figure 8s before they throw, and eventually manipulate the amount of time spent developing rhythm as deemed fit over the course of their progression. As they finish their third figure 8 with their lower half weight shift going to the back leg, they should begin to break their hands and load up to throw. Typically, at this point in the lead-up drill progression, they are finishing their throw and allowing their back leg to come through, whereas we might cue them to focus on the timing and completion of their back hip rotation by keeping their feet on the ground in preceding drills. Some players can be a little rigid through this drill the first few times. I think this is mostly because they can't believe I'm actually asking them to make silly figure 8s with their hands and display their lack of rhythm in front of their friends. Once they get over this anxiety, they tend to gravitate towards using variations of this drill on their own, because it provides a lot of feedback for them while getting loose.

In the early going, I think it's important to avoid too much cueing of the player into certain positions and more about allowing the pitcher to find a rhythm that he is comfortable with. I also typically allow the player to interpret how the actual figure 8 is made with the hands, because the drill is really more about understanding how the upper and lower body work in coordination than it is about us arguing over the shape of an hourglass. This is apparent in the videos themselves, where you can plainly see that each player interprets the drill slightly different and uses his signature style in creating the 8s.

As a coach, this allows me to get a better feel for a player's ability to shift his weight, his sense of posture and balance, and his understanding of extension at release, among other things. Several of these features will usually be covered up front by the stride drill, which I skipped over discussing today, but I could certainly address at a later time if people are interested. By adding in the extra movement to the otherwise static stride drill, we are able to flush out a player's natural movement patterns a lot better and I can begin to see which pieces of their overall delivery may be easier to address. This information will continue to build into the next drill, which we call "balance and break," and is really a blend of the traditional balance drills with a little more movement and repetition tied in with the timing of the hand break and arm action. For the most part, all of the lead-up drills I choose to put in before I get a player on the mound are designed to incorporate certain principles of throwing that have been demonstrated in the research of elite level throwers over the years. This may include anything from hip/shoulder separation, degrees of external/internal shoulder rotation, degrees of trunk extension, etc. With that being said, I don't necessarily have one mechanical model in my head, but more of a host of models that fit each particular body type and level of coordination.  This is especially true concerning their current mobility and flexibility limitations. This idea that each player has a mechanical model that is unique to them is the key component, and in order to flush this model out, the player has to be able to breathe while working through his drills. If you suffocate a player with too much technical talk, it takes away from what they want to do naturally and forces them into something that you think they should do, rather than what is right for the player. The other challenge in all of this is that you may have the ultimate mechanical model in your head of how every pitcher should pitch, but until that player understands what mechanical model best fits his genetic traits, your model is irrelevant. The only way to get a player to understand this information is for him to feel it for himself. Yes, we have a lot of science out now that describes what positions elite throwers are in at certain points in their delivery. The problem rests with the fact that there is a lot of gray area for how these players are getting to each of these positions in coordination with the end result of throwing to a target. I've seen some of the ASMI motion analysis reports of players, which are very comprehensive in nature, but even so, these leave room for interpretation.  As has been seen over the years (and is currently being demonstrated, and will continue to be displayed down the road), there is more than one way to throw a ball 90+ mph hour. If I were to tell a 5'7" 165lb pitcher and 6'4" 245 lb pitcher to throw the baseball the same way, I wouldn't be doing either of them justice. We obviously advise players away from certain motor patterns that have demonstrated more stress than others, but ultimately this is the challenge in training baseball players. There is so much going on inside the body of a baseball player - not just creating velocity, but also command and deception (and with multiple pitches) - that I'm going to trust the player when he tells me what feels right and what doesn't. To create unnecessary tension in a player because my eyes think they interpret a better position would be absurd. Don't get me wrong, we address a lot of mechanical issues with the use of slow-motion video analysis, but I always listen to the player over what a playback device tells me.

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At the end of the day, we know there are inherent risks with throwing a baseball 95 mph. Do we say you can't throw that hard anymore because it is not a healthy behavior for your body? Do we limit a player to one particular model that someone thinks is the be-all end-all cure for arm injuries? Well, some do - but Eric and I disagree with that pigeonholing wholeheartedly. Why would we narrow our pitching thoughts down to one exact voice that indicates there is only one way to pitch to stay healthy? This just doesn't seem logical to me. I am not going to dismiss their voice, but I want to see proof that what they're talking about works. I want to see positive results on a big stage. If there are no results that suggest it has the most consistent performance tied to it, then I can't say I'm done looking for more information. I think you have to acknowledge the notion that effective pitching may not be healthy at all, and by doing so, embrace this idea in the way you prepare a player's arm to handle the stress. This ultimately starts with giving the player room to breathe so they can foster a rhythm and tempo that allows them the best chance to create and disperse energy in the coordinated act of throwing a baseball. Matt Blake can be reached at mablak07@gmail.com. Related Posts Developing Young Pitchers the Safe Way The Best Baseball Resource Out There Recap: Testing, Treating, and Training the Shoulder: From Rehab to High Performance

shoulder-performance-dvdcover

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Random Friday Thoughts: 6/19/09

It's been a while since my last dose of Friday Randomness, but when you're got so much intern hazing going on, it's hard to even imagine topping that kind of content! 1. I recently contributed to another T-Muscle feature; check out Advice You Don't Want to Hear: Volume 2 for a little dose of tough love.  I'm the last one down. 2. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself.  My fiancee's been out of town since Monday morning, and while the fridge is just about empty and I'm down to one pair of clean underwear, the place didn't burn down, and I didn't put an eye out. 3. Here's a quick takeaway from a great Elbow Biomechanics talk by Mike Reinold earlier this week... Obviously, in dealing with loads of baseball guys, I see a lot of elbow issues come through my door.  The overwhelming majority of those folks are medial elbow pain, but we also see a fair amount of lateral elbow pain - even though we program for these individuals very similarly, as their inefficiencies are pretty much identical.  I've seen it in practice, but never actually gotten the numbers on the forces involved. The same medial tensile force that can wreak havoc with an ulnar collateral ligament or ulnar nerve also applies approximately 500N on the radioulnar joint during the late cocking (maximum external rotation) phase of throwing; that's about one-third of the total stress on the elbow.  This lateral area also takes on about 800N of force at the moment arm deceleration begins (elbow extended out in front). As always, a picture is worth a thousand words:

compressive-forces

I always knew it was going on, and always worked to prevent problems in the area, but suffice it to say that it was nice to get some numbers on this.    If you see these issues, you've obviously got to look at mechanics, but more importantly, tissue quality, all the common flexibility deficits we see in pitchers, and overall strength of the rotator cuff, scapular stabilizers, core, lower body, and muscles acting at the elbow to provide valgus stability. For more information, I highly recommend you check out the 2008 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp DVD set.

4. Bill, Mike, and I film our new DVD next weekend out in Indianapolis, so I'm going to end this one here and get to work on finishing up the script.  Stay tuned on this front; we are excited about how thorough this is.

Have a great weekend!

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Maximum Strength for Baseball

As a guy who trains a ton of baseball players - and is a competitive powerlifter (and weight-training author), I get a ton of questions from both baseball coaches/players and folks looking to get stronger (and healthier, for that matter).  And, to take it a step further, since the release of Maximum Strength, I've gotten a lot of questions about whether or not Maximum Strength is appropriate for baseball players. My response is "yes" - but only  with some important modifications: 1. Substitution of dumbbell bench pressing in place of barbell bench pressing (rep count will have to come up a bit higher, as you aren't going to be doing heavy dumbbell bench pressing singles) 2. Substitution of clap push-ups in place of speed benching 3. Substitution of front squats in place of back squats 4. Substitution of alternating low incline dumbbell press in place of 1-arm dumbbell push press 5. Really emphasize the sleeper stretch, wall triceps stretch, and elbow flexors stretches - particularly after you throw.

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For more information, check out Maximum Strength.

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