Home Baseball Content Throwing Programs: Not One-Size-Fits-All

Throwing Programs: Not One-Size-Fits-All

Written on November 9, 2010 at 3:00 am, by Eric Cressey

I received a few separate emails this week from folks wondering how I plan our guys' off-season throwing programs to include everything from long toss, to weighted baseballs, to mound work.

Most people expect to be handed a simple throwing program – as one might receive with an interval throwing program following rehabilitation.  The truth is that there isn't a single throwing program that I give to all our guys; rather, each is designed with the athlete's unique needs and circumstances taken into consideration.

With that in mind, I thought I'd outline some of the factors we consider when creating a throwing program for our professional baseball pitchers (many of these principles can also be applied to younger throwers):

1. Where they struggle on the mound (poor control, poor velocity, lack of athleticism, etc.)

2. Whether I want them using weighted balls in addition to long toss and bullpens or not

3. How many innings they threw the previous year (the more they throw, the later they start)

4. Whether they are going to big league or minor league spring training (we have minor league guys an additional 2-3 weeks)

5. How much "risk" we're willing to take with their throwing program (we'd be more aggressive with a 40th rounder than a big leaguer or first rounder; here is a detailed write-up on that front)

6. Whether they are a starter or reliever (relievers can start earlier because they've had fewer innings in the previous year)

7. What organization they are in (certain teams expect a LOT when guys show up, whereas others assume guys did very little throwing in the off-season and then hold them back when they arrive in spring training)

8. Whether guys play winter ball, Arizona Fall League, Team USA/Pan-American games, or go to instructionals

9. Whether they are big leaguers (season ends the last week in September, at the earliest) or minor leaguers (ends the first week in September)

10. What each guy tells you about his throwing history and how his arm feels.  Any pitcher can always tell you more than you can ever accurately assume – so you just have to be willing to listen to him.

Here are a few general rules of thumb:

1. Most throwing programs from professional organizations don't have their pitchers playing catch until January 1 – and I think this is WAY too late to give pitchers adequate time to develop arm speed and durability in the off-season.

2. Relievers start earlier than starters (we are starting our relief pitchers three weeks ahead of our starters this year, on average).

3. Medicine ball volume comes down and throwing volume goes up.

4. Most of our guys who don't go to instructionals, winter ball, the fall league, or Team USA start in November.  Starters are generally right around Thanksgiving among minor leaguers, with some relievers a bit earlier.  Big league guys don't start throwing until mid- to late-December or even January 1.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it gives you some insight into some of what goes through my mind as we work to increase throwing velocity and arm health.

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13 Responses to “Throwing Programs: Not One-Size-Fits-All”

  1. Todd Says:

    Eric, do you think you could post a few examples of different throwing programs to see some of the progressions from week to week and month to month that you use at CP? Thank you very much

  2. Luka Hocevar Says:

    great info Eric. A lot goes into the reasoning behind why you do what you do and that is why you are the best in this field.

    Never a day I don\’t learn something from you 🙂


  3. Parker Says:

    I hope you’ve seen this one…this guy has become a regular on your blog, after all.

  4. Dwayne Says:

    Eric, I read you were thinking about developing a Madball resource. Is this still happening.

  5. Dwayne Says:

    Sorry, I meant MEDball. Just been watching some Will Ferrell.

  6. Brett Says:

    Eric, I’m curious about how you handle college guys who play fall games and then have to be ready again before spring (and maybe play summer ball). How do you handle rest when there’s only a few weeks off?

  7. strength training for wrestling Says:

    Great considerations Eric. Quick question on the video- would this exercise be effective for MMA fighters to increase their punching power?

  8. Jack Says:


    Great stuff and my most forwarded EC post. The weighted balls and the discussion of risks made a huge difference for my son. Just a little work added in with the weighted balls as described gave an enormous return in arm strength. Not a pitcher or pro prospect but will play on a very competitive HS team because of this throwing program.

    Thanks again

  9. Bob Says:


    This is all from the pitchers POV; hpw about the field player? Any different strategies?

  10. Eric Cressey Says:


    A lot of the same stuff, but you can generally start up a bit later – and you obviously don’t have to worry about throwing off the mound or working on changeups, breaking balls, etc.

  11. Ron brown Says:

    I can’t wait to start throwing but I feel that if I start throwing now my ribs will start flaring again and my posture will go whack. Ill just take it easy.

  12. JJ Williams Says:

    I follow your baseball pictures training even though I am a tennis player. since you were once a tennis player, any chance you could devote an article between the similarities in training the tennis serve and pitching? Or just an article on exercises for the tennis serve??


  13. Eric Cressey Says:

    Someday, JJ! Thanks!

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