Monday, January 2, 2012

4 Body Strengthening Areas for Pitchers

An effective baseball pitcher uses much more than just his arm when throwing fastballs, curves and sliders: The entire body makes a coordinated effort. The best pitchers continuously work on their craft during the season, and they also work hard in the off-season. To excel, a pitcher has to keep his body strong, flexible and ready year-round.
Since your legs are such a major factor in pitch velocity and stamina as the game wears on, spending time strengthening them in the off-season is a wise choice. Strong legs enable you to drive toward the plate and take a lot of stress off your arm. You can do squats with just your own body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells or a barbell. Other leg exercises, such as lunges, leg extensions and hamstring curls, also add lower body strength that will help a pitcher drive toward the plate.
Pitching doesn't seem like it would require a great deal of stamina or cardiovascular strength, but the repetitive motion, combined with the fact that the season is played during the hottest time of the year makes cardiovascular conditioning important. Jumping rope is one good cardio exercise for pitchers. Other standard cardio boosters, such as wind sprints, hill sprints, cycling and calisthenics, are also effective off-season cardio exercises for a pitcher.
Your shoulders must be strong if you are a baseball pitcher. Perform exercises with light, 5 lb. dumbbells to strengthen the tendons and ligaments around your shoulders and reduce your chance of injury once the season starts. The American Sports Medicine Institute has devised a program of 10 exercises for pitchers to strengthen their shoulders, called the Throwers Ten Exercise Program.
A strong midsection helps a pitcher avoid injury as the season wears on, and can help to delay fatigue during the game. A typical pitching wind-up features twisting in the core, and the throwing motion itself makes your arm cross your body, generating some power from the core muscles. A medicine ball is a valuable tool for off-season core work for pitchers. One effective exercise is wood chops: You hold the ball with two hands up by one ear, and then swing it down to your opposite hip. You can also swing the medicine ball at waist level from side to side, or lie back on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor, holding the ball with your arms straight up and twisting your upper body from side to side slowly.

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