Saturday, January 7, 2012

Body Core Workouts for Baseball Pitchers

Baseball pitchers use sports-specific conditioning for two reasons: to build arm strength to increase pitching speed and to protect joints and ligaments stressed from the rigors of repetitive throwing. To maintain pitching fitness, a conditioning program is necessary for both in-season and off-season training. The off-season conditioning for pitchers builds strength and the in-season conditioning is used to maintain strength and flexibility.
Core Workouts
Trunk flexibility is extremely important in pitching. The windup to throw the ball engages the legs, back, abdominals and arm muscles. Pitchers rotate their upper bodies to put muscle behind the pitch. The core muscles, back and abdominals provide stability and improved performance in upper body rotation. Pitching core workouts include push-ups, which build upper body strength as well as increase core strength. Pitchers also can incorporate the plank, leg lifts, bicycles and Russian twists using weights and dips, according to Kyle Nellesen, youth baseball coach, in an article published on
Pitching Mechanics
Practicing pitching mechanics is one way to increase pitching velocity. Pitching with weighted baseballs increases shoulder strength and improves pitching velocity. By practicing with 4-, 5-, and 6-oz. baseballs, a pitcher increases muscle mass and muscle memory. The muscles will put more force behind the regular baseball after the pitcher trains with a weighted ball. Throwing a baseball helps a pitcher analyze where the ball breaks over home plate and learn new change-up pitches. Pitching is about throwing the ball and the more you throw the ball, the better you get.
Resistance Training
Full-body workouts focusing on increasing strength and endurance help a pitcher both in- and off-season. In the off-season, the conditioning program for a pitcher focuses on building muscle to increase the force behind the ball. Many sports professionals use resistance bands to train. Athletes use their own body weight as the force and isolate specific muscle groups. Resistance bands offer greater flexibility of movement, which lets athletes re-create the movements in their particular sport. Using resistance bands reduces the incidence of injury. One of the biggest benefits of resistance bands is the ability to isolate the rotator cuff and build rotator strength. Pitchers put high stress on their rotator cuff during the baseball season, and rotator injuries are common.
Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is important for pitching endurance. When a pitcher goes deep into the game, the pitch count goes up and performance is reduced. Cardiovascular exercise increases oxygen capacity, which the body uses to supply energy needed for exercise. Aerobic capacity gives the pitcher the needed energy to keep throwing fastballs. Cardio routines for pitchers include running, interval training, jumping rope and bicycling. Pitching great Roger Clemens performed cardio drills using explosion exercises to increase his endurance and strength, notes Thomas Hill in an article published in the May 23, 1999, issue of the "New York Daily News."

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