The baseball season has come to an end and off season programs are already under way unfortunately a lot of the winter baseball programs we see are doing more harm than good.
In baseball if you can’t throw you can’t play and the throwing motion is one of the most complex movements in all of sport. The average pitch velocity in MLB is around 86mph and at this speed the internal rotation around the shoulder is about 7100 deg/sec, if you were to let your arm go at that speed it would do about 20 full rotations in one second. Add in the downward plane of the mound and there’s even more stress on the shoulder. So we have to mange the volume and intensity of throwing year round.
Our pro players who just finished the season generally won’t touch a ball until early December from there we have 16-18 weeks of progressive throwing to get ready for the next season. And it’s more than enough.
For throwing athletes, more is not better and starting your throwing program too early and especially off the mound at intensity is a formula for disaster.
The majority of throwing injuries we see are preventable and while most of them occur in the deceleration phase of throwing almost all can be traced back to bad posture, poor strength, improper throwing mechanics and inevitably over throwing – both in volume and intensity.
In terms of performance priorities for our baseball athletes they may appear similar to those of other sports but in this game (baseball) the risks are that much higher and its all due to the incredible demands of the throwing motion.
Once a performance program has been developed for an athlete (we use rest and recovery as the marker to build the program around) nutrition, posture and movement are the priorities.
1. Nutrition is King: its the number one priority in sport performance. For athletes the daily diet should look something like this: 55% Carbohydrates – preferably low glycemic, 30% Fats- goods fats like those from fish, nuts and olive oils and 15% protein – again from good sources and never more than 30g per protein feeding.
2. Posture is an Absolute: We have to have a balanced and symmetrical posture before we do anything more, its the foundation we build on. In fact, if we see any major issues in an athlete’s posture we won’t even let them throw. And, for one sided sports like baseball its critical in reducing risk of injury and maximizing performance. We work strategically on posture exercises and get the athlete well on the way to alignment before we focus on anything else.
See how your posture lines up: posture
3. Master Movement: Movement is the key to sporting success and for the throwing motion it takes years of work to master the ability to repeat an efficient and accurate throwing motion. During each season the technical side of throwing and pitching has to be coordinated with the volume and intensity of throwing to such a degree that it is almost a science in its self. This is where the destructive mistakes are made! Too much throwing, too hard and without enough recovery.
I’ve posted a sample progressive throwing program here have a look, its not built for you personally but use it as a guide as you organize your off season throwing program.
And use this early off season to work on posture, strength and proper throwing mechanics you’ll be glad you did.