Executing fundamental pitching mechanics in baseball is a product of proper training and preparation. Pitchers undergo a ferocious amount of strain from throwing baseballs at high velocities, which makes exercising arm and shoulder muscles crucial in order to avoid injury. A fundamental approach to pitching instruction includes participation in exercises that increase strength in the joints and tendons used to throw a baseball.
The most vital step toward developing fine-tuned pitching mechanics is to create a long-term plan for success. Longevity is a major component of a successful plan, which means safety should be prioritized. An appropriate training program for pitchers includes stabilizing exercises that strengthen the rotator cuff. The most basic form of this type of exercise is shoulder rotations, although more complex activities should also be used to increase cuff strength.
Stabilizing exercises help eliminate imperfections in pitchers’ mechanics over time, which allows for better control. A successful pitcher is able to gain full command of all pitches in his repertoire. This cannot be accomplished without performing explosive movements while training. Weightlifting efforts for pitchers should include medicine ball exercises, like single-leg balance drills and single-leg ball chops. Another effective training exercise is playing catch with a teammate while trying to balance on a stability ball. The goal of these exercises is ultimately to increase core strength, which helps improve stability in the throwing motion, thus improving command.
Lower body powerlifting is the foundation of a pitcher’s throwing motion. A common misconception is that pitchers need to relentlessly exercise the muscles in their arms in order to throw with greater velocity. Pitchers generate power from their abdominal muscles, hamstrings, glutes and quads, though. This means an applicable strength training program should include explosive leg exercises, such as deadlifts, lunges and squats.
A pitcher cannot develop better throwing mechanics in the weight room, making the actual act of throwing the most crucial component of pitching instructions. Dual-component throwing exercises, like the long toss, are effective training methods for teaching pitchers how to improve control while also building arm strength. The first component of long toss requires a pitcher to move further away from his throwing partner. This stretches the muscles and tendons in the arm and shoulder. Distance increases with each throw. A pitcher should throw approximately 80 to 100 long tosses during each session. New arm strength will develop over time from using this throwing practice.
The second component of long toss is to decrease throwing distance. After a maximum distance is reached within a pitcher’s comfort zone, both long toss partners must begin to take steps closer to one another. A pitcher should try to throw 20 to 25 long tosses of decreasing distance at velocity equal to the longest toss. This method, known as “pulling down,” will help pitchers deliver stronger pitches without forcing added strain on the arm.
Fatigue is a common factor that all pitchers face, increasing the vital importance of rest. The rigorous demand of a baseball season forces an immense amount of strain on a pitcher’s arm. A two-week rest period should succeed each season before offseason training efforts begin. Rest requires pitchers to engage in healthy dieting practices, such as drinking a sufficient amount of water and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Making rest a dedicated segment of pitching instruction will allow players to regain maximum arm strength more easily than if ignored.
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