1) It begins with a great warm-up routine.
This is so important and it’s where we have to start! The beginning of a great warm up routine is the total body warm up that enables the pitcher to be ready to throw with good intent and focus from the very first throw. The pitcher always wants to warm up and then throw, not warm up as he is throwing. This allows the pitcher to practice the dynamic movements essential to the elite pitcher and not waste throws that need little athleticism and encourage poor movement patterns. From a health standpoint the pitcher is especially susceptible to injury if the body isn’t ready to move. A dynamic movement with a cold body is a recipe for disaster! We use about 10 minutes for this program.
Now we believe that it’s time to get the arm going. We use 3 tools every day for arm activation: 1) Crossover Symmetry 2) The Shoulder tube and 3) A series of exercise using wrist weights and 2 lb. green balls. This is our daily arm activation series and it takes about 20 minutes.
After this it is time to get in front of the pads and warm up with our weighted ball arm activation and body interaction drill series. We will emphasize arm action, deceleration and connection. This takes 5-8 minutes typically.
These 5 warm up components are done every day by our pitchers!
2) Legitimate throwing programs are necessary for arm health.
The 10 to 25 minutes that it takes to throw daily are the most important minutes of the day to the elite pitcher. The management of the volume and the intensity of throwing are critical to arm health and the development of the pitcher who excels in throwing. Mindful planning of the throwing and training cycles are required to stay healthy.
The components of a great throwing cycle start in the off season build up. At least 2 or 3 months should be spent getting ready for the season. The priorities are to develop arm endurance and strength with athletic and dynamic movements and become an elite thrower. The transfer effect of great throwing ability to the mound (through the delivery) is dependent on developing these movement patterns. A sound off-season program prepares the pitcher for the stress that’s coming.
The in-season cycles and bullpen activities and their volume must be managed, this is where the pitching coach can have a great impact to the health and success of the pitcher. Getting ready to pitch from the mound prior to an appearance needs to be efficient and practiced; too many throws and the pitcher is fatigued, not enough and he may not be physically or mentally ready. Throwing and training protocols must address skill development (pens, deliveries and the pitches) as well as athletic throwing maintenance and recovery from appearances. The balance of these routines and protocols are unique to every pitcher and must be individualized. Throwing cycles or the lack of sound protocols may be the biggest abuse of the amateur pitcher. I might believe that this may be the #1 issue in the development of arm injuries that I see with the young arm.
3) A sound delivery will eliminate stress in pitching baseballs.
All good things come from the sound delivery that maximizes the pitchers ability to throw with velocity, command and maintain health. The lower half is the engine, the rudder and the foundation for everything that is good in the delivery. Most issues and many problems can be fixed with a good lower half. A great delivery that uses the lower half will create a less stressful environment for the elite pitcher.
The elite pitcher should utilize the lower half’s ability to create momentum in the delivery to create tempo (speed) in the delivery that matches his intent and maximizes his athletic ability as an elite thrower. Rhythm (the order of the movements) is easier maintained with appropriate tempo. The relationship between the speed, order and efficiency of these movements (sync) is what separates deliveries and elite pitchers.
4) A shoulder program needs to be a priority and very specifically managed.
Our shoulder routines revolve around Crossover Symmetry’s 3 programs; Activation, Recovery and Iron Scaps.
Activation is a part of our daily warm up but there is also a strength benefit to this component of Crossover Symmetry. Not only are we getting ready to throw but we are also strengthening the shoulder through resistance. We activate every day!
After an appearance or pen or a big throw day we think the plyometric recovery program by Crossover is a great tool for arm health and gets us down the path to recovery. This is done within 20 minutes of throwing and starts the recovery process and is a post-throwing recovery program. This is a 5-10 minute program.
The third program that we utilize is called Iron Scaps. This is a post-throwing shoulder/scap workout where we completely fatigue the deceleration/backside systems. This is primarily a strength protocol that we use the day we throw or the day after but try not to use it the day before pitching. Iron Scaps is done 2 to 3 times a week depending on throwing and pitching cycles, 8-10 minute program.
Crossover Symmetry is the best single tool we use. It is the most efficient and convenient program in the marketplace that can be used anywhere. It’s portable, it’s durable and you can be assured that Crossover will continue to be on the cutting edge and a leader in shoulder health systems!