Posts Tagged ‘Arm strengthening’

The beginning of November is synonymous with the end of baseball season. The World Series has just ended, all of the big travel ball tournaments have ended, and the high school fall season (in Florida, at least) is coming to an end.

So hopefully the next thought that crosses your mind is:

“What’s the best way to prepare my arm over the offseason”

This used to be a very black and white matter for me. You ABSOLUTELY HAVE to take time off. Like as close to 2 months as possible. Definitely 1 month.

The sign I used to put over the baseballs during the “No Throwing” period

 

But with experience, and hopefully some wisdom, I have learned there are endless scenarios for athletes that require a grey area to answer the question above.

So here are the guidelines we suggest to our athletes, and a few examples of situations that require us to work in the grey area:
  • We recommend that all baseball players take 4-8 weeks off from picking up a baseball.
  • For the way the yearly schedule works out for most of our guys, we are recommending that they take 4 weeks off (all of November) from throwing.
  • As I mentioned, most of the high schools just finished fall ball and travel ball teams have their tryouts around the weekend of January 12. So taking 4 weeks off allow the athletes adequate time (6 weeks) to get ready to throw 100% at a tryout.
When we it comes to customizing a program, some of the factors that play in to the length of time off throwing are:
  1. Injury History– Ideally more rest time and longer on ramping before spring season for athletes coming off an injury or less than a full year back from an injury.
  2. Velocity– The higher the velocity, longer the down time. This rule becomes less of a factor the older an athlete is. For example, a high schooler that throws 96 needs more time off relative to his peer compared to a 27 yr old in Triple A that throws 96.
  3. Previous Calendar Year Innings Pitched– Obviously the more innings pitched, the longer we would like to have the pitcher rest, up to 2 months.
  4. Upcoming Calendar Year Innings Projections- If a pitcher is going to be the ace for the high school team and play travel ball in the summer, we are going to project 80 innings (50-60 IP for school and 20-30 IP for summer team). If the athlete is also pitching in the fall, that total number for the year is closer to 100 innings. If the pitcher is a reliever, his projection is probably closer to 20 innings in spring and 20 innings during the summer. Clearly, 2 pitchers that may have a 40-60 inning difference over the course of a year should also have different off season programs.
  5. Role on the Team– This one does coincide with Innings Projection, but I think of this more in the sense of “When does the pitcher need to be ready to compete at 100%?” For instance, a junior in college that is the returning ace and a projected draft pick needs to be ready to compete at 100% on opening day. A junior who threw 5 innings last year and is trying to prove himself need to be ready to compete at 100% on opening day of INTRASQUADS. It doesn’t do him much good if he well rested to sit the bench.
  6. Stage of Development- Player A could go 3 months without throwing off a mound and first time back on the bump they have command of 3 pitches. Player B has zero feel for his mechanics and can barely throw a fastball in the strike zone. Having Player B go 4-6 weeks without touching a baseball could significantly stunt his development, where it’s probably necessary for Player A to have the time off. Instead, take the 4-6 weeks with Player B and implement sub maximal mechanical and throwing drills. If done properly, the athlete is still getting a break from high intensity stress on his arm while working on his weaknesses.

 

Long toss is a great way to increase arm strength, but is that what YOU need this offseason? 

So this year, we have made an adjustment and put guys into a few different categories. We have some pitchers that are going to not touch a ball for 4-8 weeks, others that will throw 2-3 times a week at a very low intensity, and still others that will continue normal throwing through the winter.

We all have that kid that would completely forget everything if he stops throwing for any amount of time. Is it really in his best interest to take time off and have everything he’s worked on for the past 10 months completely disappear?

The biggest thing to remember as sports performance or skill coaches is our number 1 job is to help the athlete improve at their sport. Having the same off season throwing plan for every single baseball player is not going to help each person. We are trying to be more and more creative in the way we handle our throwers in the off season so we can maximize results and minimize stress on the arm.

Having said that, we wanted to provide an Off Season Throwing Calendar. This will give you a day-by-day guide to prepare your arm for the season. REMEMBER, IT IS JUST A GUIDE. Listen to your body and modify the program as needed. Please feel free to email me at barrett@revolutionsp.com or contact me on any social media platform if you have any questions.

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While resting your arm is an important part of the offseason, it is just one of the many pieces to the puzzle. Professional and amateur players alike should have a progression they go through so they are ready at the beginning of their respective season. Wondering aimlessly through the gym for 4 months doing random exercises, reps, and sets is basically lying to yourself that you worked hard this off season. And while work ethic might not have been the issue, there is someone out there who is working just as hard…and smarter.

Since this topic is rather broad and I could write a book on it, let’s break it down and start with the moneymaker: The arm.

I recently decided (within the last 15 minutes) that I hate the term “arm care”. Care is a word that is associated with physical weakness. I’m not going to use a word that goes completely against the goal and mindset I am trying to accomplish. For that reason, I will now refer to it as arm training or strengthening. Creative, right? Go ahead and jump on the bandwagon now. You heard it here first.

In all seriousness, you will never hear me say “arm” and “care” in succession again. Here is a very basic overview of what a pitcher’s offseason should look like for arm strengthening specific work ONLY. I will get to the other parts of the body in the near future.

Professional Pitchers 

Weeks 1-2: Completely off.

Weeks 3-4: General adaptation aka get back into the routine of lifting. Normal upper body exercises

Weeks 5-6: Light manual/weighted/band rotator cuff work, scapular mobility work

Weeks 7-8: Shoulder stabilization (overhead carries, lateral core extensions w/ med ball, o’head oblique extensions, turkish get-ups), wall dribbles

Week 9-10: Overhead med ball throws, arm motion w/ weight 

Somewhere around this time throwing will start back. Schedule the arm strengthening around your throwing. Throwing should be done before the workout or on off days.

Week 11-14: Overhead med ball throws decrease in frequency and weight as throwing increases. Shoulder stability, scapular mobility, arm motion with weight, and rotator cuff continue

Week 15-16: Throwing distance should be increasing, flat grounds start, weighted ball throws from 90/90 position to release,

Week 17-18: Bullpens begin, long toss intensity increases, Overhead med ball throws cut down to once a week, weighted ball throws from power position

Week 19-20: Bullpen intensity increases, weighted ball volume decreases

Week 21-22: Ready for spring training. Bullpens and long toss at 100%. Normal in-season arm maintenance

Final Thoughts

For weighted ball throws, I would stay in the 6-11 oz range. My rule of thumb on weighted throws is decrease weight as range of motion increases. Weighted balls should be thrown into a net, not to another person. I would also not recommend using weighted balls without the instruction and supervision of someone in the strength and conditioning field that knows what they are doing. They could possibly cause injury if misused, or if you are not physically developed enough to use them. It is important to have a solid base of strength before using weighted balls.

This article was meant to serve as an overview of an offseason arm strengthening program. Obviously, there is a lot of detail left out. Hopefully it can serve as a general guide as you shape your offseason program.