Posts Tagged ‘baseball off season training’

It seems like every sport is a year-round-sport now. Ten-year-old kids are playing similar schedules to professional athletes. The mentality seems to be if you aren’t playing on three travel teams and your school team, then you are falling behind.

Parents read about Bryce Harper playing 100 games per year and having teams fly him to tournaments at a young age and think that’s the blueprint for little Johnny to be the next phenom.

Harper SI Cover

The thought of taking time off the primary sport to play a different sport or to focus your time and effort into training is ludicrous. How will the scouts see your child if he/she doesn’t play on that special 12u team?

The shame of it is most athletes would benefit immensely from some sort of off-season strength program. It doesn’t do any good for a right-handed pitcher that is a high school junior and tops out at 80 MPH to play on a fall travel ball team and go to showcase events. Any college or professional scout will put their gun away and cross him off the list after 5 pitches. Trust me, I’ve been there. That athlete would be much better served spending 6 months getting after it in the gym and utilizing a long toss and/or weighted ball program.

Baseball Scouts

On the flip side, some athletes do need to spend more time practicing their particular skill. For example, if there is a pitcher that throws 98 but can’t find the strike zone, improving his deadlift probably isn’t the answer. Or if you have a golfer that crushes the ball but can’t putt, their time would be better spent on the putting green rather than doing medicine ball throws.

We have seen athletes on both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes we have to encourage athletes to leave the gym and go practice. Most of the time we are trying to educate the parents and the athlete that time spent in the gym now will lead to better results later.

There is a fine line for every athlete. It is very easy to get caught up trying to be the best right now, but foolish to do so when that hinders the future. It is important to realistically evaluate yourself every so often and make sure you are improving your weaknesses. Parents, have a trusted coach assess your child to prevent any bias from getting in the way of constructive criticism. Taking a break from competition to train may be the best decision you could make for your athletic career.

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.