Preserving velocity is all about maintaining strength, power and keeping your arm healthy over the duration of a long baseball season. However, this is not always easy. Every year many high school, college, and professional baseball players struggle with choosing the correct exercises to perform as a part of their in-season training. For this week I came up with a list of 7 exercises that I program extensively with all my pitchers to preserve velocity over the course of the season. Enjoy! -Alex
1. Forearm Wall Slides
No two shoulders are alike, however this exercise is good for just about all baseball players. Over the course of a baseball season scapular upward rotation (how your shoulder blade rotates up when you try to get into the position of throwing a baseball) is lost in many players. This is due to the fact that many baseball players are overusing their lats with constant throwing in season. If you lack scapular upward rotation this becomes a problem and will eventually lead to labral tears, cuff tears, etc. Possessing good scapular upward rotation is important because it maintains good ball and socket congruency. Without good congruency between the ball and socket (via possessing good scapular upward rotation) your humeral head (ball) glides forward in the socket leading to some of the problems that I mentioned above.
Forearm Wall Slides
The majority of the pressing movements I program for my athletes in and out of season revolve around push-up variations. Not only are push-ups a great exercise to improve upper body strength, but they also provide the added benefit of scapular movement. As previously discussed, with forearm wall slides above, maintaining good scapular upward rotation over the course of a season can provide the benefit of bypassing injury as well as keeping your shoulder strong and healthy all season long. Unlike bench press variations that lock the shoulder blades down to the bench, push-up’s provide good scapular movement and drive good scapular upward rotation.
Chain Loaded Push-Up
Feet-Elevated Weighted Push-Up
3. Landmine Press Variations
Landmine Press variations as well as push-up variations cover 90% of my in season pressing. I want my athletes shoulder blades upwardly rotating, and to posses good ball and socket congruency throughout the entire season as this will eliminate most injuries that may arise.
Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
4. Trap Bar Deadlift
Trap Bar Deadifts are a fantastic in-season exercise as there’s little to no eccentric stress. The eccentric portion of the lift (lowering portion) is what makes you sore. Having said that, the trap bar deadlift is predominately concentric. This is one of my favorite exercises to implement with players as they can go pretty heavy and obtain the strength and power benefits of this exercise provides. Also, I would not let my athletes go lower than a 5 Rep Max in season, which is usually no more than 60-70% of their 1 Rep Max.
Trap Bar Deadlift
5. All Rowing Variations
Overuse of the anterior plane in baseball is evident as we’re throwing, hitting, and fielding constantly. After awhile, this overuse leads to diminished velocity, performance, and injury. To avoid this, we need to focus our training on building a strong upper back to support the shoulder to accelerate and decelerate at more efficient motor patterns.
Inverted Body Weight Row
Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
6. Sled Pushes/Sled Drags
Like the trap bar deadlift, this is another exercise I like to use with my pitchers in season as the eccentric stress is non-existent. This simply means, you won’t get sore from doing a sled push/sled drag. Having said that, I like to go pretty heavy on these exercises to preserve single-leg strength and power in season.
7. Pallof Press/Pallof Hold
The majority of your in-season core training should focus largely on core stability. Having said that, I feel Pallof variations are one of the best core stability exercises you can chose.
Choosing the proper exercises is crucial to preserving velocity in-season. The most important factor being, the on-field demands of your sport, and adjusting volume and intensity in the weight room based off those demands. These seven exercises lay the foundation for a successful in-season maintenance program.