Increase Throwing Velocity: The Systematic Approach
Everyone wants to throw gas.
"If you throw 80mph, you want to throw 85mph. If you throw 85,mph you want to throw 90mph. If you throw 90, you want to throw 95mph…and so on and so forth."
Depending on where you are at in you development as a player, an arm strengthening program can be very customizable based on several key factors:
Baseline movement capacity
Below we will dive into the systematic approach on how to address these areas to improve throwing performance, velocity, and decrease risk of injury.
IMprove SHOULDER/Scapular Stability
Improving dynamic stabilization of the rotator cuff. We don’t just want shoulder stability; we want a shoulder/scapula that can maintain proper position during high velocity movements.
You can do all the rotator cuff exercises for glenohumeral joint rhythm and timing, but if you don’t increase strength of the periscapular muscles, you're missing out on a key component of throwing performance
Improve SHOULDER/Scapular MOBILITY (External rotation)
Increased external rotation is correlated with increased throwing velocity. Improving this range of motion is helpful for adding a few mph on the radar gun. However its important to note that this added external rotation comes with a price... the possibility of anterior shoulder instability and a loss of internal rotation.
Due to anterior instability, many throwing related shoulder and elbow injuries occur during the late cocking phase of throwing. That looks like this:
We cant forget about scapular mobility and its correlation to enhanced throwing performance. A scapula that doesn’t move enough might in fact be stable, however it can also lead to issues.
Throughout the season, throwers tend to lose scapular mobility, primarily SCAPULAR UPWARD ROTATION. This occurs due to the stress of the throwing motion disrupting the force couple between the upper trap, lower trap, and the serratus anterior. This rotation is essential to maintain proper shoulder joint centration while performing dynamic overhead movement and is key component to the arm action in a high-level throw.
Notice the downwardly rotated postilion of the scapula in this pitcher:
In the video below, we can understand how this scapular positioning actually looks in the throwing motion.
Its important that both in-season and offseason training and arm care routines focus on scapula mobility. Small changes here will directly impact throwing mechanics and improve velocity.
improve THORACIC MOBILITY
Rotational and throwing athletes need adequate thoracic spine mobility in order to create appropriate separation during throwing and changing and direction. Adequate thoracic rotation decreases the tendency for the arm to drag behind the body during the throwing motion.
improve Hip/Glute stability & mobility
Strong hips help stabilize the core from below to produce a powerful but controlled rotation during throwing. The hips are extremely important for providing stability to the entire lower body. Pitchers with stable hips are usually much more efficient in their deliveries with little wasted movement.
When we talk hip mobility, we are talking not only about flexibility but also the ability to move through a full range of motion. Without adequate hip mobility on all planes of motion, there's a good chance your body will compensate elsewhere to generate and transfer force (the most common spot being the lower back).
POWER + FLEXIBILITY = INCREASED VELOCITY
You can’t have one without the other.
improve Core strength
The primary job of the abdominal muscles is to help resist trunk rotation in order to stabilize your spine to prevent power loss during the transfer from your lower body to your arms.
Posterior chain exercises (those strengthening muscles on the backside of the body) are favored in a 2-1 ratio to those strengthening the chest and internal rotators. Back strength is imperative for shoulder health.
Baseball is a rotational sport. The majority of primary activities in baseball consists of some amount of rotation. Program into your training exercise that closely mimics the energy system s utilized during the game.
Throwing also builds muscular endurance in the arm. Muscular endurance, too, is heavily reliant on muscular strength. If you don't have strength you can't have strength endurance.
Our THROWING PERFORMANCE SYSTEM is a quick and efficient pre-game warm up routine to help improve mobilty, and msucle activation to help you throw harder with decreased risk of injury.
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE POSITION SPECIFIC THROWING & ARM CARE GUIDES
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Dale Bartek
Dale is currently working at Fyzical SPORTS in Las Vegas, Nevada where he has helped treat some of the world’s top athletes including MLB All-Stars, Olympic Gold Medalists, and top NCAA athletes from around the country.
Dale is committed to continued learning and helping people achieve their physical therapy, fitness, performance and personal goals. He has a strong passion for baseball and weight training with a vision of combining high performance strength training principles, elite sports performance physical therapy, and pain free training approaches to revolutionize the way athletes look, feel, function and perform.