Over the past few years, we have been lucky enough to work with some very talented baseball athletes (more exclusively, pitchers) and decided that we would share 12 exercises for pitchers that we feel have attributed too much of their progression with us. The main focus of these 12 exercises is to challenge the athlete is all three planes of movement while closely looking at their shoulder and spinal stability. Check out the videos and explanations of each exercise below and look out for future articles diving deeper into our affinity with each of these movements.
Exercise: THORACIC GET UP:
Set Up: Kettlebell, Dumbbell
Purpose: Strengthen and improve stability and mobility throughout the shoulder, thoracic spine, and hips while simultaneously requiring extensive squat musculature activation of the lower body.
Execution: Drive the kettlebell straight up overhead. Ensure that the kettlebell, wrist, elbow, and shoulder are in a direct line with one another and that the shoulder is in external rotation. This external rotation should remain intact throughout the entire movement and will be aided by the lower trapezius stabilizing the inferior spine of the scapula. Begin the movement by looking up at the kettlebell and descending into a squat position while reaching the palm of your free hand to the floor. Lower body squat mechanics should remain normal. The end of the movement should have a straight line down through both arms to the floor.
Coaching Cue: The exercise should be performed with a 3-second tempo countdown, 3-second tempo count hold, and a 3-second tempo count up. Use RPE (rate of perceived exertion) as a guide for rep count and weight load.
Exercise: TRANSVERSE LANDMINE PRESS
Set Up: Landmine
Purpose: Strengthen and improve stability and mobility throughout the shoulder, thoracic spine, and hips while simultaneously stressing hip internal rotation and external rotation demands similar to that of a pitching motion.
Execution: With the left knee up and the right knee down, start with the barbell in the right hand. The shoulders of the athlete should be square to the front foot with the barbell rested in front of the right shoulder. The athlete should drive through their right knee and left foot in order to stabilize the body and press across their midline to their peak reach capacity. At the end of the movement, the athlete’s ear and bicep should be in-line.
Coaching Cue: The exercise should be performed at a steady and powerful rate up while being conscious to not over-reach the shoulder. Rotation and elbow extension should finish simultaneously. The eccentric portion should be performed at a slower and controlled tempo.
Exercise: LOW POWER STEP UP
Set Up: DBs, Box (box height should be below knee)
Purpose: Improve the power drive (knee and hip extension) on the front side leg.
Execution: Begin with the front side leg on top of the box. Lift the foot on the box and then rapidly drive down into the box simultaneously extending the hip and knee.
Coaching Cue: This exercise should be performed with powerful intent during each repetition. It should be performed on the front side leg only.
Exercise: LATERAL SLED DRIVE
Set Up: Sled with rope/handle attachment
Purpose: Teach the athlete how to create and generate lateral power similar to that experienced during a pitching motion. The movement should be performed off of the drive leg in the direction that the athlete pitches from.
Execution: Begin the exercise with the handle in pitching arm hand. While stabilizing the shoulder, the athlete will then drive their back drive leg into a crossover motion across their front leg. This motion should be repeated rapidly with powerful intent off of the drive leg on each repetition.
Coaching Cue: The athlete should work to achieve triple extension on their drive leg during each repetition while keeping their hips and shoulders squared.
Exercise: SLED LEG DRIVE
Set Up: Sled with significant load
Purpose: Create massive extension through the front side leg and improve ground reaction force (GRF) with front side foot.
Execution: The goal of each repetition is to decrease the time it takes for the athlete to achieve ground-foot contact and extend the hip and knee. The athlete should have their chest forward on the sled with an overloaded sled so that the only thing propelling the sled forward is the rapid leg extension.
Coaching Cue: Each repetition should be aimed at a decreased time to knee extension.
Exercise: BENT OVER HEXBAR ROW
Set Up: A hexbar inserted into a landmine with plate
Purpose: Lower trap activation while maintaining a more conducive elbow angle. This exercise will also activate the rhomboid, mid-trapezius and internal stabilizers needed to hold this position.
Execution: The athlete should be centered in the middle of the hexbar so that the weight is evenly distributed around the athlete. This varies from a traditional bent over row as the weight is not solely located in the front. This even distribution will prevent excessive rounding of the back and will be easier to maintain a proper posture position. Additionally, this exercise varies even further from a t-bar row as the positioning of the plate and the angle of the hexbar prevent the athlete from over pulling and over-activating the upper trapezius muscle.
Coaching Cue: This movement should be performed with a controlled tempo concentrically with a three-second eccentric tempo. Pausing at the end of the concentric phase prior to beginning the eccentric phase will be beneficial for reinforcing proper activation and positioning.
Exercise: DB SOTTS PRESS
Set Up: DB’s
Purpose: This exercise will put a great deal of stress on the internal stabilizers during shoulder flexion. It will demand and elicit one of the greatest needs for mobility and strength of the upper and lower body. Lower trapezius activation will be necessary in order to stabilize the inferior spine of the scapula and prevent it from ‘winging’ during shoulder flexion.
Execution: The athlete starts with two dumbbells on their shoulders and descends to the bottom position of their squat. While still activating midline and internal stabilizers of the hip region, the athlete will then press the DB’s overhead. The overhead press should be achieved without significant changes to the squat position.
Coaching Cue: This is a clearly incredibly difficult movement and should only be performed by an individual who is well-established and competent in the weight room (not just a great pitcher). The wrist, elbow, and shoulder should be directly inline with the bicep finishing next to the ear. The athlete should maintain proper spinal posture and midline activation throughout the entire range of motion of the press. A three-second tempo can be applied to the concentric, amortization, and eccentric phase of the movement.
Exercise: DB POWER CLEAN
Set Up: DB’s
Purpose: Teaching triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle. Demanding eccentric strength capabilities when catching the weight and teaching the athlete how to manipulate their lower body in order to generate power through their upper body.
Execution: The athlete starts with two dumbbells at their side in a power hang position. While simultaneously and rapidly extending their hip, knee, and ankles they will thrust their weight upward in a straight line. Once the weight has reached the pinnacle of its height the athlete will then drop underneath the load and catch the DB’s on their shoulders in the same power position that they originally launched the weight from.
Coaching Cue: It is important to pick an appropriate load that will tax the athlete enough to need to achieve triple extension. The athlete should avoid pulling the weight upward with their arms and instead launch the weight with their lower half. Additionally, the athlete should be catching the weight in a strong position and not being overmatched by the momentum of the load when landing.
Exercise: SL ECCENTRIC HIP THRUSTER
Set Up: Barbell, bench
Purpose: Develop unilateral eccentric strength of lower half posterior chain musculature. Activation of the glute and hamstring.
Execution: The athlete should find a comfortable position for their back on the bench with the barbell evenly distributed across their waist. The athlete will then raise the bar to full hip extension with two legs and eccentrically decelerate the weight using one leg.
Coaching Cue: This action should be performed as a negative with a 3-5 second tempo downward.
Exercise: HEXBAR DEADLIFT
Set Up: Hexbar
Purpose: Develop ground reaction force in the vertical direction. Develop strength through musculature of the posterior chain.
Execution: This is a play on the traditional deadlift however the weight is now more evenly distributed around the athlete opposed to in front of the athlete. This will be more conducive for posture awareness while pulling heavy off of the floor. Additionally, for a throwing athlete who experiences difficulty with posterior shoulder activation, having the handles at the side of the athlete during this movement will allow for a better upper back and shoulder position throughout the entirety of the lift.
Coaching Cue: This lift can be performed with a powerful and rapid rate during the concentric action and a controlled 3-5 second tempo during the eccentric phase.
Exercise: KNEELING ANTI-ROTATION PULLDOWN
Set Up: Band attached at an overhead angle
Purpose: Train the athlete to resist torque in order to generate torque. Teaching the athlete how to brace their midline and achieve separation between their upper and lower body. This movement will require activation and stabilization of the front leg glute while also demanding stabilization of the hip internal and external rotators.
Execution: With the right knee up, left knee down, the athlete will have two hands fastened around a band over their left shoulder. With straight arms and a braced midline, the athlete will then pull the band down toward the right knee, pause, and then return to their original position. The hips should remain square and the right knee should remain stable through the entirety of the exercise.
Coaching Cue: This exercise can be performed two ways. It can be performed with a tempo pull down with a hold at end range of motion with a tempo deceleration on the way back or it can be completed as a negative with a coach pulling the athlete through the concentric phase and then completing a negative during the eccentric phase.
exercises for pitchers is exciting because exercises for pitchers can help with throwing and staying healthy. Exercises for throwing are to keep the shoulder strong and healthy through these exercises for pitchers that are shown above. Exercises for pitchers can be lots of different types of exercises for pitchers. We really stress exercises for pitchers. when pitching you can get hurt but doing exercises for pitchers you may not. i personally like exercises for pitchers because exercises for pitchers are also fun. fun is good when doing exercises for pitchers.