Why Pitchers Need Strength Training
This past weekend I had the opportunity to test over one hundred baseball athletes in the pro-agility (5-10-5 shuttle), the vertical jump and the broad jump. Something popped out at me, which is something that I have already known, but has not been top of mind. It is information that I believe any young athletes, specifically pitchers need to hear.
It doesn’t take a hard look to find that outfielders and middle infielders run and jump better than pitchers. When you think of a pitcher you think of someone that has a whippy arm and throws the ball really hard. You typically think of tall and lengthy. Not much else. When I asked multiple pitchers this weekend what additional sports or positions, they played, the most common answer was, “nothing, I just pitch.” I think we can use this story to shed some light on what type of training could be beneficial for pitchers.
First off, you never want to take away something from an athlete that makes them very good at what they do. For example, you never want to take away from the whippiness of a pitcher’s arm. This is something that they have created over the years to help them throw the bar really hard. How I look at it is, what do they not have, and if I can give them some of what they don’t have, will it not take away from what they already have that makes them good?
The most high school athletes that I have worked with have been baseball players and the majority of them have been pitchers. Across the board pitchers don’t jump very well. In general, they don’t produce force very well. In my opinion, they have relied very heavily on their arm to get them to where they are at, and this is evident by their lack of jumping ability.
Going back to my question above, I believe that if you can get pitchers stronger and more powerful through their legs you can help them quite a bit. I think if you can get their legs stronger and more powerful and are still able to keep their relative motion that they use to create a lot of arm whip you can help them in multiple ways. One being, increasing their velocity. In theory, I believe if a pitcher has relied on creating a lot of velocity through the arm, but lack leg strength and power, you can add to that velocity by getting their legs stronger and more powerful, all else being equal. I also think you can save them a lot of stress that is placed on the arm. If they rely so heavy on the arm that will be the place that is receiving all the stress from throwing an object at super high velocities. Again, if you can get their legs stronger and more powerful, I think you can save them some stress placed on the arm and elbow by allowing the legs to receive some of that force and deceleration involved in throwing at high velocities.
This is really all theoretical, but I think it plays out. I have worked with a lot of pitchers and have seen first-hand their velocity increase in just months of a solid training program. You will always be able to find outliers who you can find that this doesn’t apply, but to most athletes out there that are trying to get just a bit better to get a college scholarship, I think you may want to take this into account if you haven’t already. I think there needs to be a revolution in baseball where pitchers start to train like real athletes because that’s what they are. I think you may find pleasing results.