My experiences with weighted balls, long toss, and where
they should fit in your pitcher‘s training regimen.
By Joseph Brascher Jr. @3XFastpitch
As of late, weighted balls, long toss, and running throws have become very hot topics in
the land of pitching velocity development and arm health. There is a lot of good information as
well as misleading information out on the web about such subjects and I’m hoping in this article
to give any readers an unbiased view of the subject and provide a personal case study, as well as
Initial Shoulder Mobility from 47 Performance
There has been debate about the overall health of the shoulder of an overhead athlete, specifically that of baseball players. With repetitive motion of throwing, and the long seasons, with improper care, it appears that injury is inevitable. Baseball requires extreme peak forces to be exerted on the shoulder synovial joint, increasing likelihood of injury. Fortunately, there are things an athlete can do to decrease these probabilities.
To start, the anatomy of the shoulder needs to be addressed. As mentioned before, the shoulder is a synovial joint, meaning it is a fluid-filled joint cavity, with versatile mobility, unlike other joints, such as cartilaginous or fibrous joints. As seen in Figure 2, the humerus, coracoid process, acromion, clavicle, and scapula are the bones comprising the shoulder. The mobility of the shoulder comes from the glenoid fossa insertion with greater tubercle of the humerus. Surrounding the bones are the coracohumeral ligament, inferior transverse scapular ligament, bicep tendon, capsular ligament, subscapularis tendon, and supraspinatus tendon. Tendons are dense connective tissue, attaching bone to bone. Surrounding these ligaments of the joint cavity is muscle; bicep and tricep brachialis, coracobrachialis, pectoralis major and minor, deltoid, trapezius, teres minor, rhomboid, latissimus dorsi, and serratus anterior. What covers the muscle is called fascia. Fascia is fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles, known as epimysium.
Stecco et al. (2016) found that fascia modalities implying manual massage as treatment observed an improvement in overall health. Since fascia is the most superficial, in terms of shoulder complex, it is of the upmost importance for overhead athletes to preserve the integrity of the shoulder fascia. Driveline Baseball found that there are extreme levels of peak force placed on the shoulder during external rotation and scapular tilt (throwing motion layback), reaching upwards of 40 pounds of force on the shoulder complex.
Source: Performance Conditioning
By Alan Jaeger
“In Season” Arm Conditioning and Maintenance Throwing Program:
Integrating Long Toss into Bull-pens and In-season Pitching
In the previous article, we addressed the importance of the timing and format of an “Off Season Throwing Program”, and the need of establishing a “rest” (2-4 weeks) and “rebuild” period (approximately 4 weeks) after a long summer. It was also mentioned how important it was to stay off of the mound for this initial 4 week, base building period. The idea was that the better you build your base in the Fall/Winter months, the better you are able to maximize your health, strength and endurance “in season“. As you may recall, the key to optimizing the health, strength and endurance of your arm “in season” is significantly reflected by how well you are able to maintain this base throughout the Fall/Winter months, and translate it into the Spring.
Whether it’s rolling out of bed in the morning, or rolling a double play, movement is something most of us take for granted. But, in my opinion, improving our understanding of how movement is generated is absolutely vital for improving our abilities as coaches (or athletes). This article is by no means the definitive article on pitching mechanics — it is simply a small step towards improving motor control literacy in the pitching community.
A Brief History of Motor Control: How Does Movement Come to Be?
“Our BP pitcher would tell us that a change-up was coming and he would still dominate us” Jim Vatcher, former major league outfielder
When was the last time you heard a hitter say, “I can’t wait to hit this guys change-up”. Possibly never. The truth is hitters love fastballs. It’s what they’ve grown up on. It’s basically all they see in batting practice and it’s the one pitch that they are most geared to hit. Pitchers too have grown up on fastballs. It’s the pitch they’ve been trained to establish, command and condition their arm with. It’s also the one pitch they traditionally throw more often in game situations than all other pitches combined (change, curve, slider, etc.).