Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Warm-Up to Throw! (Don't Throw to Warm-Up)

It is not uncommon for a coach to call down to the bullpen for a relief pitcher to “get loose”. The pitcher immediately jumps up and begins throwing to the catcher. After a few “warm-up” throws, he tells the catcher to get down and proceeds to pump out a series of pitches at high effort and intensity. Without being aware the coach and the player are inhibiting the player’s performance and potentially increasing his risk for breakdown and injury. While it sometimes may be necessary to perform this routine due to the pace of the game or the slow situational reactions of the coach, the best approach is to perform a dynamic warm-up to prepare the body for the upcoming stresses of pitching.

Current research indicates that carrying out a sport-specific dynamic warm-up, will enhance overall strength and power while performing on the field. An active warm-up prepares the muscles and joints for performance by “turning-on” the neuromuscular (brain-to-muscle) connections that will be utilized during the sports skills.

Muscular stiffness and lack of joint mobility result in greater muscle damage after exercise. A dynamic warm-up increases the body’s global core temperature, as well as, the localized tissue temperature for the specific muscles that will be active during sports movements. When the muscle tissue is “warm”, it becomes more elastic, more flexible, and less stiff. This greater elasticity means less tissue damage and less potential for injury.

Rather than waiting for the coach to react, the pitcher should be paying attention to the game. As the game progresses to the middle innings, the bullpen pitchers should begin preparing for the time that they may be called upon. The following is a sample dynamic warm-up that can be performed in the bullpen during the game. The warm-up progresses from general to more sport-specific activities.

Relief Pitcher Dynamic Warm-Up

Jogging Down and Back in Foul Territory
High Knee Run x 10yd
Side Shuffle x 10yd
Carioca x 10yd
Walking Knee-To-Chest x 3 each
Walking Quad and Reach x 3 each
Walking Shin Grab-Hip Rotation x 3 each
Russian March x 3 each
Lunge and Twist x 3 each
Lunge and Instep Touch x 3 each
Medicine Circle Chops (6lbs) x 5 clockwise / x 5 counterclockwise
Medicine Ball Trunk Twist (6lbs) x 10
Medicine Ball Lunge and Throwers Chop (6lbs) x 5 each
Throwing Arm Tubing – Rows x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – External Rotation at the Side x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – External Rotation at 90deg Abduction x 10 (stride stance)
Throwing Arm Tubing – Diagonal x 10 (stride stance)

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

Co-Founder, BaseballStrengthCoaching.com

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