Friday, March 6, 2015
A New Way to Train Pitchers
In my last blog entry we took a look at Eric Cressey’s article A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 1. This article took a look into why distance running should be avoided by pitchers at all costs. In this weeks entry we will take a look at part 2 of Cressey’s articles (A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2) detailing what should be done instead of distance running for pitchers between starts.
Cressey starts off by stiting a study done by Rhea MR, Oliverson JR, Marshall G, Peterson MD, Kenn JG, and Ayllón FN in Jan 2008 who concluded that players that sprint for conditioning instead of endurance run will be able to generate more power. The researchers of this study divided a collegiate pitching staff into two groups of eight. The only difference between the groups was the conditioning. One group did sprint work 3 times a week consisting of 10-30 sprints of 15-60m with 10-60s rest between sprints. The second group performed moderate-to-high intensity jogging or cycling 3-4 days per week for anywhere from 20-60 minutes. Over the teams season the endurance groups peak power output dropped by an average of 39.5 watts while the sprinting group increased by an average of 210.6 watts. 1 Therefore from these findings we should notice that the sprint group is able to generate more power down the mound, which will help translate over to higher velocities.
Cressey goes on to state 5 basic points towards why strength/sprint and mobility training are best for pitchers, they are as follows:
1. The secret is to keep any longer duration stuff low-intensity (under 70% HRR) and everything else at or above 90% of max effort (this includes starts, agilities, and sprints up to 60yds). For more background on this, check out the McCarthy et al. study I outlined in Part 1 (A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 1).
2. Ideally, the low-intensity work would involve significant joint ranges-of-motion.
3. Don’t forget that pitchers rarely run more than 15 yards in a game situation.
4. Strength training and mobility training far outweigh running on the importance scale.
5. If you need to develop pitching specific stamina, the best way to achieve that end is to simply pitch and build pitch counts progressively. If that needs to be supplemented with something to expedite the process a bit, you can add in some medicine ball medleys. Which can also be useful for ironing out side-to-side imbalances, if implemented appropriately. However, a good off-season throwing program and appropriate management of a pitcher early in the season should develop all the pitching specific endurance that is required.
With these points in mind Cressey also lays out his training for a starting pitcher both on 5 day and 7 day rest. These regimens are also accompanied with static stretching and dynamic flexibility to be performed every day.
The 5-Day Rotation:
Day 0: pitch
Day 1 (or right after pitching, if possible): challenging lower body lift, push-up variation (light), horizontal pulling (light), cuff work
Day 2: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds)
Day 3: bullpen (usually), single-leg work, challenging upper body lift (less vertical pulling in-season), cuff work
Day 4: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only
Day 5: next pitching outing
The 7-Day Rotation:
Day 0: pitch
Day 1: challenging lower body lift, light cuff work
Day 2: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds); upper body lift
Day 3: low-Intensity resistance training (<30% of 1RM) circuits, extended dynamic flexibility circuits
Day 4: full-body lift
Day 5: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds);
Day 6: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only
Day 7: pitch again
As most coaches preach in their programs Cressey points out in the end we want quality reps over quantity of reps. And although this isn't the only way to train pitchers this is a proven way that Cressey and many coaches have adopted into their programs.
For more information on this article please visit the link above and check out Cressey's numerous articles dealing with fitness and sport.
1. Rhea MR, Oliverson JR, Marshall G, Peterson MD, Kenn JG, Ayllón FN.
Noncompatibility of power and endurance training among college baseball players. J Strength Cond Res 2008 Jan;22(1):230-4.
2. Cressey, E. (2009, January 1). A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2.
Retrieved February 23, 2015, from http://www.ericcressey.com/a-new-model-for-training-between-starts-part-2