Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finishing Strong



Mid-Season Medicine Ball Routine

During the first half of the season, our team’s pitching staff was very successful. Not only did they pick up many victories, but also they were able to throw deep into games. Often, our starting pitchers were able to throw complete games. When our team reached the season’s midpoint, our pitchers seemed to fatigue easier and not have the same “stuff”. From the dugout, it seemed our pitchers were actually throwing with less velocity.

At the end of June, our team took a week vacation from baseball. The players returned with three weeks remaining in the season’s schedule. Our pitchers, who previously trained through running and throwing, started a new, mid-season workout. This workout lasted approximately 10-12 minutes per day. After incorporating this workout into our routine, we ended our second half pitching at the highest level of the year. To complete all the exercises, our pitchers used an 8-pound medicine ball, a stretch cord, and four orange marking disks.

1. Fence Touches: Standing with their back to the fence and holding the medicine ball in front of their chest, players will rotate their torso 180 degrees and touch the medicine ball against the fence. Players cannot rotate their hips during this drill; they must keep their lower body stationary while twisting back and forth. Players will perform this drill for 1 minute trying to maximize repetitions. Pitchers should target 60 touches during the 1-minute session.

2. Overhead Throw Downs: With a medicine ball over their head, pitchers will take a shuffle step and pull down on the ball. Pitchers should try and bounce the ball with maximum force on the ground. Players will perform this drill for 1 minute trying to maximize repetitions. Pitchers should target 35 bounces per 1-minute session.

3. Hip Toss: Holding a medicine ball at their hip, pitchers will take a shuffle step toward their target. With momentum from the shuffle, pitchers will throw the medicine ball as high as possible. Pitchers should focus on the dramatic turn of their shoulders and hips. Pitchers should target 15 throws per 1-minute session.

4. Sit Up Throws: Lying on their back, pitchers will start with their arms overhead. Holding the medicine ball, pitchers will extend their torso up bring the medicine ball off the ground. The movement resembles a sit up. Before reaching the top, pitchers will throw the medicine ball to their partner, who should be facing them. After receiving the ball, the pitcher’s partner will hand it back, allowing the pitcher to contract their abdominal muscle during the negative downward movement. A special note, the pitcher’s partner may have to stand on their feet while they move torso up during the sit up. Pitchers should target 20 throws per 1-minute session.

5. Over Shoulder Throws: Standing backwards to their target, pitchers will start with the medicine ball at chest level. Pitchers, with maximum force, will toss the ball over their shoulder. Players should focus on getting extreme contraction in the upper and lower abdominals during the throw. Pitchers should target 20 throws per 1-minute session.

6. External Scapular Pulls: With a stretch cord tied to the fence, pitchers will stand parallel to the fence. With adequate tension, pitchers will pull the cord across their body to full extension. When starting the exercise, pitchers should feel the scapular bone move and the muscle stretch. When pulling the tight cord across the body, pitchers should feel the scapular bone pull closer to the spine. Pitchers should target 35 pulls per 1-minute session.

7. Bicep Pull Downs: With a stretch cord tied to the fence, pitchers will face forward. With adequate tension, pitchers will pull the stretch cord straight back, with an underhanded swing. When this movement is completed, players should feel a stretch in the bottom of their bicep. This is an area that pitchers experience a lot of soreness in after pitching. Using these pull downs allow players to build up the strength in that area of the upper bicep. Pitchers should target 35 pulls per 1-minute session.

8. Square Running: With four orange markers, players will set up a 4ft by 4ft square. Pitchers will start out with sprints around the markers, trying to use tight cuts while changing directions. Then, pitchers will mix in different exercises every 4 feet. For instance, a sequence of square running may include lunges, standing jumps, shuffles, sprints, and high knees.

9. Pro Agility: With three orange markers spaced 6-8 feet apart in a straight line, pitchers will start at the middle marker. Pitchers will run left, touching the outer marker. Then changing directions, pitchers will sprint to the farthest marker, change directions again, and stop in the middle, where they began the drill.

10. Fastballs/Curveballs/Change Ups: Pitchers get on the mound and throw 2 different sequences of pitches. First, at 45 feet, pitchers throw 3 fastballs out, 3 fastballs in, 3 curveballs, and three change ups. Then, at 60 ft, pitchers will throw the same pitch sequence. Pitchers should take their medicine ball “explosion” to the mound. Again, pitchers should focus on abdominal contraction, shoulder turn, and hip rotation.



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