Develop That Laser Arm

15 Jun

Baseball and great arms, they go hand in hand. Throwing a baseball is the fastest and most violent movement in all of sports. Nothing else even compares. In some respects, you are born with a great arm or you’re not. However, proper mechanics, base level strength, mobility, and explosive power can take an average arm to something special. Proper throwing programs are a must for arm strength development as well as shoulder health. Additionally, performing medicine ball throws, as touched upon in the previous articles, is a great place to start in respect to explosive power. Within this post I want to touch on three different areas of importance for aspiring owners of a cannon for an arm.

HEAVY Sled Work

Heavy sled work is something all athletes should be doing. It’s relatively low skill, and produces incredible results. For baseball players it’s of extreme importance for its ability to produce single leg power through the ground. The two varieties below should be included in programming for ball players.

Sled Marches

Driving a sled forward will develop incredible strength that has a high transfer into explosive movements, such as throwing a baseball.

  • Assume a position behind the sled with the arms locked, and shoulder blades packed down.
  • Make sure you are leaning forward considerably and the back is arched, not rounded.
  • Start with your feet together, you should be able to draw a straight line from the shoulders, to the hips, down the knees and into the ankles.
  • Similar to proper acceleration mechanics, drive one up towards the chest, and deliberately place the foot down into the ground. Do not cast the foot forward so that it is out in front of the hips and or flat on the ground.
  • Drive through the ball of the foot, and extend the leg through (triple extension of the back leg, ankle, knee, and hip) while maintaining a forward lean.
  • As one leg is extending through and the sled begins to move forward the opposite leg’s knee is being driven towards the chest.
  • Make sure the sled is heavy enough to force a considerable forward lean.
  • Distances should be kept somewhat short, between 10 and 25 yards.

Lateral Sled Drag

In addition to driving a sled linearly baseball players should also work laterally. As mentioned before, baseball is unique in that most explosive movements are initiated laterally.

  • Assume an athletic position with the feet about hip width.
  • You should have a strap attached to the sled, and the end not attached to the sled will be placed in the hand closest to the sled. Your body will be parallel with the strap.
  • The arm holding the strap will be extended, the opposite hand will be placed on the outside hip. Both shoulders will be back, and the shoulder blades will be packed together and down. Chest up.
  • To initiate the movement, lean away from the sled.
  • Cross the leg closest to the sled over the lead leg and forcefully drive through the ground achieving extension of the hip, knee and ankle of the driving leg.
  • As you extend through you will return the hip width foot position and repeat the movement.
  • Make sure to keep the hips and rib cage generally square ahead, and feet pointing straight ahead, not turned out in the direction you are moving.
  • Depending on the weight of the sled you will move different distances. We recommend loading the sled heavier and moving distances of 10 – 30 yds each side.

Train The Torso For Stability

An athlete moves and contorts his trunk all over the place during sport practice. In the gym, he or she will benefit from more training geared towards developing stability of the torso. Furthermore, in order to create impressive whip when throwing a baseball you want to promote movement from the hips and upper back / shoulder girdle around a strong stable midsection. Here is a great option to mimic the demands of throwing on the midsection:

Wise Stance Anti-Rotation Chop (Resistance Band)

  • Assume an athletic position with feet wide (well outside of hip width).
  • Have a resistance band attached to a fixed structure, at about chest height.
  • Your body should be parallel with the band.
  • Place your outside hand on the far end of the band, and the inside hand about a foot down the band. Your hands should be about shoulder width.
  • The start position is with the hands on the chest, and the band taught.
  • Press the band out in front of you, arms extended.
  • From here, rotate from the shoulders and upper back as far as possible in each direction WITHOUT moving the low back, or hips.
  • If you are getting movement from the low back or hips you need to lessen the resistance or lessen the amount of rotation.
  • This movement can be performed for time (10-20s), or for reps (6-10). Sets may vary from 2 – 5.

Take Care Of Your Shoulder

It doesn’t matter how hard you throw if you’re always injured.  The truth is, most overhead throwing athletes (and people in general) have something wrong with their shoulder, whether it’s hurting them or not. With that in mind it is important to litter pre / rehab exercises throughout a throwing athlete’s program. A few areas of concern are thoracic (upper back) extension, shoulder internal rotation, scapular stability, and strength in the back side of the shoulder musculature.

No Money Drill

The no money drill is fantastic for throwing athletes and every day people alike. As with many of the concepts featured in these articles, I learned this drill from Eric Cressey. This drill promotes two of the qualities listed above, proper upper back positioning, and development of strength in the rear of the shoulder.

  • Assume a position with your back on the corner of a wall, or against a post on a power rack. The spine should be in line with the corner of the wall / power rack post. Maintain three points of contact, the back of the head, between the shoulder blades, and the top of your butt (tail bone).
  • The arms should remain locked at 90 degrees. The elbows should be fixed to your side.
  • With your palms up, rotate the shoulders outward (thumbs lead the way).
  • Do not force rotation; the elbows need to remain locked to your side.
  • Perform 10 – 12 repetitions. Additionally athletes may use a band to add light resistance to the drill. The band resisted variation can be done for reps, or for fewer reps with 5-10s holds in the rotated position.

Pushups

Due to the sensitive nature of a thrower’s shoulder, pushups are of the best choices for a horizontal push. Due to the closed chain nature of the exercise, it promotes active protraction of the shoulder blades and trains scapular stabilization easily, and safely. Here is a step by step approach to performing a push up correctly:

  • Assume a quadruped position on the floor, hands under shoulders, knees under hips.
  • Slightly pinch the shoulder blades together and down.
  • Brace the stomach.
  • Created outward pressure on the hands, without actually rotating the hand out. (screw the hands into the floor)
  • Extend one leg back at a time, while squeezing your butt.
  • Initiate the push up by pulling yourself down to the ground.
  • Push yourself away from the ground, not the ground away from you.
  • Keep the body in a generally straight line throughout the movement.

 

 

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