Friday, October 14, 2011


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Due to the competitiveness of today’s high school and collegiate athletics, athletes who have the desire to win must work harder during the off-season to stay ahead or even to keep pace with everybody else. This is especially true in baseball. To succeed in the highest level of baseball, the player must dedicate himself to a specific regimen of running, throwing, and strength training during the off-season.

Running is essential to improving a player’s speed and cardiovascular endurance. This cardiovascular endurance is specifically crucial to pitchers who should be able to pitch for six to seven innings per game; which usually amounts to 80-0 pitches. “The most important single indicator of overall health is cardiovascular endurance, which is what running develops.” (Fixx 6). To keep stress off the throwing shoulder and elbow, the legs have to be strong to handle most of the stress. Major League pitcher Scott Forrester explains the kind of running he did for training. “During spring training, as pitchers we would run ‘poles’ [sprints of approximately 00-50 ft.] about 10-5 times per practice. This was done just about everyday.” (Forrester personal interview). Because baseball requires a high intensity effort for a short period of time, players should run short sprints to improve in explosion of speed. Aerobic exercises that require longer periods of less intense running should be performed to improve muscular endurance and longevity. “To be effective, aerobic work must be a consistent, predictable, and sustained effort. (House 5). A player’s running pattern should last throughout the entire off-season.

In addition to a good running regimen, performing a throwing program during the off-season is necessary for a player to build arm strength. Throwing long toss is the best and most efficient way to build arm strength and to prevent injury. “The most common exercise, which is used by most if not all major league pitchers is long toss.” (Filer interview). Long toss is basically two players playing catch with one another on flat ground. “Pitchers of all ages should learn and practice their skill in a progression that emphasizes more flat-ground training…” (House 10). They start 60 feet apart, then gradually spread to about 10 feet apart. This specifically strengthens the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder, as well as increased leg strength. Exercising the throwing arm during the off-season pays great dividends as far as longevity during the season. This should be taken into account by not only a pitcher, but any position player as well because throwing is a fundamental part of the game at any position.

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